Root & Branch Year by Year

Root & Branch Year by Year

1st Century BC

  • “…all wild beasts come forth and grow, nor need the little rattles, nor must be treated to the humouring nurse’s dear, broken chatter; nor seek they diverse clothes to suit the changing skies; nor need, in fine, nor arms nor lofty ramparts, wherewithal their own to guard – because the earth herself and nature, artificer of the world, bring forth aboundingly all things for all.”

    Lucretius, De rerum natura, 1st century BC


  • “The defect that hinders communication betwixt them and us, why may it not be in our part as well as theirs? ’Tis yet to determine where the fault lies that we understand not one another – for we understand them no more than they do us; and by the same reason they may think us to be beasts as we think them. ’Tis no great wonder if we understand not them, when we do not understand a Basque or a Troglodyte [cave dweller].”

    Michel de Montaigne


  • “... so that the circumstance that they do better than we does not prove that they are endowed with mind [...] it rather proves that they are destitute of reason, and that it is nature which acts in them according to the disposition of their organs: thus it is seen, that a clock composed only of wheels and weights can number the hours and measure time more exactly than we with all our skill.”

    René Descartes


  • “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”

    Jeremy Bentheim


  • In c.1800, a fattening pig was ready for slaughter weighing 40 kg after two to three years. At the same time, German men had an average life expectancy of 35.5 years and women 38.5 years. 220 years later, a fattening pig is ready for slaughter weighing about 120 kg after five to six months. The average life expectancy in Germany is 78.5 years for men and 83.4 years for women.


  • “You boastful devil! I do hope the pig they killed will be your death!”

    Heinrich von Kleist, Amphitryon


  • In New York in 1820, there was one pig for every five inhabitants. They populated the streets as naturally as the people themselves. In 1859, the New York Times reported on the front page that 76 armed men had marched into “Hogtown”, south of 86th Street. Between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, they surrounded the pigs, seized them, destroyed the sties and thus drove the animals out of the public space.


  • “Saint Anthony, it is said, / at last renounced the world for good, / withdrew to the depth of the forest, / drinking dew and eating moss. / Sitting for ages in this place / he prayed until he almost wasted away. / Until finally wild herbs / emerged from his nose and ears. // ‘From here I will not depart,’ he declared. / ‘If only I could receive a credible sign!’ / And behold! – from the midst of the forest / a wild boar plodded forth / and busily dug up / a little fountain, pure and bright, / and unearthed with snorts and sniffs / a heap of truffles. / Saint Anthony, full of praise and thanks, / sat down, ate and drank / and spoke with emotion: ‘You fine pig, / you shall now live with me forever!’"

    Wilhelm Busch, Saint Anthony of Padua


  • In c.1880, dry photographic plates of gelatin silver bromide were produced for the first time on an industrial scale using pig bones and skins. At about the same time, the first skyscraper was built in Chicago, the world’s meat industry metropolis.


  • In its first year, 126,347 cattle, 392,895 pigs, 111,937 calves and 650,060 sheep were processed in Berlin’s central municipal abattoir, which opened in 1881.


  • In 1900, more than 38 per cent of the population was employed in farming, while in 2020 it was 1.2 per cent.
  • A statistical survey on methods of killing in abattoirs showed that most animals were clubbed to death. As a result, a privately financed competition for the “design of the best stunning apparatus for small livestock” took place in Leipzig. 183 devices were submitted with widespread public participation. The first prize was not awarded.


  • While animals disappeared from the streets of towns in the fifty years from 1861 to 1911, statistical meat consumption in Germany doubled from about 20 to about 40 kilograms per person per year. In 2022 it was about 52 kilos per capita.


  • With its slogan “Cheap bread and cheap meat”, the SPD received 34.8 per cent of the vote in the 1912 Reichstag elections, a greater share of the vote than any party previously in Reichstag elections.


  • “A few days ago a wagon with sacks came in, and the load was piled so high that the buffaloes could not cross the threshold at the gate. The accompanying soldier, a brutal fellow, started beating the animals with the thick end of the whip handle in such a way that the warden indignantly asked him if he had no pity for the animals. ‘No one has any pity for us humans either!’ he replied with an evil smile and cracked the whip even harder.”

    Rosa Luxemburg


  • In 1927 Walther Darré published his text “The Pig as Criterion for North German Peoples and Semites”. He proposed the pig as proof of the racial and cultural superiority of the “Nordic peoples”. Darré became the Reich Farmers Leader”. From 1933 to 1942 he was Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture in National Socialist Germany.


  • “... how, in the course of the advance of civilisation, people seek to repress all that they perceive in themselves as ‘animal traits’. In much the same way they repress it in their food.”

    Norbert Elias


  • “The idea of the human being in European history finds expression in its distinction from the animal. With reference to the animal’s lack of reason, humans demonstrate their own dignity. [...] [Humanity], by abusing the animal, proclaims that it, and it alone in all creation, voluntarily acts as mechanically, blindly and automatically as the twitching of the bound victim processed by the professional.”

    Max Horkheimer / Theodor W. Adorno


  • The sow stall for restraining the pregnant and lactating sow was designed in 1950. At present, the sow spends about 23 weeks per year in it. With the amendment of the German Animal Welfare and Production Animal Husbandry Ordinance in February 2021, crate stall housing in the mating centre will be completely banned from 2029. From 2036, sows in the farrowing area may only be kept in crates for a maximum of five days around the time of birth.


  • By signing the EEC Treaty in 1957, the member states of the European Community agreed on a common market for agricultural products.


  • “The duel between industry and the future is not fought with songs to relax to. Its music is the cry of Marsyas, blasting the strings from the lyre of his divine flayer.”

    Heiner Müller, Glücksgott, 1958


  • The first Red List in the narrower sense, in which the endangered status of bird species for the Federal Republic of Germany was summarised in categories, was published in 1971. One year later, the Club of Rome published its environmental study ‘Limits to Growth’.


  • “Animals came from over the horizon. They belonged there and here. Likewise they were mortal and immortal. […] Today the vestiges of this dualism remain among those live intimately with, and depend upon, animals. A peasant becomes fond of his pig and is glad to salt away its pork. What is significant, and is so difficult for the urban stranger to understand, is that the two statements in that sentence are connected by an and and not a but.”

    John Berger, 1972


  • “The eyes of an animal looking at a person are attentive and wary. It can also look at other animals. For a man he has no special look. But no other species than man recognizes the sight of an animal as familiar. Other animals take a look. The man is aware of himself, bringing back the look.”

    John Berger, Why Look at Animals?


  • “Liberal rational thought assumes [...] responsibility for those it excommunicates, namely animals, the insane and children ‘who know not what they do’ – who are not even worthy of punishment and death, but who are quite useful for social welfare: protectionism of all kinds, animal welfare groups, ‘open’ psychiatry, modern education – all forms of definitive but gentle degradation behind which liberal reason entrenches itself. Through this racist compassion, humanism doubles its domination over ‘inferior creatures’.”

    Jean Baudrillard

  • “The primitive sacrifice of the animal is associated with its sacred and divine position as a totem. We no longer sacrifice them, we no longer punish them, and we are familiar with them, but only because we have domesticated them and made them into a racial sub-world which is itself no longer even worthy of our justice; so that they quite logically become exterminable as beasts for slaughter.”

    Jean Baudrillard


  • “Often, she says, the imagery flips, and you can no longer accurately distinguish fiction from nonfiction. Say, for example, you use the metaphor of wanting to eat someone, and then, perhaps, you’re unwittingly served a piece of roasted meat that’s actually been cut out of that person. You know the story: ‘This tastes delicious!’ ‘Yes, doesn’t it? It’s your husband.’”

    Marcel Beyer


  • The cloning of Dolly the sheep was announced in 1997. Pokemon and Tamagotchi became popular with German children.


  • “I often ask myself, just to see, who I am – and who I am at the moment when, caught naked, in silence, by the gaze of an animal – the eyes of a cat, for example – I find it difficult, yes, difficult, to overcome a feeling of discomfort. Why this discomfort? I find it hard to repress a sense of embarrassment.”

    Jacques Derrida


  • "I think we learn to be worldly from grappling with, rather than generalizing from, the ordinary. I am a creature of the mud, not the sky."

    Donna Haraway

  • "I love the fact that human genomes can be found in only about 10 percent of all the cells that occupy the mundane space I call my body; the other 90 percent of the cells are filled with the genomes of bacteria, fungi, protists, and such, some of which play in a symphony necessary to my being alive at all, and some of which are hitching a ride and doing the rest of me, of us, no harm. ... To be one is always to become with many."

    Donna Haraway


  • Under the banner “Wir haben es satt!” (“We’re fed up!”), tens of thousands of citizens have been demonstrating in Berlin once a year since 2011 for a different way of treating animals and their products.


  • A renewed reform of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy resulted 2013 in a further internationalisation of agricultural trade.


  • The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig stated in a ruling on 13 June 2019 that minimising the cost of food production no longer counts as “reasonable grounds” for inflicting pain on animals.

    Ruling of 13.06.2019 – BVerwG 3 C 28.16


  • “Four companies control more than 70 per cent of the world market for agricultural commodities, 87 per cent of which is owned by the eleventh-richest family in the world. The total wealth of the family members in the Forbes billionaires list is USD 42.9 billion. Their wealth has increased by USD 14.4 billion (65 per cent) since 2020, growing by almost USD 20 million per day during the pandemic.”
  • 2020, the Competence Network for Farm Animal Husbandry headed by the former Minister of Agriculture Jochen Borchert critically spelled out the current state of farm animal husbandry on 425 pages.
  • With its Act on the Introduction of the Right to Sue for Animal Welfare Associations of 31 August 2020, Berlin makes it possible for recognised animal welfare associations to take legal action. This places the recognition of the non-profit status of associations once again centre-stage.
  • African swine fever (ASF), a dangerous viral disease found exclusively in pigs, has been observed in various countries of the EU since 2014. In Germany, a first case became known in September 2020 in a wild boar. On 15 July 2021, the virus was detected in farmed pigs for the first time.


  • “The question of moral justice does not arise in day-to-day business.”

    Josef Sanktjohanser, German trade association president; Vice President Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA), 2021

  • About 185,000 employees in the meat industry, including more than 58,000 mainly Eastern European migrant workers, satisfy the hunger of 75 million local meat consumers in 2021 and also produce 3,900,000 tonnes for export.
  • In April 2021, it was reported that Tönnies had received a permit for the construction of a fully automated abattoir in the Spanish region of Aragon. Scheduled to go into operation in autumn 2023, the plant would cost EUR 75 million and cover an area of almost 30 hectares, the equivalent of about 42 football fields.
  • In the central Chinese province of Henan near the city of Nanyang, the company Muyuan Foods is building the world’s largest pig factory in 2021 for about CNY 3 billion (EUR 40 million). In 21 multi-storey halls, 2.1 million pigs will be produced annually.


  • Same as energy companies, food billionaires have seen their wealth increase by USD 1 billion every two days between 2020 and 2022.


  • In 2023, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat paved the way for a national, compulsory animal husbandry labelling system. It applies to foods of animal origin that are produced in Germany. Ariane Désirée Kari, a veterinarian specialising in animal welfare, has been appointed by Germany’s Federal Government as the first Commissioner for Animal Welfare.
  • “Three corporations control over 60 per cent of the global market for commercial seed and agrochemicals: DuPont-Dow, ChemChina-Syngenta and Bayer-Monsanto.”


  • Conversion of livestock farming in Germany - the Borchert process

    The livestock husbandry competence network was set up in 2019. The committee is also known as the "Borchert Commission" after its chairman, former Federal Minister of Agriculture Jochen Borchert. In August 2023, it decided to end its work. "The recommendations of the Borchert Commission were supported jointly by stakeholders from conventional and organic agriculture, environmental associations, numerous other actors from value chains and administration as well as scientists. They have received a lot of encouragement in the area of ​​agricultural policy. The recommendations of the commission are the basis for the conversion that has now been decided and started in the direction of future-proof animal husbandry."

    "The members would like to thank their chairman, Jochen Borchert, for the mandate they have been given and the trust placed in them by many of those involved. From the point of view of the competence network, the idea of ​​having a multi-stakeholder commission develop a concept for the transformation of an important part of German agriculture has proven successful. The competence network continues to believe that a significant increase in the level of animal welfare in all German livestock farming is feasible and urgently needed. It is – even under difficult geopolitical and economic conditions – a question of the political will to make appropriate decisions and implement them."

    From the final communiqué of the Borchert Commission (Translated by Google Translator)


  • The Dutch city of Haarlem is banning advertising for climate-damaging consumer products such as meat, flights, fossil fuels and cars with combustion engines from 2024.