Bioethics: animal rights

In the framework of global bioethics, animal ethics studies how to consider and act with regard to non-human animals. In 1978 the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes was signed. It was established at that time that animals must live and be transported in conditions that do not imply cruelty, pain or suffering.

However, intensive livestock farming works to a farming model where animals are considered to be productive machines whose purpose is to provide the highest returns in the shape of meat, eggs or their associated products. Animals are crammed into industrial buildings where they are born, fattened and die without the necessary space to behave according to their biological requirements and essential behaviour. This industrial and mechanistic approach is associated to such harmful and ethically questionable practices as the absence of daylight or ventilation, total lack of movement and exercise, deprival of the ability to mate, indiscriminate medication use, deprival of the natural right to give birth and raise their offspring, etc.

According to the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, in the last decade small farms have decreased by 30%, while bigger farms have increased by 3%. In turn, the number of animals slaughtered has risen by 36%.

Macro-farms also have direct effects on consumers’ health and on the environment. In its 2021 report on macro-farms, Greenpeace condemned the emission by the Spanish livestock sector of 69.4 million tons of CO2 in 2019, making it the third most polluting sector in Spain.