Not all animals are equal differences in moral foundations for the dutch veterinary policy on livestock and animals in nature reservations
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 17 (6):497-515 (2004)
AbstractThe Netherlands is a small country with many people and much livestock. As a result, animals in nature reservations are often living near cattle farms. Therefore, people from the agricultural practices are afraid that wild animals will infect domestic livestock with diseases like Swine Fever and Foot and Mouth Disease. To protect agriculture (considered as an important economic practice), very strict regulations have been made for minimizing this risk. In this way, the practice of animal farming has been dominating the practices of nature management completely. If, for instance, Foot and Mouth Disease strikes an agricultural area, all wild pigs and cattle living in the nearby nature reservations have to be killed, whether infected or not. This dominant position of one practice over the other has now become problematic. While the morality of the practice of nature management seems to be very different from the morality of agriculture and agriculture has become less important from an economic point of view, the public as well as those involved in nature management no longer seem to accept the dominant position of agriculture. Besides a literature study, we performed a field study with in-depth interviews with experts from both practices to analyze the dynamics of the internal moralities of both practices in the previous century, in order to clarify the contemporary situation. The conclusion was that the traditionally strong position of agriculture is not only weakening; it also appears that the internal values of agriculture are changing. The experts from both sides agreed that, in case of a disease outbreak, it is neither ethically justified nor necessary (because of the estimated low risk of disease transfer) to destroy the animals in nature reservations as a routine preventive measure. This is a major shift in morality.
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