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For decades the American public has been subjected to rampant greenwashing, from ads about “clean coal” to “green” labels on toilet paper made from clear-cut forests. Now Farm Forward is peeling back the labels on meat, dairy, and egg packages to reveal a dangerous new trend that is growing in scope and sophistication within our food supply: humanewashing.
Farm Forward calculation based on U.S. Department of Agriculture 2012 Census of Agriculture, June 2014.
American Humane Certified. 2020. “Science-Based Standards.” http://humaneheartland.org/our-standards/.
Certified Humane. 2020. “Our Standards.” https://certifiedhumane.org/our-standards/.
Global Animal Partnership. 2020. “Our Standards.” https://globalanimalpartnership.org/standards/.
One independent certification, A Greener World’s (AGW’s) Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), stands out as anomalous: it is both the smallest and the most rigorous. It is the only certification that avoids the particularly disturbing humanewashing involved in certifying as humane products from animals raised in intensive confinement. However, AWA, too, struggles with the reality that other forms of cruelty, such as the forced separation of calves and mother cows before natural weaning or the use of genetic lines of chickens prone to disease and chronic pain, are so pervasive in modern animal agriculture that even it cannot insist that these cruelties be banned and continue to operate. Further, AWA’s high standards and commitment to protect smaller independent farmers have precluded its ability to scale to the level of other certifications like GAP. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the circumstances under which the meat, poultry, dairy, and egg companies that dominate the industry today would adopt AWA standards at scale with options like AHC, Certified Humane, or GAP available. Thus, while AWA could partially be viewed as an exception to the humanewashing rule, its inability to achieve market scale is another datum illustrating the failure of animal welfare certification.