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Animal Ethics Lecture.docx

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Health Sciences
Health Sciences 2610F/G
Ken Kirkwood

HS 2610 Animal Ethics March 20, 2014 • In urban North America, our primary relationship with animals is as food or – to a lesser extent – as pets • Eating meat can be something we ‘just do’ without thinking • Is there an ethical component to eating animals? • Is there an ethical element to the health issues of eating animals? Lappé’s Protein Theory • First published in 1971, it popularized health and ecologically-based vegetarianism in North America • Her argument is not that it’ll get you ready for bikini season, but her argument is rooted in a profound moral statement – it isn’t about what you eat because it is healthy, it is about two themes: • (1) animals deserve better than agriculture and (2) the earth is in jeopardy for raising animals for food • Her central thesis in the book is presented as dietary advice but has a strong moral tone to it: The Theory Looks Like This: • P1 – there is a scarcity of food in the world • P2 – animals are fed excessive protein in order to grow meat protein: for example, chickens eat 8 pounds of protein feed in order to produce 1 pound of meat protein • P3 – humans don’t need to eat animal protein to be healthy – we would be healthier if we ate the non-meat proteins we feed chickens • Conclusions – eating animals is short-sighted, and ultimately harmful to us and others • Eating animals is short-sighted – we do it because it tastes good, but not good for our health and for the health of others and exacerbates the problem with the food distribution issue: we are over feeding our animals so that we get the food we want, rather than the food we need How Much Meat Do We Eat? • According to Agriculture Canada (2004), in a year the average Canadian (+18 years of age) will consume:  Chicken – 30.6 kgs  Beef – 30.0 kgs  Pork – 28.1 kgs  Turkey – 4.3 kgs  “Mature Chicken” – 1.7 kgs  Veal – 1.1kgs  Lamb – 1.0 kgs • For a grand total of 96.8 kgs of meat, per person, per year = 213 pounds • And meat is more popular now than ever: since 1972, chicken consumption has increased 84%, and everything else has stayed the same (except beef in the last two years, which has declined 24%) Ecological Impacts of Animal Farming • Claims about an overpopulation of cattle and methane expulsion’s effect on the ozone • Fecal run-off into water supplies • Grazing lands for cattle causing permanent damage to land surfaces (we can’t grow anything else on that land, even after the beef farm disappears) Inhumane Conditions in Factory Farming? • Meat in North America is relatively cheap because of factory farming – if you eat meat you support this kind of agriculture people believe This Proposition: • If you eat meat, you contribute to the problems of animal cruelty and bio hazardous agriculture. The only way to avoid these harmful effects is to go vegan • Not necessarily – the rise of organic meat production could avoid those pitfalls, and allow you to continue to eat meat The Emergence of Zoonotic Infections • Remember SARS, Bird Flu, etc.? • Zoonotic infections are infections that traditionally are only passed through animals, but can leap into human species • Bird Flue – ate feces from the bird • Unclean food sanitation and preparation Animals as Test Subjects • Zoonotic infections and Xenotransplantation  Xenotransplantation – transferring tissue onto a tissue where it wasn’t originally grown, onto human tissue; take that alien substance on the human (host); the potential for zoonotic infection is very dramatic – we could incubate artificial parts for humans and we may use humans as sort of incubators of that  The concern is that what if it has an infection that becomes a human infection and we don’t have an answer for it? • Difference between commercial and medical research uses?  You’d be saying that human benefit is better than animal suffering – if it was brutal to test on animals, but it was going to benefit us, most people would do that research because the outcomes are so good that the costs along the way don’t matter – although they are still not good, but they are so g
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