Archive for February 20th, 2010


Color Me Terrified

February 20, 2010

The New York Times has an Op-Ed today on cows genetically-modified to experience less suffering.

We are most likely stuck with factory farms, given that they produce most of the beef and pork Americans consume. But it is still possible to reduce the animals’ discomfort — through neuroscience. Recent advances suggest it may soon be possible to genetically engineer livestock so that they suffer much less.

Among the many things that such an innovation suggests to me, it also strikes me as at least one counter-example to Singer’s argument. The way I see it, massive factory farms present a significant ethical problem even if the animals are modified in such a way that they stand mindlessly penned in their quarters, oblivious to their impending fate. It’s not the pain that’s doing the work, it’s what we do that matters.