Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the League Against Cruel Sports

  This supplementary submission is made following the oral evidence given by Mike Radford, Reader of Law at the University of Aberdeen, at the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee's sub-committee hearing on the Draft Animal Welfare Bill. Mr Radford advised that the Bill should include protection from mental as well as physical suffering, although he was unclear as to how mental suffering could be identified. Our initial submission addressed this question by proposing that the Bill adopt the Farm Animal Welfare Council's "Five Freedoms" approach to animal welfare, which includes the need for an animal to have freedom from fear and distress. We would like to add further comments on this point.

  We believe that the evidence submitted by Professor David Morton, Director of Biomedical Studies in Birmingham, to the Defra committee considering the issue of cruelty and the principle of least suffering in hunting with dogs, is of relevance here. Professor Morton stated that although mental suffering is more difficult to define than physical, as we cannot ask an animal how it feels; a great deal can be inferred from the animal's behaviour. He cites the principle of Critical Anthropomorphism,[1] which involves the observation and interpretation of animal behaviour in the light of evolutionary similarities between humans and non human animals. Professor Morton states that "This method has been used as a guideline for animal researchers in the laws of several countries as well as internationally".[2]

15 October 2004

1   Morton, D B, Burghardt, G and Smith, J A (1990) Critical Anthropomoprphism, Animal Suffering and the ecological context. Hasting's Center Report Spring Issue on Animals, Science and Ethics, 20, No 3 pp 13-19. Back

2   OECD (2001) Environmental Heath and Safety Publications Series on Testing and Assessment No 19 Guidance Document on the Recognition, Assessment and Use of Clinical Signs as Humane Endpoints for Experiemental Animals Used in Safety Evaluation Envrionment Directorate. Back

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