Exponential Growth, Animal Welfare, Environmental and Food Safety Impact: The Case of China’s Livestock Production

  • Peter J. LiEmail author


Developmental states are criticized for rapid “industrialization without enlightenment.” In the last 30 years, China’s breathtaking growth has been achieved at a high environmental and food safety cost. This article, utilizing a recent survey of China’s livestock industry, illustrates the initiating role of China’s developmental state in the exponential expansion of the country’s livestock production. The enthusiastic response of the livestock industry to the many state policy incentives has made China the world’s biggest animal farming nation. Shortage of meat and dairy supply is history. Yet, the Chinese government is facing new challenges of no less a threat to political stability. Production intensification has created a welfare crisis impacting the world’s biggest number of farm animals. The resulting food safety incidents are affecting consumer confidence and health. Untreated waste contributes to the nation’s environmental degradation. Developmental states may have a proud record of growth in the initial stage of industrialization. Their prospects for sustained development have long been questioned. China has come to an important juncture to march towards a sustained development.


China’s livestock production Developmental state Environmental degradation Animal welfare Food safety Public health 


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I wish to thank the four anonymous reviewers for their excellent and insightful comments and suggestions. I would also thank the Humane Society International and the British Compassion in World Farming for their generous support of an earlier research on China’s animal farming industry from which this article draws much valuable information.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Sciences DepartmentUniversity of Houston-DowntownHoustonUSA

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