«October 2009 SCIENTIFIC COORDINATOR Pierre Le Neindre, Senior research scientist, INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) ...»
However, an exemption is granted for ritual slaughter. Various animal welfare movements recommend the labelling of products specifying “slaughtered according to religious rites”. In practice the complexity of marketing chains will result inevitably in some meat produced by ritual slaughter being sold as meat produced by conventional slaughter.
Clear labelling would inform consumers concerned about animal welfare and who wish to avoid consuming meat produced by religious slaughtering. The risk is however, that labelling would introduce some discrimination against these products for reasons other than animal welfare.
Animal pain and suffering and livestock workers - an under-explored link The unique characteristics of working with animals as opposed to other types of agricultural work are being studied by experts in occupational psychology and ergonomics, in an emerging field of research. These studies highlight the suffering expressed by some workers in industrial farming operations. The organization of labour on these farms and the precedence given to economic rationalization have lead to deterioration in the relationship between handlers and the animals. The physical and psychological health risks facing these workers are related to the environment in which the livestock are reared (work accidents, injuries, exposure to dust and pathogens) and to the nature of the relationships they have with the animals. The status of the animals as a resource to be used, especially in the pig industry, has a negative impact on the status of workers themselves Some workers feel that they do not have sufficient recognition from the animals they care for, their peers or the consumers.
There have been many studies on the physical consequences of these health risks but as yet there has been little research on the consequences of the psychology of the human-animal relationship on the health status of the livestock handlers or of the animals.
The relationship between livestock handlers and animals is a significant aspect of animal welfare, but so far it has been treated not so much in terms of the intersubjectivity of the relationship as in terms of stress on the worker, which is in turn, has a negative influence on animals.
12 Expertise scientifique collective "Douleurs animales" 1.3.2. Deliberations on the definition of animal pain:
philosophical and ethical considerations A question increasingly discussed in the philosophical literature In philosophical literature over the last fifteen years, increasing importance has been given to papers dealing with either pain or with animals. However, in few of these articles have the two been examined simultaneously and even more exceptional are papers dealing specifically with animal pain.
Other fields of philosophy are also involved in these discussions because, even though pain is not dealt with directly, it is integrated into philosophical reflections on the foundations of morality and law. The application of philosophy has rarely considered in any detail, the applied aspects of animal pain and when it does, it concerns itself mainly with livestock farming and experimentation on animals.
Despite the differences in approach in the literature it seems that some universal issues can be identified in the various streams of philosophical thought. They can be grouped under three principal headings: pain and suffering in relation to consciousness; the moral status of sensitivity to pain and the economic and cultural contexts in which pain is imposed on animals.
A reassessment of cognition in animals based on recent scientific advances Recent developments in disciplines such as ethology, especially of primates, neurophysiology and cognitive sciences demonstrated continuities in cognitive abilities among animals and humans. Specialists in cognitive sciences have studied the ability of some species of animals to build up images of their environment and of events that take place within it that enables them to respond and if necessary, adjust their responses. In this regard some authors speak about “animal subjectivity”.
Advances in these scientific fields led to the acknowledgement that animals, particularly mammals, have cognitive abilities and a range of mental states that go far beyond those previously attributed to non-human sentient beings.
This conceptual change has coincided with the increasing perception that animals reared in intensive farming systems are merely machines for production. Similarly, in bio-medical research, animals are exploited largely as laboratory tools. This contradiction between the concept of animals as beings deserving moral consideration and the manner in which they are used has stimulated the emergence of the field of animal ethics.
The concepts of pain, suffering and welfare and the overlap among them The literature on animal ethics deals almost solely with suffering and rarely with pain. For example, in a review of 84 papers in this field only three dealt with pain.
Among those authors who deny the existence of animal consciousness there is controversy over the consequences of this distinction between pain and suffering. Some authors consider that animals cannot imagine pain and therefore cannot be in a state of suffering. Hence they are not relevant moral beings. On the contrary, other authors consider it is precisely this alleged inability that could make pain worse because the animals are unable to rationalise and justify outcomes as humans can. Some authors conclude that in the absence of knowledge of the way each species experiences painful situations, logically, the benefit of the doubt should be given in favour of animals.
There are also varying interpretations among those authors who consider as pertinent the notion of animal suffering, linked to the consciousness of pain. Some authors have developed the idea of gradualism (gradual evolutionary change) in animals, setting different ethical norms for categories of animals depending of their degree of evolution. The specific vital needs and mental abilities of animals are very diverse and need to be determined for each species. This way, broad categories of animals can be differentiated depending on their cognitive abilities and accorded specific rights in proportion to their vital needs and mental abilities.
Moral considerations may go beyond simple concerns for animal welfare. They can be broadened to include the idea that animals should have a life fitting their species and that includes the freedom to express their natural behaviours. This position is founded on the idea that from its own viewpoint, a living being has had a satisfactory Expertise scientifique collective "Douleurs animales" 13 life if its capacity for certain actions and behaviours has been fulfilled, and that it is unfair to prevent them from this fulfilment. For instance, whatever their social, physical or mental handicaps all human beings have the right to choose the life they want to lead and to have the opportunity for self-development in line with their abilities. When extended to animals, this call for justice requires that humans take the necessary measures to ensure that all species are given the opportunity to develop according to their own aptitudes.
The concept of animal welfare, on which the regulations on rearing animals and on the conditions for slaughtering animals are based, is seen as an attempt to reconcile these different points of view. It substitutes an approach based on pain with a positive approach that takes into account the factors considered decisive to the respect of
the animals perception of pain and suffering. The concept of animal welfare is founded on Five Freedoms:
1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst, 2. Freedom from Discomfort, 3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease,
4. Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour, 5. Freedom from Fear and Distress. The animal welfare approach places greater emphasis on the duties humans have towards animals than on specific animal rights, marking a transition from the requirement for avoiding harm to that of doing good.
The question of the boundaries between pain, suffering and consciousness will be treated in greater detail in Chapter 2.
The emergence of the issue on animal rights: animal ethics Most authors, at least the philosophers, agree with the idea that animals are not moral subjects, in keeping with Kantian philosophy on this point. Nevertheless, in no manner does this undermine the current point of view that animals can be regarded as moral beings if feeling pain is taken as a valid ethical criterion for animal welfare. This implies not only, that humans have the duty of care for animals but goes further by granting animals rights or at least recognising that they have their own personal interests. However, these duties or rights need to be further defined. In the extension of moral consideration to animals there has been a tendency to copy moral theories established for organising human affairs and for enforcing norms on actions and decisions liable to have an impact on other humans. The moral interest for animals does not always allow for a cruel and degrading treatment to be distinguished from one that is humane. For this reason, an assessment of a welfare situation cannot be left entirely to the subjective analysis of humans because it will differ according to individual sensitivity and cultural diversity.
It is in this context that animal ethics emerged and differentiated into two main streams, both of Anglo-Saxon origins. On one hand there is the utilitarian approach where the interests of all sentient creatures are brought together in an overall calculation and on the other hand the deontologist approach that supports non-negotiable rights for animals.
Sensitivity is clearly taken into account in the utilitarian approach according to which it is necessary to maximise the well-being and to minimise the suffering of all sentient beings. There is no reason for limiting this consideration to humans. All sentient creatures can therefore be included in an assessment of any action on the basis of the ratio between the costs to the individual under consideration (in terms of suffering or pain) and the benefits (in terms of wants or desires satisfied). The cost-benefit assessments done by some researchers are in fact, an application of this ethical principle. Other authors limit the relevance of such an evaluation by stressing that it is not egalitarian because the ones that suffer are not necessarily the ones that benefit from the suffering. It is worth noting that in absolute utilitarianism terms, it is possible to accept the sacrifice of individual interests for the common good. As a consequence protection is not granted to each individual, whether human or animal. Individuals can only be assured that their torments and satisfactions will be taken into account in an egalitarian manner in an overall assessment, the results of which may be disastrous or even fatal for them.
For this reason, some authors think that to protect both humans and animals it is necessary to grant them all moral rights. This is the deontological position, exemplified by the stance of the American philosopher, Tom Regan; the recognised authority on deontology. Even though in practice his line of reasoning encompasses actions similar to those of the utilitarian position, it differs significantly in theoretical foundations, putting him in opposition with Peter Singer, the figurehead of utilitarianism. According to deontologists, the rights granted should be more or less extensive depending on the complexity of the mental faculties of the animals and on their cognitive abilities. For the supporters of deontological ethics all creatures, or at least those above some level of complexity, are “subjectsof-a-life”. They have an “intrinsic value” and therefore treating them as having only an “instrumental value” or 14 Expertise scientifique collective "Douleurs animales" inflicting the slightest harm on them should be prohibited, whether in farming industries or in scientific experiments.
This stance of an absolute right to equality is translated beyond vegetarianism into veganism. This way of thinking about animals extends the rejection of death to the rejection of any exploitation. It excludes the consumption of honey, eggs and milk since farming these products involves putting to death bees, male chicks and calves and culled animals. Consequently even if the primary objective of these production systems is not to produce meat, the innocence is only apparent. In an even more radical position vegans practice a complete change of lifestyle and have added leather, wool, silk and any animal labour to the list of unacceptable items.
Box 1. Vegetarianism The vegetarian movement originated with the views of the evangelical religious movements in England at the end of the 17th century which spread around the country during the following century. During the nineteenth century the development of vegetarianism in England and The United States was linked to evangelical groups. In France and in the rest of the European continent the spread of vegetarianism was more under the auspices of medical philanthropy. In common to both was the prescribing of social and moral norms for the well-being of animals that went far beyond a mere non-meat diet. However there was a difference between religious vegetarianism which related to the quest for spiritual purity and vegetarianism on the grounds of health and lifestyle where the emphasis was above all on bodily health and on the improvement of the social status of the poor and the working class. Vegetarianism is still more prevalent in Great Britain than in France. Ten percent of the British population is vegetarian as opposed to two percent of the French. There are also wide differences in practices and considerable diversity among followers and related institutions. While, as in the past, concern about animal pain is basic to the vegetarian movement it is not first and foremost on the agenda. It is rather the pursuit of an extensive reform of health and social status that is at the heart of the vegetarian ideology. It is also worth noting that since the end of the nineteenth century there has been a minority vegetarian tradition in some French anarchistic circles. Today this can be traced to French anti-specist vegans who bring an anarchistic dimension to the political discussion on the status of animals in society.