GSETA on harmful effects of animal testing
Animal testing has been the topic of scrutiny and public debate for years, and since the spring of 2012, Guelph has been at the center of these disputes.
In May 2012, the University euthanized 10 genetically modified enviropigs upon the termination of their research endeavors. The decision was not met without controversy as animal rights groups across the province took the opportunity to voice their disapproval.
Among these groups was the Guelph Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (GSETA), an animal rights club at the University of Guelph. On April 2, this group took the opportunity to shed light on the issue with an event titled, “Who Were the Enviropigs?” The aim was to provide awareness of the enviropigs, and the effects of animal testing and factory farming.
Mike Nicholson, University of Guelph student and member of GSETA, was at the event and explained that the group was trying to “offer remembrance for the suffering of these animals [and show that] people need to recognize that there is suffering before they can attempt to rectify the situation.”
GSETA spent the day handing out fliers and pamphlets educating students about the dangers of animal testing and factory farming. Passers-by were also encouraged to boycott popular companies that conduct research through animal testing.
There was also a screening of Maximum Tolerated Dose, a documentary about the effects of animal testing, as well as a vigil in remembrance of the enviropigs at the OVC.
Although the event captured students’ interest, not all students held the same viewpoint as GSETA. One was University of Guelph student Mary Walton. Walton, who has spent a great deal of her life on a farm, felt that the group was painting an unnecessarily negative picture of factory farming.
“You can’t have a good farm without happy animals, so farmers actually go out of their way to provide their animals with optimal conditions. These include well-insulated barns, sizable cages, and a stress-free living environment,” explained Walton.
Walton further stated that groups such as GSETA are attempting to shock students by using graphic pictures of seemingly abused animals.
“They are amplifying all of the negative aspects of farming, and ignoring all of the positives.”
Additional criticisms have been brought forth on the grounds that the group was using outdated and exaggerated statistics that do not necessarily represent farming in the Guelph community.
The University of Guelph has been known to partake in animal testing, as do a number of other universities, so it is not surprising that students have differing opinions when it comes to the ethicality of the issue. It is important to be aware of the issue, but to get all of the facts before forming an opinion.
Students are encouraged to be skeptical consumers and to follow the advice of GSETA and get involved with this issue.
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