Animal ag is still fumbling for a workable answer to animal welfare activism and more importantly customer concerns reflected in their markets. I had not thought about it much, other than noting there seems to a tide of sorts in consumer opinion and it is not flowing the direction the protein sector necessarily wants.
One repetitive argument was to charge welfare activists with hypocrisy if they used bug spray, for example. While most of these are reductio ad absurdum assertions denying our baility as a culture to achieve any sort of balance in controversies, I have not seen as good and simple an answer as this by Nicholas Kristof:
Look, I confess to hypocrisy. I eat meat, albeit with misgivings, and I have no compunctions about using mousetraps. So what? We have the same inconsistencies, controversies and hypocrisies in dealing with human rights. We may disagree about waterboarding terror suspects, but almost everyone shares a revulsion for genocide, the use of poison gas or the torture of children.Now we are plodding along a similar controversial, inconsistent, hypocritical — and progressive — path on animal rights. We may disagree about eating meat, but growing numbers share a disgust for extreme behavior, like the force-feeding of geese (now banned in California) to produce pâté.We as a global society have crossed the Rubicon. We disagree about where to draw the line to protect animal rights, but almost everyone now agrees that there is a line to be drawn.May our descendants, when, in the future, they reflect uncomprehendingly on our abuse of hens and orcas, appreciate that we are good and decent people moving in the right direction, and show some compassion for our obliviousness. [More]
I think he has nailed one thing: we have turned a corner and are now engaged in where, not whether to draw the lines. I also believe we are beginning to get some ideas in the protein sector of how to coexist with such limitations. Smithfield is still producing hogs even as crates are disappearing. It is similar for enhanced cages for layers.
Critics see this as the nose of the camel, but I think that analogy has become useless. Such actions are the exact response a free market generates to maximize outcomes for all.