Time to put ‘animal science’ out to pasture

Universities should not put service to private industries above public interest.

The nation’s universities should end their service to the flesh, milk and egg industries in the form of “animal science.” “Animal science” fails the most basic test: If this were proposed today, would we approve and fund it?

Animals’ sentience – their ability to experience pain and pleasure – entitles them to equal consideration of equal interests. They have a moral right, which we should make a legal right, not to be means to human ends. The basic argument for animal rights has been dismissed without consideration, screened out of schools and mass media, and subjected to erudite-but-invalid naysaying. But its never having been refuted should guide our educational institutions.

We do not dress, build, raise children or amuse ourselves as at the start of animal “domestication” 10,000 years ago. Why should we still hack up animals, control their reproduction and abuse them? It didn’t start for humane or nutritional reasons: Humane values as understood today and the empirical study of nutrition did not exist. And we are natural herbivores, not omnivores as many believe.

Thus, teaching people to breed, raise and slaughter animals miseducates, undermining the University’s job.

In addition, “animal science” favors flesh, milk, egg and feed-crop industry profits over human needs. Scientists have long warned against fats in flesh and milk. Now animal protein, too, is implicated.

What a shame it is to keep paying exorbitant medical and insurance costs because of chronic illness linked to “animal science.”

Nor can we assume all “animal science” students learn that methane, emitted by billions of farm animals and by waste “lagoons,” warms the global climate far more quickly than carbon dioxide; that growing feed crops wastes topsoil, fresh water and oil; that cattle grazing turns fertile land to desert; that topsoil loss was a major factor in past civilizations’ declines; and that disputes over resources wasted by raising animals for food are leading to violent conflict.

Mathematics, literature, philosophy, history and other traditional academic subjects do not come with problems so dire and so easily prevented as those linked to “animal science.”

“Animal science” is not the way forward for the human food supply or the University.

David Cantor directs Responsible Policies for Animals. Please send comments to [email protected].