The Belgian senate votes to add animal welfare to the constitution.
It's been a journey. I work for GAIA, a Belgian animal advocacy group that for years has tried to get animal welfare added to the constitution. Today we were present as a supermajority of the senate came out in favor of our proposed constitutional amendment. The relevant section reads:
It's a very good day for Belgian animals but I do want to note that:
1. This does not mean an effective shutdown of the meat industry, merely that all future pro-animal welfare laws and lawsuits will have an easier time. And,
2. It still needs to pass the Chamber of Representatives.
If there's interest I will make a full post about it if once it passes the Chamber.
EDIT: Translated the linked article on our site into English.
I started research into farmed animal welfare in Muslim countries and I think this is a useful way to share little updates along the way, and also to track any ideas I come up with so I can refer back to them when I need to compile my findings. Because I'm also working on a grant looking into effective Zakat, and I think I'll end up doing the same thing for that, I'm going to be numbering farmed animal welfare quick takes with FAW# and Effective Zakat quick takes with EZ#.
Before starting with this project, I was operating under the assumption that there is a huge amount of good to be done in getting muslims to reduce/cease their consumption of meat. I still think that is the case. However, the reason I though this was to do with animal welfare - I thought that the conditions of farmed animals are so bad, and there are plenty of mentions of the importance of the kind treatment of animals throughout the islamic literature (including in the texts pertaining to Halaal slaughter) that there is a clear argument to be made that factory farmed meat should be rejected by muslims.
I have come to realise that there is a MUCH stronger argument against the consumption of meat for muslims, which is that many (if not most) slaughter techniques employed in the industrialised abattoirs are probably not halal compliant.
Millions of people contract pork tapeworm infections annually, which causes ~30% of the ~50 million global active epilepsy cases:
Perhaps cultural pork consumption restrictions are onto something:
I was quite suprised to see that 80k doesn't mention animals in their definition of 'impartial positive impact'.
Their definition: "We define ‘impartial positive impact’ as what helps the most people live better lives in the long term, treating everyone’s interests as equal."
I'm a bit unsettled by this. I hope they actually do assign value for non-human animals. But even if that's the case, failing to mention it would be weird.
In general, I'm concerned that longtermists don't value animals enough. From my experience visiting rationalist/longermist events & spaces, veganism/vegetarianism is less popular than I would have thought. I consider vegetarianism one of the least costly virtue signals, which is why I would expect most healthy people concerned about animal welfare to be vegetarians.
Longtermist shower thought: what if we had a campaign to install Far-UVC in poultry farms? Seems like it could:
1. Reduce a bunch of diseases in the birds, which is good for: a. the birds’ welfare; b. the workers’ welfare; c. Therefore maybe the farmers’ bottom line?; d. Preventing/suppressing human pandemics (eg avian flu)
2. Would hopefully drive down the cost curve of Far-UVC
3. May also generate safety data in chickens, which could be helpful for derisking it for humans
Insofar as one of the main obstacles is humans' concerns for health effects, this would at least only raise these for a small group of workers.
I imagine there is little benefit to killing a bug and a high cost(around 2 weeks to 30 Years of life lost) to killing a bug, though it depends on the species and environment in which you spotted the bug(s). If it’s in your home, I recommend trying to trap it (maybe by putting a see-through container over the bug, slipping something under the container so the bug can’t crawl out, carrying the container and bottom to the trash can, and throwing it away?) and put it in the trash(Unless your garbage gets crushed by dumpster trucks and/or factories with tremendous force), as the bug will have access to plenty of nooks & crannies, as well as food, and won’t bother you.
If there’s a bug infestation, I think you could, in order of what I imagine has the highest value first and lowest last, do the best available option of the following options:
a) if it’s not bothering you too much, leave it. It would take your time and the bug’s time to figure out how to leave, and you shouldn’t do it if no one gains from it. b) Hire someone to get rid of them humanely(only if you’re in a bug-tolerant environment(e.g., Not somewhere where it floods often). c) move locations. d) if none of the others work, do b).
I've just written a blog post to summarise EA-relevant UK political news from the last ~six weeks.
The post is here: AI summit, semiconductor trade policy, and a green light for alternative proteins (substack.com)
I'm planning to circulate this around some EAs, but also some people working in the Civil Service, political consulting and journalism. Many might already be familiar with the stories. But I think this might be useful if I can (a) provide insightful UK political context for EAs, or (b) provide an EA perspective to curious adjacents. I'll probably continue this if I think either (a) or (b) is paying off.
(I work at Rethink Priorities, but this is entirely in my personal capacity).
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How many EAs are vegan/vegetarian? Based on the 2022 ACX survey, and assuming my calculations are correct, people who identify as EA are about 40% vegan/vegetarian, and about 70% veg-leaning (i.e., vegan, vegetarian, or trying to eat less meat and/or offsetting meat-eating for moral reasons). For comparison, about 8% of non-EA ACX readers are vegan/vegetarian, and about 30% of non-EA ACX readers are veg-leaning.
(That's conditioning on identifying as an LW rationalist, since anecdotally I think being vegan/vegetarian is somewhat less common among Bay Area EAs, and the ACX sample is likely to skew pretty heavily rationalist, but the results are not that different if you don't condition. Take with a grain of salt in general as there are likely strong selection effects in the ACX survey data.)