In February, a Norwegian government report jumped into the debate about whether or not lobsters are capable of feeling pain, concluding that they are not, in fact, capable of doing so.
The Norwegian government commissioned a committee led by University of Oslo professor Wenche Farstad to prepare a 39-page report on whether or not lobsters felt pain, in which case they would be subject to revised animal welfare laws in that country. The report concluded that, “Lobsters and crabs have some capacity of learning, but it is unlikely that they can feel pain.” The report concluded that more study of crustaceans is needed to resolve the debate. The report also concluded that earthworms do not feel pain when placed on a fishhook, but that some types of insects such a honeybees might deserve special care.
Not surprisingly animal rights activists weren’t happy the rather ambiguous findings of the committee. PETA’s Karin Robertson told the Associated Press that the study was biased — not at all like PETA’s purely objective reports. According to Robertson,
This is exactly like the tobacco industry claiming that smoking doesn’t cause cancer.
Robertson told the AP that there are unbiased scientists that believe lobsters feel pain. As an example, she cited a Humane Society of the United States zoologist.
Debate simmers over just what lobsters feel when made a meal. Portland Press Herald, February 15, 2005.
Unlikely lobsters feel pain in boiling water. Associated press, February 15, 2005.
Worms on a hook don’t suffer? Reuters, February 7, 2005.