The “New Perception” of animal agriculture: Legless cows, featherless chickens, and a need for genuine analysis
A growing popular literature has created a “New Perception” of animal agriculture by depicting commercial animal production as 1) detrimental to animal welfare, 2) controlled by corporate interests, 3) motivated by profit rather than by traditional animal care values, 4) causing increased world hunger, 5) producing unhealthy food, and 6) harming the environment. Agricultural organizations have often responded with public relations material promoting a very positive image of animal agriculture and denying all six of the critics' claims. The public, faced with these two highly simplistic and contradictory images, needs knowledgeable research and analysis to serve as a basis for public policy and individual choice. Scientists and ethicists could provide such analysis. In some cases, however, scientists and ethicists have themselves produced misleading, polarized, or simplistic accounts of animal agriculture. The problems in such accounts include the repetition of unreliable information from advocacy sources, use of unwarranted generalizations, simplistic analysis of complex issues, and glossing over the ethical problems. The New Perception debate raises important and complex ethical issues; in order to provide useful guidance, both scientists and ethicists must consider these issues as research problems that are worthy of genuine investigation and analysis.
Fraser, D. (2001). The “New Perception” of animal agriculture: Legless cows, featherless chickens, and a need for genuine analysis. Journal of animal science, 79(3), 634-641. https://doi.org/10.2527/2001.793634x