This broadcast news report from the UK's Channel 5 highlighting the investigative work of Wendy Valentine and Hillside Sanctuary underscores the misinformation and public confusion that result when a respected animal advocacy organization such as the RSPCA puts its seal of approval on products produced by the animal-using industry.
In investigator Wendy Valentine's words, "Animal advocacy organizations that get involved with endorsing animal products are going to end up falsely reassuring the public at best, and at worst, reinforcing the myth that using and killing animals can somehow be made kind or 'humane.' It can't."
In the United Kingdom, no one disputes that the public readily pays much higher prices for "Freedom Food," yet investigation after investigation demonstrates that the business of using and killing billions of animals is inherently unjust. While media reports rightly reveal the harsh reality of what goes on day after day at RSPCA-monitored "Freedom Food" farms, they fall short of recognizing that the real problem is not a flawed labeling scheme, but the very institution of animal exploitation itself.
Were TV reporters to document the kinds of things that go on even at those farms considered the most humane, the public would be shocked and repelled.
The mutilation of animals' bodies, the separation of families, the reproductive manipulation, the routine killing of baby and adolescent animals--these are all standard practices in animal agriculture, regardless of the size and type of farm.
Some well-known US animal advocates promoting "humane" animal products, when questioned on the ethics or the practicality of their actions, tend to state that they are merely following in the footsteps of their counterparts in Europe.
Should we believe that what investigators have found over and over again at "humane" farms in the United Kingdom would be any different if similar investigations were conducted in the United States? How likely are such investigations to happen when the US animal advocacy organizations with the largest amount of resources are involved in funding and promoting their own "humane" certification schemes? (Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved, American Humane Certified)
Chances are, this essential work will be left to smaller and more independent organizations that are already strapped for resources. Indeed, it is already happening. Consider this investigator's account of a US "free range" egg facility, and this compelling video of birds rescued from such an American facility.
Historically, efforts to practice "Christian slavery" completely failed to redress the injustices caused by treating human beings as property. Is it realistic to believe that efforts to practice "humane" animal exploitation will be any more successful at redressing the injustices caused by treating other animals as property?
"Common sense is seeing things as they are; and doing things as they ought to be."
-- Harriet Beecher Stowe