An Anthrozoology Journal

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Technical Difficulties: Toward a Critical, Reflexive Stance on In Vitro Meat

This paper critically examines in vitro meat by the fundamental fact that it is a technological fix for problems associated with industrial meat production and a growing human population. Some issues discussed are applicable to technology in general, and others are particular to in vitro meat. Throughout the article, examples of other technological products are used to show precedence for the existence of uncertainties from technology, and thus we should also expect in vitro meat to give rise to unforeseen consequences. I take as a starting point that industrial meat production poses serious environmental and welfare concerns to both human and nonhuman animals. Further, in vitro meat is said to address all such issues with industrial meat. The literature on in vitro meat has so far been decidedly favorable on the whole, so this paper aims to balance these viewpoints by adding in a critical perspective. I end by discussing a general framework for a critical science and critical ethics that would be necessary in order to accept in vitro meat as a widespread and ethical alternative to traditional meat. If such conditions cannot be met, I argue that in vitro meat is not a responsible solution to current problems associated with meat production and consumption.

By Nathan Poirier

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Past Experience Influences the Social Behavior of Cows (Bos taurus) and Pigs (Sus scrofa) in the Sanctuary Setting

The long-term effects of early traumatic experiences in humans and some nonhuman animals are well documented. This study explored the role of a past history on the social behavior of cows and pigs in the sanctuary setting. Subjects were cows (N=8) and pigs (N = 10) housed at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. The researchers recorded all social behavior amongst conspecifics and categorized behavior as either affiliative or agonistic. Social behavior was compared amongst animals divided into groups according to their previous setting (beef vs. dairy cows, free range vs. intensively farmed vs. neglected pet pigs). In both species, affiliation behavior showed clear differences based on past experience. Beef cows were significantly more affiliative than cows kept for dairy. Pigs raised in free-range settings showed significantly more affiliation than pigs from intensive farms or neglected pets, with the latter two groups showing no affiliation at all. Altogether, these results show a link between past experience and later social behavior, emphasizing the potential for both of these farmed species to experience long term psychological impacts as the result of traumatic experiences in the early settings they are placed in by humans.

By Larisa Schuckle and Malini Suchak

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