Is slaughter study of any real use?

While any research to help ease the suffering of animals is to be welcomed, the recent study by scientists in New Zealand, effectively to decide whether cutting an animal's neck without first stunning causes pain, poses an interesting dilemma.

The study, which won the scientists the first annual Humane Slaughter Award from the Humane Slaughter Association, was part-funded by Defra and MAF in New Zealand. The results showed that, without stunning, animals undergoing a neck incision would feel the pain of the knife.

And as Craig Johnson, one of the scientists involved, said, the results were no great "surprise". So why carry out the work? According to Johnson, the idea was to develop data sets in areas of controversy in this case, religious slaughter such as kosher or halal to disprove the notion that animals slaughtered under such circumstances do not suffer pain.

Johnson said: "The religious community maintains the animals didn't feel pain, so the results should be a surprise to them." However, he admitted that religious groups refused to participate in the study, due to the fact that the animals used would be unable to enter the food chain. This meant the methods used in the slaughter were not identical to those used in religious slaughter.

Yet surely this renders the research somewhat moot, as religious groups will simply use that fact against those who say the study proves their theories to be wrong. Moreover, with few mandarins, or governments, keen to challenge the views of religious organisations, it makes you wonder whether there was any point to the process.

I would applaud the sentiment behind the study, but unless you can ensure buy-in from the very people you're looking to persuade, it could be seen as an exercise in futility.