Ernest Dempsey — We today find ourselves in a world where the authority of science is used as an excuse to do away with any ethics sheltering life against destruction. If the torturous experiments that lead to agonizing deaths of primates and other animals in science labs were not enough, researchers in a Canadian university played a new game on life – creating a small herd of genetically modified pigs, and were soon planning to kill them because these animals wouldn’t get them a commercial contract.
As media reports tell, a group of researchers the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, created 16 genetically engineered pigs, calling them Enviropigs due to their being more “environment-friendly” than other pigs usually raised on farms. The project cost at least a million dollars and more than a decade of research work till the arrival of this small herd of Enviropigs which were created with the intention of commercializing them. But when the target food company didn’t show any interest in the plan, the university decided to euthanize the pigs. In other words, life not sold for large-scale slaughter to earn millions was decreed not worthy of living at all.
But animal rights advocates started demanding that these Enviropigs be allowed a second chance and adopted out to some animal sanctuary where they may live their life as other animals do and die a natural death, not killed by slaughter or euthanasia. The problem arose, or aggravated, to say, when the university refused to adopt these animals out. One of the researchers was quoted saying that donating or transferring these animals would breach their protocol or violate regulations.
The question of ethics takes a painful twist here. If life is created for slaughtering en mass for fulfilling commercial interests, does it not violate the protocol of this environment of which the researchers pretend to be advocates. It simply falls outside the grounds of sanity to produce environment-friendly life-forms for commercial use; but if that interest isn’t met, then destroy this life, despite its environment-friendliness. Perhaps the university could get a legal bond of not reproducing these pigs in exchange for adopting them out, and/or just neutering them, prior to release. Even they could keep them as living proof of a successful genetic engineering project. But killing them is only equal to getting rid of them because they are worthless.
To someone who talks environment, life will hardly be worthless. And when we claim to be behaving ethically, we don’t destroy something, particularly something living, which doesn’t have any significant risks for other life. Animal rights supporters followed this approach and started a petition online to demand the University of Guelph for letting these pigs live a normal life as they deserve.
However, The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs learnt from the university that all the Enviropigs were killed on May 24, saying that protocols within the university prohibited the transfer of transgenic animals; and also that the Canadian government and the various environmental and food agencies have regulations that prohibited it as well.
Whether it’s an excuse that can deceive people into believing that ethics fail when regulations are recited to protect commercial interests but not when life is at stake. This is a point readers will decide better themselves. One thing is clear to this scribe — by killing the environment-friendly pigs, the university authorities have unofficially listed themselves as a threat to the environment.