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.