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THE ENEMY WITHIN: Why are ‘animal rights’ organizations working with factory farms to enact ‘humane slaughter’ legislation?

Some in the animal rights movement believe that to have any chance of changing the animal agriculture system, they must become part of it, even complicit in it.

EZRA KLEIN: In December of 2019, while campaigning in Iowa, Sen. Cory Booker unveiled the Farm System Reform Act. It’s sweeping legislation, but at its core it… imposes an immediate moratorium on the construction of new CAFOs [Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations] and phases out the largest existing CAFOs by 2040… Booker realized that, as unlikely as it sounds, there was a space… between the people who believe raising and killing animals for food is wrong and the people whose chose, as their livelihoods, to raise and kill animals for food. Both could agree that the way we are doing it now is cruel, both to animals and to people… There is a coalition emerging here, one that could lead to overdue reforms in our food system, but one that also has profound things to say about our politics… Booker dropped out of the presidential race in January. But his legislation kept picking up cosponsors. In May of 2020, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) signed on to the bill…

David Coman-Hidy is the president of the Humane League, an animal welfare organization,… [and a supporter of Corey’s legislation]… is working to convince agricultural producers to slaughter chickens by simply gassing them, en masse. It’s easier on the chickens, and less traumatizing for the workers. And the campaign is seeing some success. McDonald’s has pledged to move to atmospheric killing, for one.

Coman-Hidy is vegan; he’s devoted his life to reducing animal suffering. Didn’t it feel strange… to become part of this machine whose very existence he loathes? Even if atmospheric killing was more humane, wouldn’t it unnerve him to become one of the people shaping the architecture of animal slaughter? “The thought experiment that helped me is if I could die, or have a member of my family die, by being euthanized by gas, or have what I just described happen to them, what would I give to get the gas?” He replied. “And the answer is everything”…

If the Farm System Reform Act passed, how much would really change? “It doesn’t ban animal agriculture,” says Leah Garcés, the president of Mercy for Animals. “If you look for the part of the bill banning cages and crates, it’s not in there. But it would end animal agriculture as we know it. It wouldn’t let the system go forward as it does.” To Garcés, the key element of the bill is the reversal of liability… In her work with farmers, Garcés has found many of them want to escape the industrial animal agriculture business, because they appalled by how they have to treat their animals, their land, or both…

And so the animal suffering movement has to practice, in the truest and most challenging sense of the word, politics. They have to find common purpose with those they disagree with profoundly. To have any chance of changing a system they loathe, they must become part of it, even complicit in it. They don’t get to realistically hope for success anytime soon, for a world they could be comfortable in, for an end to the horror they see all around them. They get to hope chickens will die from gas rather than shackled upside down with their throats cut. And they are finding that the best way to get to that world is to focus on human suffering, too. The coronavirus has created coalitions that didn’t exist before it by laying bare the close connection between animal and human suffering. SOURCE…


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