On Bipeds & Brutes

National Museum of Animals & Society Blog

Ethics and Your Plate

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Sows in Gestation Crates. Image via Wikipedia

Companion animals aside, the majority of Americans interact with animals on a daily basis primarily through their dietary choices. And in breaking down the numbers, where 10 billion land animals are slaughtered each year for consumption, food ethics and farm animal welfare become a very important discussion to be had in our society – one that affects many more animals than say those found in the nation’s shelters, parks, etc.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is “driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.” Realizing the vastly important role animal agriculture plays in society, a Commission was formed on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) to “conduct a comprehensive, fact-based and balanced examination of key aspects of the farm animal industry. Commissioners represent diverse backgrounds and perspectives and come from the fields of veterinary medicine, agriculture, public health, business, government, rural advocacy and animal welfare.”

By now, most Americans should be aware and concerned by industrial agriculture, an industry that keeps animals concentrated in factory-like warehouses and confined to a point where movement is severely restricted, and the issues it brings to the table. Public health, the environment, animal welfare and rural communities are all effected by the move towards raising animals in these concentrated systems rather than the traditional, extensive, decentralized family farm system.

In their latest report, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, The Trust recommends the following solutions to the problems, which you can read more about in their accessible Executive Summary:

  1. Phase out and then ban the non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials.
  2. Improve disease monitoring and tracking.
  3. Improve Industrial Farm Animal Production regulation.
  4. Phase out intensive confinement.
  5. Increase competition in the livestock market.
  6. Improve research in animal agriculture.

Do you think these six objectives, if met, will fix our broken food system?

NMAS recognizes the power of our food choices and the votes we cast (for better companies, values, nutrition…) with our dollars each time we make a purchase. With this in mind, we’re proud to announce the details on our Fall Lecture Series’ Symposium, Ethics and Your Plate: A Conversation on Animals and Food, taking place on Saturday, November 12th at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. We hope you can join us for this stimulating day that will explore contemporary issues surrounding animal agribusiness through presentations by speakers representing a variety of perspectives from vegan to the “ethical omnivore.”


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