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Industrial Farm Animal Production: A Comprehensive Moral Critique

  • John Rossi
  • Samual A. Garner
Review Paper

Abstract

Over the past century, animal agriculture in the United States has transformed from a system of small, family farms to a largely industrialized model—often known as ‘industrial farm animal production’ (IFAP). This model has successfully produced a large supply of cheap meat, eggs and dairy products, but at significant costs to animal welfare, the environment, the risk of zoonotic disease, the economic and social health of rural communities, and overall food abundance. Over the past 40 years, numerous critiques of IFAP have been published, for both academic and non-academic audiences, mostly focusing on our obligations to animals. Here we offer a comprehensive critique of IFAP, focusing not only on our obligations to animals, but also important environmental, social, economic, and public health concerns. Our cumulative argument proceeds in five steps: (1) we briefly review the structure and key characteristics of IFAP; (2) we review the adverse effects of IFAP; (3) we review the historical development and positive rationale for IFAP; (4) we summarize previous moral critiques of IFAP, as well as defenses of it; and (5) we offer a moral critique of IFAP based on the common morality, and in particular on a principle of nonmaleficence, which we take to be the least controversial argument.

Keywords

Industrial farm animal production Animal agriculture Industrial animal agriculture Factory farming Ethics Morality Animal welfare Animal ethics Public health 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community Health and PreventionDrexel University School of Public HealthPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.WashingtonUSA

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