Animal can't speak for themselves: controversies between expert views and public opinion on animal welfare

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


As in general people speak for animals, there are at least two perspectives to animal welfare: A. Knowledge about and observations of animals by animal experts and B. Human perspectives on what animals deserve and what may harm them Policy making is often aimed at animal welfare according to the ‘A-criteria’. Animal welfare can become a social and thus policy issue if it brings about a feeling of unease among the public (‘B-criteria’). Then B-criteria enter policy making often in an unpredictable way. We have seen in an inventory in The Netherlands that the opinions of experts on animal welfare often, but not always, are congruent to matters of public concern. Controversy may arise for two reasons: - Topics which explicitly give rise to public commotion, such as the housing of pigs in ‘mega’ (multi-storey) farms, or killing day-old cockerels, although they are not or do not have to be an issue as regards animal discomfort; - Discomfort that might be characterised as severe, but has not played a role in the public debate so far, as f.i. infectious diseases, poor climate in virtually all animal houses - including horse housing- or the hard and slippery floors in dairy cattle and calf houses. We interviewed policymakers in a number of European countries and will discuss if and how this possible controversy between A and B criteria on animal welfare is incorporated in policy making.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventConference Knowing Animals, Florence, Italy -
Duration: 5 Mar 20096 Mar 2009


ConferenceConference Knowing Animals, Florence, Italy


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