Animal welfare: social challenges due to this new concept
Toschi Maciel, Carolina
Social Sciences Federal University of Santa Catarina Florianópolis, Brazil
In the context of agribusiness, the organization of the meat market has changed significantly in the last few decades. The recent demand for animal welfare, motivated mostly by the food safety crisis faced by Europe in 1990, has been stimulating changes from farm to fork. These changes are challenging the actors involved in the meat chain, both in the production and consumption process. Nevertheless, the articulation of animal welfare with global food markets has not yet been sufficiently studied from the perspective of Environmental Sociology. In this sense, the present research aims to fulfill part of this gap, by presenting a study on the challenges indicated by actors on the poultry chain in Santa Catarina (Brazil) due to animal welfare issues. In this way, a study was conducted based on environmental sociology literature, namely, in John Hannigan´s constructionist perspective and in Arthur Mol and Gert Spaargaren´s version of ecological modernization. The first one was particularly important for comprehending the raising process of animal welfare demand, while the second one for the description of the restructuring of meat market and its motivations. The research also provided a field study through qualitative interviews with farmers, abattoirs, public authorities, third party certification companies, NGOs and consumers with activities in Santa Catarina. The analysis of these materials suggested that there are significant differences on the definition of what constitutes the "animal welfare" and as a consequence conflicts have appeared, causing interference with the negotiations in the poultry market. Finally, the research provides considerations about the consequences of those dissimilarities, such as the difficulty in implementing "animal welfare practices" when it is not clear what is and what is not animal welfare, as well as the anxiety of consumers who are not certain what an advertisement like "product in conformity with animal welfare" really means.