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Report: Top Lab-Grown Meat Advocate Accused of Creating Atmosphere of Sexual Misconduct at Humane Society

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POLITICO reports that current and past Humane Society employees accused outspoken animal rights and lab-grown meat activist Paul Shapiro of sexual harassment and creating an unsafe environment at the Humane Society for six years.

The report continues:

The women said Shapiro, the vice president of Farm Animal Protection, asked them to have sex and told lewd jokes in the office, according to a POLITICO investigation based on new interviews with seven current and former employees, including four of the women who filed the complaint. According to interviews, emails and an internal document reviewed by POLITICO, Shapiro suggested a female employee should “take one for the team” by having sex with a donor, sent pornography and lewd emails to male employees and discussed with colleagues his sexual philosophies, such as having as many sexual partners as possible. His alleged behavior, staffers say, led to the resignations of no fewer than five employees from 2015 to late 2017.


On top of that, an internal investigation found Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle had three sexual harassment complaints against him, according to a memo received by the Washington Post. Pacelle denied the complaints. The POLITICO story recounts a slew of other tales of sexual harassment and misconduct in the organization, and how Shapiro reportedly created an unsafe environment with sexual jokes, passes at employees, and lewd emails.

Rachel Perman, Director of Charitable Giving & Engagement for The Tofurky Company, had previously asked the Humane Society’s board of directors to investigate “pervasive sexual harassment within HSUS.” Her request was met with disdain from board member Erika Brunson, who responded to her in an email forwarded to Gizmodo: “Are you out of your mind? Don’t you have anything better to do in life, than air your repressed sexual fantasies in public?”


No action was taken then, reports POLITICO, but the investigation into Parcelle began a month later.

Cultured, lab grown or clean meat, whatever you want to call it, is an emerging technology, and Shapiro is probably one of the loudest voices pushing its ethical angle.

In a statement emailed to Gizmodo, Shapiro wrote, “In years past at my previous job, I sometimes acted inappropriately, for which I’m deeply sorry. I engaged in sophomoric and unprofessional behavior. I should have known better and sincerely regret my thoughtlessness and poor decisions. I apologized privately then and do so publicly now to anyone I’ve hurt or offended.” He continued that he had transitioned to a new role with “less responsibility and no employees reporting to” him, and that “many of the assertions that have been publicly reported are simply false.”

As for Perman, she hopes this story will lead to a better animal rights movement.


“I think my ideal outcome would be that we have an animal welfare movement that’s free from sexual harassment and gender discrimination,” she told Gizmodo. “That will make the movement stronger and more effective.”