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The Animal Rights Agenda, 25 Years Later

How is the animal rights agenda doing?

Courtesy of Brian Gunn/IAAPEA

I recommend that you take a look at The "Animal Rights Agenda" 25 Years Later, published today on the Animal People website. The editorial takes us back to 1987, when a group of animal activists put together a document outlining the twelve central issues of concern to those fighting for animal rights. The essay then offers an updated agenda, building upon the original 12 statements. We are given a sense of where progress has been made, and where things have gotten worse. Here, in abbreviated form, are the twelve original statements:

#1-We are firmly committed to the eventual abolition by law of animal research, and call for an immediate prohibition of painful experiments and tests. .

#2-The use of animals for cosmetics and household product testing, tobacco and alcohol testing, psychological testing, classroom demonstrations and dissection, and in weapons development or other warfare programs must be outlawed immediately.

#3-We encourage vegetarianism for ethical, ecological, and health reasons.

#4-Steps should be taken to begin phasing out intensive confinement systems of livestock production, also called factory farming, which causes severe physical and psychological suffering for the animals kept in overcrowded and unnatural conditions.

#5-The use of herbicides, pesticides, and other toxic agricultural chemicals should be phased out.

#6-Responsibility for enforcement of animal welfare legislation must be transferred from the Department of Agriculture to an agency created for the purpose of protecting animals and the environment.

#7-Commercial trapping and fur ranching should be eliminated.

#8-Hunting, trapping, and fishing for sport should be prohibited.

#9-Internationally, steps should be taken by the U.S. government to prevent further destruction of rain forests.

#10-We strongly discourage any further breeding of companion animals, including pedigreed or purebred dogs and cats.

#11-We call for an end to the use of animals in entertainment and sports such as dog racing, dog and cock fighting, fox hunting, hare coursing, rodeos, circuses, and other spectacles and a critical reappraisal of the use of animals in quasi-educational institutions such as zoos and aquariums.

#12-Advances in biotechnology are posing a threat to the integrity of species, which may ultimately reduce all living beings to the level of patentable commodities. Genetic manipulation of species to produce transgenic animals must be prohibited.

A few of issues, in particular, are given extended (and very interesting) discussion. For example, the original document called for an immediate end to all animal research. The new agenda concedes that research will likely not stop, and instead focuses on specific actions that could improve the welfare of laboratory animals, such as the development of and compulsory adherence to a pain classification scale; prohibition of any experiment classified as severely painful, where pain cannot be relieved; and prohibition of any procedures that would be defined as torture by international conventions.

The new document reaffirms the commitment to vegetarianism, but with increased urgency. There is an interesting discussion of live-stock gift charities and "locovorism" (a culinary trend which fetishizes back-yard butchering).

And there is a fascinating discussion about cats and dogs, and how the aggressive spay/neuter agenda has been working out for companion animals.

The statement also adds five new goals to the humane agenda:

#13-Eradicating rabies, and other eradicable zoonotic diseases, through vaccination drives modeled after the 1980 global eradication of smallpox.

#14-Encouraging the evolution of religion away from animal sacrifice and other rituals that harm animals.

#15-Expanding appreciation of the ecological roles and value of feral wildlife, including recognition that climate change is transforming habitats so that introduced species may be the species that are best adapted to some locations, while some "native species" may be better adapted to somewhere else.

#16-Encouraging animal-friendly design of human infrastructure that minimizes deadly conflicts, such as road-building with attention toward preventing roadkills, and development of ways to prevent birds from colliding with microwave towers.

#17-Introducing quality of life as a consideration in endangered species conservation.

Please take a moment to read the full report, as it gives a nice sense of how animals are doing and what we can do to make their lives a bit better.

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