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An Odyssey exploring the debate

16 June 2009

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Category: Communications & media

odyssey–book–jacket.jpgA book to be published soon promises a considered, less polarised approach to the animal rights debate. An Odyssey with Animals by US veterinarian Dr Adrian Morrison is released in the UK in October. In the meantime, Oxford University Press have published an essay by Morrison on their blog, which is already drawing comment.

In his essay, Morrison stresses it is important to:

'acknowledge the difference between 'animal rights' as envisioned by the movement and 'animal welfare.' Those who belong to the animal rights/liberation group believe in severely limiting the way humans use animals, encouraging our removal from the animal world in many ways. Those who belong to the animal welfare group wish to improve animal health and welfare in a number of different contexts.'

He counsels against lumping anmal rights and animal welfare together under one term 'animal protection movement'. There are a number of positions within the debate, but, as we have not obtained the book yet, we're not sure how Morrison characterises them.

There are some clues. We are grateful to our colleagues at Americans for Medical Progress for drawing our attention to a review of the book by Deborah Blum, Professor of Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and author of The Monkey Wars:

'An Odyssey with Animals demonstrates that even someone who has held hard-line positions in the animal research/rights debate can offer a thoughtful perspective, and suggest points where compromise might be reached. This is one of the strengths of Morrison's book – the way his story becomes a journey of exploration, and the way that he not only solidifies some of his own opinions but also allows himself to be open to possible shifts.... Morrison's reputation as an outstanding researcher and his importance as one of the rare scientists willing to speak out on this issue will undoubtedly make [this book] a valued part of the continuing public discussion on animal research.'

We have long called for a more nuanced debate about animal research and this book could indeed be an important contribution.

In the meantime – in those countries where the book is not yet available – try our questionnaire. This enables you to explore where you stand on the issue.