Integration - Animals and Fish

This draws together all mentions of animals and fish in the original text, and then develops some conclusions from this:-

How are these animals and fish referred to in the Aims and Objectives ?
Using the key to the Aims and Objectives given here :-

  1. O1 mentions animal diseases as a risk to public health
  2. O4 mentions a modern efficient fisheries industry (as well as agriculture and food industries)
  3. O7 mentions 'to conserve fish stocks for future generations', and mentions the sea fishing industry
  4. O8 is about high welfare standards for farmed animals and fish
  5. O8 also states that they should not suffer unnecessary pain or distress

Are any actions mentioned relating to animals ? (as having been done, or will be done)

Several active verbs are used, but they are used passively, not in a way that specifies an action. For example, O1 is "To protect public health in relation to farm produce and to animal diseases transmissible to humans". The exact actions intended are perhaps detailed elsewhere in the DEFRA policies, but they are not stated here. In this case, there is an incomplete use of 'protect' - someone should be the active agent. Other active verbs are used in the same impersonal and passive way: sustain, enhance, secure, encourage, promote, administer, conserve, ensure, reduce risks, and safeguard. This use of "protect" is dealt with in full on the Situation Analysis page

What threats are mentioned ? Several threats are mentioned which seem to come from Nature:-
  1. There are animal diseases (O1) which are transmissible to humans
  2. Fish stocks are diminishing and need conservation (O7)
  3. There is a risk to people and the developed and natural environments from flooding and coastal erosion (O9)
  4. 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 section)
The dispositive includes:-

  1. Discourse as a flow of knowledge,
  2. Manifestations (material objects and designs) as materialisations of knowledge, and
  3. Non-discursive practices (decisions and events) which are implementations of knowledge

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:

  1. 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)
  2. to physical realities such as pen sizes, treatments with drugs, slaughter conditions
  3. 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 slaughter process).
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 ?
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