Re: Can't afford to rescue cows

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Wed Apr 16 2008 - 13:17:10 MDT

First, a word about cows. I have been told that
much of the beef we eat comes from animals bred
to grow and fatten as quickly as possible to the
exclusion of other considerations. They have
abnormal digestive systems for an ungulate; more
acid than normal, which means they pass parasites
better able to live in humans as well; and
dysfunctional so that if they were not
slaughtered at a youngish age they would soon die
from digestive problems anyway.

When I ask myself the (mostly unanswerable)
question "What would a superhuman FAI do?" I
understand it as a variation of "What would God
do?" if such an entity existed. Any answer that
is too stupid for me is clearly too stupid for
anybody smarter than me. Present methods of
making beef are very inefficient, requiring
massive amounts of water and land. Use of
antibiotics in these creatures is daft: by the
time a new antibiotic is approved for humans,
bacteria have already started to become immune to
it since it will have been in heavy livestock use
for some time! Everything about the present
existence of domesticated cattle seems to
guarantee inherent wretchedness in the enslaved
(no quotes) animals.

Here's what I think a FAI would do:

1. Feed humans on artificially grown beef where
no sentient/conscious suffering is even a factor.
There are artificial meats and fish made from
soy, TVP, and probably other plant sources, which
are uncannily close to the real thing, though not
easy to find. A FAI would presumably find much
better methods to solve this minor problem.

2. There might still be some cows around, but
they'd be healthier and probably far fewer and
freer. If I were a FAI trying to allocate
meatspace to nonhumans, I'd cut way back on
livestock and leave much more room for nonhuman
primates, elephants, whales and porpoises. They
have something to contribute to the conversation
(see Frans de Waal, "Our Inner Ape".)

3. This assumes the continued existence of
meatspace. Otherwise, all bets are off.

Tom Buckner

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