Speaking of Research invites you to sign onto our statement on human rights and speciesism

SPEAKING OF RESEARCH STATEMENT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND SPECIESISM

The recent past has brought increasing attention to injustice and violation of human rights. Those include racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and discrimination based on misguided and exploitative notions of human hierarchies. Globally, basic human rights are recognized as an essential and core moral value that applies to every person. They are enshrined in, and ensured through, worldwide and national declarations, adoption of conventions, and passing of national laws. Further, the priority of human rights is recognized in international ethical codes that apply to medical and scientific research, including the Nuremberg Code1 and Declaration of Helsinki.2

Some individuals and groups opposed to the use of nonhuman animals by humans have seized this moment to amplify their own position. Under the banner of “speciesism” they argue for equivalence of humans and other animals in terms of moral consideration and rights. In turn, they argue that “speciesism” is equivalent to racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of prejudice that have led to horrific violations of human rights and to violence, bias, and discrimination against people and communities.3-10 The  language and concepts surrounding campaigns against speciesism are often adopted from efforts centered on ensuring human rights (e.g., “human supremacy” in parallel to “White supremacy”). Referring to a fundamental principle in human research ethics, these entities use the phrase (or slogan) “without their consent” to argue against human activities ranging from production of dairy milk to conducting medical and scientific research.5 

Photo credit: https://www.end-of-speciesism.org/en

Unfortunately, the speciesism perspective is often advanced without consideration of its impact on people and communities affected by systemic, structural, and individual discrimination, hate, and violence. To equate agricultural chickens with people murdered in the Holocaust,6 dairy cows with the rape of human women,7 and whales in aquariums or animals in agriculture with human enslavement8,9,10 is deeply harmful (see representative images and videos in the references below). Not only does it trivialize serious societal ills that continue to afflict communities, it perpetuates a false equivalency. Both are detrimental to the wellbeing of human and other animals. Such actions are also in fundamental conflict with a culture that takes seriously its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion of all people. And, as such, it requires that the community committed to ensuring human rights and inclusion not only seriously consider the harm inherent in this approach, but also speak out to strongly denounce such rhetoric and imagery.

We urge members of the research community to sign below (in the comments) to support the statement. Please also consider sharing with others in your community. 

Jeremy Bailoo, PhD
Allyson Bennett, PhD
Nancy Dess, PhD
Amanda Dettmer, PhD
Doris Doudet, PhD
Juan Dominguez, PhD
Kevin Freeman, PhD
Reggie Gazes, PhD
Agnes Lacreuse, PhD
Christopher Petkov, PhD
James Rowlett, PhD
Tania Roth, PhD
Juan Carlos Marvizon, PhD
Marcello Rosa, PhD
Justin Varholick, PhD

References

1Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law. No. 10″, Vol. 2, pp. 181-182. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949

2World Medical Association. (‎2001)‎. World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki. Ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects.. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 79 (‎4)‎, 373 – 374. World Health Organization. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/268312

3End of Speciecism (retrieved 11/4/2021). https://www.end-of-speciesism.org/en/

4PETA (retrieved 11/4/2021). Students launch nationwide push to end human supremacy. https://www.peta.org/media/news-releases/photos-students-launch-nationwide-push-to-end-human-supremacy/

5PETA (retreived 11/4/2021). Without consent. https://withoutconsent.peta.org/

6CNN (2003). Group blasts PETA ‘Holocaust’ project: The Anti-Defamation League has denounced a campaign by an animal rights group that compares slaughtering animals to the murder of 6 million Jews in World War II. http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/Northeast/02/28/peta.holocaust/?s_campaign=arguable:newsletter

7 PETA (2016). Women Explain What Rape Feels Like for Animals in the Food Industry. Youtube.

8Zelman, J. (2012). PETA’s SeaWorld Slavery Case Dismissed By Judge. Huffington Post. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/peta-seaworld-slavery-_n_1265014

9Mock, B. (2014). How not to celebrate MLK Day: PETA compares animal cruelty to slavery (again). Grist.https://grist.org/article/how-not-to-celebrate-mlk-day-peta-compares-animal-cruelty-to-slavery-again/

10PETA Kids (retrieved 11/4/2021). What Do Slavery and Animals in Captivity Have in Common? https://www.petakids.com/videos/slavery-captivity/

73 thoughts on “Speaking of Research invites you to sign onto our statement on human rights and speciesism

  1. I am in support of these arguments that equating animals to humans is harmful to humanity and especially to groups that are underserved in healthcare and medical progress.

  2. I support the statement that other species do not intrinsically have the same rights as members of our own species. I think that the statement as written is confusing and too wordy, but I support it.

  3. Given all the well known gains to human welfare that have flowed from researches with animals, I believe it would be immoral not to continue research with animals.

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