|What threats are
mentioned ? Several threats are mentioned which seem to come from
- There are animal diseases (O1) which are transmissible to humans
- Fish stocks are diminishing and need conservation (O7)
- There is a risk to people and the developed and natural environments
from flooding and coastal erosion (O9)
- The continuing availability of
. food and drink
needs safeguarding (O10)
Nature is implied to be a source of risk to people (and Nature
seems to be the only threat mentioned).
Pain and distress
This section uses the dispositive, which is the overall system
of knowledge (the dispositve is fully dealt with in this
The dispositive includes:-
- Discourse as a flow of knowledge,
- Manifestations (material objects and designs) as materialisations
of knowledge, and
- Non-discursive practices (decisions and events) which are implementations
In the text, there is considerable interplay between these elements.
Take O8 as an example:-
"To ensure that farmed animals and fish are protected by high
welfare standards and do not suffer unnecessary pain or distress".
Clearly this can be analysed in terms of the elements of the dispositive:
- to ongoing external discourses about the way animals should
be treated in agriculture (which includes technical discourses
about how to get them to get fatter off less food)
- to physical realities such as pen sizes, treatments with drugs,
- to events such as the BSE and foot and mouth crises
However, we are faced with an unbridgeable gap in the dispositive
- the Aim deals with the pain and distress suffered by animals,
but at the moment there is no direct knowledge of this, and this
whole topic remains in the realm of discourse. The policy seeks
to "ensure that they do not suffer unnecessary pain or distress",
which seems to accept that
1. some pain and distress is necessary (probably referring to the
2. but, the policy is apparently happy to leave this unquantified
- there is no apparent wish to measure pain and distress,
and otherwise to make sure that it is within an acceptable range.
The use of the word 'unnecessary' allows in advance a claim of 'necessity'
by anyone involved in the life and death of the animals.
The statement does, however, also appear to guarantee to protect
the animals and fish with high welfare standards. This appears to
be an irresolvable dilemma, that animals will have good welfare,
but then they will be killed and they will have pain and distress
in that process. This could be considered a divide between the Design
and Event aspects of the dispositive.
It seems to me that animals are the key issue for farming and food
at the moment. However, the farming sector is not separate from
the remainder of society, it is part of it, and further questions
arise for the whole of society about animals, such as:-
- How do people relate to farm animals ? (as compared to how they
relate to pets ?)
- What are the limits for dealing with farm animals ? (their health
may be maintained with routine use of drugs; dairy and egg products
are obtained on a commercial basis)
- How intensively should they be reared and kept ?
- Could a positive yardstick of health be developed for animals
? (or is it just satisfactory if they are 'not ill')
- Is the way the Government looks at animals any different from
the way the public looks at animals ?