The Veterinary Bioethics Committee was formed in 1997 as an emanation of the College of Veterinary Surgeons of the Province of Rome. This initiative was taken as a response to the need, widely felt inside the veterinary profession, to constitute a suitable forum for a diversified and multidisciplinary discussion on the themes concerning human relationship with animals. One of the main functions of the Committee is to debate, within a broader context, the problems that veterinary surgeons often have to face alone, and to compare professional experience with other social actors, who may be equally involved in the same problems, but are characterized by a different professional experiences and a different operational context. The Committee sees itself as an observatory and a laboratory of study, with the main objective to sensitize civil society to the ethical problems stemming from the way in which we relate ourselves to the animal world. The Committee has given itself a multidisciplinary structure: its membership comprises veterinary surgeons, philosophers, ethologists, jurists, anthropologists, paedagogists, animal rigths activists, breeders, consumer association’s representatives, journalists and economists.
The Committee has faculty to invite to take part in its work other experts on the themes debated..This pluralism of expertise is meant to correspond to a real pluralism of values: in the committee there are widely different, even antithetic moral positions concerning human relationship with animals.
The Committee modus operandi has been eminently practical, giving consideration to specific problematic cases, from an ethical point of view, with the purpose of providing tools for the sensitisation of the civil society and showing possible ways for the elimination or the reduction of conflicts.
The Committee thought that the most suitable approach was not to put the emphasis on theoretical issues but rather to debate practical issues and to allow the theoretical aspects to come thus to surface. A different choice could have paralysed the work in a potentially sterile discussion, certainly interesting but not profitable for the purpose of producing practical indications.
Personal convictions and theoretical principles are on purpose given a back seat so as to make possible the dialogue between different positions, to stimulate attention to different points of view and to identify possible consensus among people with very different ethical paradigms.
Operationally the Committee has adopted the following work procedure: it assembles once or twice a month, selects subjects to be discussed in plenary meetings, and as it may be required, arranges for outside expertise, and institutes study groups, which then report to the Committee.
At the conclusion of this process the Committee elaborates a document which is approved by the plenary ( annexes include different opinions, technical reports and bibliography). In the biennium 1999-2000 the Committee has produced two documents.
The first, concerning the problem of the transport of animals, starting from the recent endorsement by Italy of the European directive 95/29 and suggesting possible strategies of improvement of the sector in order to provide a greater tutelage of animal welfare during transport. The second document regards the procedures for decision-making in veterinary clinical practice. Starting from the debate on the so-called "informed assent" in veterinary medicine, the Committee has debated on the deontological and ethical aspects of veterinary profession. Its conclusion stressed the need to introduce innovative elements to heighten the attention to animal welfare in general and the sensitisation of the users in particular.
The document does moreover supply some practical advices to facilitate this aim. A third document will examine the ethical problem instigated by the killing, at various title, of animals. Also in this case to the reflection of general and theoretical character, though present, the Committee has priviledged the research of practical ways to attenuate the conflicts between the wide range of diverging opinions.
The Committee will elaborate a generally acceptable scheme which can be used to evaluate the various forms of animal killings.
- Pasqualino Santori (veterinario)
- Donatella Loni (veterinario presidente dell’Ordine dei Veterinari)
- Simone Pollo (filosofo)
Cinzia Caporale- Biologa, bioeticista
Sebastiano Chiea- Veterinario
Ludovico De Lutiis- Filosofo
Gianluca Felicetti- Animalista
Ilaria Ferri- Animalista
Gianluigi Giovagnoli- Veterinario, neurofisiologo
Agostino Macrì- Veterinario, ass. consumatori
Arianna Manciocco- Biologa
Palmerino Masciotta- Veterinario
Eugenia Natoli- Etologa
Domenico Pignone- Biologo, dipartimento Agro-alimentare
Alessandra Spaziani- Veterinaria