Double standards in animal ethics: Why is a lab mouse better protected than a cow?

Kate Chatfield: ‘Most ethical codes for the use of animals in experimental research are based upon three principles: replacement, reduction and refinement – otherwise known as the “three Rs”. The three Rs forms the basis of most existing policy around the world including the EU Directive 2010/63/EU… The three Rs are widely accepted by scientists and the public alike as being a reasonable measure for ethical acceptability. But the far reaching acceptance of the three Rs as a basis for governance of animal experimentation raises the question of why this concept is only applied to the use of animals in research. Why isn’t it also applied to the farming and slaughter of animals?

Compared to the number of animals that are used for experimental purposes, the number of animals that are slaughtered in the UK each year is enormous. For example, in 2014 the total number animals slaughtered was almost one billion. Hence, in the UK, the number of animals used in experimental procedures is only about 0.2 per cent the number of slaughtered animals. A recent MORI poll found that as many as 26 per cent of the British public would support an outright ban on animal research and yet, according to an Ipsos MORI survey, only 3.25 per cent of the British public never eat meat. Why is there such a disparity? Do the British public care less about the animals they eat than the animals that are used in research? If we are to be consistent in the application of our moral principles, we should apply the same consideration to all animals that are used by humans, for whatever purpose’. SOURCE…

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