Can Lobsters and Octopuses Feel Pain? Scientists Say Yes, and the UK Is Listening

The British government is reforming its animal welfare laws after Brexit, including a bill that would formally recognize some animals’ ability to experience feelings

Photo by Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Lobsters, octopuses and crabs are now among animals the United Kingdom plans to classify as sentient beings, a step that could lay the groundwork for changes in how these animals are treated and slaughtered in the country. 

The British government, which is working on a reformation of its animal welfare laws following Brexit, added cephalopods (including squids and octopuses, among others) and decapods (lobsters, crabs and shrimp, among others) last week to the roster of species included in a bill that would formally recognize some animals’ capability to experience feelings such as pain. The bill would create a committee that aims to ensure the U.K. considers animals’ sentience as it designs public policy. 

The original bill considered all animals with backbones as sentient, leaving out other creatures such as lobsters, octopuses and crabs. The expansion comes after a report by the London School of Economics found these animals have the capacity to experience pain or distress. 

The changes to the bill won’t have immediate consequences for restaurants or commercial fishing businesses, but could help shape future British animal welfare policy, according to the government’s news release. 

Read the full story on NBCNews.com here. 

An orange lobster narrowly escaped being someone’s dinner after restaurant staff found out she was a rare, one in 30 million specimen.
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