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Study: Lobsters Unlikely to Feel Pain (includes snails)

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 12:31 am
by ittybittynickel
not sure I believe this - just posting the article.

Study: Lobsters Unlikely to Feel Pain
February 14, 2005 10:02 AM EST
PORTLAND, Maine - A new study out of Norway concludes that it's unlikely lobsters feel pain, stirring up a long-simmering debate over whether Maine's most valuable seafood suffers when it's being cooked.

Animal activists for years have claimed that lobsters feel excruciating agony when they are cooked, and that dropping one in a pot of boiling water is tantamount to torture.

The study, which was funded by the Norwegian government and written by a scientist at the University of Oslo, suggests that lobsters and other invertebrates probably don't suffer even if lobsters do tend to thrash in boiling water.

"Lobsters and crabs have some capacity of learning, but it is unlikely that they can feel pain," the study concluded.

The 39-page report was aimed at determining if invertebrates should be subject to animal welfare legislation as Norway revises its animal welfare law. The report looked at invertebrate groups such as insects, crustaceans, worms and mollusks and summarized the scientific literature dealing with feelings and pain among those creatures without backbones.

It concluded that most invertebrates - including lobsters, crabs, worms, snails, slugs and clams - probably don't have the capacity to feel pain.
Lobster biologists in Maine have maintained for years that the lobster's primitive nervous system and underdeveloped brain are similar to that of an insect. While lobsters react to different stimuli, such as boiling water, the reactions are escape mechanisms, not a conscious response or an indication of pain, they say.

The Norwegian report backs up a study in the early 1990s at the University of Maine and reinforces what people in the lobster industry have always contended, said Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute, a research and education organization in Orono.

"We've maintained all along that the lobster doesn't have the ability to process pain," Bayer said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Va., has made lobster pain part of its Fish Empathy Project, putting out stickers and pamphlets with slogans like, "Being Boiled Hurts. Let Lobsters Live."

PETA regularly demonstrates at the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, and 10 years ago placed a full-page ad in a Rockland newspaper featuring an open letter from actress Mary Tyler Moore urging festival-goers to forego lobster.

"If we had to drop live pigs or chickens into scalding water, chances are that few of us would eat them. Why should it be any different for lobsters?" the ad read.

PETA's Karin Robertson called the Norwegian study biased, saying the government doesn't want to hurt the country's fishing industry.

"This is exactly like the tobacco industry claiming that smoking doesn't cause cancer," she said.

Robertson said many scientists believe lobsters do indeed feel pain. For instance, a zoologist with The Humane Society of the United States made a written declaration that lobsters can feel pain after a chef dismembered and sauteed a live lobster to prepare a Lobster Fra Diavolo dish on NBC's "Today" show in 1994.

But Mike Loughlin, who studied the boiling of lobsters when he was a University of Maine graduate student, said lobsters simply lack the brain capacity to feel pain.

"It's a semantic thing: No brain, no pain," said Loughlin, who now works as a biologist at the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission.

It's debatable whether the debate will ever be resolved.

The Norwegian study, even while saying it's unlikely that crustaceans feel pain, also cautioned that more research is needed because there is a scarcity of scientific knowledge on the subject.

Whether lobsters feel pain or not, many consumers will always hesitate at placing lobsters in boiling pots of water. New Englanders may feel comfortable cooking their lobsters, but people outside the region often feel uneasy about boiling a live creature, said Kristen Millar, executive director of the Maine Lobster Promotion Council. "Consumers don't generally greet and meet an animal before they eat it," she said.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 1:00 am
by GK
I know. :angry: I read that sommers too.
We don't really know how creatures feel! It may have one nerve, but it could feel pain. We all do. :cry:
And of course, snails do or I could drop Omnite into some acid and he could LIVE in it. :roll:
"Stupid Government... we don't know what they really do with our money. We don't really know if that guy made it to the moon or Aliens exist. It's all lies Hank. ALLL LIIIIIIIES!" -Dale Gribble, King of the Hill

Of course, aliens don't exist, but still really, we don't know what they do with our money, and anyone who believes in the government will believe this Lobster Tale. (No offense. ^_^;; Just my opinion.)

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 1:36 am
by Donya
I'm sorry but...BS! That sort of stuff makes me really mad. I read something about that recently regarding hooking fish in a "saltwater sportsman" fishing magazine: "the PETA people are wrong, fish actually don't feel it!". Uhuh...right. That's even a vertebrate they're talking about.

I went on that debate trail a long time ago to find out who was right, and while neither side may be 100% right or wrong, it's pretty obvious to me that if an animal has pain receptors, it can feel pain, even if it isn't pain in the sense that we feel it from the same stimulus. True, I don't know if a cicada really feels pain in the human emotional sense when it's being eaten by a praying mantis, but good lord...if you ever heard one of those things or a katydid (sp?) scream while being eaten by another bug then it's pretty obvious that it is having a negative/bad reaction to the situation and the neural input. Bad neural input = pain in my book.

If an animal recoils at something, I think it's safe to say that it hurts the animal. I saw evidence of at least pain-like perception (if you want to reserve the word "pain" for vertebrates, as some snooty scientists do) in a snail I was operating on today (long story, had to remove a cyst) and it was clear to me that when the object was embeded, it hurt, and when removed, it no longer hurt because the snail didn't mind the area being touched.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 4:29 am
by ittybittynickel
I never understand how they think they prove these points.
It's not like they can ask them if it hurts.
I've always believed if it's a living creature, it has the ability to,
maybe not mentally in the way humans do, but at least physically
feel pain etc...

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:44 am
by joyce tryoon
This actually made me sick to my stomach. Having the flu might have made it worse.
I kept reading the word probably in that article.
Of course they feel pain.
I have a snail that I purchased in really bad shape . I posted a picture of him awhile back. I bought him home to die. Well one year later he is still alive. His shell is cracked in several places. Cannot be patched. I had to take the guppies out of the tank. Because guess what. I noticed them picking in the cracks of his shell. How did I notice this. I saw him wince everytime they picked at it. If he doesn't feel pain then how come the wincing? Got him out and sure enough they had found a patch that didn't have any calcium layed down. This article should have said--- We are going to feed you a big pile of bull puky and you are going to eat every word cause if you don't we are going to lose money. Then they go and find some nit wit that is anxious to get his name on something. That did a study on whether the lobster had a brain. Stuff like this just makes me so angry.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:58 am
by joyce tryoon
Wallace jumps into his assignment, quizzing the rental-car guy, Dick, about lobster sentience on the ride from the airport. Dick explains to Wallace, “There’s a part of the brain in people and animals that lets us feel pain, and lobsters’ brains don’t have this part.” Wallace explains, “Besides the fact that it’s incorrect in about 11 different ways, the main reason Dick’s statement is interesting is that its thesis is more or less echoed by the Festival’s own pronouncement on lobsters and pain …”

Wallace looked into the science on lobster pain and reports that lobsters do possess the parts of the brain that feel pain—both nocioceptors, as well as invertebrate versions of the prostaglandins and major neurotransmitters found in our own brains.

Beyond having the parts of the brain necessary, lobsters also have very sensitive pain receptors. Wallace states, “Lobsters don’t have much in the way of eyesight or hearing, but they do have an exquisite tactile sense, one facilitated by hundreds of thousands of tiny hairs that protrude through their carapace. ‘Thus,’ in the words of T.M. Pruden’s industry classic About Lobster, ‘it is that although encased in what seems a solid, impenetrable armor, the lobster can receive stimuli and impressions from without as readily as if it possessed a soft and delicate skin.’”
If It Looks Like Pain …

And they certainly act as if they are suffering when we “prepare” them (Wallace asks that we “note already the semiconscious euphemism ‘prepared,’ which in the case of lobsters really means killing them right there in our kitchens”). He writes, “Even if you cover the kettle and turn away, you can usually hear the cover rattling and clanking as the lobster tries to push it off. Or the creature’s claws scraping the sides of the kettle as it thrashes around. The lobster, in other words, behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water (with the obvious exception of screaming).”

Lobsters don’t have vocal cords—they use pheromones to communicate. Wallace dispels the myth that lobsters scream when they are boiled alive, saying, “The sound is really vented steam from the layer of seawater between the lobster’s flesh and its carapace …” He notes that “the myth’s very persistent—which might, once again, point to a low-level cultural unease about the boiling thing.”

Cooking live lobsters does not result in a quick and painless death. “According to marine zoologists,” Wallace writes, “it usually takes lobsters between 35 and 45 seconds to die in boiling water.”

He also notes, “However stuporous the lobster is from the trip home, for instance, it tends to come alarmingly to life when placed in boiling water. If you’re tilting it from a container into the steaming kettle, the lobster will sometimes try to cling to the container’s sides or even to hook its claws over the kettle’s rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof.”
Facing the Facts

Lobsters suffer from the minute they are trapped until the last agonizing seconds of their lives. Like other animals used for food, lobsters are torn from their natural habitat and transported long distances. “They come up alive in the traps,” Wallace writes, “are placed in containers of seawater, and can, so long as the water’s aerated and the animals’ claws are pegged or banded to keep them from tearing one another up under the stresses of captivity, survive right up until they’re boiled.”

Wallace confesses that he has “not succeeded in working out any sort of personal ethical system” in which eating lobsters is morally defensible. “[A]fter all the abstract intellection, there remain the facts of the frantically clanking lid, the pathetic clinging to the edge of the pot. Standing at the stove, it is hard to deny in any meaningful way that this is a living creature experiencing pain and wishing to avoid/escape the painful experience.”

“Lobsters,” Wallace reports, “… are known to exhibit preferences. Experiments have shown that they can detect changes of only a degree or two in water temperature; one reason for their complex migratory cycles (which can often cover 100-plus miles a year) is to pursue the temperatures they like best. And, as mentioned, they’re bottom-dwellers and do not like bright light: If a tank of food lobsters is out in the sunlight or a store’s fluorescence, the lobsters will always congregate in whatever part is darkest. Fairly solitary in the ocean, they also clearly dislike the crowding that’s part of their captivity in tanks, since (as also mentioned) one reason why lobsters’ claws are banded on capture is to keep them from attacking one another under the stress of close-quarter storage.” Watching the lobsters outside of the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, Wallace asserts that “it is difficult not to sense that they’re unhappy, or frightened.”

Lobsters are similar to other animals in many ways. Wallace mentions that some “lobsters can live to be over 100 … though truly senior lobsters are rare now, because New England’s waters are so heavily trapped.” Bonded lobsters share a shelter during mating season, and a female lobster carries her young for a nine- to 12-month gestation period. These crustaceans communicate with each other to establish social relationships, and they can travel 100 miles or more during their seasonal migrations. Lobsters are now recognized as sensitive animals who are capable of feeling intense pain.

Does this sound like an animal that feels no pain


PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 6:03 am
by joyce tryoon
It all comes down to $$$$$$$$$$$$

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 6:12 am
by nausicaa
I read that article too, Joyce. You beat me to posting it. I don't believe for one second that they don't feel pain. I've been vegetarian since birth. My mom raised me vegetarian. I could never be part of that kind of suffering. Thanks for posting that.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 6:19 am
by joyce tryoon
Thank you. I was so angry that I was shaking, surprised I was able to post it.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 6:23 am
by ittybittynickel
joyce tryoon wrote:It all comes down to $$$$$$$$$$$$


PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 6:14 am
by OscarFish
I'd like to say something on this matter.

I have what the pet store called it when I bought it, A red lobster, could be a lobster, could be a crawfish, crawdaddy or what ever else they call these little suckers.

He is adorable as hell and I love the heck out of him (had a blue one too at one time till he escaped and disappeared, still haven't found him 6 months later) and at one time my red lobster escaped the aquarium. Either they do this alot and the store never told me about it my lobster is just plain retarded and wants out all the time. Well anyway, the night he escaped and about 2 hours after giving up I kept hearing this scratching noise around the book case next to the sofa. Everytime I looked over or around the area, the scratching noise would stop, so finally after 20 minutes of this scratching and no scratching I decided to pull out the sofa.
Low and behold their was the lobster (named red light by my 5 yr old) all covered in Dust bunnies and cat hair. Needless to say we got him picked up and took him to the kitchen sink to give him a bath (first time bathing a lobster) and I turned the faucet on without checking where it was set too. (we have the single faucet control versus seperate hot and cold water controls).
About 20 seconds or 30 seconds into the bath I noticed him Flailing his arms about wildly and noticed the water was set to a rather warm setting, Immediately turning the water back to gold.

ANYONE who says these animals don't feel pain should be subjected to the same conditions to see if they feel any pain. Science is great but there are way too many assumptions on the part of scientists. The Lobster doesn't feel pain because we say it doesn't. BS. The Lobster doesn't feel pain because it doesn't speak english to tell you damn scientist to quit boiling it. If these animals could speak it would be much easier but as far as I am concerned, ANYTHING living can feel pain, including animals, and plants.

Just my 2 cents worth

PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:06 pm
by Donya
Lobsters don’t have vocal cords—they use pheromones to communicate.

If these animals could speak it would be much easier

Amen to that!

I'm sure every person who has ever tried their hand at veternary practice would agree. If a horse could tell you which hoof hurt and why, there wouldn't be such an elaborate ritual to determine lamness: "trot him this, trot him the other way. Looks like his head bobbed--oh wait, that was a sneeze. Here's lets hold his foot in a funny position for 30 seconds and then trot him here and there and see what he does." Good greif lol and it's even more difficult with invertebrates, because they have different phisiology and completely alien ways of communicating as far as we humans are concerned.

And thankyou very very much for the postings Joyce and ittybitty! :tiphat: You two have a real knack for finding good info.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:22 pm
by ittybittynickel
Donya wrote:And thankyou very very much for the postings Joyce and ittybitty! :tiphat: You two have a real knack for finding good info.

Thank you Donya! :) :snail:

PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 6:52 pm
by joyce tryoon
Thank you for sharing that story. It all comes down to having a conscience. Some need to look at ALL animals with their heart and not a head with no conscience. A person with no conscience can justify just about anything.

True story- The Biology dept at the local college here is a couple of experiments they have done

Put crickets in test tubes- see how long it takes them to notice the test tube has been imersed in boiling water. record time
Place the tube with the same crickets in boiling water- see how long it takes them to die.

Put a mouse in a glass tube with stopper- see how long it takes the oxygen to run out and the mouse passes out. You have to do this several times to the same mouse to get a good time table.
I know this for a fact.
Not one student refused to do this. Why because the instructor said the animals felt no pain and it did not bother the animals. Many mice did not make it.
Did the crickets and the mice try to get out of those tubes? In everyway they could . Instructor said, it was just a reflex behavior and meant nothing.
Stories like Oscerfish need to be told. Perhapes we need a topic - have you seen your animal show pain.
Funny if they don't feel pain- How do you explain when one snail nips another and they flinch and back off or close up. We have all seen this.

People asume that because a person has a title , they are smarter then they are and believe them. I read PROBABLY in that article over and over. The headlines say in many articles - Lobsters feel no pain. 99 percent of the people will read that and pass it on as a fact.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 4:35 am
by OscarFish
That kind of brings up another point of lab testing on animals.

I just read an article in Earth Mother News tonite about all the preservatives in our food. Turns out that none of the preservatives are tested on people, only lab animals. A group over in england I think it was (dad has the magazine right now) did a test on the Sodium Benzoate I think its spelled, one of the more common preservatives that has never been actually tested in humans, well anyway they did a test with Children and the effect it had on them. The children who were weened off of the SB so to speak, showed a major decrease in Hyperactivity. Children that were exposed to it were very hyper. It makes me wonder what the FDA is really doing. If its safe for dogs and cats and mice then its safe for human consumption.

Just something else for everyone to think about.

(your welcome on the lobster story, and he's still with us alive and well)