Environment, Ethics, and the Factory Farm
7 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2013
Date Written: September 25, 2013
What are the ethics behind factory farming? What are the ethical implications? This essay (transcribed from a lecture given at the South Texas College of Law) focuses on the environmental implications while defining those environmental implications through the lens of animal law.
Farms have become factories, and the animals raised in those factories are simply commodities. That is why we cannot have a discussion about environmental ethics without having a discussion of what we do when we eat. It’s not just a discussion about the law. It’s a discussion about how we live in the world. Where factory-farmed animals spend their entire lives is an environmental issue. They are the environment. Not only are they the environment, they are also living, sentient, feeling beings who are experiencing what it’s like to be in those cages.
This essay argues that environmental law and environmental ethics are interwoven and animals are part of the environment. Thus environmentalism and environmental law must do more than react to the pollution that animal mistreatment generates; it must address the mistreatment itself. No ethical system could do otherwise.
Keywords: animal law, agriculture, factory-farming, environmental ethics, environmental law, CAFOs, industrial agriculture
JEL Classification: I18, K32, K39, L6, N50, Q13, Q18, Q28, Q29
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