Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Pain free farming

A few days ago we had twisted wire, but now I've come across what seems to me to be an example of twisted minds.  Pain free farming sounded like such a promising title.

In the UK at least, some supermarkets are starting to label meats and other foods which have been raised in better conditions than factory farms.  Often, though, if you enquire further and read the details you find that conditions are only marginally better.  Free range can be interpreted very liberally and may mean the animal can find fresh air if it can fight its way to a small opening at the right time of day.

So when I found an article in the New Scientist about pain free farming, I wondered what it was about.  Apparently some researchers in neuroscience and genetics are invstigating ways to remove the pain that farmed animals feel by blocking the sensation of pain using genetic engineering.  A philosopher, Adam Shriver, has written a paper which says that we have an ethical duty to consider removing suffering in this way.  Well, I have considered, and I find it so wrong, wrong, wrong.

Does removing pain remove suffering?
Does removing pain mean we can treat animals how we like?
Is it all right to harm them if they can't feel the pain?
Is pain-free the same as cruelty-free?
Would it encourage uncaring treatment towards the animals?

I could go on and on.  Unfortunately, I think, the comments in the New Scientist descended into arguments for and against vegetarianism.  They've surely missed the point, because there is no way in a very long time that the whole world is going to change.  It would be far better to treat animals with respect and dignity.  For someone to suggest that it would be ethical to tamper with nature so that we could have an easy conscience while mistreating animals seems unethical in the extreme. 

I am well aware that in the developed world we do eat far more meat than we need, but I am a meat eater, and I'm never going become vegetarian.  I do though, attempt to limit the amount of meat I eat and I try where I can to avoid factory farmed products.  A small drop in the ocean perhaps, but the drops eventually do add up. 

My photos are all animals in fields on local farms.

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  1. Manipulating nature for good is a good thing. This sounds a bit strange to me. Are they just going to stuff the animals full of Pethedine or some such? What effect will that have on the meat?

    Animal cruelty world wide will be with us always.

  2. I agree with you, pain free farming... no animal should be in pain, but instead should live a life that from birth to death is humane, caring and nurturing.. I accept as a carnivore that I enjoy eating meat, and to do so involves an animal dying to give me that meat, but I want it to have a happier life than those battery hens, fast reared pigs and elements of the food chain leave me turning once more to vegetarian options.

    And we call ourselves human...

  3. @Adullamite, it sounds very strange. They are investigating genetic engineering to knock out those areas of the brain that are distressed by pain. They don't want to remove all sense of pain because of its defence mechanism. But my problem with the idea is this - if a battery hen can't feel the pain of having its beak removed, does that make it an all right thing to do. I don't believe it does.

    @Sage, I agree completely. It must be possible to rear animals in a humane and caring way.

  4. It's about time consumers know from where the food are originated, and regarding to meat, how the animals are treated as well.

    Very important sayings here in this post

  5. I think consumers tend to just block this out of their minds, but cruelty in the process of bringing meat to our table is found in all phases of "production". I think that speaks volumes about not just our humanity, but our character. I'm not talking about only the ones who do it, but we who let them do it.

    Did you know that some cultures have ceremonies to honor the life force of the animal before killing it? I'm not advocating that, but at least we should wait until the animal is dead before beginning to cut it up.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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