Food Business Research Manager, Inês Ajuda, attended the recent UFAW International Animal Welfare Science Symposium in Croatia. The symposium covered many controversial animal welfare issues and challenged the audience to look at animal welfare from different perspectives.
Professor David Frasier, one of the most well-known and respected animal welfare researchers in the world, invited the audience to think about the wider perspectives of animal welfare, taking into account human activities that can impact and harm animals. He identified four different types of harm that can be caused and the level of control humans can have on their impact:
- Keeping animals
- Deliberate harm
- Direct unintended harm
- Indirect harm
When ‘keeping animals’ humans have a high level of control – we can easily modify the impact of harm by providing them with good housing and a higher welfare environment.
With ‘deliberate harm’, for example hunting or slaughtering, humans can have a high to some level of control. By promoting best practice in slaughterhouses, such as good stunning methods and good handling of the animals, and shorter transport times in better conditions, we can have a positive impact on their welfare.
The ‘direct unintended harm’ is, for example, caused by the buildings we construct (e.g. high towers that can cause higher mortality rates in certain species of birds), or the increasing number of vehicles on our roads that can lead to an increasing number of wildlife fatalities. In this case, we do have some level of control, but we need to be more mindful of the harm we can cause and how we can reduce it, with the level of control we have.
The last example, ‘indirect harm’, is one that humans have little to no control over. This is mainly dominated by the effect that pollution has on ecosystems, which simultaneously impacts the wellbeing of millions of animals. It is therefore important for us to recognise this and to protect the life-sustainable process of nature, so that these animals can continue to exist.
Professor Frasier took us on a journey through a holistic perspective of animal welfare, encouraging those who fight for a better animal welfare to adopt this kind of broader view. It demonstrates that animal welfare is not only implicit in the direct and intentional harm that we can control, but is a much wider and far-reaching subject that needs a much broader solution.
Compassion’s Food Business team can offer technical advice to help food companies understand this broader perspective as part of their animal welfare policies. Please contact us to find out more.
You can also read our Business Case for Action to learn more about the part companies can play in improving animal welfare and find out more about how to develop a corporate policy on farm animal welfare.