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Keeping Safe By Keeping Track: Animal ID and Food Security

So now that many of us are completely freaked out about eating (if you’re not, you must be forgetting your recommended daily dose of media) , let’s talk about what is touted as the promise of “hope” on the horizon, keeping us safe by instituting an animal spy system, for our own heath and welfare, of course. It’s the National Animal Identification System (NAIS for short). Um… Seems a bit creepy if you ask us.

This U.S. “government animal health surveillance” system, which requires registration and fees, animal identification and animal tracing, is becoming increasingly less optional as states run the show. It’s supposed to be for our own good, helping to check the spread of animal disease and other bennies too. Plus, the Europeans, Aussies and Kiwis do it and they seem fine, right?

Not so fast. Our issue isn’t with the idea of tracing where the tainted roast beef came from. It’s just that we think maybe it’s a cumbersome, intrusive and myopic solution to the problem of animal disease. Not to mention, it’s expensive, and farmers and animal owners don’t need any more expenses these days. Better to avoid the disease at the start rather than expertly and quickly figure out where it came from after the fact.

Then again, NAIS is in line with the overall incentives in our food system. The way our regulatory and legal oversight is constructed, food purveyors have a financial incentive to address food safety with this same “fix-it-later” approach rather than prevent problems in the first place. Turns out it costs way more to keep a clean, healthy and safe environment than pay a few fines and issue some apologies (if it comes to that, which it usually doesn’t) later on. So, for the most part, that’s what they do.

Here’s a thought! Let’s raise and tend our animals in a way that embraces our connection, where we Consider the Source. How about we get all animal keepers to choose to identify their animals as a source of pride? Heck, we could even start cracking down on disease-creating conditions, like overcrowding, over-drugging and other practices that encourage the spread of disease, are sickening and plain inhumane. Now there’s a hope for you.

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