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This article is written by Vishal Raghavan, pursuing a Diploma in Business Laws for In House Counsels from LawSikho.

‘Beef Ban’ is the most debated topic at present in India. There’s a proportion of people who are demanding a complete ban on beef due to greenhouse gases emitted by slaughterhouses and for religious reasons. Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism revere cows. While on the other hand, there’s a proportion of people who are unhappy with this ban as they are into the business of selling such meat. Thus, banning cow slaughter will have the highest impact on these groups. Now, India being a secular country everyone has the right to practice his religion as well as practice the traditions which come under their religions and it is one of the fundamental rights mentioned in our Constitution under Article 25 to Article 28 each and every individual has the right to freedom of religion.

It was on 10th of December 2020, the BJP decided to pass the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020. The bill’s motive is to put a complete ban on all cattle slaughter except buffaloes aged above 13 years and other cattle if they are diseased. The opposition Congress had deferred this bill, so the bill didn’t see the light of the day. On 5th January 2021 the Governor of Karnataka gave his assent and promulgated Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020.

Now, such a bill to ban cattle slaughter is not the first one. Even in 2010, this type of bill was passed. But, in 2013 it was shelved. Thus, the Congress government reverted to Karnataka Prevention of Cow slaughter Act, 1964, in which only Cow and Calves of female buffaloes were banned. Buffaloes aged above 12 years were allowed for slaughter after taking the appropriate permission from the competent authority as mentioned in the 1964 Act.

What’s the difference between the 2020 Ordinance and the 1964 Act?

Now, if you keep the 2020 ordinance and 1964 Act which was prevalent, side by side and compare, it’s evident that in both, male and female buffaloes are exempt for slaughter, provided that prior permission is taken from competent authority. But in the 1964 Act, along with buffaloes aged above 12 years, bullocks were also permitted for slaughter. 

But, in the 2020 ordinance, buffaloes are the only cattle that can be slaughtered only if it is aged above 13 years. While the rest all types of cattle are protected by the bill. So, there is a 1-year increase i.e., from 12 to 13 years when compared to 1964 Act. Slaughtering of buffaloes below 13 years is an offence.

In the 2020 ordinance the word ‘Cattle’ includes cow, calf of a cow and bull, bullock, and he or she buffalo below the age of 13 years. Thus, there is some addition to the term Cattle in the 2020 bill compared to the old 1964 Act. So, only buffaloes aged above 13 years or any other cattle which are sick or diseased or for experimentation by the state government can be slaughtered after taking permission from the competent authority.

Is it constitutional or legal to ban Cattle slaughter?

The answer is yes. And, the reason is as per Article 48 of the Constitution the state shall prohibit the slaughter of cattle, cow, calf and all other milch and draught cattle. Now, Art 48 is one of the Directive Principles mentioned in the constitution. And directive principles are not enforceable. But when the state or centre is making laws or policies they should consult and use these directive principles as guiding principles. So, although an individual cannot go to court if any of these directive principles are infringed, the government should look whether these principles are used for guidance when formulating policies.

Our constitution has provided a threefold distribution of Legislative powers1) Union List, 2) State List, 3) Concurrent List. The Union list consists of 97 subjects like railways and others. The Concurrent list consists of 47 subjects, where both the centre and the state together can frame laws, like Education and others. Then, the State List consists of 66 subjects, like provisions for alcohol and others.

The state list also contains agriculture and preservation of livestock in the 14th and 15th point. So, it’s evident and legal for each state to legislate their own rules, just like the Alcohol laws for each state is different. For instance– in Goa, Rajasthan and Karnataka the permissible alcohol drinking age is 18 years, in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha its 21 years and for Maharashtra, Haryana and Delhi its 25 years. Thus, each state has the right to enact laws and policies which best suits their needs.

Will the ban impact Beef traders?

A complete ban on beef will severely impact beef traders. As beef being one of the cheap sources of food. Many low and middle-income families who are consuming this will be hit very badly. So, the traders as well as consumers’ source of economic food will be stopped. Also, there will be claims of religious discrimination.

The traders in this industry have been into this meat industry for many generations, where their grandfathers and even great grandfathers had started this business trying to make a living. 

As per the new ordinance only Buffalo aged above 13 years can be slaughtered by getting permission from appropriate authority and other types of cattle can be slaughtered only if its sick or diseased. So, the supply will be less, but the demand will remain the same. Thus, there can be an increase in prices compared to prices before such ban due to ban on other types of cattle as well.

The work environment and health of meat traders

Since the industrial revolution many new technologies and machineries have been invented. So was the use of chemicals in livestock to increase production and high profits, but less expenses. Antibiotics and growth hormones are injected into livestock for rapid growth and size of the meat. 

The traders keep these animals and birds where there is dearth of space. The urine and faecal matters aren’t cleaned, and no proper sanitation is carried out at meat shops. Thus, not only the quality of the meat but also the health of the traders is deteriorated. Traders can get acute and chronic lung diseases, neurobehavioral and other infections that can be transmitted from animals to humans like tuberculosis and many other diseases. 

Diseases caused from Animals/Birds to Humans

The infamous Covid-19 or the Coronavirus which made the whole world shut down for a year and still affecting our lives. Many people lost their lives due to this virus. These types of viruses come under the category of Zoonotic diseases or Zoonosis. It’s a type of disease which is transmitted from animals to humans. It also includes Ebola virus and Salmonellosis. 

These types of diseases occur due to the intensive animal farming. The biological cycle of such animals is changed using chemicals. They are not provided natural food or environment. Only, artificial food and chemicals are provided to livestock.

The urine and faecal matters of livestock aren’t taken care of. The slurry of such faecal matter and urine emits methane. This slurry is used as manure and when it’s used it contaminates land, water and air. Nitrous oxide is emitted and thus nitrogen pollution of land and water is caused and other respiratory ailments.

The conditions of livestock in Factory Farms or ‘Cookies out of factory oven’

The storing of animals and birds, feeding, upkeeping, cleaning, water and electricity usage etc. at slaughterhouses are done in factories where there is dearth of space. Animals and birds are kept in places where they can’t even move nor get proper sunlight.

Factory farming or Intensive Animal Farming is one of the big billion-dollar industries, since the era of industrial revolution where meat is produced in bulk by using antibiotics. As by using such chemicals, meat and eggs can be produced much more rapidly and in huge volume then, by their original biological cycle. After consuming such meat those obnoxious chemicals injected in the livestock enter our body, thus leading to various diseases. 

In slaughterhouses the cattle horns are completely cut off so that if a fight arises between any cattle, they won’t harm any other cattle with their horns. The feed which is given to cattle contains antibiotics, vitamins, fat and other chemicals which help in the rapid growth. Thus, their health gets deteriorated and diseased.

A single Hen (an adult female chicken) lays 83 eggs per year in the 1900s. While in the year 2000 the number of eggs per hen rose to 300, all thanks to the usage of growth hormones. In the USA small farms were purchased by industries which later converted into factory farms. Where the same farmers work and provide their labour in return of good wages. 

It’s been found out by experts that livestock in slaughterhouses are abused and aren’t following the safe environment protocols. In terms of Chickens in the USA and many other countries, forced moulting is commonly practiced. It’s a process, when the chickens lay less eggs, they are forced to go through this lethal inhumane process. Where they are kept under artificial sunlight and food deprived so that they produce more eggs. So, even after consuming such eggs there are no nutritional benefits. Also, since these livestock are produced like ‘Cookies Out of Factory Oven’, their supply is huge and so is the demand. Therefore, the price is very cheap. So, what’s the point of eating a product which is although cheap and science says that it’s very good for health. But what we are getting is just factory produced meat with obnoxious chemicals injected in it compared to those in the preindustrial era where chickens and cattle used to roam in a farmer’s land with good chemical free feed provided as food.

In the USA, the FDA reports that 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the market is used for injection in livestock. This report was of 2009, now the number must have skyrocketed within a decade due to increased population and food consumption.

Environmental impact

Factory farming comes under the highest greenhouse gas emitting industries globally. We talk about cars, plastic, fossil fuels pollution but the amount of pollution caused by factory farming is always neglected and ignored. Animal agriculture contributes to 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest singular factor in global warming. It beats even the entire transport industry in carbon footprint.

Now the slaughterhouses contribute to the environment pollution in three ways. Let’s call it the ‘Three-Fold System to pollute a planet’-

First, Wastewater– Water is an important source of living and that’s why it’s called the elixir of life. It’s necessary for consumption and cleaning. Slaughterhouses use water in huge volume and after usage such water is not treated and directly discharged into water bodies. Thus, leading to water pollution, humans as well as other animals are affected. Such wastewater contains harmful chemicals such as nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorus. High volume of nitrate in water leads to nitrate pollution which leads to many diseases affecting all living beings.

Second, Greenhouse Gas emissions– Factories use electricity and fuel to run their institute and machineries and transporting respectively. Which leads to CO2 emissions and the ‘Go Green & Save the Planet’ phrase goes for a toss.

Third, Disposal– The wastewater is not only discharged directly into water bodies but also in the land. This wastewater is used as irrigation over fields. Now, this leads to contaminated land. So, the plants or crops grown from such land produce unhealthy or poisonous produce.

What about Import/Export of Cattle and Leather Industries?

India exports as well imports Cattle. There are restaurants which provide imported beef in their menu. And the Indian cattle demand in foreign land is very high. So, the government should ban the import/ export of cattle.

Also, the leather industry is a mammoth industry. People from the upper crust purchase leather items which are super expensive. But animals are abused for this. These industries claim that they don’t kill animals just for the sake of their skin. They take leather from animals which die due to biological reasons or sick ones are killed. While critics of this industry state it’s untrue and they kill animals whether they are sick or not.

Thus, to curb the menace of environmental degradation the government should ban not only slaughter but also the leather industries and import/export of cattle.

Businesses which got hit badly due to advancing technologies but hustled to a newer business

Do you know how the first camera looked? It was a dark room where the image was reflected, inverted and reversed. Slowly, it upgraded to a compact box like structure, then more upgrades arrived with coloured images. Thus, the photography business was booming. But as technology advances the use of humans has become less. Cameras upgraded to much lighter and compact versions like the portable cameras in the 90s with film rolls in it. And then the digital era came where cameras have the digital screens and can save pictures in tiny 1.5-2-inch SD cards. Thus, the need to go to a Photo studio to print those pictures has become almost obsolete and the Photography studio industry has taken a heavy hit. But the photography industry has found another area of business and upgraded themselves. Photographers are using drones and high end DSLRs for getting that picturesque shot of a wedding or that rare glimpse of a tiger in the forest. There are also Digital Photo frames and the regular photo albums.

Second example: With the advent of compact Office and Home printers the need to go to a Photocopy Shop has become less compared to a decade back. A home printer can be used for almost a decade or even more if taken with adequate care. Also, the ink is a lot cheaper nowadays. So, the photocopy business is running when the customers have huge volumes to print or they are in an urgent need and don’t have a home or office printer. 

What’s the solution?

There is an adage ‘With Crisis comes Opportunity’. From the above two examples it’s evident that even in the past, due to advancing technology or environmental reasons many industries were shut down. But they moved on and evolved to a newer business with more profits and environmental sustainability. Businesses must adapt to the situation and evolve accordingly.

The alternative for meat is cultured meat which have many synonyms such as meat less meat, slaughter free meat, lab grown meat etc. Basically, its meat made in the laboratories by cellular agriculture. Cellular agriculture is a process where agriculture products are produced by using various scientific methods on live animal stem cells without harming any animals or birds. Thus, it got its name lab grown meat.

Now there is a huge difference between Soy meat and Lab grown meat. Soy meat is extracted from plant proteins, whereas Lab grown meat is made from stem cells of live animals without hurting them.

In 2013 Dr. Mark Post a Pharmacologist and Professor at Maastricht University created the first Cultured Beef burger patty. Made from 20,000 thin strands of muscle tissues from cow stem cells. But the cost to make this was over USD 325,000 or INR 23,718,500 and took 2 years to produce. As of now its price is USD 11 or INR 804. The review of the burger patty is good and tasted almost the same as slaughtered meat but with slight differences. Once the factory production of such meats starts the prices will decline.

Now, many startups got into the meat-less meat industry. Right now, the very trending startup in this industry is the US based company ‘Eat Just’ which got the approval to sell Cultured chicken in Singapore markets. This is the first time globally that a cultured meat got the approval for sale in markets.

In India, there is a new startup ‘Evo Foods’ founded in August 2019 by Kartik Dixit and Shraddha Bhansali who are into vegan egg production, completely made from plant protein. They extract protein from Indian Legumes. And it contains the same amount of protein like the chicken egg. Within a year they got a good traction. More than 25 restaurants have tied up with them to cater to the vegan egg dishes.

Conclusion

It’s evident that slaughterhouses and factory farming is destroying the planet. Poor sanitation, dearth of space, use of antibiotics and growth hormones, diseases, environmental pollution, there is an urgent need to control this menace.

From the above paragraph’s information, we have a solution to this menace. If we don’t act right now it will be too late and destroy our planet. While dealing with environmental matters, religion and personal choices shouldn’t come first. It’s always our planet that must be kept first. Electric transport has now become a vogue and many government initiatives are made but for slaughterhouses there is no such policy. The government should provide incentives to such beef traders like a monthly payment which will at least give them some respite, till the cultured meat arrives in the Indian market and promotes it.

We have the solution the Meat-less Meat and Soy Meat, and this industry is burgeoning. So, why not use it and save the planet and reduce the carbon footprint and keep the planet young. Of course, right now this industry is in the nascent stage but gradually it will get the traction like all the new inventions.

Neither this article nor me is against any religious practices. It is meant to make people aware of their actions which are affecting the environment and try to make a little change brick by brick.

And for those vegans who are looking to try a vegan egg recipe here it is.

References


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