Location: Dairy and Functional Foods
Title: Preface to "Should animal welfare be law or market driven?" Author
Submitted to: Joint Meeting of the ADSA, AMSA, ASAS and PSA
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 9, 2010
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The Bioethics Symposium, entitled “Should animal welfare be law or market driven?” was held at the joint annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association, American Society of Animal Science, Poultry Science Association, Asociación Mexicana de Producción Animal, and Canadian Society of Animal Science, in Denver, Colorado, USA, July 11-15, 2010. This symposium was organized as a joint effort of the ASAS-ADSA Bioethics committee and the Agricultural Bioethics Multi-State Research Committee, NCCC209. Bioethics covers a variety of concerns that impacts consumers, producers, and processors. Bioethics in animal production forms the basis on which animal welfare concerns should be evaluated, communicated, and implemented. Unfortunately, left to the discretion of the individual, company, or industry, many issues may be ignored or by-passed based on economic factors, resource availability, understanding, or other priority factors. In other cases, non-government organizations and others in the public sector drive issues and policies that are unrealistic or harmful to our agricultural infrastructure and perhaps an animal’s welfare in the long run. This brings into focus the question of how the animal industry should select and enforce the humane treatment of animals. This symposium was organized to examine how bioethical and animal welfare issues are defined and championed, and discuss the pros and cons of the question "should animal welfare be law or market driven?" Croney’s presentation starts the discussion by introducing background on the increasing concern and attention given to animal welfare. She covers societal as well as industry issues and asks the question of how should conflicting values and priorities be addressed. Swanson takes the question further by identifying the drivers behind animal welfare issues and exploring the legal aspects of bioethical issues. She discusses the pros and cons of both legal and self-regulating controls and the critical steps needed to ensure compliance. She also explores the effectiveness of some current animal welfare legislation and what is needed to make it work. Rollin’s presentation takes a strong stand for legislative animal welfare. He discusses the many faceted moral aspects requiring animal protection laws. There is a strong demand for proper treatment of animals from society, yet industries and researchers do not always follow through in the humane treatment of animals. He relates many instances where the need for humane treatment of animals was recognized but not followed or enforced. He warns that to avoid non-informed idealists from creating policy, the people who understand agriculture must take action. Gies, as the Executive Director of the Animal Assistance Foundation, discusses the impact of the recent horse slaughter ban on the welfare of the horse. He discusses the past and current role of the horse in American culture and what led to the recent legislative actions. Backed by data collected from Colorado, he discusses the impact of the ban on horse welfare and poses possible solutions. Golab’s presentation addresses the veterinarians’ perspective on the use of pain management and euthanasia in animal production. She begins by defining pain and euthanasia and the common practices used in current American animal production; based on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) guidelines. She then discussed whether the practices need to be made mandatory or if other options are available. She concludes with the official AVMA policies on pain management and euthanasia. Norwood’s presentation takes an economist’s angle in examining the impact of animal welfare issues on consumer choices. He discusses the different views consumers may have of animal welfare either as a commodity or as an ethical issue, and the debate of public good in developing animal welfare guidance. He focuses on egg and pork production to explain how consumer-purchasing choices reveals their true, and often conflicting, perceptions and priorities in animal welfare issues. The symposium presents many complex bioethical issues that are involved in animal research and production, and examines the potential outcomes if issues are not addressed by decision makers, society, and persons involved in research or production. Ultimately, everyone must be actively aware of bioethical concerns involved in their work and the food animal system.