At the beginning of the year I mentioned this European cephalopod conference, where they were going to talk about new laws regulating the use of squids, octopuses, etc. in experiments. Sadly, I couldn't go myself, but fellow cephaloblogger Mike Lisieski attended and posted a nice summary of the event.

Now Nature News is reporting on the legislation:
Under the rules, all scientific experiments that can cause pain, distress or lasting harm to animals will have to undergo ethical evaluation. Researchers will have to justify the use of animals by proving that no alternative method is practical, and will have to use all possible means to reduce suffering.
That seems like a pretty good thing! But there are problems with applying laws that were written with mice and monkeys in mind to an animal like a squid:
Participants at the Naples meeting criticized the 'mammal-centric language' of the directive. For example, the text of the regulation recommends that analgesics and local or total anaesthesia be used to reduce animals' pain, when necessary. But researchers do not know much about how pain signals are transmitted in the nervous systems of cephalopods, and what effects anaesthetics would have on them. It is possible that such measures could actually cause more harm to the animal . . .
We've reached a point where we know enough about cephalopods to have a level of empathy for them that makes us not want to hurt them. But, in many cases at least, we don't know enough about them to be sure about what hurts them. Sigh.