Archive

Archive for April, 2010

Conservative Party Animal Welfare Statement

April 29th, 2010 No comments

During general elections political parties adopt different strategies to how they respond to the many questionnaires candidates receive. For example, it appears that the Conservative Party is not responding to surveys about animal welfare. Uncaged, which is running the Vote 4 Animals campaign, confirm my suspicion that the standard text which Conservative candidates are distributing is this one.

Conservatives are strongly committed to raising animal welfare standards in the UK and internationally. We established the Farm Animal Welfare Council, an independent advisory body which reviews the welfare of farm animals and advises Government of changes necessary. We called for the Animal Welfare Act, worked hard to improve the legislation, and now believe the legislation must be properly enforced. We support a ban on conventional battery cages for laying hens and will work within the EU and internationally to achieve common agreement on further measures to improve animal welfare. We are concerned by the upward trend in the use of animals in scientific procedures, and support the concept of the ‘three R’s’ of refinement, reduction and replacement – to replace animals in research with non-animal alternatives, reduce the number of animals in experiments and refine procedures to minimise suffering. There should be an end to animal testing on household products. Conservatives will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act, on a free vote, with a government bill in government time.

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Understanding Animal Research

April 29th, 2010 No comments

Understanding Animal Research publishes on its Web site an outline to the political parties and their stance on animal experimentation. It concludes

It is clear that within each of the main parties, animal research will continue to feature within their commitments to animal welfare, even if it is not currently in their manifesto. The research community also backs the reduction of the number of animals used in research projects wherever possible. But it remains important that this is done in a way that does not hinder research, or drive it out of the UK altogether. This is why we support the work of the NC3Rs, which seeks to integrate the 3Rs into good scientific practice.

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Conservative Policy on Animal Research

April 29th, 2010 No comments

The second in the series by The Guardian on the political parties and their science policies. The first was the LibDems.

The Guardian asks: Is animal testing necessary? Are the ethical concerns outweighed by the benefits? How would you like to see regulations on animal testing change under your government, if at all?

In an ideal world we would not need animal testing, but we could not stop it today without halting important scientific research. We want to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific procedures. Many British scientists and businesses are already working to refine, reduce and ultimately replace the use of animals. We would work with European and other international partners to encourage those “three Rs”.

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Critical Animal Studies Conference Report

April 28th, 2010 No comments

The critical difference between Human Animal Studies (aka Animal Studies) and Critical Animal Studies is in the word critical. What may appear to be a relatively unimportant difference is, in fact, key to understanding why there is a legitimate need for both HAS and CAS. It helps to let the protagonists of each define themselves.

Sociologist Clifton P. Flynn quotes Ken Shapiro of the Animals and Society Institute in the human and animal studies reader, Social Creatures, whose description of HAS is the investigation of “all aspects of our relations with other animals.” (xvi) Whereas the Institute for Critical Animal Studies describes CAS as the study of the “abolition of animal and ecological exploitation, oppression, and domination.” A further key difference is how HAS and CAS view the intersectionality in our relations with animals. Ecofeminist Carol J. Adams situates animal exploitation and the consumption of animal products in Neither Man Nor Beast as an “intersection of oppression.” “A progressive, antiracist defense of animals locates itself at the point of intersection of race, class, sex, and species,” she writes. (83) Both HAS and CAS embrace this view of intersectionality; however HAS frames it in the tradition of academic study whereas CAS frames their academic study in the context of progressive politics. “CAS is grounded in a broad global emancipatory inclusionary movement for total liberation and freedom.” Capitalism is featured in CAS as on one of the intersections of oppression, particularly in the context of its impact on animals.

All of this leads me to say that my principal interest in animal studies is to discover how animal advocates and animal studies scholars can learn from each other so that the animal rights movement can more effectively accomplish its mission. This is one of the key reasons why Ken Shapiro and I merged our respective organizations (Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals/Society and Animals Forum and The Animals’ Agenda magazine/Institute for Animals and Society) to form the Animals and Society Institute in 2005. ASI’s mission is to “advance institutional change for animals by helping to establish the moral and legal rights fundamental to a just, compassionate and peaceful society” by “promoting legislation, stopping the cycle of violence between animal cruelty and human abuse and learning more about our complex relationship with animals.”

It is with the animal rights movement and its effectiveness in mind that I attended “Animal(s) Matter(s): The Future of Critical Animal Studies” conference at the University of Liverpool in April. This meant that some of the speakers and their presentations were of more interest than others.

For example, the conference started with Alistair Currie, PETA Foundation’s Policy Advisor, who provided a useful summary of the current state of play with various key performance indicators, including trends in public opinion, animal use, fur retail sales and legislation and so on. Uncaged’s Dan Lyons explored the expose of documents relating to an animal research laboratory and showed how implementation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 essentially covered up preventable animal suffering and death. Political scientist Robert Garner made the argument that if animal suffering were made illegal in any future legislation it would significantly reduce the numbers of animals used and how they were treated. Jasmijn de Boo from Animals Count provided an overview on animal welfare and mainstream politics.

Of the remaining presentations that were more related to the future of the animal rights movement, Dr Karen Morgan focused on lessons to be learned for ethical veganism and animal rights from feminist research and activism and Dr Richard Twine described what Critical Animal Studies meant. While these presentations were useful in explaining their respective subject matter I wished they had addressed more about the impact they could make to achieve social and political change for animals.

This is where I think HAS and CAS have yet to make their mark. Animal studies scholars and animal advocacy practitioners have a lot to learn from each other. This sharing of information and experience combined with research and understanding could be the charge the animal rights movement needs to move the issue of the moral and legal status of animals from essentially cruelty-free lifestyle choice to the domain of public policy and legislation.

Nonetheless Liverpool University’s Emeritus Professor of Philosophy Stephen R. L. Clark is to be congratulated for organizing this conference but what a shame he was not included in the program of speakers. I would have liked to have heard his thoughts on the past and future of animal rights as a leading philosopher in animal ethics for more than 30 years. In future I would like see animal studies conferences more focused on the application of animal studies to the implementation of animal ethics in public policy. The head of animal studies needs to be united with the heart of animal advocacy. Now that would be a critical development.

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Animals Count Manifesto

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Animals Count, the “UK political party for people and animals,” has published an extensive manifesto. Here in full is their key policies:

  • Eliminate the failed practice of animal experimentation
  • Redirect subsidies from livestock and fisheries farming to plant-based agriculture
  • Phase out farming practices with poor welfare consequences for animals
  • Establish an ‘NHS for animals’ to better protect the health of our animal companions
  • Act on the known link between animal abuse and domestic violence, with increased penalties for those convicted of animal cruelty
  • Extend the current ban on hunting with greater enforcement and stronger penalties for abuse
  • A ban on ‘puppy farms’ and a ban on the sale of animals in all retail stores
  • Promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyle initiatives in schools, GP practices and the workplace
  • Educate children about the importance about compassion and respect towards all living beings
  • A national bank to protect citizens’ savings from the destructiveness of the capital markets
  • Constitutional reform with proportional representation and a fully-elected upper chamber
  • Increase the minimum wage and make it available to everyone over 18 years of age
  • Tax breaks for organisations committed to genuinely environmentally-friendly practices
  • Increase Government support for research into and development of a ‘post-carbon’ economy

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Guardian Horse Racing Web Article

April 28th, 2010 No comments

The Guardian published a powerful article, “Why do we put up with deaths in horseracing?” by Elisabeth Ribbans, on its Comment is Free Web site. The article references Animal Aid’s excellent campaign which is cataloguing death and injuries to race horses.

Over the past three years Animal Aid has recorded more than 500 fatalities on British racecourses. The roll call is relentlessly miserable: broke leg; broke leg; broke leg; broke neck; severed tendon; heart attack; collapsed and died.

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UK Animal Welfare Groups and the General Election

April 27th, 2010 No comments

With what seems like a daily discovery of yet another British animal welfare group launching its own political campaign for the general election (WSPA and Advocates for Animals are the latest I find; are there more?), it would not be unreasonable to think that this is a good thing. Sadly, far from it. It’s a bad thing. It presents an animal welfare movement that cannot get its act together and drunk on political naivety. The lesson to be learnt here is that a movement-wide coalition would have had a much greater impact than the present strategy of splendid isolation, including the coalitions who stand aloof. No wonder the animal welfare manifesto commitments in this general election are as attractive as yesterday’s leftover toast.

Most likely there will be a hung Parliament. And a second national election sooner rather than later. I doubt there is sufficient time to correct the wrongs in time for this imminent election. So, we need to start planning now for all those thereafter.

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LibDems Policy on Animal Research

April 27th, 2010 1 comment

The Guardian begins a series on the political parties and their science policies. First up is the Liberal Democrats. The other parties are to follow and I will post them here as soon as they are available. Animal research is one of several issues addressed. Here is the LibDem’s response in full on animal research from their science spokesperson, Evan Harris.

The Guardian asks: Is animal testing necessary? Are the ethical concerns outweighed by the benefits? How would you like to see regulations on animal testing change under your government, if at all?

It is not a case of ‘ethical concerns outweighing benefits’. It would be unethical not to do animal research, given the enormous potential and past benefits to medicine and public health that such research has brought. It has been vital in work on dialysis, diabetes, transplants, and the polio vaccine, to give just a few examples, and could be vital in the search for treatments for HIV/AIDS and malaria eradication. We would maintain the current strict welfare standards on animal research, and support the replacement, refinement, and minimisation of the use of animals in research as far as possible, so that only the research which is completely necessary is done. We therefore oppose the use of animals in testing cosmetics or household products.

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ADI Publishes Animal Welfare General Election Guide

April 27th, 2010 No comments

Animal Defenders International publishes a guide to animal welfare manifesto commitments.

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LibDem Environmental Manifesto

April 27th, 2010 No comments

Yesterday, I complained about Labour’s Green Manifesto for being too weak on animal welfare. Today, I grumble about the LibDem’s Environmental Manifesto because animals are absent from it. Please let me know if you find them lurking anywhere within.

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