Veggies aren't the only ethically-minded consumers overlooked in modern trends expressing the anthropocentric mens sana in corpore sano concept as the driving force in ethics rather than expression of the wider considerations of do good altruism and exercise of self restraint. The world is too much with us, as the poet rimed: we eat too much, buy too much and procreate too much. We plonk too heavy a footprint on the environment. Health warnings abound, with tardy success, to curtail the risks of smoking but no such warnings of violations of the Five Freedoms inflicted on animal slaves overworked and overdone in the massacre behind the over-abundance of cheap animal protein and environmental damage that exercise of ethical muscle could avoid. Manufacturers and retailers may value-add alternatives with reduced objections, but curbing demand and greed must depend on consumer power spurring resolute government interventions: there's no self-denying incentive in industry to promote real thrift and abstemious altruism and the closure of monstrous workings of malign capitalism. VEGA takes soundings in the ethical trade.
"As people become more attuned to issues such as climate change, fair-trade and organic food, more and more suppliers are using ethics to boost sales, too" states The Grocer (12 August 2006). "New manufacturers are increasingly conscious of the benefits of joining either the healthy or the ethical camp, and established companies such as Nestlé and Proctor and Gamble are making moves to improve their reputations," it continues, adding that "Nestlé has launched a website dedicated to answering critics of its infant formula marketing in developing countries, while P & G has forged a partnership with the Humane Society of the USA to eliminate the use of animals in product development. If this trend continues, ethical conduct won't just be a way to tap into a small minority of consumers, it will be a requisite of trading. But can companies still be profitable while being ethical?" And how, we may ask, are manufacturers of household goods and retailers and their customers going to extricate themselves from complicity in the threatening EU requirements in its REACH project to run tests on animals to ascertain the safety of many familiar products used in traditional functions?
Issues Taxing University Life. Can Oxford Lead in Resolution?
Oxford University’s current Science v. Ethics turbulence, which may spread to disquiet in other centres of learning, and challenges in medical schools and hospitals as the new academic year starts in the next month or so. Freshers' Fairs will offer opportunities for renewed debate on our species’ treatment of the non-human animals and the challenges and excuses – at a one-bad-turn-justifies-another basis – thrown up by publicity on experimentation. The animals and out own civilization deserve worthier debate and consideration of individual and corporate practice to relieve the relentless exploitation by application of the 3Rs – reduction, refinement, and replacement – to use and consumption that can be modified immediately in the traditions of Oxford’s knowledge, teachings, and scientific endeavor in the avoidance of experiments and tests on animals.
Epidemiological studies pioneered by Professor Doll and Peto at Oxford established the risks to human health of smoking and dietary errors. This week the Dept of Health will publish a forecast that by 2010 more than 14 million of the British population, from toddlers to the elderly, will be dangerously overweight. Obesity is linked with diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes: “gluttony denotes inordinate concupiscence in eating.” Much research at Oxford has contributed to feasible changes in the 3Rs style that can match the benefits of many drugs in development by experiments on animals. Excessive consumption is bad enough; greed is even worse, especially when many of the treacherous junk foods derive from animals cruelly exploited in the relentless working of overproduction. Oxford is in an excellent position to seize and manifest possibilities developed from objective interpretations of the results of humane research directed by its own dons and alumni, in fruitful collaborations with other centres of excellence.
Genetics and Nutrition in the Aberdeen meeting of the Nutrition Society this year hit snags even before it started, because an article in the Guardian had pitched into the Society’s registration scheme and its administration. The criticism revealed an embarrassment with a member on the register whose business and practices were alleged to contravene good behavior. In common with other professions the Society is trying to establish its authority in a market abounding in competing practitioners with qualifications and competence the NS can’t accept as adequate for registration, although they may be members. Commercialism rears its ugly head because nutritional therapists in particular can earn much more with less responsibility but more acclaim than a practitioner working with the tighter disciplines asserted by the nutritional and medical authorities. This is a situation familiar in the growth of private and unorthodox (complementary and alternative) medicine and slowly reformed, e.g. by raising osteopaths to an equivalent ancillary status like physiotherapists, nurses, and dietitians). The Nutrition Society has the further responsibility of avoiding confusions with registered associations of well-trained dietitians (who are in short supply in the NHS).
A recent feature in the Guardian rehearsed many reservations over soya foods and derivatives. Much of it was old and questionable information and ignored the results of relevant research in the UK, Finland, and USA, as well as manufacturing practices in the preparation of various soya meats and milks. Subsequent correspondence focused on animal milks and possible physiological effects on sucklings who are human consumers (the probable benefits to the intended species were overlooked). As with blood, the composition of freshly secreted milk may vary during the day or night, seasonally, or at the stage of the lactation or during the period of sucking and from which breast or teat. Bulking samples, as is normal commercial practice and may also occur, as in donations of blood, in supplies of donated human milk reduces such variation. Hormone fluxes may include prolactin, oxytocin, and thyroid and growth factors varying from species to species, and with specific activities. In this respect we may count the importance also of precursors of hormones such as vitamin D, iodine, and tyrosine.
VEGA comments on a DEFRA consultation to permit the use of gas outside of a slaughterhouse.
We have called before in consultations with DEFRA for objective wording and avoidance of euphemisms in descriptions of the commercial and hobby treatment of non-human animals. “Medium to high throughput” numbers with mentions of flocks of “50,000 plus” translate the scale of killing to apt words such as the enormity of massacre; and “welfare” is a word that should be replaced by phrases such as reducing/lessening suffering/pain/cruelty with due acknowledgement of the toll taken of even healthy animals brutally turned into waste.