Steve Davis and Least Harm.

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Steve Davis and Least Harm.

Postby Sunkanrags » Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:57 am

Below is something currently on Yahoo's Animal_Rights_Debate list. A hunter called Steve as been banging on for a year or so about Steve Davis' work that suggests that the vegan diet causes more nonhuman deaths than a diet that includes grass-fed beings.

Davis' perspective has been discussed before on AR listings - but this is the first time to my knowledge that the original article has been posted.

The first contribution below is hunter Steve's initial comments - then there is the Steve Davis paper - then my initial comments on it.

I would welcome comments on any part of the following....

Rags.


Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2004 14:08:31 -0000
Least Harm principle - Steve Davis

A while back we discussed the fact that veganism causes much animal
death. We even entertained the notion that certain meat-based diets
could cause less death than a vegetarian/vegan diet. During the
discussion prof. Steve Davis' study was brought up on this subject,
but we couldn't find it. I found it. It was published in 2003,
Volume 16, Issue 4 of the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental
Ethics. It basically says that a grass-fed beef diet is the least
harmful diet - even less harmful than a vegan diet. The study
doesn't seem to be scientifically air-tight, but it is, at least,
very interesting and deserving of further investigation. Given Rags'
insistence that the study must have been tainted based on the
(assumed) fact that it wasn't published, we must conversely lend
credibility to the study since it was, in fact, published.

And Jim - I guess your refusal to renounce meat eating isn't such a
contradiction after all. If only you knew...

THE LEAST HARM PRINCIPLE MAY REQUIRE THAT HUMANS CONSUME A DIET
CONTAINING LARGE HERBIVORES, NOT A VEGAN DIET.



S.L. Davis1

Department of Animal Sciences

Oregon State University

112 Withycombe Hall

Corvallis, OR 97331-6702

U.S.A.

ABSTRACT

Based on his theory of animal rights, Regan concludes that humans are
morally obligated to consume a vegetarian or vegan diet. When it was
pointed out to him that even a vegan diet results in the loss of many
animals of the field, he said that while that may be true, we are
still obligated to consume a vegetarian / vegan diet because in total
it would cause the least harm to animals (Least Harm Principle, or
LHP) as compared to current agriculture. But is that conclusion
valid? Is it possible that some other agricultural production
alternatives may result in least harm to animals? In this paper, I
examine this question and find that the LHP may actually be better
served using food production systems that include both plant-based
agriculture and a forage-ruminant-based agriculture as compared to a
strict plant-based (vegan) system. Perhaps we are morally obligated
to consume a diet containing both plants and ruminant (particularly
cattle) animal products.



KEY WORDS: animal production, animal rights, least harm, moral
vegetarianism, vegan



1This work was supported by the Oregon Agricultural Experiment
Station.



Although the debate over moral vegetarianism has been going on for
millennia (Shapiro 2000), there has been a resurgence of interest in
this issue in the last part of the 20th century. One of the
foundational philosophical works on this subject is "A Case for
Animal Rights" (1983). This paper will not critique Regan's (1983)
theory on animal rights. Rather, for the moment, suppose he is
right; animals are subjects-of-a-life with interests of their own,
which matter as much to them as similar interests matter to humans.
Therefore, animals have the right to live their lives without
interference from humans. His conclusion follows, therefore, that
animal agriculture interferes in the lives of millions of animals
annually, so humans are morally obligated to consume a vegan or
vegetarian diet. The purpose of this paper is to examine the moral
vegan conclusion of Regan's animal rights theory, rather than the
rights theory itself. It is also the objective of this paper to
examine alternative conclusions. In other words, might there be
alternatives to the moral vegetarian conclusion drawn from animal
rights theory?



THE CONCEPT OF LEAST HARM



As I was thinking about the vegan conclusion, I remembered my
childhood on the farm and where our food comes from and how it is
produced. Specifically, I remembered riding on farm equipment and
seeing mice, gophers, and pheasants in the field that were injured or
killed every time we worked the fields. Therefore, I realized that
animals of the field are killed in large numbers annually to produce
food for humans. Kingsolver (2001) describes these killings very
effectively. "I've watched enough harvests to know that cutting a
wheat field amounts to more decapitated bunnies under the combine
than you would believe." "She stopped speaking when her memory
lodged on an old vision from childhood: A raccoon she found just
after the hay mower ran it over. She could still see the matted grey
fur, the gleaming jaw bone and shock of scattered teeth^Å."
Consequently, a vegan diet doesn't necessarily mean a diet that
doesn't interfere in the lives of animals. In fact, production of
corn, beans, rice, etc. kills many animals as this paper will
document. So, in 1999, I sent an email to Regan, pointing this out
to him. Then I asked him, "What is the morally relevant difference
between the animals of the field and those of the farm that makes it
acceptable to kill some of them (field mice, etc.) so that humans may
eat, but not acceptable to kill others (pigs, etc.) so we may eat?"
His reply (Regan, 1999, personal communication) was that we must
choose the method of food production that causes the least harm to
animals. (I will refer to this concept as The Least Harm Principle
or LHP.) In his book, Regan (1983) calls this the "minimize harm
principle" and he describes it in the following way:



"Whenever we find ourselves in a situation where all the
options at hand will produce some harm to those who are innocent, we
must choose that option that will result in the least total sum of
harm."



It seems that Regan is saying that least harm would be done to
animals in the production of a plant-based diet, because then at
least you wouldn't be killing both the animals of the farm and those
of the field, thus supporting the conclusion that humans are morally
obligated to consume a vegan diet. But is that conclusion the one
that best satisfies the LHP? Are there other ways of accomplishing
least harm?



I find Regan's vegan conclusion to be problematic because he seems to
think that there are no other alternatives. There is an old adage to
the effect, "There is more than one way to skin a cat." Do
alternative food production systems exist that may cause even less
harm to animals?



HOW MANY ANIMALS OF THE FIELD WOULD DIE IF A VEGAN DIET WERE ADOPTED?



Animals living in and around agricultural fields are killed during
field activities and the greater the number of field activities, the
greater the number of field animals that die. A partial list of
animals of the field in the USA include opossum, rock dove, house
sparrow, European starling, black rat, Norway rat, house mouse,
Chukar, gray partridge, ring-necked pheasant, wild turkey, cottontail
rabbit, gray-tailed vole, and numerous species of amphibians (Edge,
2000). In addition, Edge (2000) says, "production of most crops
requires multiple field operations that may include plowing, disking,
harrowing, planting, cultivating, applying herbicides and pesticides
as well as harvesting." These practices have negative effects on the
populations of the animals living in the fields. For example, just
one operation, the "mowing of alfalfa caused a 50% decline in gray-
tailed vole population" (Edge, 2000). Although these examples
represent crop production systems in the USA, the concept is also
valid for intensive crop production in any country. Other studies
have also examined the effect of agricultural tillage practices on
field animal populations (Johnson et al., 1991; Pollard and Helton,
1970; Tew, Macdonald and Rands, 1992).



Although accurate estimates of the total number of animals killed by
different agronomic practices from plowing to harvesting are not
available, some studies show that the numbers are quite large.
Kerasote (1993) describes it as follows: "When I inquired about the
lives lost on a mechanized farm, I realized what costs we pay at the
supermarket. One Oregon farmer told me that half of the cottontail
rabbits went into his combine when he cut a wheat field, that
virtually all of the small mammals, ground birds, and reptiles were
killed when he harvested his crops. Because most of these animals
have been seen as expendable, or not seen at all, few scientific
studies have been done measuring agriculture's effects on their
populations." In a study that has been done to examine the effect of
harvesting grain crops, Tew and Macdonald (1993) reported that mouse
population density dropped from 25/ha preharvest to less than 5/ha
postharvest. This decrease was attributed to both migration out of
the field and to mortality. They estimated the mortality rate to be
52%. In another study Nass et al. (1971) reported that the mortality
rate of Polynesian rats was 77% during the harvest of sugar cane in
Hawaii. These are the estimated mortality rates for only a single
species, and for only a single operation (i.e. harvesting).
Therefore, an estimate somewhere between 52 and 77% (say 60%) for
animals of all kinds killed during the production year would be
reasonable. Using the population density shown in Tew and
Macdonald's (1993) paper (25/ha) times a 60% mortality rate of 15
animals/ha each year.



If that is true, how many animals would die annually in the
production of a vegan diet? There are 120 million ha of cropland
harvested in the USA (USDA, 2000) each year. If all of that land was
used to produce crops to support a vegan diet, and if 15 animals of
the field are killed per ha per year, then 15 x 120 million = 1800
million or 1.8 billion animals would be killed annually to produce a
vegan diet for the USA.



WOULD A PASTURE / RUMINANT MODEL KILL FEWER ANIMALS?



Production of forages, such as pasture-based forages, would cause
less harm to field animals (kill fewer) than intensive crop
production systems typically used to produce food for a vegan diet.
This is because pasture forage production requires fewer passages
through the field with tractors and other farm equipment. The
killing of animals of the field would be further reduced if
herbivorous animals (ruminants like cattle) were used to harvest the
forage and convert it into meat and dairy products. Would such
production systems cause less harm to the field animals? Again,
accurate numbers aren't available comparing the number of animals of
the field that are killed with these different cropping systems,
but "The predominant feeling among wildlife ecologists is that no-
till agriculture will have broadly positive effects on mammalian
wildlife" populations (Wooley et al., 1984). Pasture-forage
production, with herbivores harvesting the forage, would be the
ultimate in 'no-till' agriculture. Because of the low numbers of
times that equipment would be needed to grow and harvest pasture
forages it would be reasonable to estimate that the pasture-forage
model may reduce animal deaths by 50% or more. In other words, only
7.5 animals of the field per ha would die to produce pasture forages
as compared to the intensive cropping system (15/ha) used to produce
a vegan diet.



If half of the total harvested land in the US was used to produce
plant products for human consumption and half was used for pasture-
forage production, how many animals would die annually so that humans
may eat?



60 million ha, plant production x 15 animals/ha
= 0.9 billion

60 million ha, forage production x 7.5 animals/ha
= 0.45 billion


Total: 1.35 billion animals



According to this model then, fewer animals (1.35 billion) would die
than in the vegan model (1.8 billion). As a result, if we apply the
LHP as Regan did for his vegan conclusion, it would seem that humans
are morally obligated to consume a diet of vegetables and ruminant
animal products.



But what of the ruminant animals that would need to die to feed
people in the pasture-forage model? According to USDA numbers quoted
by Francione (2000), of the 8.4 billion farm animals killed each year
for food in the US, approximately 8 billion of those are poultry and
only 37 million are ruminants (cows, calves) the remainder includes
pigs and other species. Even if the numbers of cows and calves
killed for food each year was doubled to 74 million to replace the 8
billion poultry, the total number of animals that would need to be
killed under this alternative method would still be only 1.424
billion, still clearly less than in the vegan model.



OTHER ALTERNATIVES



The pasture/ruminant model would have other advantages. For one, it
would provide habitat for many species of animals and insects,
helping them to survive. In addition, ruminants are capable of
surviving and producing on diets containing only forages, which
humans cannot digest. This is beneficial in two ways. First, crops
such as corn and soybeans could all be fed to humans instead of to
animals. Second, pasture forage can be produced on lands that are
too rough to be usable to produce crops for human consumption.
Grasses are currently grown and harvested by cows in many countries
on lands that are too hilly, and/or rocky, and/or dry to be usable
for production of crops like corn and soybeans.



Are there other alternatives that would cause "Least Harm"? As I
have discussed this analysis with others, additional alternatives
have been suggested. These include the following:



1. Another alternative, suggested recently by PETA (2001),
recommends that if we are going to eat meat, we should kill the
largest animals possible, thereby reducing the number of animals that
would need to die to feed humans (LHP). In fact, they have suggested
that blue whales, the largest known living animal would be the ideal
choice. This suggestion strikes me as unsustainable, because it
would be impossible to find adequate numbers of adult animals to
harvest without totally depleting the population.



2. A third alternative suggested by Peter Cheeke (personal
communication) would be to eliminate intensive agriculture altogether
and have everyone produce their own vegan diet on small plots of land
using no-till production systems to reduce killing/harm to animals of
the field. I believe that this system would also be unpractical and
not viable. The human populations are too large, land is
concentrated in the hands of the few rather than many, and social
systems would need to revert to those of primitive cultures.



3. But if herbivores are used, wouldn't it cause least harm
if we used the fewest possible, therefore, the largest herbivores?
Elephants might be used, but in practical terms, I believe that the
majority of people would object to eating elephants. Large draft
horse breeds developed previously as working horses, may be up to
twice the size of a cow. Perhaps they could be used to harvest or
convert forages into meat and dairy products. Again, I don't believe
many humans would support this option; otherwise there would already
be more people willing to consume horsemeat.



4. Kerasote (1993) proposed that least harm would be done if
humans were to hunt locally, particularly large animals like elk for
their own food. But his least harm concept appears to be related as
much to least harm to the environment (less fossil fuel consumption)
as least harm to animals. Furthermore, this doesn't seem to be a
practical idea, because there are too few animals and there would be
too many hunters. As Taylor (1999) said, one "issue that arises from
Kerasote's argument is whether hunting for one's food is practical on
a large scale."



INTENDED VS. UNINTENDED DEATHS



Taylor (1999) says that another issue arises from Karasote's
argument, and that is the matter of intentional infliction of harm
versus harm that is the unintentional, but a foreseeable side effect
of one's actions. The animals of the field die not intentionally,
but incidentally as a consequence of producing food for humans. On
the other hand, farm animals (chickens, pigs, cows, and sheep) are
killed intentionally to provide food for humans. Perhaps I don't
fully understand the nuances or moral significance of this
difference, but it seems to me that the harm done to the animal is
the same ^Ö dead is dead. Furthermore, many farmers do intentionally
kill some animals of the field because their presence causes reduced
yields. Taylor (1999) says about the questions of intent, "A
utilitarian is likely to see no moral difference between the two,
since utilitarianism holds that it is consequences that count and not
intentions."



CONCLUSION



1. Vegan diets are not bloodless diets. Millions of animals
of the field die every year to provide products used in vegan diets.



2. Several alternative food production models exist that may
kill fewer animals than the vegan model.



3. More research is needed to obtain accurate estimations of
the number of field animals killed in different crop production
systems.



4. Humans may be morally obligated to consume a diet from
plant based plus pasture-forage-ruminant systems.



REFERENCES



Comstock, G. Is There a Moral Obligation to Save the Family Farm?
(Iowa State University Press, Ames, IA), p. 400.



Edge, W.D., "Wildlife of Agriculture, Pastures, and Mixed Environs,"
in D.H. Johnson and T.A. O'Neill (eds.) Wildlife-Habitat
Relationships in Oregon and Washington (Oregon State University
Press, Corvallis, OR, 2000), pp. 342-360.



Francione, G.L., Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the
Dog? (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2000), p. xx.



Johnson, I.P., J.R. Flowerdew, and R. Hare, "Effects of Broadcasting
and Drilling Methiocarb Molluscicide Pellets on Field Populations of
Wood Mice, Apodemus sylvaticus." Bull. Environ. Contam. and
Toxicol. 46 (1991), pp. 84-91.



Kerasote, T., Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt (Random House,
NY, 1993), pp. 232, 233, and 254, 255.



Kingsolver, B., Prodigal Summer (Harper Collins, NY, 2001), pp. 322-
323.



Nass, R.D., G.A. Hood, and G. D. Lindsey, "Fate of Polynesian Rats in
Hawaiian Sugar Cane Fields During Harvest." J. Wildlife Management 35
(1971), pp. 353-356.



PETA. EatTheWhales.com, 2001.



Pollard, E., and T. Relton, "A Study of Small Mammals in Hedges and
Cultivated Fields," J of Applied Ecol. 7 (1970), pp. 549-557.



Regan, T., A Case for Animal Rights (University of California Press,
Berkeley, CA, 1983), pp. 266-329.



Shapiro, L.S., Applied Animal Ethics (Delmar Press, Albany, NY,
2000), pp. 25-36.



Taylor, A., Magpies, Monkeys, and Morals: What Philosophers say about
Animal Liberation (Broadview Press, Ontario, Canada, 1999), p. 87.



Tew, T.E., and D.W. Macdonald. "The Effects of Harvest on Arable
Wood Mice," Biological Conservation 65 (1993), pp. 279-283.



Tew, T.E., D.W. Macdonald, and M.R.W. Rands. "Herbicide Application
Affects Microhabitat Use by Arable Wood Mice Apodemus sylvaticus. J.
of Appl. Ecol. 29(1992), pp. 352-359.



USDA, www.nass.usda.gov/Census/Census97/highlights.



Wooley, Jr., J.B., L.B. Best, and W.R. Clark. "Impacts of no-till
row cropping on upland wildlife." Trans. N. Amer. Wildlife and
Natur. Resources Conf. 50 (1984), pp. 157-168.

+++++

Steve Davis' study
I found it.
It was published in 2003,
>
> Volume 16, Issue 4 of the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental
>
> Ethics. It basically says that a grass-fed beef diet is the least
>
> harmful diet - even less harmful than a vegan diet. The study
>
> doesn't seem to be scientifically air-tight, but it is, at least,
>
> very interesting and deserving of further investigation.
>

=====
I concur with you that it should not be ignored - and the issues
raised should be seriously evaluated.

This post is an attempt to begin that process.
=======

>
> THE LEAST HARM PRINCIPLE MAY REQUIRE THAT HUMANS CONSUME A DIET
>
> CONTAINING LARGE HERBIVORES, NOT A VEGAN DIET.
>
>
> S.L. Davis1
>
> Department of Animal Sciences
> Oregon State University
>
> ABSTRACT
>
> Based on his theory of animal rights, Regan concludes that humans are
>
> morally obligated to consume a vegetarian or vegan diet. When it was
>
> pointed out to him that even a vegan diet results in the loss of many
>
> animals of the field, he said that while that may be true, we are
>
> still obligated to consume a vegetarian / vegan diet because in total
>
> it would cause the least harm to animals (Least Harm Principle, or
>
> LHP) as compared to current agriculture. But is that conclusion
>
> valid? Is it possible that some other agricultural production
>
> alternatives may result in least harm to animals? In this paper, I
>
> examine this question and find that the LHP may actually be better
>
> served using food production systems that include both plant-based
>
> agriculture and a forage-ruminant-based agriculture as compared to a
>
> strict plant-based (vegan) system. Perhaps we are morally obligated
>
> to consume a diet containing both plants and ruminant (particularly
>
> cattle) animal products.
>
>
> 1This work was supported by the Oregon Agricultural Experiment
>
> Station.
>
>
This paper will not critique Regan's (1983)
>
> theory on animal rights. Rather, for the moment, suppose he is
>
> right; animals are subjects-of-a-life with interests of their own,
>
> which matter as much to them as similar interests matter to humans.
>
> Therefore, animals have the right to live their lives without
>
> interference from humans. His conclusion follows, therefore, that
>
> animal agriculture interferes in the lives of millions of animals
>
> annually, so humans are morally obligated to consume a vegan or
>
> vegetarian diet. The purpose of this paper is to examine the moral
>
> vegan conclusion of Regan's animal rights theory, rather than the
>
> rights theory itself. It is also the objective of this paper to
>
> examine alternative conclusions. In other words, might there be
>
> alternatives to the moral vegetarian conclusion drawn from animal
>
> rights theory?
>
> THE CONCEPT OF LEAST HARM
>
>
> As I was thinking about the vegan conclusion, I remembered my
>
> childhood on the farm and where our food comes from and how it is
>
> produced. Specifically, I remembered riding on farm equipment and
>
> seeing mice, gophers, and pheasants in the field that were injured or
>
> killed every time we worked the fields. Therefore, I realized that
>
> animals of the field are killed in large numbers annually to produce
>
> food for humans. Kingsolver (2001) describes these killings very
>
> effectively. "I've watched enough harvests to know that cutting a
>
> wheat field amounts to more decapitated bunnies under the combine
>
> than you would believe." "She stopped speaking when her memory
>
> lodged on an old vision from childhood: A raccoon she found just
>
> after the hay mower ran it over. She could still see the matted grey
>
> fur, the gleaming jaw bone and shock of scattered teeth^Å."
>
> Consequently, a vegan diet doesn't necessarily mean a diet that
>
> doesn't interfere in the lives of animals. In fact, production of
>
> corn, beans, rice, etc. kills many animals as this paper will
>
> document. So, in 1999, I sent an email to Regan, pointing this out
>
> to him. Then I asked him, "What is the morally relevant difference
>
> between the animals of the field and those of the farm that makes it
>
> acceptable to kill some of them (field mice, etc.) so that humans may
>
> eat, but not acceptable to kill others (pigs, etc.) so we may eat?"
>
> His reply (Regan, 1999, personal communication) was that we must
>
> choose the method of food production that causes the least harm to
>
> animals. (I will refer to this concept as The Least Harm Principle
>
> or LHP.) In his book, Regan (1983) calls this the "minimize harm
>
> principle" and he describes it in the following way:
>>
> "Whenever we find ourselves in a situation where all the
> options at hand will produce some harm to those who are innocent, we
> must choose that option that will result in the least total sum of
> harm."
>
>

> It seems that Regan is saying that least harm would be done to
>
> animals in the production of a plant-based diet, because then at
>
> least you wouldn't be killing both the animals of the farm and those
>
> of the field, thus supporting the conclusion that humans are morally
>
> obligated to consume a vegan diet. But is that conclusion the one
>
> that best satisfies the LHP? Are there other ways of accomplishing
>
> least harm?
>
>
> I find Regan's vegan conclusion to be problematic because he seems to
>
> think that there are no other alternatives. There is an old adage to
>
> the effect, "There is more than one way to skin a cat." Do
>
> alternative food production systems exist that may cause even less
>
> harm to animals?
>
>
> HOW MANY ANIMALS OF THE FIELD WOULD DIE IF A VEGAN DIET WERE ADOPTED?
>
>
> Animals living in and around agricultural fields are killed during
>
> field activities and the greater the number of field activities, the
>
> greater the number of field animals that die. A partial list of
>
> animals of the field in the USA include opossum, rock dove, house
>
> sparrow, European starling, black rat, Norway rat, house mouse,
>
> Chukar, gray partridge, ring-necked pheasant, wild turkey, cottontail
>
> rabbit, gray-tailed vole, and numerous species of amphibians (Edge,
>
> 2000). In addition, Edge (2000) says, "production of most crops
>
> requires multiple field operations that may include plowing, disking,
>
> harrowing, planting, cultivating, applying herbicides and pesticides
>
> as well as harvesting." These practices have negative effects on the
>
> populations of the animals living in the fields. For example, just
>
> one operation, the "mowing of alfalfa caused a 50% decline in gray-
>
> tailed vole population" (Edge, 2000). Although these examples
>
> represent crop production systems in the USA, the concept is also
>
> valid for intensive crop production in any country. Other studies
>
> have also examined the effect of agricultural tillage practices on
>
> field animal populations (Johnson et al., 1991; Pollard and Helton,
>
> 1970; Tew, Macdonald and Rands, 1992).
>
>
> Although accurate estimates of the total number of animals killed by
>
> different agronomic practices from plowing to harvesting are not
>
> available, some studies show that the numbers are quite large.
>
> Kerasote (1993) describes it as follows: "When I inquired about the
>
> lives lost on a mechanized farm, I realized what costs we pay at the
>
> supermarket. One Oregon farmer told me that half of the cottontail
>
> rabbits went into his combine when he cut a wheat field, that
>
> virtually all of the small mammals, ground birds, and reptiles were
>
> killed when he harvested his crops. Because most of these animals
>
> have been seen as expendable, or not seen at all, few scientific
>
> studies have been done measuring agriculture's effects on their
>
> populations." In a study that has been done to examine the effect of
>
> harvesting grain crops, Tew and Macdonald (1993) reported that mouse
>
> population density dropped from 25/ha preharvest to less than 5/ha
>
> postharvest. This decrease was attributed to both migration out of
>
> the field and to mortality. They estimated the mortality rate to be
>
> 52%. In another study Nass et al. (1971) reported that the mortality
>
> rate of Polynesian rats was 77% during the harvest of sugar cane in
>
> Hawaii. These are the estimated mortality rates for only a single
>
> species, and for only a single operation (i.e. harvesting).
>
> Therefore, an estimate somewhere between 52 and 77% (say 60%) for
>
> animals of all kinds killed during the production year would be
>
> reasonable. Using the population density shown in Tew and
>
> Macdonald's (1993) paper (25/ha) times a 60% mortality rate of 15
>
> animals/ha each year.
>
>
>
> If that is true, how many animals would die annually in the
>
> production of a vegan diet? There are 120 million ha of cropland
>
> harvested in the USA (USDA, 2000) each year. If all of that land was
>
> used to produce crops to support a vegan diet, and if 15 animals of
>
> the field are killed per ha per year, then 15 x 120 million = 1800
>
> million or 1.8 billion animals would be killed annually to produce a
>
> vegan diet for the USA.
>
>
> WOULD A PASTURE / RUMINANT MODEL KILL FEWER ANIMALS?
>
>
> Production of forages, such as pasture-based forages, would cause
>
> less harm to field animals (kill fewer) than intensive crop
>
> production systems typically used to produce food for a vegan diet.
>
> This is because pasture forage production requires fewer passages
>
> through the field with tractors and other farm equipment.

====
So here SD is assuming that plant production methods remain the same. The
truth
is, of course, that those committed to LHP would strive to alter all methods
that research like his shows to be problematic within LHP
======

The
>
> killing of animals of the field would be further reduced if
>
> herbivorous animals (ruminants like cattle) were used to harvest the
>
> forage and convert it into meat and dairy products. Would such
>
> production systems cause less harm to the field animals? Again,
>
> accurate numbers aren't available comparing the number of animals of
>
> the field that are killed with these different cropping systems,
>
> but "The predominant feeling among wildlife ecologists is that no-
>
> till agriculture will have broadly positive effects on mammalian
>
> wildlife" populations (Wooley et al., 1984).

====
not forgetting that this involves a trade off with the rather less than
positive
effects created by breeding the nonhumans for meat.
=====

Pasture-forage
>
> production, with herbivores harvesting the forage, would be the
>
> ultimate in 'no-till' agriculture. Because of the low numbers of
>
> times that equipment would be needed to grow and harvest pasture
>
> forages it would be reasonable to estimate that the pasture-forage
>
> model may reduce animal deaths by 50% or more. In other words, only
>
> 7.5 animals of the field per ha would die to produce pasture forages
>
> as compared to the intensive cropping system (15/ha) used to produce
>
> a vegan diet.

====
note further assumption of maintaining the current intensive sysytem
======>
>
> If half of the total harvested land in the US was used to produce
>
> plant products for human consumption and half was used for pasture-
>
> forage production, how many animals would die annually so that humans
>
> may eat?
>
>
> 60 million ha, plant production x 15 animals/ha
>
> = 0.9 billion
>
>
>
> 60 million ha, forage production x 7.5 animals/ha
>
> = 0.45 billion
>
>
>
>
>
> Total: 1.35 billion animals

>
> According to this model then, fewer animals (1.35 billion) would die
>
> than in the vegan model (1.8 billion). As a result, if we apply the
>
> LHP as Regan did for his vegan conclusion, it would seem that humans
>
> are morally obligated to consume a diet of vegetables and ruminant
>
> animal products.
>
=====
Alternatively, morally obligated to sort out the negative effects of the
current
system - something SD states has been poorly researched or hitherto ignored.
=====
>
> But what of the ruminant animals that would need to die to feed
>
> people in the pasture-forage model? According to USDA numbers quoted
>
> by Francione (2000), of the 8.4 billion farm animals killed each year
>
> for food in the US, approximately 8 billion of those are poultry and
>
> only 37 million are ruminants (cows, calves) the remainder includes
>
> pigs and other species. Even if the numbers of cows and calves
>
> killed for food each year was doubled to 74 million to replace the 8
>
> billion poultry, the total number of animals that would need to be
>
> killed under this alternative method would still be only 1.424
>
> billion, still clearly less than in the vegan model.
>
>
=====
This means humans would have to accept the utilisation of less types of
nonhumans for meat
=====

> OTHER ALTERNATIVES
>
>
> The pasture/ruminant model would have other advantages. For one, it
>
> would provide habitat for many species of animals and insects,
>
> helping them to survive.

====
as would leaving land free of human use in toto.
=====

In addition, ruminants are capable of
>
> surviving and producing on diets containing only forages, which
>
> humans cannot digest. This is beneficial in two ways. First, crops
>
> such as corn and soybeans could all be fed to humans instead of to
>
> animals. Second, pasture forage can be produced on lands that are
>
> too rough to be usable to produce crops for human consumption.
>
> Grasses are currently grown and harvested by cows in many countries
>
> on lands that are too hilly, and/or rocky, and/or dry to be usable
>
> for production of crops like corn and soybeans.
>
=====
all of this has been challenged by veganic theorists who claim that at least
types of nut trees can prosper in these conditions.
=====
>
>
> Are there other alternatives that would cause "Least Harm"? As I
>
> have discussed this analysis with others, additional alternatives
>
> have been suggested. These include the following:
>
=====
after reading 1 below, we may question whether PeTA came up with a typical
publicity stunt because of discussions with SD
======
>
> 1. Another alternative, suggested recently by PETA (2001),
>
> recommends that if we are going to eat meat, we should kill the
>
> largest animals possible, thereby reducing the number of animals that
>
> would need to die to feed humans (LHP). In fact, they have suggested
>
> that blue whales, the largest known living animal would be the ideal
>
> choice. This suggestion strikes me as unsustainable, because it
>
> would be impossible to find adequate numbers of adult animals to
>
> harvest without totally depleting the population.
>

>
> 2. A third alternative suggested by Peter Cheeke (personal
>
> communication) would be to eliminate intensive agriculture altogether
>
> and have everyone produce their own vegan diet on small plots of land
>
> using no-till production systems to reduce killing/harm to animals of
>
> the field. I believe that this system would also be unpractical and
>
> not viable. The human populations are too large, land is
>
> concentrated in the hands of the few rather than many, and social
>
> systems would need to revert to those of primitive cultures.
>
======
Cheeke's son is a vegan bodybuilder it seems!
So here is an alternative quickly ruled out by SD - yet Regan's perspective
rules such things in - and presumably envisages a growth in the numbers of
people committed to LHP and so would consider such moves.
======


> 3. But if herbivores are used, wouldn't it cause least harm
>
> if we used the fewest possible, therefore, the largest herbivores?
>
> Elephants might be used, but in practical terms, I believe that the
>
> majority of people would object to eating elephants. Large draft
>
> horse breeds developed previously as working horses, may be up to
>
> twice the size of a cow. Perhaps they could be used to harvest or
>
> convert forages into meat and dairy products. Again, I don't believe
>
> many humans would support this option; otherwise there would already
>
> be more people willing to consume horsemeat.

=====
SD's model relies on him getting people to reduce the types of nonhumans
available to them - yet he points out these alternative sources would be ruled
out - presumably for moral and cultural reasons. I suppose it is another
discussion to work out how humans reject one type of "meat animal" when all the
others are made of meat too!
======

>
>
> 4. Kerasote (1993) proposed that least harm would be done if
>
> humans were to hunt locally, particularly large animals like elk for
>
> their own food. But his least harm concept appears to be related as
>
> much to least harm to the environment (less fossil fuel consumption)
>
> as least harm to animals. Furthermore, this doesn't seem to be a
>
> practical idea, because there are too few animals and there would be
>
> too many hunters. As Taylor (1999) said, one "issue that arises from
>
> Kerasote's argument is whether hunting for one's food is practical on
>
> a large scale."
>
=====
This is one for dad of 8
======
>
> INTENDED VS. UNINTENDED DEATHS
>

> Taylor (1999) says that another issue arises from Karasote's
>
> argument, and that is the matter of intentional infliction of harm
>
> versus harm that is the unintentional, but a foreseeable side effect
>
> of one's actions. The animals of the field die not intentionally,
>
> but incidentally as a consequence of producing food for humans. On
>
> the other hand, farm animals (chickens, pigs, cows, and sheep) are
>
> killed intentionally to provide food for humans. Perhaps I don't
>
> fully understand the nuances or moral significance of this
>
> difference, but it seems to me that the harm done to the animal is
>
> the same ^Ö dead is dead.

====
and yet we can all see a difference in a baby accidently killed by a car -
"accidently" killed by a car driven rather recklessly and killed deliberately
with a gun.

SD just appears to be outlining his own ethical limitations here.
======

Furthermore, many farmers do intentionally
>
> kill some animals of the field because their presence causes reduced
>
> yields.
=====
but would not under LHP
=====


Taylor (1999) says about the questions of intent, "A
>
> utilitarian is likely to see no moral difference between the two,
>
> since utilitarianism holds that it is consequences that count and not
>
> intentions."
>
=====
Utilitarianism is not animal rights
=====
>
> CONCLUSION
>
>
>
> 1. Vegan diets are not bloodless diets. Millions of animals
>
> of the field die every year to provide products used in vegan diets.

>
> 2. Several alternative food production models exist that may
>
> kill fewer animals than the vegan model.
>>
> 3. More research is needed to obtain accurate estimations of
>
> the number of field animals killed in different crop production
>
> systems.

>
> 4. Humans may be morally obligated to consume a diet from
>
> plant based plus pasture-forage-ruminant systems
>
> REFERENCES
>
>
> Comstock, G. Is There a Moral Obligation to Save the Family Farm?
>
> (Iowa State University Press, Ames, IA), p. 400.
>
>
> Edge, W.D., "Wildlife of Agriculture, Pastures, and Mixed Environs,"
>
> in D.H. Johnson and T.A. O'Neill (eds.) Wildlife-Habitat
>
> Relationships in Oregon and Washington (Oregon State University
>
> Press, Corvallis, OR, 2000), pp. 342-360.>
>
> Francione, G.L., Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the
>
> Dog? (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2000), p. xx.
>
>
> Johnson, I.P., J.R. Flowerdew, and R. Hare, "Effects of Broadcasting
>
> and Drilling Methiocarb Molluscicide Pellets on Field Populations of
>
> Wood Mice, Apodemus sylvaticus." Bull. Environ. Contam. and
>
> Toxicol. 46 (1991), pp. 84-91.
>

>
> Kerasote, T., Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt (Random House,
>
> NY, 1993), pp. 232, 233, and 254, 255.
>>
> Kingsolver, B., Prodigal Summer (Harper Collins, NY, 2001), pp. 322-
>
> 323.
>
>

> Nass, R.D., G.A. Hood, and G. D. Lindsey, "Fate of Polynesian Rats in
>
> Hawaiian Sugar Cane Fields During Harvest." J. Wildlife Management 35
>
> (1971), pp. 353-356.>
> PETA. EatTheWhales.com, 2001.

> Pollard, E., and T. Relton, "A Study of Small Mammals in Hedges and
>
> Cultivated Fields," J of Applied Ecol. 7 (1970), pp. 549-557.>
>
> Regan, T., A Case for Animal Rights (University of California Press,
>
> Berkeley, CA, 1983), pp. 266-329.

>
> Shapiro, L.S., Applied Animal Ethics (Delmar Press, Albany, NY,
>
> 2000), pp. 25-36.
>
> Taylor, A., Magpies, Monkeys, and Morals: What Philosophers say about
>
> Animal Liberation (Broadview Press, Ontario, Canada, 1999), p. 87.
>
>>
> Tew, T.E., and D.W. Macdonald. "The Effects of Harvest on Arable
>
> Wood Mice," Biological Conservation 65 (1993), pp. 279-283.

> Tew, T.E., D.W. Macdonald, and M.R.W. Rands. "Herbicide Application
>
> Affects Microhabitat Use by Arable Wood Mice Apodemus sylvaticus. J.
>
> of Appl. Ecol. 29(1992), pp. 352-359.
>>
> USDA, www.nass.usda.gov/Census/Census97/highlights.

> Wooley, Jr., J.B., L.B. Best, and W.R. Clark. "Impacts of no-till
>
> row cropping on upland wildlife." Trans. N. Amer. Wildlife and
>
> Natur. Resources Conf. 50 (1984), pp. 157-168.
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Postby Mary » Fri Aug 27, 2004 10:13 am

The crops that farmed animals eat are also going to result in the deaths of non human animals - insects, etc. The lives of the animal bred for food will impact upon the lives of animals whose habitats are destroyed to provide room for them.

This is a terribly shabby piece of pretend science. People should remember when reading such research what the biases of the researcher/publishers are. For example, on another thread a member of this forum said that he had knowledge of farming and dairy practises, because he has "taken environmental classes." People rarely think of the prejudice of the teachers in this sort of case, and don't try hard enough to think for themselves.

I find this research hard to take seriously, since it fails to see the impact that land use in feeding animals has on the environment. The man appears to be living in cloud cuckoo land. Hopefully he will not be built up into some kind of a guru by the pro meat lobby, like Blakemore (another pretender to the title of intellectual - he failed his medical degree) has been by the vivisection industry.
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Postby veganmike » Fri Aug 27, 2004 10:20 am

Here's another paper on Davis' article: "Least harm: a defense of vegetarianism from Steven Davis’s omnivorous proposal" by Gaverick Matheny (Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 16: 505-511, 2003).
The henchman is the human analogue of the suffering multitudes who like good dogs sit and lick for their reward.
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Postby JP » Fri Aug 27, 2004 10:44 am

funny it even got published :)

It's not even comparing like with like. It is taking a status quo of intensive crop farming and comparing that to an idealistic model of meat production. At least he should have compared perhaps many different models and made calculations based on that: modern factory farming meat and dairy production, organic meat and dairy production, intensive crop/vegetable production, organic vegetable/crop production and then some idealistic models from both sides.

Also, it assumes that for vegans current production methods are already ideal and good enough. veganism is part of a cultural change which seeks changes in many ways environmental resources are used, and farmikng methods would not be immune to that even if corn or soy beans were farmed.

Third quick point, he doesn't count in what happens to all that monoculture feed farming land which has a weak biodiversity - more vegans, less land areas used, more land area available for reforestation, which leads to larger biodiversity and subsequently larger amounts of animal life as well. He only looks at killing, putting together intentional and unintentional killing, but then conveniently leaves out providing space for new life.
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Postby Sunkanrags » Fri Aug 27, 2004 12:42 pm

[quote="veganmike"]Here's another paper on Davis' article: "Least harm: a defense of vegetarianism from Steven Davis’s omnivorous proposal" by Gaverick Matheny (Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 16: 505-511, 2003).


Thanks veganmike for posting this. I was about to to take the debate further!

Rags.
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Postby Strix » Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:37 pm

Good link, veganmike! I noticed how he blurred the line between "harm" and "animals killed." I'm not knowledgeable enough to argue environmental issues related to veganism, but I did notice that jumping in his writing.

That's an interesting topic. Funny how reading one side of anything can be so deceptive. That's one reason to always consider various sides of political arguments instead of jumping on any one bandwagon. It's so easy to be propogandized.
"The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death."
-Dylan Thomas
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Postby J » Sat Aug 28, 2004 2:08 am

I'm convinced! Switching to the blue whale diet immediately!
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