JOE REGENSTEIN: Hi, I'm Joe Regenstein. I'm a Professor of Food Science in the Department of Food Science at Cornell, and a adjunct professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences in the Veterinary College. And I'd like to share some of my thoughts about animal welfare with you as part of the CyberTower program.
We have talked this today, and then there will be additional information on the website that you hopefully will use. And hopefully you'll also have some contact with us through the discussion board.
The field of animal welfare and animal agriculture, at times, is controversial. The first part of this talk is going to cover a number of topics related to animal welfare and animal agriculture, and I hope they will be provocative and get you to think about these things. And again, I don't expect agreement on everything because of the obvious controversial nature, but hopefully we can have a beneficial discussion and carry it out further-- again, through the email.
I'd like to start with the whole issue of ethics, which is a reasonable starting point for this kind of a discussion. Ethics is much more varied than most people realize. The different cultures, different frameworks of ethics and philosophy have different premises, so that even there we don't always agree.
However, it's important to recognize that despite that, on a practical basis, I believe we can come up with a reasonable ethics for talking about animal welfare. And particularly, I've always focused on those of us who are actually involved in animal agriculture.
And I believe very strongly that from an ethical point of view, it is our responsibility-- as the people working with animals-- to assure that the animals are treated as well as possible, that everything is done that reasonably could be done to help the animals have a good a life as possible under the systems of humans actually taking charge and being involved in their growth and eventual use for food and other uses such as fiber, et cetera.
Of course, we're here on the sheep farm. And we've got lots of sheep who are providing both milk, meat, and fiber. So it's a good example of domesticated animals.
One of the concepts in the philosophy of morality issues in ethics is the use of reason. And what we should be doing should be what holds up as most reasonable. And again, this is hard sometimes for us as humans-- to think through all the implications of our standards and how we react to different arguments given that this is such a controversial and emotional issue for many people.
We all have strong feelings about animals in one way or another. And one of the points I want to make as we start this is, as you think about some of the issues I want to bring up, I think it's important to recognize a logical argument from an illogical argument. And one of the common issues in animal agriculture is there are things that animal agriculture is probably not doing ideally.
I personally have some objections to some of what's being done. My solution is to say, OK, here's a problem. How do we fix it? How do we make it better? What do we do to deal with the problem?
Many people will use the argument that-- look, this is wrong with animal agriculture. That's wrong with animal agriculture. Therefore, let's get rid of animal agriculture. That is not a logical argument in my mind, because it is taking a problem, not solving it, not dealing with it, but presenting an alternative that may or may not have any relevance to the issue at hand.
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Animal welfare is a controversial topic in modern agriculture. Join Joe Regenstein as he examines the ethical issues involved with the production of food and fiber in modern agriculture.
This video is part 1 of 9 in the Animal Welfare series.