I like my meat, there’s nothing tastier than a well-cooked steak or a lamb mince lasagne, especially when my better half is doing the cooking.
Having said that, I tend to wonder if there is ever going to be a line that we draw on how much we will use poor dumb creatures for our own ends. I am not speaking from a position of ignorance; I studied science at University, I know the arguments for using animals for our welfare. I abhor any research on animals that is for the cosmetics industry – never has there been anything less necessary. Is that eye shadow really worth the animals that suffered to make sure it is hypo-allergenic for you? I imagine you would say no.
I am a little more undecided when it comes to true medical science: helping to reduce pain and suffering might also seem not worth animal suffering but what if the sufferer was your close relative, or even a loved one? (Did you get that joke?)
One step beyond, I believe, is the development/genetic transformation of animals for the purposes of human organ transplant. There has already been work done on pig hearts allowing a 500 day success rate, significantly better survival rates than the first heart transplants back in December, 1967. I know that there is a bigger list of needy patients than there is availability of organs, and I suppose it will always be a vexed question of decency and suffering of the innocent, both recipient and donor. At least a human donor mostly has the choice of what he or she chooses to do, either after death or during life with paired organs such as kidneys, an animal bred for the purpose doesn’t.
We already breed them in battery form from chickens to cattle; there are not many things more shaming to the human race than seeing the cattle bred in massive, close-quarters populations in central North America, fed only on grain and never seeing green fields, just so that we can eat burgers (especially when we consider how much of our food we throw away). The examples of what we do just to put meat on the table are too numerous to list here but you get the picture.
Now add the mass farming of animals for their organs. Do we kill them and harvest organs all in one go or do we just take what we want when we want? Both are technologically possible options. Remember the film/book Coma by Robin Cook? Patients put into comas because their organs are of use to someone who can pay. Imagine animals being kept in suspended animation instead. Would you be as horrified?
Instead of working towards this goal of yet more animal suffering, wouldn’t it make more sense to work on stem cell research? After all, it has now been shown that these cells exist in several places in the human body that could be harvested and organs grown from them without undue suffering of a fellow life form? Or perhaps we should just double up on the children we have so that the second born is a spares cabinet for the first born – oh, yes, that isn’t science fiction – it’s quite real. Are you horrified yet?
The only positive thing I can say for using animals for organ donors is that if Max Brooks’ postulation on the origin of the zombie wars is correct, then at least not using human donors might be a way of not bringing on the Apocalypse. But where would be the fun in that?
Zombie books by David K Roberts:
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor
The Story that led to this blog: