Are we talking too much about “animal welfare”?

A text by Marie-Claude Marsolier, Director of Genetic Research, National Museum of Natural History (MNHN). This text was originally published on The Conversation France.

The way we think and the words we use are interdependent, and agricultural experts know this well: to hide violence against animals, they multiply words and diversity. semantic form.

In the 19th century, killing and spark thus became slaughterhouseand on farms today, care about may refer to tooth filing as well as beak cutting, tailing, or live castration. Within the general framework of the denial of human-caused suffering to other animals, a concept has gradually pervaded all discourse: “animal welfare”.

While pig farming is one of the areas that can cause the most suffering for the animals involved, the website of Inaporc, the national pork association, proudly states: “Animal welfare : is at the heart of industry concerns”. This page argues:

Welfarist movement

The concept of “animal welfare” became popular with the general public in the 1960s, first in the United Kingdom. In English, it is called animal welfare, Welfare denoted in its general sense “a state of mind and body”, whether good or bad: one may not contradict when it comes to poor welfare.

Add Doa, Welfare more specifically from the early 20th century to social assistance that benefits the most vulnerable. L’animal welfare was the center of the speaking movement welfaristendeavors to improve the living conditions of non-human animals, especially on farms, but does not challenge the principle of their exploitation.

This movement can be seen as a desire to extend to animals in general the assurance that their minimum needs are met, a principle generally accepted today for humans.

Afterward’animal welfare animal welfare

the Welfare therefore different from good healthy, “happiness” in the basic sense of “general feeling of well-being, satisfaction that comes from the full satisfaction of the needs of the body and/or mind”, is likely to apply to humans as well and not human. – People. Thus, in English, the distinct meanings of Welfare and of good healthy apply equally to humans and other animals.

L’animal welfare English translates as “animal welfare” in French, which breaks this beautiful symmetry. the Welfare Human society actually corresponds in French to “protection” (childhood, etc.) or “social welfare”, while “animal welfare”, is said to express generalizations of Welfare socializing with non-humans, intuition brings French speakers back good healthy, to extend human welfare to other animals. In other words, fundamentally positive (we’re not talking about “poor happiness”) and hedonistic (spa, massage, etc.), are not related to brutal individualist measures. like hitting the skull (“stun”). before the throat is cut.

A misleading term

Official documents define “animal welfare” as a state guaranteed by the satisfaction of five needs, qualifying as “freedom” (no hunger, no fear, etc.).

Even with such restrictions, the term “animal welfare” is misleading, its systematic use seemingly implying that respect for the “five freedoms” is guaranteed to the majority. personal number.

However, for farm animals, “animal welfare”, even in its official definition, is only guaranteed in a small number of cases. Thus, it is clear that the “freedom to exhibit the normal behavior of its species” (fifth freedom) is not respected for animals living on intensive farms (estimated 80% of the population). animals slaughtered in France).

Even today, tailing and castration of live pigs is legal or state-approved (not to mention the conditions of slaughter), while “painless” is recognized as the defining 4th freedom. good thing – are animals…

“Animal unrest”, is more suitable to designate these problems

Thus, the phrase “animal welfare” has two connotations that mislead the public: on the one hand, its stake seems to cover sub-points, of “comfort”, not issues. about severe suffering (when “welfare is understood in its usual hedonistic sense). health”, will at least meet their primary need.

These misunderstandings will be avoided by using the phrase “animal unrest” (in the sense of “physical and mental suffering”) to refer to animal welfare issues in general. When we’ve agreed to talk about “welfare,” as the agricultural industry has done for decades, it seems hard to deny “shame” to describe the real lack of “welfare” that exists. in most livestock species. .

For the animal movement, the interest of the phrase “unstable animal” is also to imply a sense of consciousness, better than the term pain and hurt (a requirement or rule can also be “delayed”…delayed or exceptional).

The use of “animal welfare” and the fact that it limits the use of “animal welfare” to its intuitive sense of “feeling of pleasure and satisfaction” will also make it possible to distinguish clearly, by naming them from “negative” measures appropriately. to “reduce animal welfare” to limit psychological and physical suffering, “positive” measures to increase “animal welfare”.

After a long time of neglect, scientific research focused on promoting positive emotions is now exploding, known as positive welfare. “Animal welfare” actually presupposes not only the absence of discomfort but also the appearance of pleasurable life experiences.

Stop covering up violence

Limiting, but not giving up, its use of “animal welfare” avoids its use for the purpose of reducing violence. To us, persistently using this expression to talk indiscriminately about stopping cropping and enriching the environment seems to be undermining the cause we must defend.

We are not suggesting changing the way all players in the field talk overnight. But animal associations can act as lexical prescribers in this case. Bypassing this issue by endorsing terms that go against common sense and harm animals is not trivial.

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