Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

David Youkey

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Benjamin Hale

Abstract

This thesis research focuses on the negative effects that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (later referred to as CAFOs) have on the environment and the psychological and physiological effects of alienation of food production on slaughterhouse workers of industrial slaughterhouses in comparison to niche-market slaughterhouses. Billions of animals in United States are slaughtered each year for food. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations function as establishments that raise large numbers of animals in small, confined spaces to accommodate the large demand for animal products. This comes at a certain environmental cost concerning water and air pollution. Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than all of the transportation sector combined and poor regulations of CAFO establishments allows for poor waste management, which carries a big risk of contamination and spread of bacteria, viruses, pathogens, and other pollutants. Such large numbers of animals raised require a high speed of the disassembly line in industrial slaughterhouses to keep up with the animal output of CAFOs. A high speed of the disassembly line directly correlates with the injury risk rate earning slaughterhouse establishments the title of one of the most dangerous work places. Slaughterhouse workers are also at risk of Perpetration-Inducted Traumatic Stress, which is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and results from situations where the concerning subject suffering from PTSD was a causal participant in creating the traumatic situation. Karl Marx described alienation under Capitalist conditions as “Estranged Labour” distinguishing between four different aspects: alienation from the product of one’s labor, alienation from the labor process or one’s activity of laboring, alienation from one’s “species being,” and alienation from other human beings as a result of one’s work life demand. According to the primary research of this thesis there seems to be more alienation amongst industrial scale slaughterhouses than niche-market slaughterhouses. However, the sample size of primary research is not large enough to be representative of other niche-market slaughterhouses. The niche-market slaughterhouse investigated operates at a slower speed and employs a different managerial practice, which excludes the alienation of workers from each other. This is recommended to industrial scale slaughterhouses to reduce injury rates and increase worker satisfaction. A long-term, practical recommendation is to decrease the production of animal products as the current rate is unsustainable and negatively affects the environment.