A leader in the Times opining on the deplorable strife and violence at Oxford University on the treatment of animals and the attitudes and example set by the science establishment prompts the following criticism sent in reply to the paper. Shortly after submission of our response one of the scientists heavily embroiled in the issues at Oxford declared support for experiments and tests involving sacrificial animals in research on cosmetics (now banned in the UK). Continued vigilance and campaigning are needed to maintain the cruelty-free earnests in clothing and toiletries and to further the thrust into worthy and practicable endeavor for food, health, and therapy.
A leader in the Times (see below) opining on the deplorable strife and violence at Oxford University on the treatment of animals and the attitudes and example set by the science establishment prompts the following criticism sent in reply to the paper. Shortly after submission of our response one of the scientists heavily embroiled in the issues at Oxford declared support for experiments and tests involving sacrificial animals in research on cosmetics (now banned in the UK). Continued vigilance and campaigning are needed to maintain the cruelty-free earnests in clothing and toiletries and to further the thrust into worthy and practicable endeavor for food, health, and therapy.
Letter to the Editor
London E98 1TA
1. Dear Sir or Madam,
I hope you received my faxed letter, dated 26/02/06 and entitled Doing Right by Other Animals.
It is acquiring added relevance daily, as articles in the Guardian and Sunday Times this weekend bear witness.
2. Prof Tipu Aziz is content, it seems, to allow testing on animals for the development of cosmetics, a practice banned some years ago in the UK. The first “cruelty-free” “good enough to eat” cosmetics were made in this house, in the kitchen, in the 1960s and the standards have been widely endorsed by most scientists, manufacturers, and retailers. Prof Aziz’s remarks represent an arrogant display that worries many scientists and a parlous return to the worst elements of medical practice.
3. Early in the last century veggies were among the organizations coping with the onslaughts of students from medical schools. I don’t know where the statue to the Little Brown Dog of Battersea (one of the socialist republics of London) now resides, but I think it yielded a book.
4. VEGA has to meet in 10 days’ time with the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) on the persistence of sentience in the “humane” slaughter of animals for food (this includes fish). Experiments on the brains of living animals have been adduced for evidence. These entailed neurosurgery on the brain and were done at Bristol University Veterinary School and in New Zealand. Some were halted by the reluctance of the scientists themselves. Persistence of pain in beheaded sheep had been demonstrated.
I hope my letter reached you and is receiving consideration.
Below is our first letter to the Times.
Doing Right by the Other Animals
5. Suffering and enslavement of animals of species other than ours persist in unremitting and vicious exercise of domination, competition in territorial aggrandisement, pursuit of safety, comfort, pleasure, and in the sins of greed and perverted customs, and sacrifices. They demand an analysis worthier than your leader on the Rights and Wrongs manifested in the conflict at Oxford University (February 25, see below).
6. We should all – with scientists at the forefront – acknowledge the toll every time we queue at the cash point for food, when we sit down to a meal or pop a pain killer, and we can contemplate what we can do in attainment of cruelty-free therapy, food, clothing, and household goods. Experimentation on animals is ugly; it is an infliction of harm that shames the scientific community, who must redouble efforts at exposing and ousting this war-like callousness. Facile excuses that replacing dogs and cats with rodents and fish are no evidence-based and statistically proven advance to fob off on a caring public.
7. Scientists, vets, and doctors and the food industry can claim progress in the quest for cruelty-free foods removing complicity in industries whose cruelties, notably the “humane” slaughter and culling – massacre would be an apter word – are avoidable. Lame and belated excuses by scientists that turning cattle, archetypal herbivores, into carnivores lose them respect. As the BSE Inquiry showed, many experts charged with supervision of the health and welfare of farm animals and launching into a campaign of appalling experimentation and testing declared no feasible adjustments to the disciplines informing their own lifestyles, or they prevaricated when asked the obligatory question; some even condemned the consumer and caterers moved to act in response to the very evidence that was emerging – which amounted to little more than exercise of common sense.
8. Scientists must manifest to the public urgent and compelling evidence of their personal commitment to alternative and practicable means of atonement for the nasty aspects of their work. A year ago the Economist proffered dietary advice that “a healthy diet is built on a base of grains, vegetables and fruits, followed by ever-decreasing amounts of dairy-products, meat, sweets, and oils…” This declaration nicely conflates the spirit of the Government’s Animal Welfare Bill with the pronouncements of health authorities. The public are not going to be impressed by vets styling themselves animal welfarists and cataloguing the toll of cruelty and abuse without exhibiting informed personal and corporate boycotting of the output of animal pharming. What reliance could a patient put on advice from a modern doctor who smokes while writing the prescriptions?
9. Scientists must at least exhibit contrition for experimentation and tesst on sentient beings that they are coy in admitting to. Acknowledgements at the ends of reports and papers must detail the toll taken of the non-human animals. Illustrated posters with Home Office statistics should be prominent in doctors’ and vets’ premises, and in labs and hospitals, and be acknowledged gracefully in the proceedings and ceremonials of the relevant professional bodies. Professional lifestyles declared to the public must exhibit exemplary expressions and observance nourished by plenty of humble pie in the Economist’s style. Only such disciplines will underpin sincerity in our approach to kindness and harmony in our interaction with other animals and the environment.
Note to Editor: The EU REACH project to test ~30,000 household chemicals for safety is likely to inflame controversy soon. The universities’ a href="http://www.ufaw.org.uk/">Federation for Animal Welfare and the British Veterinary Association are running an international conference next September at the Royal Society in London on the Quality of Life. VEGA shall be lecturing there.
The Times, 25 February 2006