the circle of compassion
Darwin predicted that the solidarity of humans would gradually widen – and we have already overcome cannibalism, slavery and almost the death penalty – to include our primate relatives; then to our pets; then, to the jungle… until embracing, in short, all living beings. Hopefully we are on that Darwinian path and that it is without return. But, for now, Singer denounces that we unnecessarily enslave animals with unspeakable suffering and, after all, insane for ourselves. He is outraged by the excess of macro farms that only benefit those who exploit them by filling our waters with purines and our bodies with cholesterol. You don’t have to be an animal fanatic to agree that eating less and better quality meat without animal suffering or ecological damage would taste –and make us feel– better.
Here and now we have towns without drinking water because it is contaminated by large pig farms.
It is not only immoral, but absurd for humans, to force too many animals to suffer in oversized farms to produce meat that we overeat for our health.
Why too much? For whom?
For industrial farmers it will always be little; but for our health, too much. And for our rivers, wells and the water we drink they generate too much excrement.
When you talk about animal welfare… do you include ours?
Is the same. We are united by the ecosystem: either we exist together or we don’t exist.
Why is it less cruel to liquidate a bull in the industrial slaughterhouse than to fight it?
The useless suffering of an animal is no less reprehensible than ours. In a slaughterhouse, we must ensure that the animal is slaughtered without pain; in bullfights the pain of the animal is exhibited.
How do you plan to avoid it?
The laws that defend universal rights must be of universal application. And a basic right is that of every living being not to suffer uselessly. The same thing happens with environmental laws: each country applies them as it wants, but the planet is becoming uninhabitable for everyone. We must overcome the current regressive order of nation states.
Is animal testing to design vaccines pointless suffering?
That is a false dilemma.
Don’t vaccines save lives?
Most of these animal experiments do not save human lives and are only done for economic and commercial interests.
Do they experiment to lose money?
There are industries that produce guinea pigs by the millions and need to sell them. They always find accomplices in a system that profits from experimenting with them.
Despite everything, don’t they save human lives?
They would save them with artificial intelligence if guinea pigs weren’t now more lucrative.
Isn’t the life of a single child more valuable than that of thousands of little mice?
Another false dilemma. The former director of the US National Institutes of Health has acknowledged that experimenting on cancer in mice only serves to cure cancer in mice.
So why spend millions experimenting on mice? So that?
Because you make money with them.
Are there more and less cruel countries?
The European Union at least bans animal testing for cosmetics, which, by contrast, is common in China and the US.
There is also experimentation with humans: either they are volunteers or they are paid, period.
But in animal experimentation – they cannot decide – the world trend now is to go to China, because it does not have any protection legislation.
Have you noted any moral progress since you became an ethicist?
In the 50 years that I have been dedicating myself to bioethics, I have seen some progress, but it is slow and uneven between countries. Meanwhile, macro farms are expanding all over the planet.
In Barcelona, the excess of wild boars is already a problem: do we subsidize hunting?
Before hunting animals, science allows us today, for example, to give them food with contraceptives and reduce their number. But, more than hunting, I am concerned about macro farms: they are crueler and also with humans, because they feed us poorly.
Isn’t the excess of dogs today in tiny flats on crowded streets another cruelty?
Some dog owners who have a large dog caged on a minimal floor for hours on end should be less selfish. Putting a large dog in a small apartment is cruel.
Even if they often take them out for a walk?
Dogs need to deal with other dogs too. Don’t just think that they keep you company; think of your affections and your company. They are not mere objects.
Are great apes political?
That explains Franz de Waal. And it is true.
De Waal also told us here that chimpanzees kill for power.
It’s true: like us. That’s why I support the Great Ape project: so that they suffer less, because in zoos they get depressed.
Like us in the office?
Like us when they lock us up and we don’t go out for a walk or outdoors, because we are the same: there is no line between the species that says: “From here on they are human”.
Is the transition between species to the human category diffuse and gradual?
This is what we demonstrated in the Great Ape project. We are closer to a chimpanzee than to a caterpillar; but also closer to a bonobo than an orangutan.
Why did you become an animalist?
I applied reason and today it forces me to give up meat from mega-farms that make money from animal suffering.