The Lack of Ethics in Animal Ethics Committees

Spencer Lo

Like factory farming, animal experimentation is an entrenched practice, one which causes extensive suffering to millions of animals per year despite the poor justification in terms of human benefits. Bioethicist Dr. Andrew Knight, author of the book “The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments,” discussed the ethical problems of animal experimentation and related issues over at ARZone (see also here). Because of the problems with justification, a welcome development is the continuing search for alternatives to animal testing, and animal ethics committees (AECs) set up to scrutinize research proposals are required to consider such alternatives before granting approval, as part of their mandate to ensure compliance with the 3Rs—the principles of Reduction, Refinement, and Replacement. In Australia, for instance, a guiding principle in the Australian Code of Practice is to “promote the development and use of techniques that replace the use of animals in scientific and teaching activities.” The Replacement Principle gained further strength in 2008 with the following guideline: “if a viable alternative method exists that would partly or wholly replace the use of animals in a project, the Code requires investigators to use that alternative.” Thus, at face value, it appears that animal experimentation can be carefully scrutinized and suffering minimized, with animal use permitted only for the most important reasons.   Read more

The Big Lick: Horse Abuse for Fame and Fortune

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

The Big Lick. For most of us, it’s a good thing. It’s what we get when we come home to our wildly-ecstatic canine companion: the full-body wag and the slobbery, big lick.

Unfortunately, there’s a sinister “big lick” lurking in the horse industry. (Does it ever turn out well for animals when their name is coupled with the word industry?) While I hate to be the one to reveal a whole new realm of animal abuse, you’ll find its motivation to be the same old same old: humans exploiting animals for ego, entertainment, and greed. Prize money here, blue ribbons there, and horses whose forefeet are injured or destroyed for coerced performances while spectators roar their approval of the pain-induced, artificial gait called the Big Lick. ABC’s “Nightline Investigates” aired the topic  (a must-watch 6-minute video) last May, featuring undercover video from the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). Continue reading

Further Thoughts on Happy Meat


Spencer Lo

My last post explored the ethics of consuming “happy meat,” which was prompted by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT article on the matter—with great enthusiasm, he endorsed it as an ethical alternative to the consumption of factory-farmed animals. I attempted to show why this view is deeply mistaken by briefly sketching an argument from philosopher Jeff McMahan’s paper. Here, I want to raise the question of whether, from an animal advocates perspective, there is anything positive to be said about shifting the public consciousness away from consumption of factory-farmed meat to “happy meat”—encouraged by Kristof—notwithstanding the fact that both are problematic. In other words, although influential people like Kristof are ultimately advocating an unethical practice, is that nevertheless a welcome change in some respects? Should the change be encouraged to some extent? Read more

Kansas State Fair’s Restrictions on PETA are Upheld

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Adonia David

It is state and county fair season.  Speaking as a born and bred Midwesterner, I can say that for many of us, there is a bit of magic associated with them. Fairs are hot summer days and evenings, cotton candy, roasted corn, and the sound of cicadas floating high above the tumult.  Fairs are ferris wheels and other scary looking rides set up by carnies overnight that look as though they may tumble to the ground any moment.  And fairs are animals.  Animals – the glory of a state fair: cows and calves and bunnies; goats and pigs; chickens of all shapes and sizes and plumage.   The animals are beautiful.  Many are gentle, hand-raised by children in 4H, and many of them are destined for slaughter.   Just what this death involves seems to be generally ignored by fair-goers.  It disturbs the magic. Continue reading

What’s Wrong with Happy Meat?

Spencer Lo

Suppose animals could be raised humanely, live considerably long lives, and then painlessly killed for food. Would eating such happy creatures be wrong? That question is suggested in a recent article by New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, who answered it in the negative. According to Kristof, as an alternative to consuming tortured animals raised in factory farms, which is problematic, it is possible to consume happy ones raised on efficient farms with “soul.” Some will even have names: like “Jill,” Sophie,” and “Hosta.” In the article, Kristof introduces us to his high school friend Bob Bansen, a farmer raising Jersey cows on “lovely green pastures” in Oregon. Bob’s 400+ cows are not only grass-fed and antibiotic-free, they are loved “like children” – every one of them named. “I want to work hard for them because they’ve taken good care of me… They’re living things, and you have to treat them right.” With great enthusiasm, Kristof concludes: “The next time you drink an Organic Valley glass of milk, it may have come from one of Bob’s cows. If so, you can bet it was a happy cow. And it has a name.”   read more