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Animal Doctor: Balance of science, bioethics needed

Animal Doctor: Balance of science, bioethics needed

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Dear Dr. Fox: I so enjoy reading your column, even though I am not a pet owner, and I want to compliment you on the column titled “Reverence for Life Is Moral Compass.” It’s such a simple but profound message that could go a long way toward creating a more harmonious, sustainable, balanced environment for every living thing on our planet.

I am not a scientist, but my teaching career and my worldview were greatly shaped by participating in an “experimental” life science program in high school called BSCS Biology. It’s an inquiry-based science curriculum, still used in some public schools, that allows students to appreciate the value of the scientific method.

I am sensing that most of today’s students are not being offered similar programs. Perhaps this is why we see the ever-increasing level of science skepticism in our society. In my humble opinion, this keeps us from developing the self-care and health care paradigms that we desperately need to promote optimal public and planetary health.

When I hear current “anti-science” discussions, I sometimes feel that I am living in the 13th century instead of the 21st century! This can’t be good. So, please keep doing what you are doing. There is too much at stake to allow the clamorous voices of ignorance to drown out the voices of reason and enlightenment. — J.K., Tulsa

Dear J.K.: I appreciate your comments and the need for science appreciation in schools as an objective, unbiased, impartial approach to investigation and understanding. As I have written before, religion without science is blind faith, and science without religion is blind arrogance.

Science needs to be balanced by bioethics, as per my book “Bringing Life to Ethics: Global Bioethics for a Humane Society.” Science has been corrupted by vested interests without any consideration for consequences that may harm the common good.

Albert Schweitzer famously stated, “Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.” Reverence for life is indeed enlightened self-interest.

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Study: Mercury in pet food due to fish

A new study by scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno, found that fish-based pet foods typically contain higher levels of mercury than those based on other proteins. Scientists also found instances of inaccurate ingredient labeling. The study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, was authored by Sarrah Dunham-Cheatham and colleagues. After mercury was found in pet food in a 2016 research project at the university, a team there took a closer look.

As reported in Nevada Today (

“As scientists ... and experts in the fields of mercury and genetic analyses, we want to learn more about what is really in pet foods and help consumers make a more informed decision when purchasing food for their pets,” Dunham-Cheatham said.

“’We as humans often are exposed to unknown contaminants in our food; animals are even more susceptible to contaminants in food because they are fed the same food daily,’ Mae Gustin, professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, who primarily conducts research on mercury in the environment, said. ‘It is important for people to know that the foods they are feeding their animals are safe. This information is important for manufacturers of pet food as well as for pet owners.’”

These findings mean greater vigilance is needed surrounding the pet food industry. And people must not just feed their pets the same conventional kibble, day in and day out, as I have stressed in earlier columns.

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The FDA is advising people not to drink, cook with or serve “alkaline water” from a company called Real Water. This water should also not be given to pets. The recalled water has been linked to liver failure in people, and in a dog belonging to a Real Water employee. (Full story: Ars Technica, May 3)

(Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

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Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.


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