Putting Animals into Politics
- Dr. Dan Lyons
- Victoria Warehouse
Where did our animal laws come from?
How are they implemented?
What are they based upon and why?
Are animals meaningfully represented in our political system and why is this of fundamental importance to how they are treated?
‘Our political system profoundly influences the fate of approximately a billion animals a year in the UK who are raised and/or slaughtered for food. This system of laws, policies and their implementation is the main underlying factor affecting how many cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys, sheep and other species are killed, as well as their quality of life. In this talk, award-winning expert on animal protection politics Dan Lyons describes the highly destructive impact of government policy on farmed animals. Dan explains that undemocratic policy processes – dominated by commercial farming interests to the exclusion of the public and animal welfare concerns – leads to levels of harm way beyond that deemed acceptable to the public, never mind ethical principle. Government and industry deploy the ‘politics of symbolic reassurance’, claiming to be concerned about ‘animal welfare’ in order to distract citizens from the reality of institutionalised disregard for animals’ interests. Human behaviour is highly constrained by broader social context, therefore individual actions to help animals, such as going vegetarian or reducing meat consumption, are insufficient on their own to achieve meaningful change. Farmed animals also need us to ensure their vital needs are robustly represented in our system of government.