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: Sheep81, Northern White Rhinoceros Angalifu, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
22 May 2018

Although humans only make up 0.01% of life on Earth by weight, 83% of wild mammals and 15% of fish have been lost since the start of human civilisation, according to a new study. The study also finds that, of all mammals on Earth, 36% are humans, 60% are livestock and 4% are wild mammals, while 70% of birds are chicken and other poultry with only 30% being wild.

21 May 2018

This book, edited by Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett, and Mark Budolfson, provides an overview of the philosophy of food ethics across a range of subject matter. Topics include genetically modified food, animal sentience, vegan and omnivorous diets, body image, global markets and activism.

15 May 2018

This book, by Henry Buller and Emma Roe, examines issues of animal welfare in the food supply chain. Topics include the care of farm animals, the ethics of using welfare as a marketing tool and the links between globalisation of farm animal welfare.

Image: K-State Research and Extension, Pigs, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
9 May 2018

Experts agree that feeding properly treated food waste to pigs can be done safely at scale, according to a seminar report by FCRN member Karen Luyckx of food waste charity Feedback (our thanks to FCRN member Jessica Sinclair Taylor, also of Feedback, for bringing this research to our attention).

Image: Cory Barnes, Honeybee on Flower, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
30 April 2018

European Union member countries have voted to ban three neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids have been linked to the decline of bees and other pollinators. Neonicotinoids will be banned from use in open fields by the end of 2018, but will still be permitted inside closed greenhouses.

24 April 2018

Eating Better has published a new report setting out their suggested approach to eating “less and better” meat and dairy. They set out eight principles, including: eat less meat and dairy; reduce waste; choose smaller scale, higher standard producers; and avoid livestock fed on imported feedstuffs such as soy. The report also includes a guide to assurance and labelling schemes to help people choose better meat and dairy.

26 March 2018

This report from the UK NGO Sustainable Food Trust shows that one in three small abattoirs in the UK have closed in the last decade, which could mean that marketing locally-produced, traceable meat will not be possible in some areas.

Image: Memphis Meats Press Kit, Southern Fried Chicken
19 March 2018

Social scientist and co-founder of the Sentience Institute Jacy Reese discusses public attitudes to diets and the potential of lab-cultured meat to end animal farming, as well as possible pitfalls.

Image: Pete, The Cows…, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
19 March 2018

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have sequenced the genomes of 913 types of microbes found inside cows’ digestive systems, hoping to discover more about the types of enzymes that the microbes use to break down the food.

19 March 2018

Author Barry Estabrook explores the American pork industry in search of more responsible production systems.

19 March 2018

The 2017 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare report analyses farm animal welfare management and performance of 110 global food companies, including retailers, wholesalers, food producers, restaurants and bars.

Image: david pacey, Piglets, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
6 March 2018

In this blog post for the Food Ethics Council, ffinlo Costain describes different ways of measuring farm animal welfare.

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Image: Andrew, New Laund Breakfast, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
6 March 2018

This study, undertaken by researchers at Michigan State University and the Union of Concerned Scientists, compares the net greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of two different beef finishing systems in the Upper Midwest, of the United States: a feedlot system; and a grazing system based on adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing principles.

6 March 2018

The FAO has just published a briefing paper which proposes three ways to substantially reduce emissions from livestock production.

Image: USDA, 20130920-OC-LSC-0594, Flickr, Public Domain
26 February 2018

Three letters have been published in a recent edition of PNAS criticising the assumptions and conclusions drawn by a 2017 paper which sought to quantify the greenhouse gas (GHG) and nutritional implications of completely eliminating animals from US agriculture. A rebuttal letter by the authors of the original 2017 paper appears alongside the three letters in the journal.

Image: Viva Granda Photography, Friendly Calf, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
20 February 2018

A new study shows that individual dairy calves have a tendency to be pessimistic or optimistic, with more fearful calves tending to be more pessimistic.

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Image: Angus MacAskill, Japanese knotweed 2, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
20 February 2018

A perspective piece and an editorial have featured in the same edition of Biological Conservation (March 2018): both tackle a recent debate among conservation biologists as to whether at a local level biodiversity or species richness is changing and in what direction.

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