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Peter Singer: "The Ethics of What We Eat"
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What should we eat?
- Standard American Diet?
- Fair Trade?
Tree Ethical Issues
- Using animals for food
- The environmental impact of our food
- The impact on the world food crisis
- Anatomical and physiological similarities with us
- Behavioral parallels in appropriate circumstances
- Shared evolutionary history
Which animals are conscious?
- Mammals and birds?
- Some invertebrates, eg octopus?
- Crustacea, eg lobster?
- Clams, oysters?
The traditional view
- "Plants exist for the sake of animals, and brute beasts for the sake of man…" Aristotle, Politics
- "It matters not how man behaves to animals, because God has subjected all things to man's power." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
- "So far as animals are concerned, we have no direct duties. Animals are not selfconscious, and are there merely as a means to an end. That end is man." Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Ethics.
The mainstream view today
- We have duties to be kind to animals and to avoid being cruel to them.
- Animal interests count, so deliberate or wanton cruelty is bad, but animal interests are easily overridden by our own interests, eg in producting meat or eggs cheaply.
A Question [13:30]
- Is modern farming compatible with the mainstream view of how we are entitled to treat animals?
Transparency: An ethical indicator [13:50]
- "If most urban meat-eaters were to visit an industrial broiler house, to see how the birds are raised, and could see the birds being 'harvested' and then being 'processed' in a poultry processing plant, some, perhaps many of them, would swear off eating chicken and perhaps all meat."
Peter R. Cheeke, Professor of Animal
Science, Oregon State University
Broiler Chickens [17:10, picture]
- "42 Tage werden die Hühner alt, wenn sie im Supermarkt landen. Es sind Babys, große Babys."
An ethical argument against eating factory farm products [24:20]
- It is wrong to cause pain without a good enough reason.
- Animals suffer in modern meat production.
- We could nourish ourselves in other ways.
- Our enjoyment of the way meat tastes is not a good enough reason to justify the amount of suffering animals are made to endure.
- Therefore we should stop eating the products of modern meat production
The New York Times (nytimes.com) [26:30]
- The goal of the California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act – Proposition 2 on the state's November ballot – sounds extremely modest. It would ban the confinement of animals in a way that keeps them from being able to stand, sit, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs. Te fact that such fundamental decencies have to be forced upon factory farming says a lot about its horrors. We urge California voters to pass Proposition 2. We urge every state to enact similar laws.
Editorial, October 9, 2008
Environmental impact of factory farming: water pollution [27:50, picture]
Environmental Impact: climate change [29:50, picture]
Factory farming: feeding the World? [31:30]
- 70% of U.S. grain fed to animals
- It takes 6 lbs of feed protein, on average, to produce 1 lb of meat protein
Land use efficiency (diagram) [32:28]
Note: 1970s data. Current figures would be similar but not identical.
- Land use efficiency – usable protein yields per acre from diferent foods
- Soybeans (356)
- Rice (261)
- … (211)
- Other … (192)
- Wheat (138)
- Milk (82)
- Eggs (78)
- beef (..)
Causes of the food crisis: biofuels or animal feeding? [33:10]
- Grain used for making ethanol in 2007/8: 100 million tons worldwide
- Grain used for feeding animals in 2007/8: 756 millions tons worldwide (note that soy and other non-grain animal feed is not included in this figure).
Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization Crop Prospects and Food Situation, April 2008 www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai465e/ai4653/ai465e04.htm [broken]
Food and Climate Change [34:55]
- "The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is a higher share than transport."
Source: FAO report Livestock's Long Shadow, 2006.
Hansen on Methane [35:28]
- "I suggest that the sharp global warming trend that began in the 1960s was primarily a consequence of the activities producing the trace gases, mainly CFCs and methane as these gases produce only warming."
James Hansen "The sun's role in long-term climate change." Space Science Reviews, 94:349-356(8), November 2000.
IPCC Chair on Meat [36:55]
- "Please eat less meat — meat is a very carbon intensive commodity … this is something that the IPCC was afraid to say earlier, but now we have said it."
IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri, 1.15.08
Food and Climate Change [37:24]
- Average U.S. driver switching from a typical American car to a fuel-efficient hybrid saves 1 ton of carbon per year.
- Average U.S. consumer switching from a typical American diet to a vegan diet with the same number of calories saves 1,5 tons of carbon per year
(Eshel, G. and P. A. Martin, 2006: Diet, energy and global warming, Earth interactions, in press.)
"Conscientious Omnivorism" [38:10]
- Domestic animals depend on humans and would not exist without humans.
- Killing them painlessly is not in itself tragic.
- Hence eating animals is justified when "animals raised for meat are properly looked after, when all duties of care are fulfilled, and when the demands of sympathy and piety are respected…"
(From Roger Scruton, "The Conscientious Carnivore" in Steve Sapontzis, ed, Food for Thought, See also Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma)
Local, Sustainable Farming: Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville, NJ [40:17, picture]
Reasons for Buying Organic Food [41:10]
- Farming methods that are sustainable in the long term.
- No synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are permitted, althought some naturally occurring pesticides may be used.
- No genetically modified plants or animals can be certified as organic.
- Animals must be fed only organically grown feed, without antibiotics, steroids or hormones.
- In theory, animals must be able to go outside, generally on pasture, during sultable waether (but not always in practice).
AurorA – Organic Dairy [43:16, picture]
- Picture (cow's are shown) from www.auroraorganic.com
- Picture (show's reality) – Aurora Organic Dairy, Colorado
Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs, Monroe, NH. [44:16, picture]
- "much better"
Should we buy locally-produced food? [45:42]
- Strengthen Your Local Economy
- Support Endangered Family Farms
- Protect the Environment
- Get to know your supplier
But is it always better for the environment?
Is it always better to strengthen the local economy?
Should we buy Fair Trade? [47:30]
- Fair Trade Certified products available in the US include coffee, cocoa, chocolate and bananas
- Wider range available in Europe
- www.transfairusa.org [broken]
- Effective assistance or market distortion?
- Avoid products from CAFOs
- Vegetarian / Vegan or Conscientious Omnivore
- Fair Trade
Talk To Students
- … watch the video 😉