Day Three at the Second World Conference on Bioethics and Animal Rights in Brazil

During Day three, Steven Wise presented on “The Nonhuman Rights Project: Three Years Closer to Fundamental Rights for Nonhuman Animals.”  The main purpose of the Nonhuman Rights Project is to determine how lawyers might argue successfully toward legal personhood for nonhuman animals.  The array of professionals at the Nonhuman Rights Project research and formulate legal arguments that they can make to judges, using concepts that they already understand and use, in order to obtain a ruling in which traditionally human rights could be applied to nonhuman animals.  This promising project would vastly expand nonhuman animals’ legal rights.

Professor Kathy Hessler of Lewis and Clark Law School spoke next.  She discussed the philosophical, legal, and scientific concerns associated with animal testing.  She summarized the history of animal testing and described its extraordinarily high failure rates.  To address these failures, Professor Hessler argued, we must replace animal models with alternative models, refine the process to reduce pain, and refine the process to reduce the number and type of animal tests.  Further, we should require alternative testing methods by law, fund them adequately, focus on outcomes, mandate the release and sharing of data, increase transparency and accountability, determine the level of risk and uncertainty we are comfortable with, and create a mechanism through which humans can legally speak on the behalf of animals.

-Elizabeth Bennett

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