It sounds cuddly but Boris Johnson is stepping into a moral quagmire

May 16, 2021 by

by Henry Mance, Mailonline:

[…]  Last week, the Government pledged to pass a new law recognising ‘animal sentience’, a move celebrated by welfare groups.

Sentience simply means that animals can feel things, including pain. It’s not a new principle. Charles Darwin wrote 150 years ago that other animals ‘manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery’.

Britain’s recent welfare laws, which protect dogs, cats and so on, already effectively recognise the same thing.

Even so, putting animal sentience explicitly into law could open the door to radical changes in how we treat and farm animals. It certainly marks a huge shift for the Conservative party, which just four years ago was open to bringing back fox hunting.

Ministers have realised that animal-friendly policies go down well with voters, not least those who have relied on their pets to get through lockdown. And it’s not just politicians. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recently said that pets could go to heaven.

Yet what all this means for farmers, zoos and pet owners is unclear. Many fear it will open a Pandora’s box, or even a can of worms.

[…] Some steps are likely to be relatively uncontroversial. The Government says it will use Brexit to ban the live export of livestock for slaughter, on which the EU has refused to act.

Travelling long distances is clearly stressful for farm animals, who can lose kilos in weight. Live exports have already reduced dramatically since the 1990s. Few people would object either to a desire by Ministers to ban primates from being kept as pets. We’ve come a long way from the PG Tips chimpanzees.

Read here

Read also the follow-on article, Tory ‘fish have feelings’ furore: Warnings that new animal sentience bill will spark rows over halal meat and open floodgates to campaigners who want to ban hunting and shooting, which notes ‘To avoid a row with religious groups, the Bill will not cover religious slaughter in which the animals are still conscious when their throats are cut: halal abattoirs are exempt from the requirement to stun livestock first.’

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