Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Animal issues

Since the agricultural revolution which began around 12,500 years ago, humans have domesticated animals to serve their needs, and hunted others from the wild. For the food system animals have been essential as a source of food, labour, and organic fertilizer while ownership of animals may also have cultural, economic or symbolic import. Industrial farming techniques have allowed for large scale production of animal products, which has raised new ethical concerns about their welfare and more fundamentally about the morality of using animals for human purposes. The resource-intense nature of livestock production has attracted attention from researchers, civil society and policymakers alike. Finally, zoonotic diseases, those which can be spread between animals and humans, are a common source of human infection.

Image: Pxhere, Grass bird field, CC0 Public Domain
16 July 2019

This article in AgFunderNews explores how the “pasture-raised” label is used in poultry retail in the US. The label, which has not yet been officially defined by the USDA or the FDA, has attracted controversy from some food industry actors and animal welfare advocates, who say that some producers using the label do not have welfare standards as high as customers expect.

9 July 2019

This report from UK animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming sets out its vision of how the UK government can contribute to making the food system more “nourishing, sustainable, equitable and humane”. 

3 June 2019

In this research note, the US-based Open Philanthropy Project discusses whether animal welfare might be helped or hindered by climate-focused reductions in meat consumption. For example, the note points out that meat types with a relatively low carbon footprint (e.g. chicken) are often from smaller animals (compared to, say, cows) and thus require more animals to be farmed and killed.

13 May 2019

The UK’s Food Research Collaboration (FRC) has launched a new blog series, “Brexit Briefings Update”. The series aims to revisit policy areas already covered by the FRC’s Food Brexit Briefings series of papers (on food policy issues linked to the UK’s upcoming departure from the European Union), covering any updates that have occurred since publication. The first post in the series is “Farm animal welfare in the UK: setting the bar higher”.

8 April 2019

This book, edited by Mette Vaarst and Stephen Roderick, reviews key challenges and solutions in improving the health and welfare of organic farm animals, including case studies from organic farming of dairy and beef cattle, sheep and goats, pig and poultry.

26 March 2019

This interactive tool from the European Food Safety Authority presents data on resistance to several types of antimicrobials among humans, pigs and cattle.

20 March 2019

FCRN member Samuel Smith of international non-profit Forum for the Future has created a three-part blog series exploring sustainability issues linked to animal feed. The blog posts round up the findings of Forum for the Future’s project Feed Compass: acting on animal feed.

4 March 2019

FCRN member Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming has produced a policy briefing for the Fourth Session of the UN Environment Assembly, arguing that industrial livestock production has a detrimental impact on soils, water, biodiversity and food security and also undermines small-scale livestock farmers.

4 March 2019

This report written by the International Livestock Research Institute for the World Economic Forum’s Meat: the Future series explores the role of the livestock sector in developing and emerging economies to 2030 and beyond.

Image: Illuvis, Moth Lepidoptera, Pixabay, Pixabay License
19 February 2019

Over 40% of insect species are at risk of extinction over the next few decades and 75% to 98% of insect biomass has already been lost, according to this review of the current state of knowledge about insect declines, with habitat loss through conversion to intensive agriculture being the main driver. Agro-chemical pollutants, invasive species and climate change are also driving insect declines.

18 February 2019

71% of European Union farmland is used to feed livestock and 18% to 20% of the EU’s total budget goes to livestock farms, according to this report by NGO Greenpeace.

Image: congerdesign, Chicks hatch eggshell, Pixabay, Pixabay license
22 January 2019

A new process, Seleggt, can determine the sex of a chick before it hatches from the egg, avoiding the culling of unwanted male chicks in the egg industry (which often happens by feeding live chicks into shredding machines). The first eggs produced using the process are on sale in Berlin.

Image: Shpernik088, The chicken meat industry 14, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
19 November 2018

Chicken processing plants in the United States will be allowed to apply for a waiver to increase their processing speed from 140 to 175 birds per minute, in response to a petition from the National Chicken Council. Civil Eats reports that workers in meat processing plants are already injured five times more frequently than all other private workers, and that both animal welfare and labour welfare advocates have previously sought to block increases in processing speed.

12 November 2018

In the book The End of Animal Farming, author Jacy Reese examines the social forces, technologies and activism that he argues will lead to the end of animal agriculture.

6 November 2018

WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report finds that population sizes of thousands of vertebrate species have declined by 60%, on average, between 1970 and 2014, land degradation seriously impacts 75% of terrestrial ecosystems, and current species extinction rates are 100 to 1000 times higher than the background rate. The report attributes these impacts to rising demand for land, water and energy, and explores the impacts of agriculture, fisheries and deforestation.

Image: USDA, Chickens, Flickr, Public domain
6 November 2018

Labelling schemes to indicate higher welfare standards for broiler chickens have contributed to some changes in the governance of poultry welfare in Australia, argues this paper - but those changes are mostly incremental, and the labelling schemes may even bolster the perceived legitimacy of intensive poultry farming.

8 October 2018

FCRN member Christopher Schlottmann and Jeff Sebo, both of New York University, have written a book discussing empirical, ethical, and social dimensions of food, animals, and the environment, providing both big picture and more detailed analysis, including updated statistics.

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