Should the expression “animal welfare” give way to that of “animal welfare”?

The way we think and the words we use are interdependent, and agri-food professionals have understood this well: to hide violence against animals, they multiply euphemisms and semantic diversions.

in the 19thand century, the murder and the felt have become like this slaughterhousesand on farms today, the concern can involve filing the teeth as well as clipping the beak, tail or live spaying. Within the general framework of the denial of the suffering inflicted by humans on other animals, a concept has gradually permeated all discussions: “animal welfare”.

For example, while pig farming is one of those likely to cause the most suffering to the animals involved, the website of Inaporc, the national pig association, proudly proclaims: “Animal welfare: at the heart of the industry’s concerns”. The site states:

“Because breeders are people who are passionate about their animals and a stressed animal will not produce quality meat, every player in the sector takes great care for the welfare of the animals. †

The welfare movement

The concept of “animal welfare” became visible to the general public from the 1960s, for the first time in the United Kingdom. In English it is referred to as animal welfarewelfare which in a general sense means a “physical and mental state”, whether good or bad: one can speak without contradiction of bad well-being

In addition, welfare refers more specifically from the beginning of the XXand century of social assistance for the most vulnerable people. l’animal welfare is at the heart of the movement said welfare workerwhich strives to improve the living conditions of non-human animals, especially on farms, without questioning the principle of their exploitation.

This movement can be seen as a drive to extend to animals in general the guarantee that their minimum needs are met, a principle now widely accepted for humans.

Of the’animal welfare animal welfare

the welfare thus differs from welfare, “well-being” in the primary sense of “general sense of pleasure, of fulfillment arising from the complete satisfaction of the needs of the body and/or the mind”, probably applies to both humans and non-humans. people. In English, therefore, the different meanings of welfare and from welfare apply equally to humans and other animals.

l’animal welfare English was translated as “animal welfare” in French, which broke this beautiful symmetry. the welfare social for people in French actually corresponds to “protection” (of childhood, etc.) or “social assistance”, while “animal welfare”, supposed to mean the generalization of welfare social for non-humans, intuitively sends French speakers back to the welfare, to the extension of human welfare to other animals. In other words, on fundamentally positive notions (we are not talking about “bad well-being”) and hedonistic (spas, massages, etc.), apart from wellness measures as brutal as smashing the skull (“stunning”) before the throat is cut.

A misleading term

Official texts define “animal welfare” as a state guaranteed by the satisfaction of five needs, qualified as “liberties” (absence of hunger, fear, etc.).

Even so limited, the term “animal welfare” remains misleading, its systematic use seems to imply that respect for the “five freedoms” is guaranteed for the majority of individuals.

However, for livestock, “animal welfare”, even in the official definition, is only guaranteed in a minority of cases. So it is clear that the “freedom of expression of normal behavior of its kind” (fifth freedom) is not respected for animals living on intensive farms (estimated at 80% of animals slaughtered in France).

Even today, tail docking and live castration of pigs are legal or tolerated by the state (not to mention slaughter conditions), while the “absence of pain” is recognized as the 4and freedom that determines animal welfare…

“Animal malaise”, better suited to denote these problems

The expression “animal welfare” therefore has two misleading implications for the general public: on the one hand, it seems that its use covers additional points, namely “comfort”, and not the problems of acute suffering (when “welfare is interpreted in its usual hedonic feeling) On the other hand, it implies that the living conditions of most farm animals, for which we constantly speak of ‘well-being’, would at least provide for their primary needs.

These misunderstandings would be avoided by using the expression “animal malaise” (in the sense of “physical and mental suffering”) to refer generally to the problems of animal protection. When we have agreed to speak of “well-being”, as the agricultural sectors have been doing for decades, it seems difficult to refuse “disease” to describe this real lack of “well-being” that exists in the majority of livestock.

For animal movements, the importance of the phrase “animal malaise” is also to imply a conscious feeling, better than the terms pain and suffering (a claim or a rule can also “suffer”…a delay or an exception).

The use of “animal welfare” and the fact that the use of “animal welfare” is limited to the intuitive meaning of “sense of pleasure and satisfaction” would also allow to clearly distinguish “negative” measures from the correct name to “animal welfare”. reduce” that limit psychological and physical discomfort, “positive” measures aimed at increasing “animal welfare”.

After being neglected for a long time, scientific research aimed at promoting positive emotions is now booming, also known as positive well-being† True “animal welfare” presupposes not only the absence of discomfort, but also the occurrence of pleasant life experiences.

Stop covering up the violence

Limiting, but not giving up, the use of “animal welfare” would prevent its use with a view to minimizing violence. Continuing to use this expression to speak indiscriminately about stopping mutilation and enriching the living environment seems to us to undermine the cause we are supposed to defend.

We are not proposing to change the way all players speak in this area overnight. But animal associations could play a role as a lexical prescriber in this case. It is not unimportant to neglect this issue by endorsing terms that go against common sense and harm animals.

Frédéric Mesguich, doctor of chemistry specializing in energy materials, author of the Blog Questions Décomposent and founder of the Animaliste Blogothèque, contributed to the writing of this article.The conversation

Marie-Claude Marsolier, Research Director Genetics, National Museum of Natural History (MNHN)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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