Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Do scientific discoveries about animals lead to less experimentation, or more?

Lately there have been a lot of "findings" demonstrating how animals really do have emotions and problem-solving skills and all these other things we (read: idiot scientists) never thought they did.  Of course, animal lovers always knew there was much more going on in their brains than science would acknowledge, even if we risked being accused of anthropomorphizing if we said so.

And now, there are articles out all the time, highlighting studies that show animals displaying jealousy, grief, empathy, memory, and all kinds of other things.

But this article points out that, rather than making us experiment on animals less (since it's obviously cruel if they are capable of all this), it's actually having rather the opposite effect.

The Role Of Science In A Push For Animal Liberation

The meat of the article is actually a letter from Lori Marino, executive director for The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy.
With our increasing capabilities in genomics, molecular biology, cloning and neuroscience, we are now capable of manipulating other animals in more invasive ways than ever. One need only think about the commercial catalogs for genetically engineered mice, the overuse of antibiotics in factory farmed animals, and the glint of genetic monster-making in the growing efforts at de-extinction. (Science is one aspect of our global exploitation of animals; the commercial market for animal parts and labor, climate change and habitat destruction have forced this planet into the current sixth mass extinction event.)...
Overall, I see two parallel paths into the future. One represents growing understanding, compassion and unity with our fellow animals. The other represents the increasing exploitation and abuse. It is probably too late to turn everything around for the planet. But we can all make a difference for other animals on an individual level and, in the process, maybe salvage the dignity of our own species as well.
It's food for thought.  Studies are showing us how self-aware animals really are, but if that's the case, is it still moral to be studying them?  And that's to say nothing of the horrific product testing that still takes place (and why I only buy cruelty-free products).

What do you think of all the recently findings about animal intelligence and emotions?  Do you foresee a morality problem emerging as we discover more, like this article is positing?

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