Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Dear Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament,
“Psychology Today” published an article, dated June 16, 2020, by Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, regarding statements made by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. Read here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animal-emotions/202006/do-animals-think-or-feel
In particular, the OFA’s following statement to the Standing Committee on General Government regarding the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act (Bill 156) as it relates to the cognitive ability of non-human animals:
“The concept of ‘sentient beings’ refers to beings with the power to reason and think. The term also implies beings with an awareness of their surroundings who respond to sensations, have cognitive thoughts and have the capacity to perceive and experience life subjectively. Feeling is a subjective state, available only to the animal feeling it. As animals and humans are built and function differently, it is unfair to automatically attribute the sensations experienced by humans to be the same as those experienced by animals. Humans have the ability to communicate their experiences, and what they feel. Since animals cannot communicate with us, there’s a huge assumption by animal activists that animals have emotional responses and the ability to reason and think, in the same way that humans do. We simply do not know if animals are capable of reasoning and cognitive thought, therefore we cannot attribute human qualities of reasoning and cognitive thought on animals as the activists would like.”
Mr. Bekoff rightly expressed shock and dismay at the ludicrous nature of such an assertion. The sentient nature of non-human animals is not a debatable point. Read here “The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness”: https://www.egg-truth.com/egg-blog/2019/5/13/the-cambridge-declaration-on-consciousness
We understand that the OFA and its members have no interest in the public ever seeing how farmed animals are genetically manipulated, routinely mutilated, altered, confined, prodded, transported and slaughtered in Ontario – this wouldn’t be good for business.
We also understand that the OFA and its members have to assume a level of extreme, cognitive dissonance on these matters to assuage any moral culpability in their collective treatment of farmed animals.
The OFA is free to live in a universe where up is down, left is right and animals are not sentient. What is most outrageous is the OFA either knowingly and willingly lied to the standing committee, or were in possession of such a level of stupidity as to warrant them from being barred from making any submissions related to farmed animal welfare in future. Any credibility they may have had in the eyes of the public should be completely shattered.
Given taxpayers money is used to subsidize and help fund an organization that attempts to fool elected officials and the public by pretending they have some unique insight into the subject at hand, is of great offense and a colossal misallocation of government funds.
Bill 156 is transparent in what it is attempting to do – deny the public from scrutinizing how our food is produced. Bill 156 has nothing to do with safety. This was an industry driven agenda and we object to the OFA attempting to ‘hoodwink’ the standing committee, and thus the public. This is a classic example of regulatory capture and an affront to democracy, free speech and the public’s right to know. For those of you who supported this bill you have succeeded in concealing animal cruelty in our food system – history will judge you, and it won’t be kind.
We look forward to future court challenges on this Bill and it’s inevitable failure.
Nigel Osborne, Executive Dir.