Slaughterhouse Workers, Animals, and the Environment: The Need for a Rights-Centered Regulatory Framework
by Dr. Delcianna J. Winders and Dr. Elan Abrell
Slaughterhouses in the US violate the rights, health, and wellbeing of workers, animals, and communities and harm the natural world on which we all depend.
As Dr. Delcianna J. Winders and Dr. Elan Abrell discuss in their paper, there is a long history of failed oversight of slaughterhouses in the US, which has allowed egregious policies and practices to flourish.
The authors propose a “new regulatory framework governing the US slaughter industry that prioritizes protecting, strengthening, and enforcing rights to improve the health and well-being of both humans and animals.”
Such a framework, they argue, would better protect workers and communities, as well as offer basic protections for nonhuman animals who suffer greatly before and as they’re killed.
The paper documents some of the inadequacies of the current regulatory system, from the dangers to workers, to the prevalence of pollution, to the constancy of animal suffering. The authors then outline how a system centered on a Just One Health approach—which focuses on rights, justice, and “the interconnection and interdependency of human, animal, and environmental health”—would go a long way in addressing these interconnected harms.
Winders and Abrell propose a Slaughterhouse Oversight Commission as an important step in addressing the need to ensure optimal health for all.
As they note: “The interconnected harms described here can be completely eliminated only by ending industrial slaughter entirely. However, safeguarding and strengthening rights in the regulation and oversight of slaughterhouse work would provide an essential and obtainable form of harm reduction in the short term, as well as a platform on which to build more robust protections.”
This essay is part of the Special Section of the December 2021 Health and Human Rights Journal, edited by PZI’s co-founder and president, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian.
Winders, Delcianna J., and Elan Abrell. “Slaughterhouse Workers, Animals, and the Environment: The Need for a Rights-Centered Regulatory Framework in the United States that Recognizes Interconnected Interests.” Health and Human Rights Journal 23, no. 2 (8 December 2021): 21-33.