“Animal Science”: False Teachings for Destructive Industries

Factsheet #8


pig-sm +  SMALLgraduationcap  =  ?

Responsible Policies for Animals’ (RPA’s) 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign seeks to end our publicly funded land-grant universities’ (LGUs’) “animal science” programs that serve the flesh, milk and egg industries and are an egregious disservice to the common good. This factsheet is part of the fourth mailing to the 50 states’ “1862” LGUs showing how the violations of nonhuman animals’ rights inherent in “animal science” bring other harm to nonhuman animals, people, and ecosystems.

In addition to violating nonhuman animals’ rights and teaching without factual basis that nonhuman animals have no rights, “animal science” programs otherwise fail to meet basic pedagogical standards. They omit relevant available knowledge. They fail to challenge assumptions and to correct false notions. Conflict of interest produces those failings. Rather than serve farmers, sustainable agriculture, and sound nutrition as our LGUs should, “animal science” serves the private interests of the flesh, milk, and egg industries and related industries including but not limited to pharmaceuticals, feed crop, petroleum, and fast food.

Following are some of the many beliefs “animal science” programs teach or fail to correct that are shown to be false by biology, anthropology, nutrition, medicine, philosophy, and other fields. Absent such beliefs, it makes no sense to study “animal science” or to plan or build a career in the flesh, milk, or egg industry. Upon request, RPA gladly elaborates further and provides sources in addition to those touched upon here.

The false belief that nonhuman animals do not have any rights.

Since 1892, authors have explained nonhuman animals’ moral rights that human beings should establish in law and custom. Making human beings the only right-holders is unjustifiable factually and ethically. A few of the relevant books: Animals’ Rights Considered in Relation to Social Progress by Henry S. Salt, The Case for Animal Rights by Tom Regan, Rain Without Thunder by Gary L. Francione, Animal Rights/Human Rights by David Nibert, and Speciesism by Joan Dunayer.

“Animal science” programs, however, proceed on an unfounded assumption that nonhuman animals lack the most basic rights: to live according to their natures, to live free from exploitation by human beings, and others. Some “animal science” literature dismisses animal rights without accurately teaching what it is. RPA has not yet found any accurate animal rights teaching in an “animal science” course.

The false belief that animal welfare is taught in “animal science” programs.

“Welfare” means overall wellbeing. Like human beings, the animals people widely exploit for food are subjects-of-a-life and have a basic interest in living their lives as long as possible in good health. Virtually all animals used by the flesh, milk, and egg industries are slaughtered at a small fraction of their species’ natural lifespans. Many die in even less time. Often they suffer and die because of methods invented and promoted by “animal science” fulfilling its mission of making animals more economical and productive for industry.

A long-standing, false definition of “animal welfare” treats nonhuman animals as legitimate tools of human beings and deems their welfare to be violated only when cruelty or neglect makes the animals unfit to serve human interests. That is not genuine welfare. The preventable suffering and deprivation nonhuman animals are universally forced to endure when exploited for food proves that true animal welfare – animals’ wellbeing – will not exist until nonhuman animals’ basic rights are established in law and custom.

The false belief that human beings are natural omnivores.

Countless people harbor vague notions that human beings evolved as “hunter-gatherers” and therefore are natural omnivores. That is untrue. Humans and their close ancestors lived on plants for millions of years before imitating other species by starting to scavenge birds’ eggs and bits of flesh from carnivores’ kills. Even after humans developed organized hunting by imitating social carnivores such as wolves, flesh did not constitute a large portion of the human diet.

But it makes no sense to teach or study “animal science” if one realizes human beings, like the other great apes and many other nonhuman primates, evolved as herbivores. Milton R. Mills, M.D., explains comprehensively in “The Comparative Anatomy of Eating” that humans have all of the food-related anatomical & physiological traits of herbivores and none of those of omnivores or carnivores. That article is immediately accessible online. The same knowledge is available from other sources.

The false belief that human beings need to consume protein from nonhuman animals for good health.

As explained in The China Study: The Most Extensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted by Cornell University Professor Emeritus T. Colin Campbell (2004), protein from nonhuman animals came to be called “quality protein” long ago because it most quickly replaces depleted cells and produces the most rapid growth in humans. Protein from humans would serve even better if growth were the only purpose of food!

“Quality protein” is a far cry from healthful or nutritious protein. For many decades, it has been known that the saturated fats and cholesterol that come along with animal protein cause serious and often fatal chronic diseases. And flesh, milk, and eggs provide few needed nutrients. Campbell’s research established that protein from animals causes serious diseases and in particular acts as a “switch” causing cancer growth where cancerous cells exist but without animal protein might not grow. A balanced whole-foods plant-based diet provides plenty of protein. Too much protein causes debilitating health problems.

Campbell authored or co-authored more than 350 peer-reviewed scientific-journal articles, received many prestigious awards, and sat on many prestigious commissions during his decades of research.

The false belief that raising animals for food for a large human population can be ecologically sustainable.

Taking up agriculture about 10,000 years ago marked a more dramatic departure from our species’ original ecological nice than its gradual shift from gatherer of plant foods to gatherer-scavenger-hunter had. The enslavement of nonhuman animals, often called “domestication,” was another significant ecological change. About 5 million people existed on Earth when farming began – approximately the number of people living in Croatia today. Of the 6.4 billion people living today, many times the “original” 5 million already lack adequate food and/or fresh water.

Much less fresh water and topsoil – much less total farming – are needed to produce plant foods for people to eat than to grow feed crops, breed and raise animals to eat them, “process” the animals, and feed them and their milk and eggs to people. Disagreements will always occur as to how much the resource gap can be closed, but raising animals for food also causes other ecological harm: desertification from overgrazing, pollution of surface and groundwater by animal factories, and more. Apart from whether the human population is sustainable even with flesh, milk, and eggs eliminated from the diet, only wishful thinking, not the facts all taken together as appropriate in educational institutions, can conclude that raising animals for food can possibly be ecologically sustainable.

April 2005

See a PDF of this document.