- The Animal Trade by C. J. C. Phillips
This book is a sweeping introduction to the past and present use of animals, both domestic and free living, in human trade. At 190 pages, it is of modest length but is a profound introduction to what is happening every day, all around us. Seldom can the average person have before them all that is happening around the world. This book forces the reader to confront the vastness of this trade, as well as the animal welfare, human health, and environmental consequences of the trade. Professor Phillips is long experienced [End Page 111] in the area of animal welfare issues, but this book seeks to consider the interrelationships that animal trade has on humans, the animals themselves, and the natural environment. While domestic trade is discussed sometimes, international trade and the impacts of international trade are the primary concern.
This is an information-dense book. While policy is considered and recommendations for future action are included, its strength is in the information, the data, as charts and numbers, which paint the diversity and consequence of the animal trade. This trade is in both animal products and live animals. Animals are traded for a wide variety of human motivations. They are a food source primarily, but, in being so, they are a significant economic activity. Many countries develop national policy in order to assure the economic benefits of the animal trade are available to their citizens.
His first chapter sets out a brief history of the animal trade, with a primary focus on farmed animals. While covering the Inca Empire in brief, the primary coverage is Europe and British Commonwealth countries. There is a consideration of how social and technological developments change the nature of the trade and how urbanization changes food production. Next considered is how the various nations have developed their national trade policies. Historically, protectionism seems to be the default position for most countries.
Phillips shows how the provisions of the GATT/WTO treaty, which call for trade free from protectionist barriers, impact animal trade. Countries who are members of the treaty nevertheless continue to be pulled toward protectionism for their food animal production. One example provided by the author is the laws within the European Union that support economically inefficient local animal farms. All of Chapter 3 sets out how illegal trade and trade wars impact the flow of animal trade. Illegal trade in whale products and elephant ivory are set out. In this chapter, he also covers trade of animal products that have an animal welfare ethical component—for example, cosmetic testing on animals and the production of geese and duck foie gras.
The following chapters hit topic after topic, like hammer blows, of how misused and abused animals are because of this trading. Meat trade is a chapter in and of itself, followed by dairy, wool, fur, horses, cats, dogs, seals, kangaroos, bush meat, and others. The ever-increasing world consumption of meat is considered in some detail, making the case that the increase in the consumption curve is not sustainable. In this and other chapters, the issue of the live animal trade in sheep and cattle from Australia to Indonesia and the Middle East is considered in more detail than most topics. This is appropriate, as this is a significant issue in his home country and he is perhaps most familiar with these issues. The story of the poor animal welfare being set against the desire for economic profit is sad.
Toward the end of the book, there is a chapter on the transmission of disease caused by international trade and its impact on the environment. Again, while each topic could be a book of its own, the author’s holistic and sweeping approach works to sensitize the reader to the significant scope of the various problems. Global warming is one of these concerns.
If there is a specific animal issue that you are familiar with, this book will not teach you anything new on your...