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Michaelmas Term 2007
The first VERO event of the term was an introductory evening at Mansfield College (the venue for all this term's meetings) on October 15th, when our speaker was PETER TATCHELL, the human and animal rights campaigner, VERO supporter, and prospective Green Party candidate for Oxford East. Peter spoke about the huge sums of money spent on conventional animal-based research into AIDS treatment over two decades, and of its negligible and even misleading results. What we really know now, and what we can learn in the future, said Peter, is and will be derived from human-based studies, but at present this sort of work, which many scientists would be able and willing to do, is systematically underfunded. This was necessarily a sombre account, but Peter believes that vivisection is out of date and will in time disprove itself: our business is to hurry forward that time. After the talk and discussion there was vegan food and drink (notably fresh fruit juice made on the spot by VERO member Paul Freestone). This was a feature of all the term's events, which we hope made them more friendly and productive.
Our next speaker on November 1st was MARK GOLD, the author and animal rights campaigner, former Director of Animal Aid, and still the editor of its magazine Outrage. His title was 'Extending the Circle of Compassion', and he gave a moving account of the prophets and proponents of humane living, from classical times to the 20th century. Among those whom Mark was introducing for the first time to many in his audience were Henry Salt (1851-1939) and J.Howard Moore (1862-1916). Henry Salt's career illustrated how naturally a concern for animal rights belongs to a wider desire for justice in society. From J.Howard Moore, Mark read a passage which memorably expresses that admiration for all life upon which the animal rights movement is founded. As an experienced leader, Mark gave wise and authoritative advice on the most fruitful attitudes and conduct in animal advocacy.
On November 15th, DR MARGARET CLOTWORTHY, Scientific Consultant to Europeans for Medical Progress, presented the new EMP film Safer Medicines. This film provides a fascinating survey of advanced techniques in medical research, including for instance the work of Asterand's Dr Bob Coleman on the use of human tissue in drug-development, and the "virtual heart" which Professor Denis Noble has been developing for many years at Oxford itself. These are not merely alternatives to animal-based research, but far more accurate and reliable technologies, of just the sort which Peter Tatchell had been speaking about earlier in the term. Dr Clotworthy is a cell biologist with extensive experience in non-animal medical research, and after the film she gave lucid, informative answers to questions. EMP makes its film available free to schools and other institutions, and it will surely have a strong influence for good in the vivisection debate.
VERO's last event of the term, on November 29th, was a talk by our own PAUL FREESTONE called 'The Future of Food'. This connected our theme of animal-exploitation and medicine to a more general tragedy: the story of how commercial interests, government subsidies, and our own loss of food sense, have corrupted this most basic of human relations with the physical world. Paul showed the results in drug dependency, ruined environments, and squandered resources. It was a brilliant talk, illustrated with many astonishing statistics (the world's livestock produces 18% of greenhouse gases - more even than transport; 30% of food produced is thrown away uneaten; 88 varieties of crisps at Asda), and also with the foods spread out in front of him as he spoke (including a visibly greasy Starbuck's muffin, worth 571 calories, and a commercially prepared leek and potato soup comprising 17 ingredients). By 2050, at the present rate of recklessness, we will be needing five more planets to keep us fed. Paul's own cooking, plus samples of commercially produced vegan fare, showed the right way ahead and provided a delightful end to the evening.
Freshers' Fair 2007
VERO's stall at Freshers' Fair 2007 provided a great opportunity to
publicise our peaceful campaign and attracted a lot of interest among the
new student intake, with many commenting on how glad they were to see a
University-based group bringing some balance to the animal research debate.
Our display focused on humane thought at Oxford through the ages - a
tradition we are determined to continue.
Animal Experimentation - A Discussion with Peter Singer
Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre, Oxford University
Friday 8 June, 2007
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View Public meeting held on November 28th 2006