This article argues that the ability of large-scale industrial farms to commodify animals in the face of strong countervailing social forces stems in large part from the legal system’s embrace of a secularized but nonetheless deeply religious vision of human ascendancy. Within this belief system, animals comprise beings through whom we define ourselves by contrast and to whom we deny ingress to the legal system. The impulse to increase protections for nonhuman animals is offset by institutionally privileged categories of behavior that commodify nonhumans and strip them of legal defenses. The resulting lattice of laws purports to safeguard animals while instead sanctioning and enabling the practices from which they require protection.
David N. Cassuto, Bred Meat--The Cultural Foundation of the Factory Farm, 70 Law & Contemp. Probs. 59 (2007), available at http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/397/.