Respecting Animal Welfare − On the Responsible Treatment of Farm Animals

Year of publication:

Number of pages:

An English translation will be available in due course.

Published: 16 June 2020

The relationship between humans and (farm) animals is characterised by a basic tension: Animal welfare and rights have increasingly become the subject of public debate in Germany in recent years. Social acceptance for many practices in livestock farming is declining. The current legislation contains at least superficially strict animal welfare requirements. Nevertheless, pain and suffering is often routinely inflicted on farm animals under standard breeding, husbandry, slaughter and processing conditions. Reform efforts only address partial aspects and/or come to nothing.

In its Opinion “Respecting Animal Welfare – On the Responsible Treatment of Farm Animals”, the German Ethics Council identifies an overlapping consensus regarding basic guidelines of animal ethics and, based on these, principles for ethically responsible treatment of livestock. The main focus is on the consideration that at least more highly developed animals have an “intrinsic value” which leads to their special worthiness of protection and a particular human responsibility. This intrinsic value sets limits to human interests of use, which are, however, regularly exceeded in current practice. In its Opinion, the German Ethics Council calls for a much stronger orientation towards animal welfare and a more respectful treatment of animal life in order to achieve minimum standards of ethically acceptable treatment of farm animals.