The Ethics of Veganism, Cont’d

David Cassuto

In keeping with my earlier promise to highlight well-argued pieces on both sides of the veganism debate, here is a piece by former vegan and author George Monbiot, which explains why he has now concluded that meat-eating (not, however, the factory farm system) is ok.  There have been a number of thoughtful responses to Monbiot.  Here is one and here’s another.

Schwarzenegger’s Legacy: Skinned Animals

David Cassuto

Amid all the hagiography (outside of California) for soon to be ex-Governor Schwarzenegger, comes this: he vetoed a bill that would have required clothing made with fur to be properly labeled.  Currently, so-called faux fur products are actually made of real fur, just the fur from less “desirable” animals.  The gov was concerned about cost.  Apparently,  the $1,000 penalty was just too harsh for manufacturers who deliberately deceive the buying public.  Never mind that Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin have such labeling requirements or that even the the Congress is getting into the act or that, by golly, it’s just the right thing to do. The judgment of history can be brutal indeed.

Reconsidering Crush Videos

Gillian Lyons

After the Supreme Court struck down 18 U.S.C. § 48 in United States v. Stevens for having too broad a focus (click here for Professor Cassuto’s post-mortem of that decision), there was a general feeling of dismay in the animal law community due, in part, to the fact that the law strove to make the sale of crush videos illegal.

However, in response to the Court’s decision, Congress acted quickly and in June 2010 H.R. 5566: Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010 was introduced.  H.R. 5566 amends 18 U.S.C. § 48 to give the Act a narrower focus: prohibiting the sale of crush videos, meaning any film, video, or recording that depicts live animals being crushed, drowned, suffocated or impaled in a manner that would violate a criminal prohibition under Federal or State law. The bill was resoundingly approved with 416 Ayes and 3 Nays.           Continue reading

Thinking Inside the Box (Where the Mice Suffer & Die)

David Cassuto

Thirty-some years ago, researchers attempting to determine if tobacco smoke was toxic put mice in boxes filled with smoke.  The mice didn’t develop cancer at the rate human smokers did.  One could conclude that tobacco was not a carcinogen but, of course, that  would be wrong.  The problem lay with the experiment, including the fact that mouse and human physiology are vastly different.

Fast forward to the present where researchers are attempting to determine if cell phone use causes cancer in humans.  Building on the knowledge gained over the last three decades of rigorous scientific method, researchers have elected to study the question by — wait for it; wait for it — putting mice in boxes.  Is it because they will learn anything of value regarding cancer, cell phones and humans?  Not hardly.  They will, however, get $25 million in funding from the NIH.    Continue reading

Some Antibiotic News

Gillian Lyons

According to some sources, as much as 70 percent of the antibiotics produced in the United States are fed to animals housed in the factory farm industry, animals otherwise known as “food product animals.”  These antibiotics are used not only to prevent the spread of disease among animals housed in small overcrowded quarters, but are also used to spur rapid growth and production (and therefore rapid economic benefit for the factory farm industry).

It is generally recognized that the widespread use of antibiotics in factory farms has, and will have, a significant impact on human health. For instance, in a report from the United States General Accounting Office it was noted that antibiotic use is already connected to the presence of Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli in humans.  The report also suggested that the use of antibiotics in food product animals lessens the effectiveness of antibiotics used to treat humans for other diseases. Continue reading

Transgenic Animals

David Cassuto

I’ve been thinking about the legal and ethical issues surrounding transgenic animals lately, hoping to write something soon.  If you’re interested in the subject too, this post at the new Vet Tech blog provides all sorts of cool resources to peruse.

CT Animal Law CLE

David Cassuto

From the email:

Fries, Beer, and the IUCN Colloquium

David Cassuto

Belgium is pretty cool.  Ghent is an absolutely beautiful city, filled with the kind of stunning architecture that one might expect to see in European cities better known for their visual splendor.  And did you know that Ghent was the second-largest city in Europe (behind Paris) for quite a while, quite a while back?  Just up the road is Bruges – a medieval city that was a bustling center of commerce until its harbor silted up 400 or so years ago.  As a result, it still looks much as it did then.  And back then, it looked mighty good.

Let’s see… what else?  The pommes frites – to which I had been looking forward with almost maniacal glee – were not all that.  In my experience (admittedly limited to Ghent), one can do much better on St. Mark’s Place in NYC.

The beer, however.  Oh, the beer.  Oh, it’s good.  It’s good beer.

Continue reading

Legal Protections for Great Apes (or Lack Thereof)

Gillian Lyons

Last week, without much ado (at least from American news sources), the European Union passed a series of directives aimed at reducing the number of animals used in laboratory experiments (for BBC News’ perspective, click here).  Included in those directives was a mandate ending the use of great apes in scientific research, once again showing the EU has one-upped the United States in terms of laws promoting animal welfare.             Continue reading

Brasilia and Now Ghent (Belgium) — Still Talking Climate Change & Agriculture

David Cassuto

So here I am on a plane again – this time to Belgium on my way to the Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, which is taking place in Ghent.  I’m back in steerage this time; no business class for our hero.  I swore I would never go back but here I am.

Amidst all the hubbub, I need to recap my time in Brasilia even as I head for Europe.  Brasilia was a very interesting time and I once more want to reiterate my gratitude to the U.S. State Department for making my time in Brazil so rich and rewarding and for taking such good care of me.  This was my first time in Brazil’s capital and I enjoyed it – from the stunning architecture to the fact that the city is laid out like an airplane.  In addition to speaking at private university (entirely successful and well-attended), I lectured also to a government think tank called IPEA.  There, I encountered probing questions from a very informed audience.  When I mentioned the idea of treating meat consumption as a luxury for purposes of regulating and taxing carbon emissions, one of my hosts asked what I thought of the idea of a “meat cap.”  Not only is it an intriguing notion about which I need to think more, but so much do I love the term that even if it were a completely wacky idea, I would probably support it anyway.                    Continue reading

The Dirty South? No; More Like Dirty Cleanup Efforts

Douglas Doneson

Early May…

With law school final exams a few days away, keeping up with current events was the last thing on my mind. But this past May, the BP oil spill was literally all over the place. Prior to transplanting to New Orleans for my summer internship, I applied to every volunteer site I could to help clean up oil covered wildlife, restore beaches, and clean the marshes. I expected to be busy every weekend cleaning oil-covered birds and being a part of an all-hand-on-deck effort. In reality, the HAZMAT training, BP certification, and paraprofessional experience kept many potential volunteers away.  I did follow through however, and after completing the HAZMAT training and BP certification online (where I answered 3 or 4 questions about putting on gloves correctly and whether I knew what to do if I became dehydrated), I applied for the more demanding and risky volunteer positions such as handling and cleaning oil covered wildlife.  As a former veterinary technician and zoo keeper I had paraprofessional training too. To my surprise, very few of my emails or phone calls were returned.              Continue reading

Gaga Wears Meat, Chimps Turned Into Bushmeat — A World Gone Horribly Awry

David Cassuto

So even as I fight to keep my gorge down after seeing Lady Gaga in a meat bikini (about which more soon), I know her offense against fashion and compassion pales in comparison to what’s going on out in the bush.

Congolese chimps are being slaughtered for “bushmeat” at an alarming and grotesque rate.  Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Guardian:

They are some of the most mysterious apes on the planet that according to local legend, kill lions, catch fish and even howl at the moon. But according to an 18-month study of remote human settlements deep in the Congolese jungle, chimpanzees are being subjected to a “wave of killing” by bushmeat hunters.             Continue reading

Fed up with Feeding

Seth Victor

Phillipsburg, NJ signed in a law Tuesday that makes it illegal to feed feral cats without permission. Violators could face up to $2,000 in fines at the discretion of the Municipal Court.

Animal advocates debated this measure earlier, arguing that people should be allowed to help animals in need without fear of repercussions. I agree with the sentiment, but the new law is intended well. Bobbi Santini, founder of the nonprofit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab Inc. is on-board and helping to draft contracts between the city and advocates who want to feed the cats. Those who want to support the feral colonies will be required to trap, neuter/spay, and release the cats they feed. It’s a good compromise between the two camps, one that sees the cats as victims, and the other that sees them as pests and disease spreaders. It’s not terrible for the cats, either, as young females have enough trouble finding food for themselves, let alone a litter. Certainly Phillipsburg could have chosen a more violent solution that involved euthanizing the cats; some counties in New Jersey annually gas geese to keep their numbers down, and though I’m sure such action would have met sterner protest, it’s not inconceivable. I’m relieved that the law appears to have all interests in mind, including the animals’. With any luck the TNR program will produce results and the downtrodden cat colonies in the alleys will have less mouths to feed without destructive actions.

“Thinking About Animals Conference” at Brock University

David Cassuto

More goodies from the email:

CALL FOR PAPERS: THINKING ABOUT ANIMALS 2011- BROCK
UNIVERSITY
The Department of Sociology at Brock University is issuing a Call for Papers for a conference on “Thinking About Animals” to be held March 31 and April 1, 2011 at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
This two-day conference will explore a variety of issues concerning the current and historical situation of nonhuman animals and interactions with humans.  The Department is organizing this conference with the assistance of the Office of the Dean of Social Sciences, the Departments of English, Political Science, History and Visual Arts, the MA Programme in Critical Sociology, and the MA Programme in Social Justice and Equity Studies.

Continue reading

Some More Cool Animal Law CLE

David Cassuto

From the email:

The DePaul Center for Animal Law cordially invites you and your colleagues to join us for this year’s symposium, “Revisiting the Line between Free Speech and Obscenity: U.S. v. Stevens and Its Impact on Animal Welfare”. The symposium will take place at the DePaul College of Law on Thursday, September 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The symposium will evaluate the constitutional issues raised in Stevens, as well as draw attention to the destructive influence of dog fighting on our local community. Panelists include Bob Corn-Revere, co-counsel for defendant Robert Stevens, Randall Lockwood, PhD, Senior Vice-President for Anti-Cruelty Initiatives and Legislative Services for the ASPCA and internationally renowned bioethicist, author and veterinarian, Dr. Michael W. Fox.

Continue reading

Animal Law Goes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Bridget Crawford


Earlier this summer I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio with my father (who is in his 70’s) and my daughter (who is 10). .  I love the Jim Thorpe statue and the Hall of Fame Gallery’s bronze busts.  I refreshed my sports memory, learned a bit about history and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Hall of Fame through both my father’s and my daughter’s eyes.          Continue reading

Morrissey Half-Cocked

David Cassuto

From the Wish He Hadn’t Said It Desk:

Morrissey calls the Chinese a “subspecies” because of the widespread mistreatment of animals that goes on in China.  It’s hard to know where to begin with this kind of racist, unproductive, polarizing rant.  All I can say is that it would be great if we (read “he”) could could use his celebrity to call attention to the horrific brutality committed against animals without resorting to ugly, xenophobic (and patently silly) rhetoric.

Part 2 of the Brazilian Odyssey

David Cassuto

I flew Business Class on the way home.  Business Class is better than coach.  In fact, I’m seriously considering renaming my child Business Class.  I’ve also written several epic poems and elegies to Business Class and am thinking about getting a tattoo.

But I digress.

I’m back in the U.S. after a truly rich and useful swing through the Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Brasilia.  My thanks go out to the United States Department of State, particularly the good people in the consulate in Sao Paulo and the embassy in Brasilia for making my time so valuable and pleasant.  In each city I spoke about industrial agriculture and climate change (my lecture drew on the policy paper I recently wrote for the Animals and Society Institute).  I also gave several interviews for the press.  Both the reporters and the audiences met me where I was – engaging both the environmental issues and the animal ethics.  The Q&A sessions were routinely excellent.

Porto Alegre is the home of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (URGS), where I have spoken several times over the years and whose law school has a long friendship with Pace. Professor Fabio Morosini was my host.  He comes at these issues via international law and his perspective and insights were enormously useful.  He’s also a terrifically nice guy.  The law school hosted a roundtable for students, faculty and interested members of the community prior to my lecture where we discussed climate change in the larger context as well as the role of meat consumption and industrial agriculture.  Both there and in the discussion following my lecture, we wrestled with the issue of national responsibility and collective action.  Given the U.S.’ status as one of the largest carbon emitters, the founder of factory-farming and voracious consumer of meat, it is always a challenge to go to other countries and discuss the idea of shared sacrifice and vigilance about industrial agriculture.  But even as one must accept and acknowledge the historic and continuing role of U.S. policies and consumption patterns, it is also important to acknowledge that this is an international dilemma requiring collective action at both the domestic and international levels.                 Continue reading

Salvador in Hindsight

David Cassuto

The Brazilian tour has been and continues to be a whirlwind.  Here’s a first installment of updates, live from Brasilia but a few days behind in terms of news.  More soon.

As Liz & Gloribelle’s posts make clear, the Salvador Conference was fab-o.  I felt and feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to hear and exchange ideas with such terrific scholars and activists.  Furthermore, I am delighted to report that animal advocacy is a real and growing movement in Brazil.  The area outside the auditorium where we gathered was filled daily with activists involved in outreach as well as people selling vegan food and wares.  In addition, several of us were interviewed by a Brazilian filmmaker for a documentary she is making about animal rights. Continue reading

Animal Law CLE Opportunity

David Cassuto

Some farm animal-related CLE from the good folks at the ABA.  Note the intriguing speaker lineup.

Farmed Animal Welfare and Consumer Labeling Issues

To Register:

http://www.abanet.org/tips/market/10SepAnimalLawWeb.html

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=146567802042349&ref=mf

Increasingly, consumers concerned about the welfare of farm animals, and related health, food safety, and environmental issues, are seeking to purchase animal-derived foods that are labeled or advertised in a way that provides information regarding the treatment of the animals. Can this give rise to liability when those labels are out of sync with consumer perceptions?

Our panel of attorneys, professors and experts in the field will discuss:

Commercial speech and the role of liability for false advertising under Federal and State law in the labeling of food products.    Continue reading

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