10,000 Years Is Enough
By David Cantor
In 1991, I received a call from an undergraduate
student at the University of Florida at Gainesville, a large land-grant
university (LGU). Studying to qualify for veterinary school, she had
enrolled in an animal anatomy class. After the semester started, she
learned of a troubling requirement: students were to kill members of
four different animal species at the campus slaughter facility. Anatomy
was taught as cuts of “meat,” not body tissues, organs
Ever since that conversation, I’ve wondered how animal rights and
vegetarian education can out-teach the nation’s prestigious and
influential LGUs that promote speciesist ideologies and have vested interests
in serving the flesh, milk and egg industries.
A Seed Is Planted
Human beings have practiced agriculture and raised animals for food for
at least 10,000 years. It began with simple technology when fewer people
lived on Earth than now inhabit New York City. Yet, animal “farming” today
bears no resemblance to the original. The merciless industrial monster
it has become is often called animal agribusiness. Treated as mere grain-processing
equipment, animals live short lives and suffer constantly. About 10 billion
chickens, pigs, turkeys, cattle, and others are killed for food each
year in the U.S. The LGUs design and promote much of the animal agribusiness
machinery and teach their students to manage it.
In the mid-1800s, when most Americans were farmers, Congress passed the
Morrill Act of 1862 enabling the states to set up colleges of agriculture
that would also teach many other subjects. Created with profits from
the sale or leasing of public land given to the states under the Morrill
Act, these colleges became known as land-grant colleges. Additional land-grant
colleges were also established through acts of Congress after 1862, and
today 105 exist.
But should our LGUs collude with the flesh, milk and egg industries or
any animal-exploiting industry? Should they serve “food” industries
whose products promote illness rather than human health? And what about
agribusiness corporations whose methods contaminate and deplete soil
and water, and waste energy?
It comes down to the fact that LGUs were created in 1862 to serve the
American people, when more than 50 percent were making their living from
farming. Today, less than one percent of the population farm for a living.
The LGUs betrayed farmers by serving agribusiness over agriculture. The
LGUs’ food industry priorities are animal factories and agrichemical-intensive
monoculture feed crops grown to feed factory imprisoned animals.
LGUs fallaciously call their training for the flesh, milk, and egg industries “animal
science,” “poultry science,” and the like. Zoology—studying
all known nonhuman-animal species for the sake of knowledge—is
true animal science. “Animal science” programs promote themselves
to students and parents by emphasizing professors’ stature and
industry connections, animal facilities’ size and newness, jobs
obtained by graduates, and other marketplace factors while ignoring a
wide range of knowledge and ethical concerns.
By “agriculture,” President Lincoln and Congress in 1862
did not mean flesh, milk and eggs. Nonhuman animals are mentioned neither
in the LGU law nor in the 1862 law establishing the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. They used “agriculture” in its original meaning:
the cultivation of fields.
The Seed Germinates
Today LGUs award degrees to people who become legislators, corporate
executives, news writers, producers, and others who influence attitudes
and food choices. Witnessing throughout their years of study professors
in every field condoning “animal science” and flesh, milk
and eggs produced on campus served in dining halls, they are unlikely
to challenge what nutritionist Kerrie K. Saunders, Ph.D., calls “SAD,” the “Standard
American Diet.” Or to explore T. Colin Campbell’s warnings
against eating animal protein in The China Study: Startling Implications
for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health—though he published
hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and has taught
for decades at Cornell University, an Ivy League school and New York’s
Add to this the vast amounts of training and research our LGUs provide
for the animal industries, and we’re faced with incalculable billions
of dollars’ worth of taxpayer and tuition-payer support for what
may be the most harmful and destructive industries on Earth! Not what
the government intended in 1862—and not something animal advocates
To address the LGU problem, Responsible Policies for Animals (RPA) shows
influential people how to establish responsible policies for nonhuman
animals that are also responsible policies for humans and ecosystems,
i.e., animal rights.
RPA’s primary campaign, 10,000 Years Is Enough, began in spring
2003 when we mailed the presidents of the 50 states’ main LGUs
a letter and fact sheet. Responses to the mailing were encouraging, indicating
no LGU administrator or professor could refute any of RPA’s many
assertions—that there can never be a “humane” raising
of animals for food; nonhuman animals have moral rights that should be
established in law and custom; animal agribusiness rapidly wastes vanishing
fresh water supplies and topsoil, contaminates water and soil, and otherwise
threatens ecosystems; and flesh, milk and eggs harm human health.
We harbor no illusion that informing LGU presidents will suffice to end
their schools’ service to animal agribusiness. And RPA has now
begun the process of informing the LGUs’ boards of trustees and
regents, the legislatures’ agriculture and education committees,
and additional people who can influence the LGUs. Vast amounts of such
direct communication are needed to show people with their grip on the
levers of power their responsibilities toward nonhuman animals.
All In Good Taste
University animal agribusiness programs must cease because, no matter
what the university may teach, all jobs for which university animal agribusiness
programs prepare students inevitably support animal exploitation and
abuse. No matter how animals may be raised for food, it is extremely
rare for them to live more than a small fraction of their natural lifespan.
Our society does not need universities to help people continue exploiting
animals. What we need from universities is the courage and integrity
to help stop it. I see no way for the animal rights movement to prevail
as long as our nation perpetuates the injustice and the spectacle of
higher education institutions’ serving, promoting and rationalizing
I think 10,000 years is enough.
David Cantor is founder and executive director of Responsible
Policies for Animals, in Glenside, Pennsylvania. A full-time animal advocate
since 1989, he has worked for several national organizations, published many
articles, and has contributed to several books. For information on RPA’s
10,000 Years Is Enough campaign, visit www.RPAforAll.org.
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