A friend at dinner asked me why EAs aren't working on breeding chickens (and other farm animals) to be less intelligent as a way to reduce the suffering caused by factory farming. I was embarrassed that I didn't have a good response for him. Some questions I had about this idea:
- Is selective breeding capable of meaningfully changing an animal's capacity to suffer? Domestic animals have brains that are 15-35% smaller than their wild counterparts, so there is some interaction between domestication and intelligence.
- Is anyone working on genetic engineering or gene drives to make farm animals less able to suffer?
- Is this a hedge against clean meat? This strategy would be unnecessary if clean meat is successful, but it may be more tractable. Also, a small proportion of people may refuse to switch to clean meat even when it is widely available, and we can minimise their negative impact by breeding farm animals with minimal capacity to suffer.
Has anyone looked into this? Am I going crazy?
You are factually correct, but
I agree. It seems unfair to me to say it's ableist.