MPs without empathy: UK Parliament votes that animals have no emotions or feelings, they can’t feel pain

Under EU law, animals are currently recognised as being capable of feeling pain and emotion. But MPs have this week voted to drop the inclusion of animal sentience into the Withdrawal Bill.

This vote comes in contrast to extensive scientific evidence that shows that other animals do have feelings and emotions, some even stronger than ours.

For a little more detail, there’s the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness:

“non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

But politicians clearly think that they know better about animal brains than the majority of scientists on the planet.

RSPCA Head of Public Affairs David Bowles said it is a “truly backward step” for animal welfare. “It’s shocking that MPs have given the thumbs down to incorporating animal sentience into post-Brexit UK law,” Mr Bowles explained.

“Animal sentience is never mentioned in the Animal Welfare Act and, crucially, only domestic animals are really covered by the provisions of the Act anyway and animals in the wild and laboratories are expressly exempt. It is simply wrong for the Government to claim that the Act protects animal sentience.

“In the EU, we know that the recognition of animals as sentient beings has been effective in improving animal welfare across the region. If the UK is to achieve the Environment Secretary’s objective of achieving the highest possible animal welfare post-Brexit, it must do the same.”


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