Animal Rights

January 8, 2010 • Volume 20, Issue 1
Is the treatment of animals improving?
By Marcia Clemmitt

Introduction

Rhesus monkey at a research facility in Great Britain (Understanding Animal Research/Wellcome Images)
Rhesus monkeys hug at a research facility in Great Britain, where labs must protect the physical and mental well-being of social animals like monkeys by housing them in groups and giving them toys. Similar laws apply to primates and some other research animals in the U.S. (Understanding Animal Research/Wellcome Images)

The passage of dozens of tough state animal-protection laws last year reflects growing public interest in animal welfare. Today, many Americans view pets as family members, and some even leave bequests to pets in their wills. Vegetarianism has gone mainstream as people have become concerned about the conditions on factory farms, and many scientists say farm animals have feelings. Fifteen years ago, only 10 of the country's law schools offered animal-law courses; today about 130 do. At the same time, however, billions of animals are slaughtered for food each year in our meat-eating society, and live-animal research is a major tool of biomedicine. The food industry, researchers and others who depend on using and killing animals are fighting back against what they call overblown concerns about animal rights. Last November, for example, Ohio voters approved an amendment to the state's constitution barring the legislature from approving any animal-protection laws that would apply to farms.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Oct. 22, 2010  Animal Intelligence
Jan. 08, 2010  Animal Rights
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Jan. 12, 1966  Treatment of Animals in Medical Research
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