Charting New Frontiers in Animal Protection: Introducing Our New Insect Law Course
In recent years, the field of animal law has witnessed a remarkable surge, as societies around the world have taken a growing interest in the treatment of nonhuman animals, and ways in which the law safeguards their interests. This evolution reflects a profound shift in our understanding of the moral responsibilities we have towards animals and acknowledges that they too deserve protection and consideration within the legal framework.
As a trailblazer in animal law, the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School has always remained at the forefront of cutting edge legal advocacy, teaching and scholarship in novel areas of animal law inquiry. A thought leader in the field, CALS offers the most extensive animal law curriculum in the world—offering more than 25 diverse animal law courses, with 18 distinct courses in rotation each year.
Adding to its ever growing repertoire of courses, CALS has developed a new course titled “Emerging Topics in Animal Law – Insect Law.” Designed for U.S. LLM students, the course offers a unique opportunity for students to explore a cutting-edge field of legal research and scholarship with Assistant Professor of Law and Animal Law Program Director, Professor Rajesh K. Reddy.
Often regarded as bugs, creepy-crawlies, mini-beasties, and more, insects, in the general sense of the term, are all around us. They are everywhere we look, even those places we can’t see. They are terrestrial, subterrestrial, aquatic, aerial, arboreal and rock-dwelling in nature even. Despite—or perhaps due to—their incredible presence, insects often fail to register on our collective radars, much less in the legal system, which often fails to even consider them to be “animals.” Even within the animal law field, and animal advocacy more generally, the interests of insects have historically resided at the margins of our moral concern. The course explores these and other ethical, legal, and moral questions, including how the interests of insects and those of humans are intertwined.
The Insect Crisis
Whether we acknowledge it or not, the scientific reality is that we are in the midst of an ‘Insect Crisis’. Over recent decades, scientific studies and observations have consistently revealed a stark reduction in insect abundance and diversity, raising concerns about the ecological and environmental consequences of this decline. Insects play a pivotal role in ecosystems as pollinators, decomposers, and a vital part of the food chain, and their dwindling numbers can disrupt these critical functions. Multiple factors are contributing to this crisis, including habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, pollution, and more. The insect crisis has far-reaching implications, affecting not only biodiversity but also food security, as insects are essential for pollinating many of our food crops. Addressing this crisis is imperative not only for insects themselves, but also for the well-being of ecosystems, human livelihoods, and the sustainability of our planet.
The Rapid Growth of the Insect Farming Industry
As the human population continues to soar globally and the demand for protein-rich food sources increases, attention is being turned to considering insects as a sustainable and resource-efficient solution to address these challenges. From North America to Europe, Asia to Africa, and beyond, insect farms have proliferated in various forms. These farms rear insects like crickets, mealworms, and black soldier flies for a range of purposes, from human consumption to animal feed, and even as a source of bio-fertilizer. Governments and international organizations are also taking notice, with some countries implementing regulations to support and regulate the burgeoning insect farming industry.
However, the legal and ethical considerations surrounding insect farming for food, feed, and other products have become increasingly prominent as this industry gains momentum. From a legal standpoint, navigating the regulatory landscape for insect farming can be complex and varies widely from one region to another. Questions arise regarding labeling, safety standards, and the approval processes for incorporating insects into human or animal diets. Furthermore, the use of insects for food gives rise to ethical concerns around their treatment. How insects are housed, fed, and harvested, as well as their overall welfare, are factors that the law presently fails to consider.
Exclusive Insights from the Insect Law Course
This Emerging Topics in Animal Law course is designed to not only engage with but also, as the first of its kind, help formalize the study of Insect Law. In this course, students are challenged to contemplate both the diversity and numerosity of beings who fall within the class of ‘insects,’ in addition to scrutinizing the legal and taxonomic constructions of the term. From here, this course examines the interrelated crises that insects (and in turn humans) face, including the attention now being paid to what conservationists regard as our present “Insect Crisis” given dramatic decreases in insect diversity and numbers.
Going beyond species-level concerns, this course touches upon studies into the cognitive, sensory, and other capacities that attest to insect sentience. To be sure, the recognition of their sentience has profound welfare implications, as insects are used in many of the same ways as other commodified animals, including for food, clothing, research, and entertainment, just to name a few. In light of growing calls to protect their lives and well-being, this course explores how the law can help mitigate the harms they face and advance their interests.
Drawing upon existing and emerging legal frameworks in the United States, European Union and the United Kingdom, this course explores both how insects can be protected using current laws, as well as what the future holds for the legal protection of insects used in research and food. The course also unpacks the economic, ecological, health, sustainability, climate, and other arguments being advanced by industry to promote insect consumption as the future of food, as well as attend to some of the flaws in these assessments and the insect welfare issues involved.
Practical Skill Sets
Along with substantive knowledge of insect law, the new Emerging Topics course is designed to empower students with a wide variety of practical skills, such as:
- Understanding and influencing legislation: Students develop the skills needed to analyze existing legislative frameworks and consider the ways in which they can influence future legislation to directly or indirectly protect insects;
- Navigating food safety and animal feed regulations: Students gain expertise and insight into the complex world of food safety and animal feed regulations, a critical aspect of the insect farming industry.
- Skills in promoting or opposing industry growth based on ethical considerations: Students are equipped with the tools to make informed decisions and advocate for ethical practices in the ways in which insects are used in various industries
Why Lewis & Clark’s Online Animal Law Program?
CALS’ Online Animal Law LLM degree for lawyers and Animal Law MSL degree for non-lawyers equips students to establish flourishing careers in animal law. Animal law advanced degree graduates are equipped to practice as animal law attorneys, teach animal law, as well as work for animal protection organizations or for other employers in positions where a knowledge of animal law would be required or helpful. CALS alumni include judges, attorneys, policy-makers, and academics who are striving to make the world a better place for all.
Our online Animal Law program offers students the flexibility to pursue their passion for animal law and advocacy without disrupting their existing commitments. Students can study at their own pace, from anywhere in the world, and gain expertise that can shape the future of animal protection. Furthermore, courses are taught by experts at the forefront of this dynamic field. Our faculty bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom, ensuring students receive a top-quality education.
Lastly, students in the online program are able to join a community of like-minded individuals who share a passion to protect animals. The program provides ample networking opportunities, connecting students with professionals and organizations dedicated to making a difference in the lives of animals.
The online Emerging Topics – Insect Law course at Lewis & Clark Law School offers a unique and timely opportunity to explore the fascinating intersection of animal welfare, ethics, and law within the context of the burgeoning insect farming industry. For all those passionate about animal rights, environmental sustainability, and the future of our food systems, this course represents a gateway to an exciting and impactful career in animal law and advocacy. Join CALS in shaping a better future for all creatures, great and small.