Today, The New York Times covers two of the pitched debates in our society about animals—reporter Dan Frosch covers the controversy over the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof offers an indictment of the industrial confinement of laying hens in cages for egg production.
Earlier this week, I provided a link to the column of Times editorial writer Verlyn Klinkenborg on egg-producing factory farms, and he like Kristof had a harsh view of these operations. What’s notable about both writers is that they both grew up on family farms and hold close their rural values. They both know animals, and they know farming, since that’s been a dominant feature of both mens’ lives. What they see now on factory farms is alien to them. There’s no farming—just mass confinement of animals too numerous to count with dead animals among the living. These overcrowded, squalid environments are bad for the animals, bad for our health, and bad for rural communities. I urge you to read Kristof’s powerful piece, which at the end concludes: “we can overhaul our agriculture system so that it is both safer and more humane—starting with a move toward cage-free eggs.”
Frosch’s piece is a sad one about our betrayal of chimps. The chimps he writes about now live at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico. Most of these creatures, with so much intelligence and awareness, have not known freedom for their lives. Many have felt the sting of invasive research, been conscripted for us in circuses, or had some other ignominious treatment. After a lifetime of use by people, now the National Institutes of Health wants to transfer them from their reasonably safe settings at Alamogordo to Texas for more invasive research.
The HSUS has been supporting the Great Ape Protection Act, in order to retire these chimps and to have the United States join the rest of the world in ending the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research. Frosch’s piece is worthy of your attention, too.