The CASJ’s Dr Dan Lyons recently spoke with Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan from the University of New South Wales in Sydney for a podcast about his upcoming book chapter ‘Animal Protection Policy in the UK: From Symbolic Reassurance to Democratic Representation’, which appears in the book ‘The Political Turn in Animal Ethics’ to be published by Rowman and Littlefield International in October 2016.
Dan chats with Siobhan about his award-winning academic research and animal advocacy, including the historic legal victory over Novartis to publish leaked documents revealing illegal pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments. He explains how being at the sharp end of lobbying for animals inspired him to change his focus from idealistic ethical studies to a more practical approach that is based on the realities of politics and the exercise of power. Analysing the current plight of animals, Dan explains how the government line that the UK has ‘the highest animal welfare standards in the world’ is a deliberate deception designed to dampen public pressure for change.
Although rejecting an overly-utopian approach, Dan and the CASJ have charted the roadmap to realistic yet revolutionary advances for animal protection. This involves closing the gap between animal-friendly public opinion and the horrific realities of government-supported animal harm. The current policy paradigm in the UK embodies a medieval attitude towards animal that places no intrinsic worth on their wellbeing. In other words, the British government is institutionally indifferent to animal cruelty. Changing this systemic approach so that animal protection becomes a significant policy goal is the essential fundamental reform that would at last allow progress to be made on specific problems such as factory farming, the persecution of wildlife and rising levels of harmful animal experimentation.
Through their research, Dan and the CASJ have identified the key to tackling this situation that currently condemns millions of animals to lives that are ‘nasty, brutish and short’. This involves major reforms to democratise animal protection policy and ensure the representation of animals’ interests within government, through:
- a governmental institution such as an Animal Protection Commission
- inclusion of animal welfare in policy impact assessments and
- legally-binding cross-government strategies to advance the state of animal welfare
- much greater levels of public participation and ‘deliberative democracy’ throughout animal protection policy-making
The podcast is part of the burgeoning ‘Knowing Animals’ series which is brought to you by the Australian Animal Studies Association. Knowing Animals is a regular 20 minutes podcast about all things related to animals and ethics; animals and the law; animals and politics; and animal advocacy. It features interviews with academic and animal advocates. It is available free so enjoy!