Geoforum 48 (2013) 63–72, Miele, M. and Lever, J.
Abstract: Greater attention to and anxiety about farm animal welfare emerged at the end of the 20th century, as worries over food safety and food quality (connected to the BSE, FMD and other epidemics) pushed farm animal welfare into public discourse and political debate. The creation of a transparent market for animal friendly produced foods is one of the strategies currently envisaged by the EU to meet the widely recognized challenge of promoting animal welfare without threatening the economic competitiveness of the animal farming industry in Europe (EU Animal Welfare Strategy, 2012–2015).
This paper aims to contribute to debates on STS and food standards within the geographies of food literature. Empirically it draws on research carried out during the EU funded project Welfare Quality, which has proposed a protocol based on scientifically validated measures for assessing the welfare of chickens, pigs and cattle both on-farm and at slaughterhouse, in order to making ‘accountable’ the (ubiquitous) welfare claims’ on animal products. While these developments have the potential to improve the life of farm animals by rewarding the most ‘animal friendly’ producers on the market, we address the matters of concern that arise from the implementation of the protocol by looking at a case study of UK based free-range chicken producers. Drawing on STS insights and especially on the work of Callon et al., (2002, 2009) we look at the controversies that emerge about the ‘welfare friendliness’ qualification of free-range chickens and we discuss the role and partial achievements of this market for civilizing animal welfare politics and science.
Key Words: Civilizing markets, STS, Geographies of food consumption, Animal welfare standards