COMMENTARY: U. failed to respond about phasing out animal science
In a letter published in The Daily Targum on Feb. 20, I gave myriad reasons for phasing out “animal science,” including climate breakdown, devastation of lands, pollution of water and soil, inflation of prices for grains, which could be redirected to eradicate human hunger, rampant and irresponsible use of pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics and other chemicals, horrific abuse and exploitation of nonhuman animals, lifestyle diseases, including cancers, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and the spread of infectious diseases, including the recent deadly influenza epidemic.
I sent a similar letter to Rutgers University President Robert L. Barchi, as well as 348 faculty within the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. I also attached a paper from Responsible Policies for Animals on “The Case for Ending ‘Animal Science’ Documented” and asked if anyone could refute its findings through evidence. I received one response — a religious rebuke in which I was personally insulted by a member of the Rutgers faculty who has a Ph.D. in food "science" from Rutgers. He wrote:
Dear Ms. Cortale:
It appears you don't have much regard for the Word of God (Bible) which tells us He provided animals for humans' use and food (Gen1:26; 9:2-3; I Tim 4:3-5). I could wish your concern for the millions of aborted human babies were as great as your concern for "non-human" animals. BTW, human beings are much more than animals, we are made in the image of God, which, unfortunately has been marred by sin (Gen 3). Nevertheless, humans are infinitely more valuable than animals! Also, unfortunately, most people of your persuasion ("tree huggers," as some call them) seem to think much more highly of animals than humans. Agreed, it is important that we treat animals well and do not abuse them, but they are not human or in any way close to the same level as humans. Their use in "humane" testing for the purpose of alleviating human suffering and for nourishing humans is clearly within God's mandate to mankind, according to His Word to us.
As an educator and a Christian, I find the professor's unawareness, speciesism and condescension ("tree huggers") very saddening and deeply troubling. There is nothing “humane” about vivisection. And a vegan diet is best for humans, nonhumans and the planet, at least according to scientists and physicians like cardiologist and former President of the American College of Cardiology Dr. Kim A. Williams, who has been vegan since 2003 and knows that eating the flesh, milk and eggs of other animals is neither nourishing nor necessary.
Is this what Rutgers is teaching its students — to ignore evolution and facts, that humans are not animals, that the manipulation and abuse of others is permissible if done under the guise of science and research? As a Rutgers University alumna, I expect more from an institution of higher learning. The terrible wrongs perpetuated by "animal science" are not matters of opinion regarding diet and exploitation.
Not only has Barchi failed to respond to my letter, but it appears that hundreds of other faculty members are unable (gagged) or unwilling to address the very real problems linked to "animal science" and its abusive policies, cultures and practices supported through “dairy science,” “aquaculture,” "poultry science" and all the other components of "animal science" that contribute to preventable injuries such policies have on humans, nonhumans and the rest of the living world.
I hope that members of the Rutgers community will have the courage to address this extensive and destructive issue and stop sweeping it under the rug to satisfy egocentric wishes and industry demands. If we do not, it is all our losses.
Bethany Cortale graduated from Douglass College in 1997.
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