“Banning factory farms” says Steve Hilton, “won’t just be better for animals; it will make us better humans.” That’s one of the conclusions by former adviser and friend of UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his new book, ‘More Human’.
In an explosive chapter on food, Hilton asks, “What has happened to us that we think it’s all right to throw live chicks into a mincing machine just because they are male; that piglets’ tails are chopped off and their front teeth broken to prevent ‘stress-induced cannibalism’ and chunks of their ears cut out for identification, all without painkillers; that cows are milked to breaking point so they live out just a third of their natural lives?” He rails against the take-over of our food system by factory farms which produce poorer quality food in ways which are frankly inhuman.
The chapter sits well alongside others dealing with health, childhood and poverty. The thread running throughout the book is that government, business and the lives we lead, the food we eat – everything – has become too big and distant, too industrial. “Inhuman” as Hilton puts it and its time to do something about it.
I was privileged to be at Hilton’s launch party in London last night along with heavy hitters from government past and present including George Osborne, Oliver Letwin and Michael Heseltine. We were entertained by a Hungarian gypsy band which underscored Hilton’s roots – his family fled their home during the Hungarian Revolution.
I had chance to chat with the guest of honour, David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, who was lucid on farm animal welfare issues. I encouraged him to read Hilton’s chapter on food and promised to send more information. I am following up our conversation today with a letter calling for government action over misleading labelling, the wasteful use of antibiotics to prop up factory farming, and the spread of factory farm dairying.
I was pleased Compassion was able to help Hilton and his team with information on factory farming. I was particularly pleased to see him call for a ban on the practices listed in our Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare. And I couldn’t but agree with Hilton’s take on factory farming: “We shouldn’t just ‘not subsidise’ them. We shouldn’t just regulate them better, or make them more transparent. We should ban them.”