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Switzerland Considers the Feelings of the Lobster

13 January 2018

The common cooking practice of boiling live lobsters in water was just outlawed by the Swiss government after animal rights activists and some scientists argued that lobsters' central nervous systems are complex enough that they can actually feel pain.

Lobsters may not really scream when you boil them - they don't possess vocal cords - but research shows they can feel pain, and Switzerland's government chose to do something about the common culinary practice of boiling lobsters alive. "Crustaceans must now be stunned before killing them", say the rules adopted by the government on Wednesday that will take effect in March, according to Seafood News, which cited the London Telegraph as the source of the story. The Swiss government order also said that lobsters are no longer permitted to be transported in icy water, and should instead always be handled "in their natural environment".

The crustaceans "must now be stunned before they are put to death", The Guardian reports.

The ruling follows, which prevents lobsters from being stored on ice in restaurant kitchens. Although unusual, the new law, which will come into effect beginning on the 1 of March, is based on a new scientific study, according to which any lobster can feel a tremendous amount of pain while being boiled alive.

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Crabs and lobsters deserve protection from being cooked alive.

Switzerland's decision is applauded by Professor Robert Elwood, emeritus professor in ecology, evolution, behaviour and environmental economics at Queens University, Belfast. "We give protection to birds and mammals, now we give very little protection to decapod crustaceans - lobsters and crabs - and the question comes, why is there this difference?" In experiments, hermit crabs were quick to abandon a shell if it was exposed to a large electric shock.

Furthermore, the study also revealed that crustaceans possess a highly sophisticated nervous system, which is the reason why Swiss authorities have ruled this killing method as being cruel. "I would question the use of that in a modern society", he says.

Switzerland Considers the Feelings of the Lobster