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Commodity status of animals

The commodity status of animals refers to the legal status as property of most non-human animals, particularly , working animals and animals in sport, and their use as objects of trade.Free-roaming animals (ferae naturae) are (broadly) held in trust by the state; only if captured can be claimed as personal property.

Animals regarded as commodities may be bought, sold, given away, bequeathed, killed, and used as commodity producers: producers of meat, eggs, milk, fur, wool, skin and offspring, among other things. The exchange value of the animal does not depend on quality of life.

The commodity status of livestock is evident in auction yards, where they are tagged with a barcode and traded according to certain qualities, including age, weight, sex and breeding history.

In commodity markets, animals and animal products are classified as soft commodities, along with goods such as coffee and sugar, because they are grown, as opposed to hard commodities, such as gold and copper, which are mined.

Animals, when owned, are classified as personal property (movable property not attached to real property/real estate). The word cattle derives from the French word cheptel or Old French word chatel, or personal property.

Historian Joyce Salisbury writes that the relationship between humans and animals was always expressed in terms of control, and the idea that animals become property by being domesticated. She notes that Saint Ambrose (340–397) held the view that God controlled wild animals while humanity controlled the rest. Isidore of Seville (560–636) distinguished between "cattle", a term for animals that had been domesticated, and "beasts" or wild animals, as did Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274).

External links
Books, papers
  • Pedersen, Helena; Staescu, Vasile. "Conclusion: Future Directions for Critical Animal Studies," in Nik Taylor, Richard Twine (eds.), The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: From the Margins to the Centre, London: Routledge, 2014, pp. 262–276.
  • Francione, Gary. Animals, Property and the Law, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1995.
  • Richards, John F. The World Hunt: An Environmental History of the Commodification of Animals, University of California Press, 2014.
  • Steiner, Gary. Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism, New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.


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