This is an interesting set of interviews about the possibility of pain-free factory farming and what it might mean that will be of interest to many people (Show 67)
"This weeks programme is devoted to pain: the pain that factory farmed animals suffer to be exact. One philosopher wants to take away one component of that suffering has a controversial idea. I talk to him and then take comments from two senior academics – an ethicist and a animal ethologist." You can also read a synopsis of the arguments for and against pain-free factory farming from an essay in New Scientist.
While there are different sides to this issue feeling pain is only one aspect of factory farming. Even if pain-free animals could be bred who wouldn't suffer as they went through the grueling process of becoming a meal the fact that these animals have their own feelings and feelings for others and are alive, even if they do not feel physical pain, warrants against using them in ways that result in their death.The amount of cruelty that pervades slaughterhouses worldwide is incalculable, and it’s made worse because animals have awareness and feelings. Cows display strong emotions; they feel pain, fear, and anxiety, and studies have shown they worry about the future. They and other agricultural animals make and miss their friends. Veterinarian John Webster and his colleagues have shown how cows within a herd form smaller friendship groups of between two and four animals with whom they spend most of their time, often grooming and licking each other. They also dislike other cows and can bear grudges for months or years.
There's no doubt that cows and other farm animals are sentient beings who care very much about what happens to them. Even if animals don't feel pain that's no reason to keep them on factory farms or even to eat them.