How can we respect our duties of care and compassion to farm animals?
The vast majority of people in this country eat meat. Even vegetarians who consume milk, dairy products and eggs rely on animals for food. But it is widely recognised that our use of farm animals raises many ethical concerns, which frequently hit the news headlines. Just recall BSE, Salmonella, GM animals, sow stalls and tethers (now banned in the UK), pollution from intensive chicken and pig farms, live exports and meat imports from countries where food safety and welfare standards are low.
Short of us all becoming vegans (which would raise many ethical problems of a different sort), in what ways should we seek to farm animals in more ethically acceptable ways?
We believe that humans have a duty to treat farm animals in ways that respect their welfare and 'intrinsic natures', and the environment that we share with them. Animals have long been important to us by providing nutritious foods and as elements of environmentally benign farming systems. People and animals have evolved together in a mutual interdependence, so that they have become part of our culture.
In developing countries, livestock are often essential to human survival, by providing fuel and draught power as well as food. Moreover, many developing countries are currently experiencing a livestock revolution, in which increased supplies of animal products will have enormous impacts on their economies and nutritional standards.