Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


Pain issue an opportunity for proactive industry response

Waiting for more research alone isn't the answer, says Dr. Ed Pajor

Posted: November 14, 2013

Dr. Ed Pajor serves as part of the animal care team at Calgary Stampede

It's seems every few months there are more case studies that emerge on why agriculture needs to become more proactive in managing animal welfare issues.

The recent W5 investigative report, "Behind the barn door," is one high profile example that hits home for Canadian livestock industries. The often highly emotional and polarizing debate around gestation stalls is another.

Scanning the environment, another issue that is clearly rising in profile is pain management.

Examples of shifting landscape

California Pizza Kitchen under fire. Among the many signs of this trend, one example in the U.S. is a recent large scale, activist-driven social media campaign, that has emerged against California Pizza Kitchen, targeting dehorning practices.

EU moving away from pig castration. Another sign, this time in Europe, is a new website launched on alternatives to pig castration. It showcases how EU countries are talking seriously about voluntarily moving away from pig castration altogether and are already conducting complex, well-funded studies into the options and implications.

It is on this rising issue of pain management that Canadian livestock producers and their industries have an important opportunity, says leading animal welfare expert Dr. Ed Pajor of the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

Applying lessons learned

That opportunity is to learn from the experiences with welfare-related issues that have damaged animal agriculture's image in the past. Then, use this knowledge to develop better, more proactive approaches on pain and other challenges that are likely to become increasingly important in the months and years ahead.

"Pain, for example, is no longer just an emerging challenge," says Pajor, a researcher and professor of animal behavior and welfare who works with and advises industry in numerous capacities both domestically and internationally. "It is a challenge that is here today that we're going to have to address in the very near future. There's a great deal of pressure coming from other places in the world. It's an issue that people can really understand, even if they are well removed from agriculture, and we need to be prepared."

Reprintable with credit. This article is available for reprint, with acknowledgement of the source as Meristem Land and Science, www.meristem.com.

Meristem is a Calgary-based communications firm that specializes in writing about western agriculture, food and land use. More articles at www.meristem.com.




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