VEGA sets a challenge for scientists
Excusing experimentation on animals on the basis of the habitual toll our species takes in our demands for food, clothing, "sport", and comforts is a criminal resort – on a war-like one-good-turn-justifies-another – to unremitting torture. Scientists must atone for their uglier devices by redoubling their involvement in the merciful applications of the biosciences, technology, epidemiology, and well-versed exercise of precautionary principles to reduce the sacrifice we inflict on the other animals.
How many scientists cite appalling events in the live/deadstock industry, such as epidemics of swine fever, foot-and-mouth, BSE, and the consequent culls, slaughter and testing, in prompting practicable and exemplary changes in their own contribution to animal welfare? Evidence accumulates that diet and lifestyle play roles in development of the brain and of cognition and behaviour and in prevention of disorders such as Alzheimer’s and CJD, let alone the many food-borne bacterial and viral infection transmitted from animals exploited in evil forms of farming. Grace before meals could be a salutary reintroduction in many ways; an objective grace before popping an aspirin would be apt too.
Organisations such as the Royal Society must treat the public seriously, humbly and openly by circulating display materials for doctors’ and vets’ waiting rooms and for hospitals and medical schools constantly reminding us all of the suffering and pain in the development of medical treatments and of the shortcomings in means of reduction. In a reversal of the successful campaign against the testing of cosmetics an EU-inspired REACH project aims at renewed onslaught of objectionable procedures for the safety of thousands of familiar and long-used commercial substances.
Scientists can’t expect sympathy when their example and performance are so costive in the expression of humane initiatives and self-discipline.
To read more about VEGA's issues with experimentation, click here