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On the ethics and sustainability of intensive veal production

Boekbijdrage - Boekhoofdstuk Conferentiebijdrage

In this paper we analyse the intensive veal production system as currently found in the Dutch-Belgian border region using the common sustainability framework. In the social acceptability pillar we will include animal welfare and other ethical aspects that may relate to the production system as it is currently deployed.One of the major arguments in favour of veal production as it is currently known, is the assertion that it is a way to prevent male offspring of dairy cattle to be considered mere by-products that need to be disposed of. In such dairy production systems these male calves are quickly removed and culled. This has economic and ecological benefits: avoiding food waste by adding value to a product.Slaughtering young calves for veal production wouldn’t be an issue to be discussed in a strong animal rights ethics as in this perspective any kind of killing is considered unethical. In an ethics that integrates proportionality, it is certainly not morally neutral, maybe even problematic. Veal production is one of those sectors that are said to be highly instrumentalising to animals. Not only are calves a ‘by-product’ of milk production, some also indicate the unnaturalness of the system.There is an interesting parallel between intensive veal production and the production of Belgian Blue cattle. In both cases, veterinarian measures are taken to ensure animal welfare, where problems are almost determined by the context. Veal production is extremely antibiotics dependent: virtually 100% of calves are treated with antibiotics. This could be considered a case of extreme instrumentalisation, and results in several negative effects, such as development of antibiotic resistance in animal and human medicine. The latter is problematic in both consequentialist and anthropocentric theories. The long term effects thereof seem disproportionate compared to the limited positive effects of veal production. We conclude that intensive veal production as it is currently known, is highly debatable from an ethical point of view.
Boek: Professionals in food chains: ethics, roles and responsibilities
Pagina's: 87 - 92
Jaar van publicatie:2018