Why circular? Towards a circular welfare economy for people and animals

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract

Abstract

Current linear livestock-farming superseded traditional farming by rationalising the production process in a most effective, but also reductionistic way. Competition in a semi-free market led to a cost-price driven agricultural economy resulting in (over-)abundance of food at affordable prices for consumers. Part of its success, however, is paid for by hidden costs related to the environment (e.g. biodiversity loss, climate change), social concerns (e.g. public health, animal welfare) and economic anomalies (e.g. subsidies and so-called tragedies of the commons, food dumping). These now collectively call for a connected circularity. A circular nutrient economy aims to solve the planet pillar of sustainability by closing nutrient cycles, by e.g. limiting the use of fertilisers and food loss, and using animals to recycle biomass unsuited for human consumption, e.g. converting grass into milk. Welfare is often seen as a separate, social pillar of sustainability. However, when we ask why we should save the planet, it appears that welfare is an integral part of this pillar too. In fact, people, planet and profit matter because they affect welfare. Thus, as a guide for sustainability, we propose emphasising welfare in the concept of a circular welfare economy, i.e. a free exchange of information to promote overall welfare, i.e. the welfare of both humans and animals. It thus suggests valuing OneWelfare more than money, and cultivating integrity rather than the instrumental use of animals. In a circular welfare economy, we would no longer be preoccupied with economic progress, but rather focus on the quality of life of all individuals involved. This implies valuing animal and human welfare not because it happens to matter to (some of) us, but because it matters in and of itself, and because (almost) by definition welfare is all that matters. Thus, in connected circularity we should not use animals merely as a means for profit or to close nutrient cycles, but take every effort to understand and benefit their points of view as well
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level
EditorsLaura Boyle, Keelin O'Driscoll
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Pages44-44
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)9789086869015
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021
Event8th International Conference on The Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level - Cork, Ireland
Duration: 16 Aug 202119 Aug 2021

Conference

Conference8th International Conference on The Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level
Abbreviated titleWAFL 2021
CountryIreland
CityCork
Period16/08/2119/08/21

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