This is so awesome! Glad that things have gotten off to such a promising start! Thank you for the clear and thoughtful write-up :)
Thanks for the response Karolina. Great that you’ve looked at the policy change route and that legislation would be the long-term goal of this.
In relation to your second response point: Looking at the published conversation notes from the interview with the animal advocate who raised the concern, they do not appear to be concerned about cage-free in the same way that they are about this intervention. These quotes show that the advocate thinks that cage-free does not suffer from the same concerns as the feed fortification intervention:
“Feed fortification would not increase prices to the same extent that fundamental infrastructure change, such as cage-free would”
“Although the animal advocate understands that these problems could also be problems for the cage-free campaigns, they think that cage-free is a better ask because it tackles one of the underlying issues of intensive factory farming (confinement), where feed fortification doesn’t.”
I think the second quote identifies my main concern with the feed fortification intervention. It seems likely that it would increase profits in the Indian egg industry by paying for something (at an estimated cost of $27,000 per farm according to the model) which will likely increase the overall profitability of farms. This leads to concerns with increased egg production and more overall hen suffering. My worry would be that this intervention seems to clearly benefit factory farms without imposing any particular costs on them. It would be interesting to see some discussion of whether the downside of this outweighs the upside of the welfare benefits provided by feed fortification.
Obviously, if improved feed fortification can eventually become adopted in legislation due to the work of this proposed charity then the intervention seems more promising. However, I couldn’t see any mention in the report of how the initial work with individual farms could be translated into policy change. I’d be interested to see this sketched out somewhere in a report if this is the main route to impact for the charity.
Thank you for this report. Really interesting to learn about a new animal welfare intervention—I never knew that osteoporosis was such a big problem for laying hens.
I had a couple of questions:
In the linked cost-effectiveness analysis, you estimate that the average flock size in 2007 was 25,500 hens. Based on a growth rate of 6-8% in the Indian egg industry per year, you estimate that the average flock size in 2019 is approximately 59,000 hens. This seems to assume that no new farms were built in that decade, and that all new hens in India were added to existing flocks. Am I understanding this correctly, as it seems unlikely to me that no new farms would have been built?
One of the two Indian animal advocates you interviewed raised concerns that this intervention might be ‘humane-washing’ and would ‘actively undermine the work being done by animal advocates in the country’. Later in the report you write ‘We struggled to find any empirical research on humane washing to have a good sense of whether this is a valid concern.’ Although you did interview one other animal advocate in India who felt that this wasn’t a concern, it seems like a red flag that 1 out of 2 of the advocates you interviewed thought that this intervention would ‘actively undermine’ the movement. Personally, I’m not sure what I think about this, but I can definitely see a concern that the intervention is supporting profit-making in the industry rather than bringing systemic change. I’d be interested whether you did any deeper analysis of how this intervention fits within the wider animal advocacy strategy in India?
Notion is a great idea! I know how to use that already so I went ahead and made the wiki. Here’s the page. Please let me know what you think of it (and whether you can edit it okay and everything).
This is great! I hope the first stages go well and look forward to hearing more!
Thank you for this Jamie!
I’ve been using the slightly looser definition of any organisations that are currently or formerly “Top Charities” or “Standout charities.” This would add quite a few to your list.
I had quite a debate about whether to expand the list to some of these charities. I decided against it in the end in order to keep the list to a manageable length (for both me and people reading it).
VeganuarySentience PoliticsGlobal Food PartnersAquatic Life Institute50by40Credence InstituteFarmed Animal Funders
Global Food Partners
Aquatic Life Institute
Farmed Animal Funders
Good suggestions! I already had ALI on the list but the rest I hadn’t heard of/realised that they aligned with EA. I’ll make some additions to the list!
This seems veeeery broad and I imagine there are lots that would be added by this criterion. Personally I wouldn’t use it.
Yeah, I can see that there’s a fair amount of randomness introduced by this criterion (I obviously haven’t attended every EA Global or read every EA Forum post). However, I like that it allows for the addition of orgs that I know definitely apply EA thinking but don’t necessarily mention EA on their website.
Thanks again for your comment. Sorry this reply is a bit late and hope the survey went well!
Looks good! Thank you for this!
I’m not familiar with GitHub, but if anyone sees this and thinks it is worthwhile to convert this list onto GitHub then please do!
Thank you for this! I won’t add DMI, since it is currently a GiveWell standout charity rather than a ‘top charity’ (and my criteria is just to list their top charities, in order to keep this list easier to manage!).
I’ll add OPIS—that’s a great addition!
Added! It’s so great to find out about all these EA orgs I hadn’t heard of before!
Thank you for those recommendations Brian, much appreciated! I have added the majority of them onto the list :)
Really glad to see an organisation focused on this cause. I look forward to following your progress!
I don’t have time in the foreseeable future to write up a review of how different invertebrates stack up against the three factors I’ve written about (although this is something I’d like to do at some point). Since I already had all the info to hand, I thought I’d jot down a very short summary anyway:
Neuron count: Contain 500 million total neurons in the central nervous system with approx. 45 million in the central brain complex. This number of neurons is comparable with the number of neurons in some vertebrates.
Cortex/midbrain equivalent: Some studies have likened octopus brain functioning to that of mammalian cortex.
Centralisation: Possess a central brain region with important memory and learning functions. Unusually, the majority of neurons (about 300 million) are found in the semi-independent arms.
Neuron count: Typically have between 10^5 and 10^6 brain neurons.
Cortex/midbrain equivalent: Some evidence that the insect brain has functionality equivalent to that of the vertebrate midbrain. Debate exists as to whether a midbrain structure is sufficient to support consciousness.
Centralisation: Concentration of neurons into a clear brain structure which controls behaviour. Some ganglia distributed throughout the body.
Neuron count: Central nervous system contains around 10^5 neurons.
Cortex/midbrain equivalent: Crustacea (the subphylum which contains lobsters) are thought to have complex brains that may be comparable with those of insects. Therefore, there may be a midbrain-like structure similar to the potential one in insects. Debate exists as to whether a midbrain structure is sufficient to support consciousness.
Centralisation: Contain a central nervous system with a distinct brain region (the largest ganglion).
Neuron count: Typically have 10^3 to 10^4 brain neurons.
Cortex/midbrain equivalent: Possibly have a midbrain-like structure similar to the potential one in insects (I haven’t seen any research on this yet). Debate exists as to whether a midbrain structure is sufficient to support consciousness.
Centralisation: Have a functionally and structurally differentiated brain region which receives convergent sensory inputs and outputs motor commands. The ganglia distributed throughout the body contain a large proportion of the overall neurons.
Neuron count: Typically contain somewhere in the region of 10^3 or 10^4 neurons.
Cortex/midbrain equivalent: Very unlikely to possess a structure analogous to a midbrain or cortex.
Centralisation: Nervous system mostly consists of nerve nets which perform de-centralised processing. A case can be made that sensory ganglia in jellyfish constitute a basic central nervous system where information integration occurs.
Neuron count: Contain somewhere in the region of 10^4 neurons.
Cortex/midbrain equivalent: Very unlikely to possess a brain structure similar to a midbrain or cortex.
Centralisation: Have a nervous system constituted of ganglia connected by nerve cords. No recognisable brain structure.
C. elegans (Nematoda)
Neuron count: 302 neurons in the hermaphrodite and 385 in the male.
Specific brain structure or equivalent: Very unlikely to possess a brain structure similar to a midbrain or cortex.
Centralisation: Contain a distinct brain structure.