In a society that has reduced animals to mere objects or goods to buy and sell, we have convinced ourselves that some animals don’t suffer, and that therefore we have full licence to do whatever we want to them.


Bees - Paraty, Brazil, 2012

Bees - Paraty, Brazil, 2012

While nowadays the insane Cartesian idea that animals don’t feel pain is no longer widely held with regard to mammals and other animals, many people still believe that this may be the case for less complex creatures.


A study recently conducted in France offers further scientific evidence that crayfish also have the ability to suffer anxiety, to experience pain or pleasure, and to adapt their behaviour to a changing environment. This is despite the fact that crustaceans are not considered sentient by bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority, and there are no regulations concerning their treatment.


Although the study itself was invasive for the crayfish and therefore hard to justify ethically, it is nevertheless interesting to see how researchers too are gradually challenging the old convictions.


There is surely no scientific evidence that crayfish and other animals do not suffer, and so in this area – as in many others – the precautionary principle should be adopted in order to avoid inflicting extreme suffering on them. The practice of boiling them alive is still legal in most countries around the world.


You can read an abstract of the study (or the full document if you are registered) on the Science website and an article about it on the BBC website.