AGRICIDE: The Hidden Crisis that Affects Us All by Michael W. Fox

AGRICIDE: The Hidden Crisis that Affects Us All

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An anti-agribusiness tract that indicts the industrialization of American agriculture for everything from soil erosion to osteoporosis. Not surprisingly, Fox, scientific director of the Humane Society, concentrates and is most convincing on why so-called factory farming of livestock is unacceptable. According to Fox, factory farming has become pervasive; it is not confined to a handful of huge corporate-owned operations. Chickens, calves, hogs and cattle nationwide are crammed into windowless structures in which temperature, humidity, light, air circulation, feeding and waste disposal are automatically controlled. Overcrowding is so severe the animals must be saturated with drugs to prevent epidemics. Nevertheless, up to 30% of the animals die before they're due to be slaughtered. Factory farming is not only appallingly inhumane, says Fox, but also extremely capital intensive, contributing to the demise of many American farmers. Fox is least persuasive when linking factory farming to every environmental and health problem ever associated with American agriculture, from the serious to the far-fetched. However, las analysis of the ethics of high-tech animal husbandry is thoughtful and provocative. Fox believes it is not immoral to kill animals for food, provided there are no viable alternatives and the resulting agricultural practices are both ecologically sound and cause as little suffering as possible. He charts a hierarchy of morally acceptable animal products. For example, since dairy cattle generally are the least confined of farm animals, eating dairy products is more humane than eating veal, much of which comes from sickly calves raised alone in narrow crates in which they can barely move. Fox also suggests that most meat products should be marketed only as byproducts of the wool, egg and dairy industries, that humane husbandry systems must be developed, and that the emphasis of agriculture should be to supply fresh fruits and vegetables grown organically on nearby farms.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Schocken