Livestock Production and Emerging Social Ethics for Animals

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The issue of regularly feeding low levels of antibiotics to farm animals in order to increase productivity is often portrayed as a dilemma. On the one hand, such antibiotic use is depicted as a necessary condition for producing cheap and plentiful food, such that were such use to stop, food prices would rise significantly and our ability to feed people in developing nations would decrease. On the other hand, such antibiotic use seems to breed antibiotic resistance into pathogens affecting human health. Resolving this dilemma, it is alleged, will require great amounts of research into risk/benefit assessment. Contrary to this claim, we will argue that society has all the data it needs to make a reasonable ethical decision, which would be curtailing such use. Such curtailment will not harm consumers significantly, will not harm developing nations’ evolving agriculture, and could produce hitherto unnoticed benefits, namely restoring the possibility of a more husbandry-based, sustainable agriculture to replace the high-tech agriculture that has hurt animals, the environment, small farms, and sustainability