Book Reviews and Author Interviews from

The Commodification of Farm Animals

Author: Sophie Riley

Interviewed by Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today / Animal Emotions

Publisher: Springer Link

commodification farm animals
The Commodification of Farm Animals
Available at Springer Link
ISBN: 978-3-030-85870-4


A new book explores how farm animals became objectified money-making products.

The field of animal law is rapidly growing globally because of the numerous issues that arise about the fair and just treatment of nonhuman animals (animals) who are used and abused in a wide variety of contexts. So-called “food animals,” also called “farm ani¬mals,” are among the countless sentient and emotional beings—of¬ten treated as unfeeling “things”—who find themselves being used and abused by the millions every year to feed humans who choose to eat them. For example, The Ontario (Canada) Federation of Agriculture claims animals don’t think or feel despite clear scientific evidence they do.

This is why legal scholar Dr. Sophie Riley’s new book, The Commodification of Farm Animals caught my eye and the reason I agreed to write the foreword for, and interview her about, her landmark work. Here’s what she had to say.

Marc Bekoff: Why did you write The Commodification of Farm Animals?

Sophie Riley: The book grew out of research I had done some time ago on early treaties and international instruments (19th and first three decades of the 20th century) dealing with border controls and quarantine in the trade of farm animals. I was curious why there was no mention of animal welfare and why animal well-being seemed to be treated as a trade issue. To my mind, this reduced animals to little more than commodities and I set out to research whether this was a pattern replicated in other parts of the production chain during those times; and if so, what role was left for ethical considerations.



About the Author:

Sophie Riley is an associate professor in the faculty of law at the University of Technology Sydney. Her teaching and research interests focus on environmental law, animal law and environmental ethics. She is the lead editor of the Animal Law Case Book, written by UTS students of Animal Law and Policy, which is freely available in the public domain. Sophie also occupies a number of important positions in the animal law field including: as a member of GAL, the Global Animal Law expert group; a member of the grant award panel for Voiceless, the Animal Protection Institute; a member of the Animal Research Review Panel, a government body that oversees Animal Ethics Committees in New South Wales; and also as the Vice-President of AALTRA Inc. (The Australasian Animal Law Teachers’ and Researchers’ Association).

Return to Book Reviews