Out to Pasture

May 15, 2009 07:00 PM
Steve Cornett
Where is our Superman? Why isn't there a Christopher Reeve to stand up for animal-based medical research the way he, and later his wife, advocated for research using embryonic stem cells?

I know cows and stem cell research are only remotely connected in most of our minds. But they are very closely connected in the minds of the people who fuel and fund the animal rights agenda.

There are plenty of celebrities willing to fill the spotlight for stem cell research. But if you're looking for a celebrity advocate in the animal welfare debate, you have to look on the other side: over there, donating their millions to and making ads for the humane society types—the people who bomb medical laboratories where animal research takes place.

The stars don't do that because they're stupid. They do it because their public relations folks tell them that one side is politically correct and the other is not. You're not going to see an ad featuring famous women who "dare to bare all” for medical research the way they regularly do for PETA's vegetarian and anti-fur campaigns.

Agriculture's spokespeople. And that goes double for cows, swine or horses. You would never get Bo Derek to testify before Congress on the need for red meat to combat the well-documented shortage of iron in women's diets. It isn't fashionable.

Don't look for me to explain it, but it is darn sure a fact of life, and if you are among those who hope your kids can one day produce beef or sheep, or hunt, or train dogs or horses, you should be concerned about it.

Last month, I argued for an umbrella group to battle animal rights advocates on their own emotional turf. Let's use the same threats of boycotts they use to force corporations to bow to their ideals.

There was enough positive response that I want to push further this month. First, let me note there are a lot of groups out there trying, in their own ways, to slow the advancing tide of an imposed moral code. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is one of those groups. You've also got the National Institute for Animal Agriculture promoting animal food groups and the National Animal Interest Alliance speaking for dog breeders.

Then there's the American Medical Association supporting health research, the National Rifle Association supporting hunting rights, various veterinary groups and about a thousand supplier companies, all standing strong and firm.

So there are millions of us standing between PETA and its goal of redefining the human–animal relationship. Literally millions lined up.

Just like a long line of dominoes.

There are smarter people than I who believe the groups are more effective working alone on their individual issues. I just don't agree. And agriculture, with its tiny fraction of the populace, is among the most threatened sectors and the most likely to benefit from welding all the dominoes into a nice, solid brick.

Steve Cornett, Editor Emeritus, writes from Canyon, Texas. You can e-mail him at scornett@farmjournal.com.

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