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Pain-Free Animals Could Take Suffering Out of Farming

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the go-ahead-and-take-a-bite dept.

Science 429

Philosopher Adam Shriver suggested that genetically engineering cows to feel no pain could be an acceptable alternative to eliminating factory farming in a paper published in Neuroscience. Work by neuroscientist Zhou-Feng Chen at Washington University may turn Shriver's suggestion a reality. Chen has been working on identifying the genes that control "affective" pain, the unpleasantness part of a painful sensation. He has managed to isolate a gene called P311, and has found that mice who do not have P311 don't have negative associations with pain, although they do react negatively to heat and pressure. This could end much of the concern about cruel farming practices, but unfortunately still leaves my design for the fiery hamburger punch in the unethical column.

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I feel great .. Edna, there is a wolf on your back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311341)

Uh oh

Brainless! (4, Insightful)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311645)

Why not just 'engineer' them to have no brain at all, just like the guy who suggested this!

Re:Brainless! (1)

lastomega7 (1060398) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311807)

Or just grow the cow tissue in an industrial-sized petri dish.

At what point are they no longer cows?

Re:Brainless! (1)

xmod2 (314264) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311971)

While this is a step towards a more sane policy on meat production, you're right in that it doesn't go far enough.

What is the difference between kicking a stone down the street and kicking a frog down the street?

If it's only pain, then this is far enough. I'd guess not all suffering is physical though, so I agree with the OP.

Then again, I guess us vegetarians get grief for eating meat substitutes (seitan, wham, boca) so I'm sure some meat purists would find some way to be derogatory towards those who eat lab meat. ;)

Dmritard96 (1)

Dmritard96 (1268918) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311345)

I want to be Pain Free too!!!

Re:Dmritard96 (2, Funny)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311443)

Have you tried heroin?

Re:Dmritard96 (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311485)

Actually a worse idea than it sounds. There are, extremely rarely, children born insensitive to pain [wikipedia.org] . Their survival rates are not good.

Now, particularly for adults, the ability to sense pain as a mere signal, rather than as, well, pain, would be quite nice.

Re:Dmritard96 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311987)

While it would certainly be desirable to have the ability to "turn down" the pain, permanently attenuating it would be bad, because it decreases dynamic range, either distorting the scale of pain, or more likely causing some low-level pains (like sore muscles) to go completely unnoticed.

Fortunately, we do have the ability to temporarily reduce pain levels, and it's automatically triggered when needed -- adrenaline!

Re:Dmritard96 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311505)

Really? Most people born without the ability to feel pain become crippled in early life; many die from muscular inflammation problems before their teens.

There are good reasons why pain sensations exist.

What is this doing under idle? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311349)

This is actually a fairly significant thing.

Re:What is this doing under idle? (1)

whatajoke (1625715) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311433)

yeah. I think the generals must have had multiple orgasms when told of this discovery.

Re:What is this doing under idle? (2, Informative)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311487)

there are people who cannot feel pain.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/915341/people_who_cant_feel_pain.html?cat=52 [associatedcontent.com]

counterintuitively, it's not a good thing.

what would be a good thing would be partially desensitized to pain. that way you get the information ("hey, you should pull your hand off the stove burner") without the incapacitating effects.

Re:What is this doing under idle? (2, Interesting)

whatajoke (1625715) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311819)

Interesting article. Thanks. But I think the problems noted with CIPA(Congenital insensitivity to pain) are solveable at least for creating special ops soldiers. Preserve and keep healthy the human units with CIPA until a mission really requires them. And then you send them into circumstances not even a strong willed human can tolerate (e.g. radioactive battlescape). May not be possible with most (modern) democratic countries, but can become a possibility under extrenuating changes. And discoveries can be used even decades after they are made.

Re:What is this doing under idle? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311663)

It can also take the survival instincts out of animals, which is why people are concerned that this isn't a *good idea*, same as it would be for us humans.

Just like taking an aspirin... (5, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311359)

...eliminates the soul-sucking ennui of day-to-day life.

I think they're missing the point.

Insanity (3, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311361)

CAN != Should

Exactly! (4, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311905)

Don't these idiots know that the suffering is where all the good flavor is?

Um, how about no? (4, Interesting)

Millennium (2451) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311367)

Pain serves a useful biological function: it allows living things to know when they have been injured.

Now, admittedly, cattle are not the brightest animals in the evolutionary tree. Nevertheless, they still know enough to stay away from things that hurt them. Removing the ability to do that can't possibly be good for their safety.

Re:Um, how about no? (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311435)

Removing the ability to do that can't possibly be good for their safety.

Niiiice.

Re:Um, how about no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311451)

If you read the fine summary, you'd see that this only should affect the "unpleasantness" part of pain.

BDSM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311517)

So we'll have leather-clad BDSM cows in high heels whipping each others ?

Re:Um, how about no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311735)

If it's not unpleasant walking on the sharp rocks or rubbing up against the barbed wire, or even biting your tongue, why would the cow not do it?

I guess if this is meant to justify sticking them in a box where they can't move to hurt themselves anyway, it might make sense.

Re:Um, how about no? (1)

emidln (806452) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311525)

Wild cattle (if such things still exist) would be severely hampered by not feeling pain. The thing is, we're not releasing the cattle we manipulate. When we are farming cattle, we don't need the cattle to know they've been injured as it can only make them less cooperative with their handlers and other cattle. In fact, what we plan on doing to cattle (slaughtering them for food) isn't good for their overall safety either.

Re:Um, how about no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311611)

immune to pain means immune to common cattle fences both electric and barb wire....

Re:Um, how about no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311769)

From what I gather from TFS, it's not even so much removing the "ow! I got poked! move away!" response as it is the "thingies-that-poke-me are unpleasant! avoid them, to avoid pain!" response.

Double no (0, Troll)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311547)

Pain serves no useful function anymore. Its chief use is now as something for bullies to threaten with.
What you mean is "a biological monitoring status feature" serves a function. But then on demand, we should be able to turn it off.
Except in action movies, bullies are in better physical shape than their victims. Once they get an advantage, it's like a gaming-control lock.

If pain were made optional, I think interesting things would happen to the legal code. You'd get more heavy duty conflicts.

Re:Double no (2, Interesting)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311713)

I put myself through my undergrad and post grad work by working as a bouncer in a whisky drinking/fist fighting bar in Montana. I assure you that pain serves a very useful function. The average non-slashdotter tends to react to logical thought and formed arguments far less strongly as they will to something more basal such as an elbow to the nose.

Re:Double no (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311741)

Sounds like we need an extension of SNMP to the nervous system.

Re:Double no (1)

dtmancom (925636) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311829)

Right. Just leave your hand on that burner, then, and tell us how pain doesn't serve any useful function.

Re:Double no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311871)

"Pain serves no useful function anymore. Its chief use is now as something for bullies to threaten with."

I thought that's what the legal system was.

Re:Double no (4, Insightful)

FCAdcock (531678) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312001)

Pain is a very useful sensation. Pain keeps people from doing stupid things, or from CONTINUING to do stupid things.

Ever been burned by hot water? If you were to sit in water over 110 for very long you would litterally boil yourself to death. When you put your feet in the tub and scream, that's your body's way of telling you not to boil yourself.

Ever had a broken bone? When you move a broken bone your body quickly tells you that doing so isn't the best idea by kicking in the pain. Moving it will lenghen the time it takes to heal.

Touch a hot stove often? cut yourself while shaving? sunburn? all of those things are things you want to avoid, but wouldn't know to without pain.

And you do NOT want a 1200lb cow without the ability to feel pain. That fence that keeps it from escaping onto the freeway wouldn't hold her in very long if the cow didn't feel pain. Cows are large, but not very bright. They don't understand what a car is. They don't understand what a road is. They just know they're wandering.

Evolution is a wonderful thing. If we don't need something, evolution gets rid of it. And just because we've gotten all technological and all now does not diminish the fact that we still need to feel pain.

Re:Um, how about no? (5, Funny)

mevets (322601) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311575)

This is why the pace of technological growth is slowing. 50 years ago, people would have looked at this and thought, wow, we can bbq live steak, and it won't try to run away.
Those people had ideas, big ideas. They looked at nuclear bombs and thought "Hey, we could get rid of those mountains blocking our view".
That is the spirit of innovation that drives true progress...

Re:Um, how about no? (0)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311601)

The only biological function pain serves for livestock that lives its entire life in a cage slightly larger than its body is to make it suffer. Suppose that was your future: to live in a narrow six-foot cage for the rest of your life. Would you prefer to do it in constant pain or not? How would your "safety" be compromised if you couldn't feel pain in your cage?

Re:Um, how about no? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311731)

I prefer using mental jujitsu on he problem; it isn't completely insane to separate pain and suffering based on the idea that suffering is the act of taking offense at pain, so a thing like a cattle doesn't really suffer, it reacts instinctively to organic damage (making noise at pain has the evolutionary advantage of alerting the herd...).

I have trouble coming up with an argument that the above is more offensive than the proposal from the article.

I guess I leave aside humans who take offense on behalf of the cattle, but I don't really care about what they think either.

Re:Um, how about no? (4, Insightful)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311621)

Not to mention, it will be end of barbed wire fences as an effective means of containing cattle.
Probably a reduction in the effectiveness of electric fences, too.
Makes you wonder what kind of conditions they expect to raise the cattle under.

Re:Um, how about no? (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311639)

Who knows what side effects may show in these animals? Tromping down fences- or perhaps a fearlessness that would be dangerous to farmers.

Re:Um, how about no? (1)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311711)

It would make it impossible to raise cattle. They would subscribe to injuries they did to themselves and the value of their meat would also be decreased due to continual bruising etc. if they feel no pain, no change in behavior will occur to stop hurting themselves.

Re:Um, how about no? (5, Funny)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311767)

Precisely. If you remove their pain sensors you might also remove their fear sensors. Then we would have angry, fearless cows who can feel no pain mercilessly dealing out revenge on their former masters, burning and killing everything in their path. I think this is a bad idea.

Re:Um, how about no? (-1, Flamebait)

quarterbuck (1268694) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311795)

Removing the ability to do that can't possibly be good for their safety.
These are cattle grown to be eaten. They are often permanently caged, never see the light of the day or meet any other animal other than their neighbouring cow/bull/chicken. Given that their life is guaranteed to be a misery and their mode of death certain, I can't see how this would in any way make it unsafe.
Now if they were farm grown cows, then yes this would be a concern.

At last! (4, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311373)

Now I can build my impervious-to-pain super-soldier army! Thank you, cow scientists!

Re:At last! (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311831)

Well you can already build such an army out of insects if you were going the non-human route. Imagine a Beowulf cluster of fire ants loaded with TNT!!!

Re:At last! (3, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311895)

I like the way you think, sir. Would you care to go halfsies with me on a skull-shaped island fortress? I'll bring the death laser.

Stupid (1, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311381)

Udderly Stupid (sorry, couldn't help myself).

An animal that can not feel pain would be very likely to injure itself. People who have conditions where they cannot feel pain are having to constantly check themselves for broken bones, sores, scrapes, etc. You might think it would be wonderful to live in a world without pain, but it would truly be awful.

Pain is there for a reason.... unlike this freaking 1.5" wide text area I am typing in.

Re:Stupid (2, Insightful)

acon1modm (1009947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311425)

I think cattle are kept in individual pens just large enough for them to fit in, they can't even turn around. I don't think they can get into much trouble.

I could be wrong about this , I just saw it in a documentary.

Re:Stupid (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311543)

Depends on the cattle. My uncle was a dairy farmer, and while his cows had stalls of cow size, they were open on one side, so the cows could go in and out as they pleased. While they looked to small to turn around in (and most cows would just back in or back out), I've seen quite a few turn around inside the stall, if a tad awkwardly. When they weren't being milked, they were allowed to roam around a field outside the barn.

I don't know how the beef industry works, but at least for small scale family dairy farmers (my uncle topped out at a few hundred cows, with a total number of workers equal to himself plus a niece or nephew or two), the cows have enough freedom to injure themselves, and this modification would be a really bad idea.

Re:Stupid (1)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311643)

Most cattle are what we call âoefree rangeâ. As I understand it, it is only in the USA where cows are in feedlots to ensure âoeX disease free days before slaughter. Usually cows are just in feedlots for an extremely short time.

At least where I live, keeping cattle in feedlots is extremely expensive. Cattle go directly from the farm to the abattoir.

Re:Stupid (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311605)

Pens are expensive (and require very expensive grain) and cattle are grazed on the most worthless land available (if land is only worth growing grass it's cattle range). Why do you think Texas was prime cattle country?

Calves are kept in pens (normally 2x their size sheltered and 3-5x their size open) when they're not kept with their mothers (normally dairy calves) until their weaned at which point they join a beef herd.

Re:Stupid (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311641)

That isn't how most cattle spend most of their life... they may end up in place like that for a short time just before the end, but most get to roam around some field eating grass and looking bored for several years.

Re:Stupid (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311563)

Udderly Stupid

Moove along, nothing to see here.

Pain 2.0 (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311581)

+1 Haberman Device

"Scanner, are your bones broken? If so, go see a medic."

Re:Stupid (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311653)

Pain is there for a reason.... unlike this freaking 1.5" wide text area I am typing in.

Try installing Stylish [mozilla.org] and adding the following custom stylesheet.

@namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);
 
@-moz-document domain("idle.slashdot.org") {
  div.quote, blockquote {
    font-style: italic!important;
  }
 
  textarea#postercomment {
    width: 80%!important;
    height: 20%!important;
  }
}

sick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311389)

Now this is just sick, and the kind of workaround that would make an IT pro cry.

Re:sick (2, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311959)

If your servers screamed every time you had to reboot them, would you so willingly install Microsoft software on them?

Kind of Creepy and Absurd (3, Insightful)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311399)

It might sound like a good idea but I find the whole idea of genetically engineering cows so they don't feel pain so we can eat them without guilt is kind of creepy, surreal, and absurd. The far simpler solution is to eEither stop eating meat or continue eating it the same way we have for as long as there has been humans. I mean what's next? Engineer ourselves to not feel pain? Then is it OK to murder?

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311463)

I think the point is this: if the choice is between livestock that lives in daily pain until it is slaughtered, and livestock that doesn't, only a sick bastard would prefer the scenario with the needless suffering. That's not saying that it's the best possible scenario, but it's not crazy to think it might be the best realistic near-term scenario in a world where the demand for meat is growing exponentially.

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311537)

That is a false dichotomy. There is no need for livestock to live in pain at all, with or without the genetic manipulations.

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311579)

I totally understand what you're saying, but isn't this just masking the real issue?

I'm no vegan and I think PETA is a bunch of retards, but with that said, I do abhor curelty to animals.

Whether they feel no pain or tons of pain doesn't change the fact that they are treated entirely unethically. I understand that killing them is necessary for consumption of meat and I'm totally ok with that, but forcing them to live for x years in a tiny pen is just beyond cruel.

My point here is, dulling their pain really only dulls ours as well, at least when they feel pain more of _us_ do as well. I'm not saying we need to convince people to be PETA loving vegans, but if we all get fed up with their treatment in the long term, then maybe the farmers will be forced to treat their animals with the respect they rightfully deserve.

Abortion Precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311615)

You would think so, but many activists would disagree. In abortion for example, regulations intended to reduce the number of abortions that come out early have not been pressed by pro-life activists because it would reduce the (relatively small) number of abortions that are so horrific that they can use it to rally supporters.

I think the same would apply here, would people really feel as bad for the animals if they don't feel pain? Would the whole movement just lose steam instead of taking a step forward?

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311617)

If you're going to that level of change, it's probably more effective (and not all that much more expensive) to engineer steak to grow in a vat.

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (0, Flamebait)

Virak (897071) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311619)

There are three options here:
1. Don't reduce the suffering of the animals with no effort
2. Significantly reduce the suffering of the animals for a reasonable amount of effort
3. Completely eliminate the suffering of the animals for an unreasonable amount of effort

Ideals are nice, but unfortunately we live in reality, not fantasyland, and demanding the entire world go vegan overnight is simply not going to work. At all. You can have a compromise, or you can have nothing.

I mean what's next? Engineer ourselves to not feel pain? Then is it OK to murder?

Murder is still murder even if it's painless. Killing someone in their sleep will not get you out of murder charges.

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (2, Insightful)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311627)

The next step is to grow meat without a central nervous system at all, in arbitrary size.

It sounds creepy, but only because it is unusual. When you think about it, this method of producing meat is superior.

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (4, Funny)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311629)

Maybe we can genetically engineer cows to not taste so delicious -- problem solved!

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (3, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311751)

I think we should engineer plants to feel pain. That way we can screw over the pussy vegetarians and they're attempts to attain a moral high ground.

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311839)

Arthur Dent agrees [wikipedia.org]

Re:Kind of Creepy and Absurd (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311891)

Your question does not solve the dilemma. If you mean that bio-engineering cows to not feel pain makes it OK to murder human beings who do not feel pain, it would also imply that murder is OK with normal human beings since we kill animals which feel pain. Similarly your assumption would also imply that if you believe murder is wrong, then killing animals is wrong.
The error (as I see it) in your assumption is the idea that anything that is OK in animals is OK with humans. I think of animals as slightly lesser than human beings, but nevertheless capable of thought and feeling pain/sadness. I cannot see how making them not feel pain is worse than making them feeling pain and then killing them.

The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311407)

Dish of the Day: Good evening, madame and gentlemen. I am the main dish of the day. May I interest you in parts of my body? May I urge you, sir, to consider my liver? It must be very rich and tender by now. I have been force feeding myself for months.

Military applications (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311413)

Universal Soldier or something like it.

Re:Military applications (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311717)

Humans already develop this "ability" occasionally. There are two forms (that I'm aware of), one that can't sense pain, and the other that can't sense pain or heat. Being born with either usually means a short life. If I bite my tongue, I stop before I do serious damage. If I touch a hot stove, I pull back quickly. These reactions aren't automatic for CIPA sufferers (CIP [wikipedia.org] sufferers might react to the stove). When I get a splinter in my foot, I remove it. If I get an infected ingrown nail or hair, I apply anti-biotics to relieve it. If I fracture a bone, I know I need to go to the doctor. Again, CIP/CIPA sufferers, lacking pain, don't know there's a problem. If they don't see it themselves, or suffer non-pain related symptoms, they'd die of infections without ever knowing the cause. For CIPA sufferers, their body frequently can't regulate it's own temperature; a simple cold could fry their brain.

While self-checks and careful behavior might seem relatively simple for an adult, you're born with this, and it's really hard to explain to a child who can't feel pain why they *shouldn't* put their hands on a stove, stick needles in the hand, etc.

Even if you managed to introduce it later in life (via retrovirus, drugs, or the like), lacking pain only makes you an awesome soldier for one battle. If you get shot five times and don't realize it, you'll function more effectively than someone who feels pain, but you'll still bleed out and die (and unlike the soldier who feels pain, you may not know you need help).

Zhou-Feng Chen aka Cobra Commander (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311437)

Rex Noooooooooo!!!!!!!!

Pushed to their limits? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311449)

So now that farm animals can feel no pain, we can just push them until they drop dead in the fields?

Not a Good idea. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311459)

Barb-wire fence. Electric fence. Cattle Prods. All useless.

Human without pain do not have a goodlife (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311491)

They keep hurting themselves. Break elg. burn. Cut. Wanna bet that you would have to change some farming rule to make sure your cow would be halfway in a decent health when slaughtered ?

Vision of the future (for cows) (1)

Akir (878284) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311493)

The latest and currently most popular sport: cow charging. Almost any motor vehicle will do. Ram it into the cow, and listen to it's hilarious confused mooooooooo,

Not a good idea (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311497)

A pain-free animal would quickly injure itself, and die.

There is a good reason for pain.

How about vegetables? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311509)

Could they fix this in vegetables?

I'm sure all those plant murderers and seventh-level vegans need a clean conscience.

Those sustainable concentration camps for heirloom tomatoes and local gourds are surely filled with suffereing as the plants would prefer to be left alone to raise their families.

Clone Meat (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311531)

Most of the vegetarians I've asked would eat meat that had been cloned in a vat. It would presumably be much more efficient in terms of energy than raising live animals as well, since all the energy could go into the juicy and delicious parts without wasting it on such incidentals as walking around and mooing.

Making the cow inured to pain? So the majority of people would go from not worrying one jot about how the animal feels, to.... oh. Vegetarians would probably just start to refuse to eat the meat on the grounds that it had been genetically engineered, or because of the psychological pain of being a farm animal.

Call back when you can make me a fillet steak in a vat, for a lower cost than one that used to moo. Until then... farm animals have it one heck of a lot better than equivalent wild animals. I'll keep on eating them, and I'll only feel mildly guilty about their cost in terms of resources (about 10 times the amount that vegetable sources of protein cost).

Can't they just lobotomize them? (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311535)

I've been wondering about this for a while now: Since pigs and dairy cows are basically kept in a pen slightly larger than their bodies, couldn't they be surgically modified to basically be in a vegetative state and then tube-fed? Would that add significantly to the cost of meat? I know that I'd be willing to pay extra for meat from animals who verifiably did not suffer.

Re:Can't they just lobotomize them? (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311673)

I'm pretty sure you understand this, but just in case, to clarify, a lobotomy disconnects the frontal lobe, which has nothing to do with the interpretation of pain signals. If a lobotomy worked, it'd be very convenient because it's a comparatively simple procedure (at one point, some were doing it just by jamming an icepick up inside the eye). As far as a total coma-like vegetative state, personally, I'd rather my meat be conscious first. Vegetative food seems a great deal to "Matrixy" for my pallet.

Re:Can't they just lobotomize them? (1)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311689)

and dairy cows are basically kept in a pen slightly larger than their bodies,

I donâ(TM)t know if it is different there, but I have never seen dairy cows kept in a pen. They are usually just milked in a pen and they sleep under a roof. But usually they can walk around.

Re:Can't they just lobotomize them? (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311969)

Don't think so [wikipedia.org]

Oops.. forgot the subject! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311541)

Hello, I am posting a reply on a website! I am new to the Internet. Thank you!

Welcome to... (1)

Nyckname (240456) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311557)

Milliways. Where the cows want to be eaten.

Re:Welcome to... (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311589)

Good, someone beat me to this. Now did that Milliways creature have a name? I can't recall, but if it did, the article should totally be tagged as such.

Re:Welcome to... (1)

marquis111 (94760) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311743)

It was an Ameglian Major Cow, but I don't recall if it had a personal name.

Re:Welcome to... (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311863)

To quote Monty Python, "You could call me Harold." "I didn't know you were called Harold." "Well, you didn't ask, did you?"

its not the pain (5, Insightful)

gbrandt (113294) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311567)

Feeling no pain is different from experiencing distress. Its not the pain that most activists are worried about, its the living conditions, the over crowding, the bad feed.

Get a grip.

Gregor

unforseen consequences (1)

Sp4c3 C4d3t (607082) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311631)

When humans feel no pain (like crackheads) they go crazy and stab things. What happens when cows feel no pain? Do they go on a rampage?

No! (1)

Laxitive (10360) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311633)

"It's impossible! These cows... they..?! They DON'T FEEL A THING! They can't be stopped!"

Don't mess with a basic function of nature (1)

MalikyeMoon (1600085) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311635)

What a terrible idea! Pain sensors exist for a reason - to let even big dumb animals realize when something hurts, so they can attempt to remove themselves from the cause if possible. I don't believe morally that removing the end-result (pain) makes causing their body harm any less inhumane.

More importantly, there are other reasons for removing the factory farm. You are what you eat folks. Animals that feed on grass and walk around becoming strong are inherently HEALTHIER, which means you are too. They require fewer antibiotics, steroids, and anything else you don't want to ingest on a regular basis.

Hey, maybe we should bring back the home lobotomy kits so that people won't be bored anymore 8)-

The hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29311655)

Disclaimer: I'm a vegetarian for ethical / spiritual reasons.

Okay, seriously, whomever thought of this completely missed the entire point: If you are the kind of person who believes that causing animals pain is morally wrong, don't eat them. Giving them some kind of genetic anesthesia doesn't change the underlying issue, which is that harming a conscious being, even one "less conscious" than yourself, should, at the least, give you moral pause.

It is also perfectly valid to decide that eating animals is perfectly acceptable in the real world. In nature, you have no obligation to go hungry. If you believe that, then simply go about the business of eating whatever you want.

The underlying problem isn't whether it is right or wrong to eat meat. It is the kind of person and life you become as a result of your choices. Have the balls, at least, to make a choice. This weird "I don't want to hurt you so I'm just going to make it so you can't feel pain and I don't feel guilt" makes a person spineless at best, and borders on some kind of self-imposed sociopathy at worst.

Easier solution (1)

Murpster (1274988) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311685)

Just give 'em all leprosy!

And in future news... (1, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311691)

Pain-free soldiers could take the suffering out of war...
Pain-free Asian children could take the suffering out of Nike shoes...

I don't want to sound like a douche or anything, but I became vegitarian (not vegan though) a few months ago, and except for a few exceptions for fish, I've stuck to it pretty tight. I'll joke about the Nirvana lyric 'its ok to eat fish because they don't have any feelings', but this is kind of just a step too far. Yeah, I think its somewhat ghoulish to find nourishment in the chard flesh and dead animals, but when you really think about it, vegetarianism does more for us than it does for the animals.

Franly, between soy and hemp we could pretty much eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, the needs for both ranching and logging, taking a lot of pressure off of de-forestation and putting ourselves in a much better position with regards to this 'climate change' thing. And whether that's true or not, or as bad as its been made out to be or not, there is still a lot to be said both practically and morally for stopping deforestation. So, yay soy and hemp.

Making something less painful will always just encourage more of it. Body armour, long-range weapons and all that jazz have made the US a fair bit more willing to go to war than we were even when it made more sense, if you remember all the ass-dragging over entering WWI and WWII, yet the blink-of-an-eye before beating up on Afghanistan or Iraq who were in no position to actually fight back.

Pain serves a very practical purpose -- it's natures way of saying "hey, dumbass, don't do that!" and going around messing with eliminating the pain gene for our own benefit in one species is probably the first step on the road to eliminating it in our own species. This is a bad idea.

Yeah... pretty much no (1)

EriktheGreen (660160) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311695)

Right now you can use things like barbed wire fences and electric fences to keep the cows safe and corralled. If they couldn't feel pain it'd be a cross between a cow and "Darkman". They'd charge through fences getting cut to ribbons and never noticing the blood, or stand on electric fences until they caught fire. Cattle are painfully stupid. Stupid livestock are expensive and annoying to deal with. Ask a turkey farmer.

Here's an idea... (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311761)

Instead of farm animals, use PETA members. Vegetarian fed, good health (a bit stringy, though) and, lets face it, who's going to object to them putting their bodies where there mouths are?

The restaurant at the end of the universe (1)

acid06 (917409) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311789)

Did anyone else also think of the book?

Seems strikingly similar to me.

This will only help cruelty (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311803)

This could end much of the concern about cruel farming practices, but unfortunately still leaves my design for the fiery hamburger punch in the unethical column.

No, I think it will only raise the concerns. Just because an animal can't feel you pushing it around with a forklift doesn't mean it isn't cruel. Further, pain is a safety of sorts...that an animal can feel pain and react to it is motivation for its owners/caretakers to treat it properly. Granted, there are some sick people who don't care, but thankfully, many people at least feel guilt at the sound and sight of an animal in pain. Why exactly are we taking that away, instead of treating the animals better? Oh yes, right, profit.

Furthermore, while I enjoy a tasty cheeseburger as much as any other omnivore, I have enough vegetarian friends to know that their concerns in the "treatment of animals" department (there are MANY reasons people go vegetarian) extend well beyond immediate pain. It's also the concept of keeping animals in captivity they object to, and they don't really mean the cute farm your kids draw. They mean the megafarms where animals spend their entire lives in a pen the size of your shower.

Inflicting pain harms at least 2 parties. (1)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311811)

Do we really want to encourage the idea that people can inflict injury or pain on animals without shame? Not all animals would be engineered in this way. Some of those will be your pets others will be in the wild. Can people who get used to the guilt free abuse of animals really be expected to turn that behavior off when they are around your pets or children or, for that matter other adults? I doubt it. They will be completely desensitized. Frightening.

BTW I am an omnivore. I just think that cruelty is always wrong and that we shouldn't encourage people to lose their inhibitions against such behavior. By the same reasoning though I concede that some people may "deserve" torture for their crimes, I don't want to turn any of the "good" guys into monsters by letting them inflict torture.

I've heard this somewhere before... (4, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311861)

'That's absolutely horrible,' exclaimed Arthur, 'the most revolting thing I've ever heard.'

'What's the problem Earthman?' said Zaphod, now transfering his attention to the animal's enormous rump.

'I just don't want to eat an animal that's standing there inviting me to,' said Arthur, 'It's heartless.'

'Better than eating an animal that doesn't want to be eaten,' said Zaphod.

'That's not the point,' Arthur protested. Then he thought about it for a moment. 'Alright,' he said, 'maybe it is the point. I don't care, I'm not going to think about it now. I'll just ... er ... I think I'll just have a green salad,' he muttered.

'May I urge you to consider my liver?' asked the animal, 'it must be very rich and tender by now, I've been force-feeding myself for months.'

Cows? That's it? Get some imagination! (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311929)

Wow. Talk about a lack of vision. If you've got a precise identification of a pain gene and a sequence of it, you're on the path to identifying the protein it makes and then finding chemicals that bind to that protein, affecting its function.

Who gives a damn about humanely slaughtering cows? This is the starting point to the perfect medication for patients with debilitating chronic pain. It might also be the starting point to drugged-up super-soldiers and, if you can find drugs that turn *on* the pain protein rather than deactivate it, the perfect torture drug.

It's a mixed bag to be sure, but if your imagination is limited to cows, you're not thinking hard enough.

Ethics (1)

Chibi (232518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29311947)

So, if these cows do not feel pain, would it still be considered inhumane to take actions against them that would normally cause pain?

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