Tom Lonsdale is a candidate
for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Council elections. For background
information please consult Tom Lonsdale's
Published in The Veterinary Record, 11March 2000and March issue of RCVS News.
Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales for children sometimes feature less endearing aspects of human behaviour told in an enchanting way. In 1837 he published 'The Emperor's New Clothes' depicting how nonsensical situations can persist in face of the evidence. In the story two swindlers traded on the Emperor's vanity. They persuaded him that their cloth was of the highest quality with magical properties. Fools, they said, could not see the cloth. Whilst the rogues busied themselves feigning to make cloth -- and pocketing the silk and golden threads -- courtiers and citizens pretended that the nonexistent cloth was magnificent.
No one wished to be thought foolish and, for their own reasons, connived at the deception. The hoax became more elaborate when the nonexistent, and therefore invisible cloth, was tailored into nonexistent clothes. 'Dressed' in his new clothes the Emperor strutted at the state procession. But the charade could not withstand an innocent's gaze. When a child exclaimed that the Emperor had nothing on the truth gained momentum. Soon the citizens were saying 'The Emperor has nothing on', but not the Emperor nor his courtiers. Those with the greatest responsibility to guard against stupid error marched on more proudly than before.
In the 1860s the fairy tales of another man created an impact on the commercial world. Jack Spratt travelled from Cincinnati to London to sell lightning conductors but on seeing the stray dogs on the London docks turned to manufacturing dog biscuits instead. He touted his wheat, beetroot, vegetable and beef blood product as superior fare. Spratt declared fresh beef could 'overheat the dog's blood' and table scraps 'break down his digestive powers'. Sadly for the pets of the world, veterinarians did not adequately speak out against Spratt's fanciful notions -- from the beginning some veterinarians were paid to endorse artificial products.
Now in 2000 the majority of domestic carnivores are fed from the can and packet with, I believe, serious consequences for pet health, the global economy and natural environment. (See www.rawmeatybones.com) Last year, on the strength of an eleven percent vote, I asked the RCVS 'to enter into open discussions in order to establish the composition and terms of reference of an independent committee of enquiry'. The RCVS declined, stating that: 'The marketing of pet foods, if misleading (or worse, as you suggest) would be a matter for other regulatory bodies and possibly even the courts.'
In my opinion the RCVS, governing body of a self regulating profession, should review its decision. Already there has been trial by television and children point out the obvious. Perception of bias -- some RCVS Councillors either sell or promote artificial pet foods -- must also be avoided. Accordingly I seek your vote in favour of the establishment of an independent committee of enquiry into the health, economic and environmental effects of artificial pet foods. If as a by-product I gain election to Council I undertake to promote transparency of administration, proper attire at RCVS processions and the interests of animals under our care.