Our Relationship with Animals — Landmark International Conference
29 Feb 2004
Scientists meeting in London have urged world leaders to recognise officially that animals are thinking, feeling beings capable of suffering. In a keynote speech to the Compassion in World Farming conference, Dr. Jane Goodall asked, “If you think animals might have feelings too, shall we give them the benefit of the doubt and answer their appeal for help?”
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Scientists meeting in London have urged world leaders to end intensive factory farming systems and recognise officially that animals are thinking, feeling beings capable of suffering. In a keynote speech to the Compassion in World Farming conference, Dr. Jane Goodall asked, “If you think animals might have feelings too, shall we give them the benefit of the doubt and answer their appeal for help?”
More than 600 delegates and speakers from 50 nations, including the world’s leading animal scientists, made the plea at the end of the landmark two-day conference, “From Darwin to Dawkins: the science and implications of animal sentience” at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in London. A resolution, passed overwhelmingly, called on the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the World Animal Health Organisation and their member governments to “join us in recognising that sentient animals are capable of suffering, and that we all have a duty to preserve the habitat of wild animals and to end cruel farming systems and other trades and practices which inflict suffering on animals.”
The sentience of animals was enshrined in the 1997 European Treaty, following lobbying by Compassion in World Farming. Now they want the rest of the world to follow suit. Joyce D’Silva, the organisations chief executive, said: “This is a unique and powerful plea from authoritative figures, many of world stature, from leading authorities in animal welfare and science to agricultural and governmental representatives from every continent.
“The evidence presented at the conference about the ability of animals to think, feel and experience emotions has been overwhelming and also humbling. It’s time for animals’ status as sentient being to be accepted in a declaration by the UN, in national and international laws and in regulations in the agricultural and food industries. This resolution brings closer the day when cruel and damaging factory farming systems like veal crates, battery hen cages and sow stalls will be phased out worldwide.
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