1. News & Issues

A Losing Proposition


By Guest Author Gary Francione

Proposition 2, the “Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act,” is a bad idea. Consider only several of the many reasons.

First, Proposition 2, which contains numerous exemptions and qualifications, will not even come into effect until 2015.

Second, even if Proposition 2 comes into effect in seven years, it will do virtually nothing to provide meaningful protection for animal interests. Animals raised for food in California will still be tortured. The only difference will be that the torture will have the stamp of approval of the Humane Society of the United States, the primary promoter of Proposition 2, and other animal advocates who are supporting it.

Third, not only will Proposition 2 not provide meaningful protection for animals, it will actually make people feel more comfortable about continuing to exploit animals by misleading them into believing that they can now eat "humanely" produced animal foods. But making the public feel better about exploiting nonhuman animals is exactly what efforts like Proposition 2 are intended to do by the organizations that promote such measures.

Consider that HSUS is a co-sponsor of the "Certified Humane Raised and Handled" label, "a consumer certification and labeling program" to give consumers assurance that meat and other animal products have "been produced with the welfare of the farm animal in mind." The Humane Society International, an arm of HSUS, has launched the "Humane Choice" label in Australia that assures consumers that "the animal has been treated with respect and care, from birth through to death." According to HSUS, a product bearing the "Humane Choice" label means that animals "basically live their lives as they would have done on Old McDonald’s farm."

It is no wonder that there have been so many media stories in the past several years involving people who had eliminated or decreased their intake of animal products because of moral concerns but who are once again eating "happy" meat and animal products that have been given official approval by animal advocates.

Fourth, defenders of Proposition 2 claim that it will increase the price of meat in California and consumers will purchase more plant foods. That is nonsense. Even if the price of meat were to go up, economists have demonstrated that demand for meat generally stays stable despite price increases. Moreover, even if demand for certain products were to be affected, consumers are not going to switch to tofu; they will simply purchase some cheaper form of animal protein. Finally, there is nothing in Proposition 2 that stops importation into California of food produced in states that do not have these supposedly—and in my view falsely characterized—more "humane" standards.

The massive amounts of money that are wasted on campaigns like this should be spent instead on educating the public about veganism and promoting veganism in creative ways. By increasing the number of vegans, we decrease demand for animal products and we help to build a movement that will support the abolition of the property status of animals.

Gary L. Francione
Distinguished Professor of Law
and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy
Rutgers University School of Law

Have a question or comment? Discuss in the Forum.

  1. About.com
  2. News & Issues
  3. Animal Rights
  4. Animals Used for Food
  5. Proposition 2 (CA, 2008)
  6. A Losing Proposition by Gary Francione. California's Proposition 2

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.