Progress at the Cost of Our Humanity

Seth Victor

The New York Times this week published an investigation into U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, and, perhaps predictably, the results are disturbing. I heartily suggest reading the whole article, but for those in a rush, here are some of the interesting takeaway points:

  • U.S. Meat Animal Research Center is pioneering ways to produce meat more efficiently and cheaply via re-engineering farmed animals through surgery and breeding techniques
  • In pursuing this research, animal welfare has taken a backseat. For example, since 1985, 6,500 out of the 580,000 animals the center has housed have starved. 625 have died from mastitis, an easily treatable infection.
  • Nearly 10 million piglets have been crushed by their mothers each year, not because this is what mothers naturally do, but because they are being forced to have larger litters of weak piglets, and the mothers themselves are artificially larger, kept alive longer to reproduce.
  • For thirty-one years, the Center worked on genetically modifying cows to regularly produce twins, noting that single births were not an efficient way to produce meat. By injecting cows with embryos from other cows that birthed twins, and then injecting them with semen from bulls who sired twins, the Center produced cows that have a 55% chance of having twins, when naturally the chances are 3%. Many of the female calves of twins are born with deformed vaginas, and the artificially large wombs create birthing problems even for single calves. Over 16% of the twins died.
  • Thirty to forty cows die each year from exposure to bad weather, not including storms, in which several hundred more die.
  • 245 animals have died since 1985 due to treatable abscesses.
  • In 1990, the Center tried to create larger lambs by injecting pregnant ewes with an excessive amount of male hormone testosterone. Instead, the lambs were born with deformed genitals, which made urination difficult.
  • In 1989, the Center locked a young cow in place in a pen with six bulls for over an hour to determine the bulls’ libidos. The industry standard is to do this with one bull for fifteen minutes. By the time a vet was called, the cows hind legs were broken from being mounted, and she died within a few hours.
  • The scientists charged with administering the experiments, surgeries, and to euthanize do not have medical degrees. One retired scientist at the Center was quoted saying, “A vet has no business coming in and telling you how to do it. Surgery is an art you get through practice.”
  • “The leaner pigs that the center helped develop, for example, are so low in fat that one in five females cannot reproduce; center scientists have been operating on pigs’ ovaries and brains in an attempt to make the sows more fertile.”
  • Regarding oversight, “A Times examination of 850 experimental protocols since 1985 showed that the approvals [for experiments] were typically made by six or fewer staff members, often including the lead researchers for the experiment. The few questions asked dealt mostly with housekeeping matters like scheduling and the availability of animals.”
  • “The language in the protocols is revealing. While the words “profit” or “production efficiency” appear 111 times, “pain” comes up only twice.”

Continue reading

A Neologism For The Animal Advocacy World

Brad Landau

neologismThe coining of a new phrase, or a neologism, is a way of commanding the transformation of new and modern language. By commanding the transformation of language, and coining new words and phrases, one can bring society up to date in a rapidly changing world. In the animal advocacy world, neologisms are frequently formed for this very reason. For example, Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society, coined the term “vegan” to describe individuals who abstain from the consumption and use of animal products. Another example, Richard D. Ryder, a British psychologist, animal advocate, and author, coined the term “speciesism” in 1970 and “painism” 1985. Speciesism opposes the assignment of moral values and protections on the basis of species alone, and painism argues that all beings that are capable of feeling pain deserve rights. A last example of neologisms in the animal advocacy world comes from Gary L. Francione, an American Legal Scholar, and Distinguished Professor of Law & Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers School of Law–Newark. Francione coined the term “New Welfarist” in his 1996 Continue reading

They are our family, but…” – Companion animals, veterinary medicine, and our own ethical dilemmas

Kat Fiedler

Traditionally, doctors take the Hippocratic Oath as an affirmation of the ethical responsibility that they have towards their patients. According to the American Medical Association, one principle of medical ethics is that “[a] physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.” What then are the duties of veterinarians, especially given the fact that animals are viewed as property under the law and often by society? To whom do the primary responsibilities of veterinarians lie?

Several years ago, my two pet rats became new patients at a veterinary office. As a part of their new patient paperwork, I was asked to select one of a handful of boxes describing how I viewed my pets and their possible treatment at the veterinary Fiedleroffice. These options included: I consider my pet to be part of my family and I would do anything for them; I consider my pet to be part of my family, but I have financial constraints; I am only willing to pay so much to treat my pet; and so on (all of these options are paraphrased from the actual text on the form). I asked a staff member what purpose my selection would serve. She responded that the veterinarian would consider my response in recommending treatment options for my pet. In other words, this exemplified the fact that I, the pet owner, am the client of the veterinarian, not the pet as the patient.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, one principle of veterinary medical ethics is that “[v]eterinarians Continue reading

Compassionate Killers

Nicole Miraglia

The idea of going back to the basics for self-sufficient living is hardly new, but many people are choosing to do just wackikiwabbit_5598that for a variety of reasons and in various levels of commitment. In 2011, Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, pledged to  eat only animals that he killed himself. Although his personal challenge lasted just one year, it sparked an interest of living off the land for many. The Eat What You Kill Movement has supporters from survival, nutritional, and ethical standpoints. Survivalists argue that self-sufficient living allows one to rely and live off of the land, completely independent from societal norms such as trips to the local supermarkets. Those following the trend for nutritional purposes, such as Mark Zuckerberg and Joe Rogan, are attempting to avoid antibiotics and hormones commonly found in store bought meats. Ethical supporters of the movement believe that they are being compassionate to the animals they are eating. Continue reading

Ebola Scare for Pets

Nicole Miraglia

Following the death of the first patient diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States, the news has been revolving around the outbreak in West Africa and the possible implications for the rest of the world. There are currently sixteen confirmed cases of Ebola outside of West Africa. In a majority of these cases, the patients contracted the virus while treating the outbreak in West Africa and then traveled back to their home country for treatment. The concern rapidly escalated from safeguarding oneself from the virus to safeguarding our pets. A nurse in Spain contracted the virus while treating a missionary who returned home to Madrid after treating patients in Africa.

The nurse and her husband are owners of a rescue dog, Excalibur, who quickly became the center dog protestof attention for many animal rights activists all over the globe. Spanish authorities stated that Excalibur was to be euthanized to further prevent the spread of the virus after reports suggested that dogs can carry the virus without showing any symptoms. The nurse’s husband publicly pleaded with officials to spare the dog’s life, citing other reports that claim there have not been any cases in which a human contracted the Ebola virus from a dog. Local animal rights activists began protesting outside the nurse’s home while others took to social media to spread the word. Unfortunately, the Continue reading

Oxford Center for Animal Ethics Call for Papers

David Cassuto

From the email:

Call for Papers Second Oxford Summer School on Animal EthicsThe Ethics of Using Animals in Research

26-29 July 2015 at St Stephen’s House, Oxford

In 1947, Oxford don C. S. Lewis commented that it was “the rarest thing in the world to hear a rational discussion of vivisection”. This Summer School intends to provide just that: a rational discussion of the ethics of using animals in research.

Papers are invited from academics world-wide on any aspect relating to the ethics of animal experimentation, including philosophical and religious ethics, historical, legal, psychological, and sociological perspectives, the morality of various types of research, the use of alternatives, the confinement of animals in laboratories, and the effectiveness of current controls and future legislation.

The Centre will be producing its own review of the ethics of the use of animals in research, which should be published in the Autumn of 2014. Contributors are asked to consider responding to the methodology and conclusions of the review in their contributions to the Summer School.

Abstracts of proposed contributions (no more than 300 words) should be sent to Clair Linzey via email: depdirector@oxfordanimalethics.com. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is 1 January 2015.

All selected papers will be published in book form or in the Journal of Animal Ethics.

The School is being arranged by the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in partnership with the BUAV. The Centre is very grateful to the BUAV for its sponsorship of academic work on this subject, including this Summer School.

St Stephen’s House is an Anglican Theological College and a Hall of the University of Oxford.

Registration for the Summer School will shortly be available on the Centre’s website.

Our mailing address is: Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics

91 Iffley Road

Oxford, EnglandOX4 1EG

United Kingdom

Conference: “The Agricultural Gag Laws–Your First Amendment Rights, Your Health, Animal Welfare, and Our Environment”

David Cassuto

From the email — what looks like an excellent conference:

The Connecticut Bar Association’s Animal Law Section and Yale Law

School’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund are partnering to offer an

exciting conference on September 27th on “The Agricultural Gag

Laws–Your First Amendment Rights, Your Health, Animal Welfare, and Our

Environment. Speakers will include:  Amanda Hitt, Director of the Food

Integrity Campaign at the Government Accountability Project; Matthew

Liebman, Senior Attorney of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Litigation

Program; Alicia Wagner Calzada, Esq., past president of the National

Press Photographers’ Association and current Chair of the Advocacy

Committee for NPPA; Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the

United States; Taylor Radig, Social Justice/Animal Rights Activist; and

Paige Tomaselli, Senior Attorney for the Center for Food Safety. 

For more information and to register please go to www.ctbar.org, click

on  “Calendar” then on “Meetings/Events” and scroll down to September

27, 2014.

We look forward to seeing you at this very timely conference.

Thank you,

Suzan Porto, Co-Chair,

on behalf of the Animal Law Section and Yale Law School’s Student Animal

Legal Defense Fund

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