The Dispositive - Industry and Animals

In my early career I worked in the engineering/industrial sector, in particular making steel wire as the raw material for steel bolts and screws.

There is a clear and simple industrial philosophy - to increase productivity by:-

  • using cheaper raw material to make the same product
  • getting the machinery to produce more parts per hour
  • getting the machinery to last for more years before it must be replaced (and also to get machines that need less maintenance)

Agriculture has industrialised, but, we must question if the above industrial attitudes have been applied to agriculture in a simplistic way - if animals are treated as machines ......... animals could be fed cheaper stuff, could be given steroids to put on weight quicker, kept indoors all year, and persuaded to have more offspring every year.

This may work, and may produce satisfactory results for a while. Perhaps I am being simplistic myself, but animals are not machines.

If a machine breaks down, a part can be replaced, it can be checked for other worn parts, and perhaps there is a planned maintenance programme (such as the MOT test system for cars). However, if an animal is pushed beyond its limit by production demands, it may 'break down'. But then,
  1. how can you tell this has happened ?
  2. how can you predict how the breakdown will manifest (perhaps a new a BSE-type disease will develop ?)
  3. what is the 'planned maintenance' programme for the animals - how can they get a holiday and recover ?

If animals are industrialised, I can only predict the worst possible results from this, and I would suggest that BSE resulted from over-exploitation of the animal-machines, and that worse could follow. The Government does not seem to have policies for this.

In terms of the dispositive, this section is about the application of a discourse (industry) to a new area (food production), and noting the events that have arisen from this (BSE and F+M disease). The physical products from that industry may be marketed and packaged in ways which maintain a fantasy about their production.

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