Horse Meat Controversy

CTV News reported yesterday that a hidden-camera video has spurred new calls for a ban on horse meat in Canada:

Animal rights groups are calling for a ban on the sale of horse meat after disturbing video at a slaughterhouse in west Quebec was sent to the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition.

The footage was shot with a hidden camera inside Les Viandes de la Petite Nation near Montebello. It shows a parade of horses being stunned with what’s called a captive bolt pistol.

At one point, a worker can be seen stunning a horse and waving goodbye. Under Canadian laws, one shot is supposed to render the horse unconscious but it often doesn’t happen. Captured on video, is one horse being stunned 11 times….

Of course, nothing in the story explains why horses should be thought of any differently from cows or pigs. The fact that they’re pretty, and that we humans easily forge emotional bonds with them, shouldn’t much matter. Or should it? For an alternative point of view, see this NYT review of LOVING ANIMALS: Toward a New Animal Advocacy.

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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2 Responses to Horse Meat Controversy

  1. Debbie says:

    Please put the emotional aspects aside and listen to factual evidence. Thank you:

    http://equimed.com/news/equine-general/research-shows-tainted-horse-meat-sold-to-europeans

  2. For some activists and the public its about the special relationship horses have with humans similar to dogs and cats that drives the repulsion to eating them in particular. But for many other animal rights activists campaigning for a ban on horse slaughter/consumption its merely pragmatic, they dont view horses as more special than pigs but rather see the fight to save their lives as more winnable because of public sentiments that they hope will expand to other species.

    As for emotional bonds not mattering, I’m not so sure, I don’t think it is of prime importance but the emotional bonds between individuals certainly would have ethical implications such as psychological suffering in empathetic species.

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