Posts Tagged ‘Animals in Research’

Jeremy Corbyn, BUAV, and Me in 1984

October 30th, 2015 No comments

A delegation to the Ministry of Defence of Tony Banks MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Tom Cox MP, and myself as BUAV’s Campaigns Officer handing in a letter to Michael Heseltine, the Minister of Defence, asking a large number of specific questions relating to experiments conducted at Porton Down, the U.K. government’s military research laboratory near Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Scanned from The Liberator, which I co-edited and was published by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (April/May 1984, 5).

Jeremy Corbyn MP, now leader of the Labour Party, consistently shows personal interest in animal rights as a vegetarian and in Parliament with political opposition to violence to animals since his election in 1983.

Liberator 1984


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World Day for Laboratory Animals 1984

April 23rd, 2014 No comments
In London's Trafalgar Square on World Day for Laboratory Animals in 1984.

In London’s Trafalgar Square on World Day for Laboratory Animals in 1984.

Thirty years ago in London’s Trafalgar Square, I was the lead organiser of a national demonstration to recognise World Day for Laboratory Animals, when I was Campaigns Officer at the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

The protest was at that point in time the world’s largest animal rights demonstration with nine thousand people, with the greatest number ever involved–six hundred–in street theatre.

Under BUAV’s hallmark slogan of ‘Every Six Seconds an Animal Dies in a British Laboratory’, we constructed a large doorway, which was painted to represent an entrance to a vivisection laboratory. We dressed a couple of people as vivisectors, with bloodstained white coats, and stationed them by the doorway. From the plinth at the Square, we announced that for the ninety minutes of speeches and music a tape loop would play the sound of a bell chiming every six seconds. Each time the bell rang, large numbers were turned on the stage to count to six hundred while one of the vivisectors took a protester through the door, ‘killed’ them in front of the plinth, and laid them on the ground as dead animals. Eventually, the area was filled with 600 ‘dead animals’.

At the 1984 World Day for Laboratory Animals demonstration in London's Trafalgar Square, I help Sue Croshaw speak out as a disabled person against animal experimentation by holding the microphone stand.

At the 1984 World Day for Laboratory Animals demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square, I help Sue Croshaw speak out as a disabled person against animal experimentation by holding the microphone stand.

This protest was part of a coalition, the Mobilisation of Animals, which opposed the government’s proposed legislation to replace the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. The coalition consisted of Animal Aid, Scottish Anti-Vivisection Society, National Anti-Vivisection Society, and BUAV. We opposed the proposed law because it wouldn’t even ban particularly egregious examples of animal experimentation—such as using animals for testing the negative effects of tobacco and alcohol, and the toxicity of cosmetics, as well as employing animals in research for military and psychological purposes. These experiments had been the focus of the 1979 and 1983 General Election Coordinating Committee for Animal Protection campaigns I helped to lead. We organised a lobby of Parliament, which was attended by seven hundred people, and a rally, emceed by myself, with sympathetic Members of Parliament of all political parties, and others.

Although the government ignored our demands on the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, I believe BUAV and its companion organisations succeeded in highlighting what needed to be done when the new legislation was enforced. For example, the U.K. government subsequently banned the testing of cosmetics on animals in 1997 and the LD50 oral toxicity test in 2001. In 2003, the European Union agreed to a membership-wide ban on cosmetics animal testing by 2013.

The Talon Conspiracy, an online archive preserving the history of protest movements for animal rights and environmentalism, offers an opportunity to read back copies of BUAV’s ‘campaigning newspaper,’ The Liberator, which I co-edited. Here’s the link to the issue which included a report on the Trafalgar Square demonstration.

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Bleating Hearts by Mark Hawthorne

March 20th, 2014 No comments
Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering by Mark Hawthorne

Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering by Mark Hawthorne

Mark Hawthorne wrote Bleating Hearts because he wanted to ‘examine animal exploitation that does not get enough (or any) attention.’ (4) As you might expect, this is a book that is a catalog of our inhumanity to animals. It’s not an easy read but each chapter concludes with a ‘What You Can Do’ section. The best way to read it is to take chapters in turn depending upon your interest or need to know. Hawthorne is a writer of integrity. If he says it, you can trust it. I recognised Bleating Hearts as one of my Best Animal Rights Books in 2013. Indeed, Bleating Hearts is so important that not only does it deserve a place on everyone’s bookshelf but also it warrants further examination here.

Take, for example, Chapter 6 ‘The Age of Aquariums: Animals in Entertainment.’ Sixty pages devoted to indefensible activities such as imprisoning dolphins, orcas, and killer whales and conditioning them to perform silly tricks to entertain people. As with other marine mammal displays, roadside attractions, and zoos, there’s no real educational benefit. Studies show that visitors don’t necessarily learn anything about the trapped animals other than perhaps recalling the thrill of being splashed with water. Wild animals are no less wild just because they’re wild-caught or bred (in-bred more like). Most likely from boredom, frustration, and anger, they attack and kill people when they’re provoked or have the opportunity to do so. Hawthorne explains how parks get their orcas.

The orca slave trade took off in 1965 when Ted Griffin, then owner of the Seattle Public Aquarium, captured a young whale, harpooning and killing her mother in the process. The calf, the first in a long line of orcas to be given the name Shamu, was sold to San Diego’s newly built Sea World for what would be half a million US dollars today. Suddenly, marine parks everywhere were eager to shell out big money for these animals, and there were people willing to do anything for a piece of it. (305-6)

Then, there’s artificial insemination. Hawthorne describes how male orcas are taught to allow trainers to masturbate them and collect their semen. Female orcas are also trained to accept trainers insert an endoscope into their uterus to deliver the sperm. Next up are dolphins, who are caught, trained, and conditioned to swim with people for profit and supposedly for therapy assistance.

The rest of the chapter describes the injustices inflicted upon animals in circuses, zoos, in film and on TV, fighting (dogs, horses, bears), kickboxing (orangutans), wrestling (camels, alligators, crocodiles, pigs), and, perhaps the most ‘celebrated’ of all animals in entertainment, bullfighting.

But there’s much that can be done by everyone to dump so-called ‘animal entertainments’ into the trashcan of history.

The first and most important step you can take to help animals exploited for entertainment is not to support the enterprises and institutions that profit from animal abuse. (355)

Bleating Hearts is among the most important books anyone who cares deeply about animals would want to have on their bookshelf. The hidden world of animal suffering is that much more known thanks to Mark Hawthorne, whose writing is clear and compelling, and research impeccable and trustworthy. If ever there is a must-have book that’s well-read, this is it.

Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering by Mark Hawthorne (2013: Changemakers Books)

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A Beagle Happy Ending

July 11th, 2010 No comments

How a group of very luck beagles are transformed — thanks to a bankrupt vivisection laboratory and Pets Alive — from animal research models identified by a number to beloved animal companions with names. It gives one hope. More here.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

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Ranking Health Care in Seven Industrialized Nations

June 25th, 2010 No comments

In a recent study of health care in seven countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) the Netherlands ranks first, followed closely by the UK and Australia. The US ranks last overall, as it had in earlier studies.

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Singer on Animal Rights and God

June 9th, 2010 No comments

Philosopher Peter Singer makes sense in Religion’s regressive hold on animal rights issues. He begins by saying,

Last week, the chief minister of Malacca, Mohamad Ali Rustam, was quoted in the Guardian as saying that God created monkeys and rats for experiments to benefit humans. Activists had been protesting against his approval of an Indian company’s proposal to build an animal research laboratory in his state. They said that Malaysia has no regulations to protect animals in laboratories. His answer was the reference to God’s purpose in creating animals.

And concludes with,

If we are concerned about the exploitation of human workers in countries with low standards of worker protection, we should also be concerned about the treatment of even more defenceless non-human animals. At present, the only hope of reversing this trend seems to be pressure on companies not to test their products in countries without good animal welfare regulations, and pressure on research institutions not to have links with such countries. But to unravel the connections and make them clear to consumers is, unfortunately, going to be a difficult task.

But it seems that stupid comment of the day award needn’t necessarily go to chief minister Mohamad Ali Rustam who said God created monkeys and rats for experiments to benefit humans but to Wesley J. Smith, the latest in a line of apologists for animal exploiters and reds-under-the-dog-beds scare-mongers. He takes Singer to task for not using the opportunity of his op ed to state his opposition to violence. Because Singer didn’t, Smith concludes that

Singer has spoken against violence in the past, but not very robustly. This piece would have been a good time to bring that crucial point up with ringing clarity. Too bad he preferred instead to use most of his column as a jeremiad against religion. Indeed, I think it tells us clearly where is priorities lie. 

It seems that you can’t speak out often and loudly enough against violence for those who are blind to the violence they condone toward animals regardless of whether it is sanctioned by religion or anything else.

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Understanding Animal Research

April 29th, 2010 No comments

Understanding Animal Research publishes on its Web site an outline to the political parties and their stance on animal experimentation. It concludes

It is clear that within each of the main parties, animal research will continue to feature within their commitments to animal welfare, even if it is not currently in their manifesto. The research community also backs the reduction of the number of animals used in research projects wherever possible. But it remains important that this is done in a way that does not hinder research, or drive it out of the UK altogether. This is why we support the work of the NC3Rs, which seeks to integrate the 3Rs into good scientific practice.

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Conservative Policy on Animal Research

April 29th, 2010 No comments

The second in the series by The Guardian on the political parties and their science policies. The first was the LibDems.

The Guardian asks: Is animal testing necessary? Are the ethical concerns outweighed by the benefits? How would you like to see regulations on animal testing change under your government, if at all?

In an ideal world we would not need animal testing, but we could not stop it today without halting important scientific research. We want to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific procedures. Many British scientists and businesses are already working to refine, reduce and ultimately replace the use of animals. We would work with European and other international partners to encourage those “three Rs”.

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LibDems Policy on Animal Research

April 27th, 2010 1 comment

The Guardian begins a series on the political parties and their science policies. First up is the Liberal Democrats. The other parties are to follow and I will post them here as soon as they are available. Animal research is one of several issues addressed. Here is the LibDem’s response in full on animal research from their science spokesperson, Evan Harris.

The Guardian asks: Is animal testing necessary? Are the ethical concerns outweighed by the benefits? How would you like to see regulations on animal testing change under your government, if at all?

It is not a case of ‘ethical concerns outweighing benefits’. It would be unethical not to do animal research, given the enormous potential and past benefits to medicine and public health that such research has brought. It has been vital in work on dialysis, diabetes, transplants, and the polio vaccine, to give just a few examples, and could be vital in the search for treatments for HIV/AIDS and malaria eradication. We would maintain the current strict welfare standards on animal research, and support the replacement, refinement, and minimisation of the use of animals in research as far as possible, so that only the research which is completely necessary is done. We therefore oppose the use of animals in testing cosmetics or household products.

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Analysis of an Animal Research News Report

March 16th, 2010 No comments

The Guardian publishes a scare-mongering story yesterday, Animal rights activist using FOI laws to target universities, which I suspect was planted by the animal industrial complex. The subtext is that people who have been arrested should not be allowed to use the Freedom of Information Act (FOI).

The requests were sent by Luke Steele, an animal rights activist based in Yorkshire. He was last year convicted of conspiracy to interfere with a contractual relationship, so as to harm an animal research organization, after being arrested near an isolated Lincolnshire farm that supplies rabbits for research.

The report does not go on to explain the outcome from Steele’s arrest. Presumably, he served his sentence and that’s the end of the matter.

So, what’s the problem? Is it illegal for Steele, who is (presumably) a British citizen entitled to use a law passed by the UK Parliament? Is it because he will use the information in an illegal manner? If so, let the law enforcement authorities fulfill their responsibilities and deal with it providing it’s remembered that someone is innocent until proven guilty.

This principle would appear not to matter to an anonymous “university scientist.”

The most likely motivation here is that they want to catch somebody out. If they can find some bad wording in minutes from a meeting, then they can use that to claim we are up to no good.

Well, isn’t that democracy in action? Further, is it likely that Steele will discover something of earth-shattering importance? Maybe. Maybe not. Another anonymous source stated.

This [the FOI requests] has caused a great deal of concern among our staff who are worried about receiving threats or worse. Most scientists faced with FOI requests are happy to put stuff into the open and welcome the scrutiny, but in this case they are having to second guess the motives of people who might use this information.

But The Guardian concludes

Some of the information requested by Steele is already published, in summaries of Home Office licenses and academic papers. Other details, such as specific laboratory locations, can be refused under FOI exemptions.

So, again, what’s the problem? Someone exercising their democratic right?

Shame on The Guardian for publishing such transparent rubbish.

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