«October 2009 SCIENTIFIC COORDINATOR Pierre Le Neindre, Senior research scientist, INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) ...»
The 19th century seemed to mark a turning point. The advances in the understanding of the physiology of pain, in parallel with that of the brain and the nervous system, supported an increasing use of painkillers and analgesics, particularly for anaesthesia in surgery. This led to the widespread use of ether as an anaesthetic and to the discovery of chloroform and aspirin. However, the systematic management of pain in humans was limited, especially for very young children. These developments also answered to the population’s growing intolerance towards bodily suffering, in a social context valuing the human person and privacy. Consequently society’s demand for ever-more effective treatments against pain was strengthened. The rise in concern for animal pain was therefore closely linked to the increasing sensitivity of humans to their own pain.
Marginal consideration of pain in relation to veterinary medicine It took even longer for veterinary surgeons to take an interest in animal pain. Only in the second half of the 19th century did advances in medical physiology, paradoxically through vivisection, enable an improved comparative knowledge of the nervous system and therefore a deeper understanding of animal pain. However, the treatment of pain in animals remained very marginal until the mid 20th century and only really concerned horses, cattle and dogs.
This slowness to consider pain in veterinary medicine was also noticeable in the slow uptake of anaesthesia in veterinary medicine. Traditional restraints such as twitches, nose grips, tourniquets and the use of alcohol (the latter particularly for cattle) remained in use for a long time (well into the 20th Century). Rather than for preventing animal suffering caused by the procedure, their purpose was to allow better control of the animal and to improve the ease with which the veterinary team could operate.
Until the Second World War, pain was essentially defined as a physiological phenomenon. Veterinary treatment of pain was primarily justified by economic and practical reasons. Pain affected productivity and could cause agitation and aggression which posed a danger for those handling the animals.
The issue of animal slaughter The ESCo assessment only deals with the manner in which animals reared for meat are slaughtered. Apart from the issue of pain, slaughter procedures also raise concerns about food safety. Despite suggestions emerging from the current debate, slaughter is not a new issue. Historians report that from the 18th century middle class society complained over the slaughter of animals and the display of animal carcasses in full view of the public. From then on slaughter progressively was confined to purpose built slaughterhouses located on the outskirts of towns, thus facilitating increased surveillance by the veterinary authorities and closer attention to public health.
The issue of pain in animals acquired a new dimension with the emergence of industrial production of meat and the building of the first factory slaughterhouses in Cincinnati and Chicago in the 1900s. These were built in the total absence of regulations on animal pain, meat hygiene and safety in animal handling. As a consequence a wealth of literature appeared in the United States of America at the beginning of 20th Century denouncing the industrialisation of abattoirs as detrimental to animals and to the quality of meat products.
Expertise scientifique collective "Douleurs animales" 9 The usual practice at this time was to slaughter animals intended for human consumption by slitting the throat without prior stunning. Only adult cattle and horses were stunned before their throats were cut, this being for the safety of the handlers and probably not out of compassion for the animals. Veterinary surgeons were the first to stress the need to relieve the suffering of animals at slaughter and the practice of stunning animals by captive bolt before bleeding increased between the two World Wars. In 1942, stunning was made compulsory in Paris and this was extended throughout France in the 1960s.
1.2.2. From the recognition of animal sensitivity to animal protection From recognition of a moral duty towards animals to the idea of animal rights Recognizing that animals are sentient leads humans to better define the relationships they have with them, taking into account that humans have a moral responsibility not to inflict pain on sentient beings including animals.
According to Kantian ethics, animals do not have the faculty of reason and as a consequence cannot be part of the moral community. Only beings that can consider themselves as “ends in their own right” and recognize the same quality in their own kind can have an “intrinsic value”. It is this quality that gives them rights and imposes respect for their life, their physical and moral integrity and their freedom. Animals, being no more able to assert their rights than to carry out their moral duties, have only an “instrumental value”. Therefore, they cannot have rights, but since they are sentient beings we have a duty to ourselves, not to be cruel by making them suffer unnecessarily.
As opposed to Kantism, contemporary pathocentrist theories take animal sensitivity into account directly. This corresponds with a general trend towards considering pain unbearable that has been extended to all sentient beings. Explicitly or not, associations that campaign for the animal cause follow this train of thought. Rather than adhering to the anthropocentric idea that humans just have duties to animals, followers of the pathocentrist school of thought have gradually come to the conclusion that the animals themselves have rights or at least their own interests. Philosophical streams reflecting these various ideas will be described subsequently.
The law applied to animals: from concern for public order to animal welfare A legal framework for the treatment of animals appeared in the 19th century with the introduction of the first laws and the proliferation of organisations for the protection of animals. This legislation on the treatment of animals arose more from a desire to improve public morals, triggered by a heightened awareness of human violence, than from a concern for animal welfare. The Grammont law (1850), which penalized the ill treatment of animals in public is especially revealing of the attention the governing elite paid to common violence and their fear of its social contagion. It was the publicizing of violence that was condemned in this case. Killing animals continued to be considered necessary and was accepted. What characterized awareness of animal suffering was, above all, its visibility and the apparent pleasure of its perpetrators. Hence the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) and other protection groups did not campaign against the use of animals for transport and for slaughter but as far as possible to regulate these activities. The Grammont law remained in force for over a century.
In the 1880s a new wave of animal protectionists with very different ideas emerged. This was typified by the emergence of the anti-vivisectionist movement equipped with a more animal-centred ideology that rejected suffering and the death of animals for human needs. Their view was and remains, that an animal is valued as a sentient being whose suffering can not be tolerated or justified. The idea of establishing animal rights on the same basis as human rights began to spread. This current of thought has been gaining ground within animal protection circles, since the mid-20th century and it has contributed to the development of a public perception that the wellbeing of animals prevails over other moral justifications and public health.
10 Expertise scientifique collective "Douleurs animales"
1.3 The current debate on animal pain 1.3.1. Major changes in the relationship between humans and animals Since the Second World War the relationship between humans and animals has gone through major changes.
These changes were triggered by a combination of factors linked to post-war projects of economic and social development. The first of two major factors was the Monnet plan of 1946 for the development of agriculture, a global project for ensuring security of food production in France based on a modern, high-performing agro-industry.
In this context, new husbandry practices based on the predominant industrial model were developed to guarantee regular supply of meat, milk and eggs to a growing urban market. Historians and anthropologists identify the high level of urbanisation during this period as the second factor. A consequence of the disconnection between rural and urban life was that urban dwellers no longer understood the realities of rural life. The concomitant passion for domestic pets that arose can be interpreted as a form of compensation for this separation from a rural environment.
These developments combined with a new sensitivity are thought to be key elements in the movement that rejected the view that inflicting avoidable pain on animals was acceptable and condemned any such practice. It was in this context that about thirty years ago ethical and legal frameworks concerning the treatment of animals began to appear. This ESCo assessment focused especially on the causes of animal pain in the context of intensive livestock production systems because, based on reports of pain and suffering the animals can be subjected to, it is the animal welfare in these production systems that has been most criticised.
Intensive systems of animal production Specialists in animal production have traced the first appearance of intensive systems of animal production that increased yield and labour productivity to the beginning of the twentieth century. These systems have been successful because, despite significant increases in consumption, European countries and especially France, have achieved self-sufficiency in food and have even become net exporters for certain animal products. Simultaneously, decreases in the price of animal products have resulted in a decreased proportion of the household budget spent on food. Between 1965 and 1980, a fairly constant 31% of the household food budget was spent on meat. This then decreased to around 26% by 2006. Over a forty year span, INSEE data has shown a decrease in beef consumption of nearly 30% whereas the consumption of other types of meat has remained constant. Husbandry practices have come under increasing criticism because of the constraints the living conditions impose on animals and on workers.
The recent history of animal production shows that since the 1960s, agricultural research has contributed to the development of animals suitable for these high output systems of production. In the laboratory, animal scientists have deconstructed the whole animal to describe the physiological and biochemical control mechanisms for metabolism, growth, production and reproduction. From rumen microbiology to endocrinology, including nutrition, reproductive physiology and embryology a range of disciplines has been mobilised to improve the fit between the physiological characteristics of the animals and the performance expected from animals genetically selected to suit the production objectives and husbandry requirements for intensive production.
In theory, if not in fact, farm animals have become “animal machines” characterised by their high levels of production as is evidenced by the trend to replace the term “husbandry” with the notion of “animal production”. The organisation of labour, in particular for feeding, housing, health, and reproduction, has been rationalised following processes similar to those used in the industrialisation of manufacturing.
The resulting livestock production systems indeed have been developed using the methods of organisation and standardisation of work practices of the manufacturing industries. These systems are very dependant upon the animal foodstuff industry, the pharmaceutical industry and agro-business; particularly the slaughterhouses. They are nowadays far less dependent on farms and on farmers and especially so in the highly integrated systems.
Intensive production systems for pigs, poultry and calves (veal) represent the extremes of these systems. These industrialised systems of livestock production coexist with other extensive farming systems such as those qualified as traditional, organic or contemporary extensive farming.
Expertise scientifique collective "Douleurs animales" 11 It was in the context of social criticism of contemporary industrial livestock farming that the scientific community responded and developed the concept of “Animal Welfare”. This scientific community is better established in the north of Europe than in France. It encompasses not only ethologists, specialists on animal emotion and cognition, and neurobiologists but also philosophers, theologians and animal ethicists.
It was this scientific community that transformed the claims of animal protectionists into the science of “animal welfare”. These scientists not only had the expertise to assess the reactions of animals to husbandry constraints but they also contributed to the definition of production standards. They are at the origin of the recommendations for each farm species and type of production and are taken into account by French and European regulations. The research carried out for the benefit of the animal welfare cause has improved the living conditions of animals in intensive production systems. It has also helped to integrate parameters of robustness and welfare into some genetic selection programmes.
The question of slaughter A full analysis of animal pain must also address the question of slaughter. The general and technical aspects of slaughter are dealt with in the following chapters but here we examine the cultural dimensions of slaughtering animals in observance of religious rites.
Ritual slaughter following the religious rules of Judaism and Islam requires the cutting of the throat of the animal without prior stunning. On the basis of the freedom of worship this is authorised in France by special dispensation.
The religious laws of these two faiths require animals to be conscious at slaughter, therefore they oppose stunning before blood letting. European directive 93/119/CE renders stunning animals before throat cutting compulsory.