Animal Rights

Fast food has become an integral part of the United States, but despite being so widespread, it lacks nutrition and promotes unhealthy food choices. Furthermore, the preparation of these foods often consists of brutal exploitation of animals. The documentary, Food Inc, portrays the inhumane behavior towards animals destined to be meat. Although representatives of the meat industry may argue that the processes are efficient, the production of meat should not include cruel treatment of animals but should strive towards increasing sustainability and animal welfare.

Most pet owners treat the animals in their house as a human child, providing love, food, and shelter. Cows, chickens, and pigs, which are not as different, do not even have space to move around freely. According to the lawsuit case Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Otter, over nine billion animals are killed in one year to cater to greedy corporations and hungry consumers2. Moreover, the waste of a single pig operation with 500,000 animals, surpasses that of Manhattan’s population of 1.5 million1. To accelerate the animals’ growth, workers force antibodies into them, leading to serious physical and physiological issues. This industrialized cruelty and abuse of animals is appalling enough but is becoming normalized. As displayed in the documentary, chickens are slaughtered and disassembled while still alive and screaming for their lives.

Many recognize the problem but don’t realize how debilitating it is to directly experience unhealthy meat production. The film describes the case of Kevin Kowalcyk, who died young from consuming E.coli infected beef (a result of using corn feed). In addition to unsanitary living conditions, the animals undergo physical abuse and sustain untreated injuries. Authorities and contracted farmers believe that to garner the most profit, they must produce meat in the quickest way possible, ignoring the consequential health issues and immoral actions; however, surveys conducted by the Journal of Food Law and Policy proved that 73% of Americans will support laws that provide animals with basic rights2.  An article written by University of Leeds’ professors Rory Sullivan, Nicky Amos, and Heleen A. van de Weerd at the school of Earth and Environment states that only 44% of meat producing companies have published farm animal welfare policies, indicating that more than half have not implemented care systems for animals3. Bringing the brutal handling of farm animals to light can hurt the reputation of a meat producing company, but raising awareness can result in healthier produce and more satisfied consumers.

            Basic rights, such as ability to move around freely, clean living conditions, healthy food, and painless death, should be granted to livestock. Many people consume expensive organic meat because the quality of the meat is important to them; therefore, if the cost of meat produce were to increase to cater to livestock welfare, profit would not decrease significantly. Although the problem may appear trivial, animal rights are an important and integral part of the food industry and society, and it must be addressed and fixed as soon as possible.

-Young Choi


  1. Fearing, Jennifer. “What Food, Inc. Can Teach Us About How We Treat Animals.” Civil Eats. James Beard, 01 June 2009.
  2. Holifield, Lucy L. 2016. “ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND V. OTTER: INDUSTRIAL FOOD PRODUCTION SIMPLY IS NOT A PRIVATE MATTER.” Journal Of Food Law & Policy 12, no. 1: 16-52. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost
  3. Sullivan, Rory, Nicky Amos, and Heleen A. van de Weerd. 2017. “Corporate Reporting on Farm Animal Welfare: An Evaluation of Global Food Companies’ Discourse and Disclosures on Farm Animal Welfare.” Animals (2076-2615) 7, no. 3: 1-21. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost
  4. Fig 1. Animal equality. http://www.animalequality.net/node/844

The Issue of CAFOs

The industrial sized livestock operation, which is as known as Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) put a large number of animals into a small confined area, and livestocks are forced live in unhealthy conditions until they slaughtered due to mass production. Industrial food companies should not pursue their own interests, while disregarding the effect their action have on the environmental issue, hygiene issue, and animal welfare. Instead, they should stop using CAFOs and incorporate the idea of sustainable farming system, such as the small scale farmer.

CAFOs are not concerned with environmental destruction. The large-industrial farmer uses an excessive amount of drinking  water for the animals, flushing sheds, and for manure. The farmer consumes most of this water during the slaughter of the animals when cleaning floor and processing animals. This animal sewage and chemical fertilizer, then leaks out from the slaughter, and contaminates the environment around the industrial farmer and destroys the biodiversity of the rural area.

The unsanitary conditions of industrial farms or slaughterhouses do not have an impact solely on the rural environment in their surroundings, it also influences the human body of those who consume the contaminated meat. The food borne illness became a more serious issue in our daily life, and most of casues of contaminated meat is the result of a lack of hygiene management in large, industrial farms and slaughterhouses.

To maximize animal production benefits, industrial farmers feed them a high calorie diet filled with hormones and antibiotics. These animals are not treated as sensitive creatures, they are raised in an unsanitary environment and are stressed constantly. For example, in order to increase milk production, many dairy cows are given hormone injections, which inflicts physical and mental harm on them (Hormone). These debilitated animals are more liable to diseases, that spread and infect viruses and bacteria onto other animals and the human body. Unfortunately, many industrial farmers do not satisfy this welfare condition, and many poor animals spend their whole life in farms with unsanitary conditions.

In contrast, small-scale farmers never use hormones, antibiotics, and any inhumane inputs for their animals. They place more value on a stress-free and healthy environment for their animals and workers because they believe that animal welfare and a clean environment are associated with food safety(Hribar).  Their agricultural system is based on sustainability, which is the principle of inherited the food supply for future generations. However, if Industrial farmer continues using CAFOs, our next generation will face to food shortage issue.  Therefore, industrial farmers should reconsider their agricultural system and stop using CAFOs.

When we are concerned about the sustainability of the current food industry system, we ensure that clean environment, hygiene, and animal welfare are primary requirements. Food companies should not solely pursue; they should learn about sustainability from small scale farmer and incorporate it into their system. Over millions of people consume meats from large industrial food companies these days; thus, large-industrial food companies should practice responsible business behavior and create sustainability in the US.

 

Mototsugu


 

  1. “Hormones.” GRACE Communications Foundation. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.sustainabletable.org/258/hormones.
  2. Hribar, Carrie. “Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Their Impact on Communities.” Www.nalboh.org. 2010. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  3. Fig 1. CAFOs. http://johnikerd.com/with-factory-farms-there-is-no-middle-ground/