It seems prima facie plausible to me that interventions that save human lives do not increase utility on net, due to the animal suffering caused by saving human life. Has anyone in the broader EA community looked into this? I'm not strongly committed to this, but I'd be interested in seeing what people have reasoned about this.
Yeah there have been a sporadic musings about this one the forum. If you search " Vasco Grilo' he has a bit of interesting stuff on this.
My broad personal opinion is that in Uganda when I live at least, most animals (apart from battery hens) have net positive lives as they are not intensively farmed. Unfortunately this is changing fast
Because of this I don't think saving lives in this country is going to increase net animal suffering (or not very much). Whether we should just optimise for utility anyway it's obviously another question.
Others will disagree, it's an in interesting if a bit dark topic...
See the meat-eater problem tag and the posts tagged with it. That being said, wild animal effects can complicate things.
Globally, there are around 20 billion farmed chickens alive at any moment, mostly factory farmed, so about 3 per human alive, higher in high-income countries and lower in low-income countries. There are also probably over 100 billion fish being farmed at any moment, so over 12 per human alive. See Šimčikas, 2020 for estimates.