Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Duke law prof suggests requiring cameras in confined-feeding houses and slaughterhouses

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, Duke law professor Jedediah Purdy suggests requiring cameras at key stages of operations in confined feeding houses and slaughterhouses, allowing people to see for themselves what's going on behind closed doors in the meat industry. The required cameras would prevent activists from going undercover in slaughterhouses, and put an end to complaints that footage is doctored, Purdy writes. He also suggests listing the video feeds' Internet addresses on meat packages.

Purdy, who slaughtered cattle on the West Virginia farm where he grew up, and in 1999 went undercover in a slaughterhouse for The American Prospect, wrote the piece in response to a rash of "ag-gag" laws, which would "make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups," Richard Oppel wrote for the Times in a story we covered Monday.

"Emotional response is part of moral reasoning, and in this case we need more information, not less," Purdy writes. "The images need to be supplemented by brain studies and other efforts to understand what animal suffering is like — for instance, whether mammals experience trauma when confined and exposed to slaughter. But the images would motivate us to ask the right questions. Open-slaughterhouse laws would not force anyone to look at anything. They would just increase our resources for thinking and arguing." (Read more)

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