DEAR READERS: According to a study published in March in the journal Science, zebra fish become afraid when they see other members of their species in distress. This fear mirroring is regulated by oxytocin: Fish that lack the genes to produce and absorb the hormone fail to detect others' anxiety but regain the ability when they receive an oxytocin injection. Oxytocin has the same effect in mice and is known to affect humans' social responses.
Oxytocin is the "bonding" hormone we humans associate with the subjective feeling of love toward others and is elevated when we hug our dogs -- in both us and our dogs! It's likely that the oxytocin empathy mechanism evolved many millions of years ago, before fish and mammals diverged on the tree of life.
This is groundbreaking research that advances our understanding of animal sentience (although I am not an advocate of such genetic engineering to selectively knock out specific genes in animals). I have always felt that catching fish on a hook is cruel and that there is no nobility in catch-and-release fishing. Like earthworms, fish have opiate pain-responsive neurochemistry when injured. Many hooked-and-released fish die from the stress and injuries. Why make any animal suffer in the name of sport? And what of the live bait skewered on the hooks?
For more insights about fish and helping in their conservation, visit fishfeel.org.
BEES ARE SENTIENT CREATURES, TOO!
Entomologist Stephen Buchmann's book, "What a Bee Knows: Exploring the Thoughts, Memories and Personalities of Bees," shows that bees have sophisticated emotions resembling optimism, frustration, fear and playfulness. Experiments have demonstrated bees can experience PTSD-like symptoms. Also, they can recognize different human faces, process long-term memories while sleeping, and maybe even dream. Young bees, through observation, learn how to dance from older bees to convey where to go to collect pollen, and the buzz of bees makes some flowers open for them.
DEAR DR. FOX: I eat mostly veggie foods, but sometimes meat. With the Jewish holiday of Passover recently happening, I would like to know your opinion of kosher meats: Are they better than non-kosher meats? Are the animals treated better? -- J.M., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR J.M.: I think we need to "pass over" all meat and seafood to help reduce climate change and loss of biodiversity. (For details, see drfoxonehealth.com/post/changing-diets-for-healths-and-earths-sake.) Consumers who wish to begin by being more selective can look for organically certified animal produce and see if there is any indication of the animals being raised humanely as per the Certified GAP.org, Animal Welfare Certified label. Earth Animals' Wisdom Dog foods have this label.
In my professional opinion, having witnessed ritual Jewish and Islamic animal slaughter, eating meat from these animals is not humane. For details, read this article on my website: drfoxonehealth.com/post/farmed-animal-slaughter-ritual-and-conventional.
DEAR DR. FOX: I would like your opinion about this project (article below) that fits cows with "intelligent" methane-monitoring masks. -- L.H., Cleveland, Ohio
From The Defender (childrenshealthdefense.org), March 20:
"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this month awarded a $4.8 million grant to a company that sells 'smart' face masks for cows. ZELP, which stands for Zero Emissions Livestock Project, claims its artificial intelligence mask technology for livestock will reduce methane emissions -- considered to be a main greenhouse gas -- and curb climate change.
"Cows and other ruminant animals emit methane in the process of digesting their food. The mask goes around the cow's head and captures the methane gas exhaled by the animal, oxidizing it and then releasing it into the air as carbon dioxide and water vapor, according to ZELP. It also has sensors that continuously collect millions of data points on the animals that are processed by machine learning algorithms.
"'Our AI is trained to detect heat, flag welfare conditions, and identify the most efficient animals with a high-level of accuracy,' said a ZELP spokesperson."
DEAR L.H.: This is a classic example of potentially profitable "technofixes" like geoengineering and genetically engineered and patent-protected insect-, flood-, salt- and drought-resistant crops rather than addressing the central issues of climate change and biodiversity loss. This calls for many initiatives, and most especially for us to adopt plant-based whole-food diets as one significant corrective.
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Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)