Animal rights row

Published: 6 May 2010 08:3011 comments

AN animal rights group is urging the Scottish Government to act following an international airline's decision to halt the transportation of live dogs and cats to an East Lothian medical research laboratory.

Scotland for Animals (SFA) is demanding Scottish ministers hold an independent inquiry into what it alleges is the "barbaric" treatment suffered by animals in the country's science labs - including, it claims, at Charles River Laboratories, based at Elphinstone Research Centre. Undercover activists working on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have forced German airline Lufthansa Cargo to ban the transport of dogs and cats destined for British research institutes.

The activists discovered an aircraft hold full of caged beagles destined, they claim, for the Elphinstone-based centre, along with paperwork detailing where the dogs would be delivered to during a recent raid on a Lufthansa cargo flight.

Following the airline's decision, SFA has written to every MSP demanding action now be taken to open up the information process regarding the experiments on animals, as they claim millions of pounds of taxpayers' money goes towards funding the laboratories.

John Patrick, a spokesperson for SFA, said: "The Airline Lufthansa has now pledged to end the transport of animals for research after being exposed shipping a 'cargo' of dogs to Edinburgh to be experimented on and killed by Charles River Labs in East Lothian.

"MSPs have consistently cowered away from the issue of vivisection in Scotland refusing even to discuss the matter as it is "not a devolved issue", but are always keen to meet with the animal research lobby and the firms involved in order to organise taxpayers funding for projects.

"With almost 560,000 animals being abused and killed every year in labs all over Scotland, and this number rising steadily, we think it's about time they had the courage to face this scandal and tell us, their employers, what they intend to do about it.

"There are real alternative research methods now readily available and in the 21st century we do not need animal experimentation. The practise is really barbaric and we really need to make stand about it. Animal experiments aren't working and it's about time those involved in this type of research stopped putting profit before lives."

"We are urging Scottish ministers to hold an inquiry about the whole animal experimentation subject."

SFA claim Lufthansa Cargo are just the latest airline to implement a ban on the transport of dogs and cats to be used in experiments following in the footsteps of Air Canada, Cathay Pacific and Quantas.

"The information available to the public regarding these labs is almost totally non-existent because these companies are currently protected by law and do not have to divulge anything to the public. It really is a disgraceful set of affairs," added Mr Patrick.

County MSP and Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: "Charles River is an important local company and a key employer in East Lothian, providing many highly skilled and well paid jobs. I respect the fact that people have strong ethical objections to the use of animals in scientific procedures. But I recognise that this research has helped hundreds of millions of people through advances like vaccines that have eradicated mass killers such as smallpox, and through the development of medicines and procedures to treat previously incurable conditions like heart disease.

"This research holds out the hope, with other scientific advances such as genome sequencing, of extraordinary breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of diseases as varied as cancer, mental illness and Alzheimer's. British scientists and companies are at the forefront of this work. A growing number of stages of vital research and testing can now be done, thankfully, without the use of animals.

"We all hope that the time will come when no animal experimentation is needed at all. But that's not the case at the moment - there are no validated and established laboratory methods available to totally replace animal experimentation.

"We are rightly proud of our history of animal welfare and protection. We have banned testing on great apes including chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans, and outlawed the testing of cosmetics, alcohol and tobacco on animals. We have legislated so that experimentation is only permitted when there is no alternative research technique and when the expected benefits outweigh any possible adverse effects.

"Today's approaches to drug development, involving an integrated programme of nonclinical testing and clinical trials, have been built up on a scientific basis for more than 30 years."

Officials at Lufthansa Cargo have admitted they have now added cats and dogs to their self-imposed list of banned animals which also includes apes, whales, dolphins and any animal captured in the wild.

Axel Heitmann, Director Competence Center Animals at Lufthansa Cargo, said: "Lufthansa Cargo is regarded by its customers worldwide as a highly professional transporter of live animals. Many companies and private individuals place their trust in our services because they know that with us their animals are in the best hands. This should and will continue to be the case in future. The decision not transport dogs and cats for animal experiments provides a further signal that for us the focus is on the welfare of the animals."

No-one from Charles River Laboratories Preclinical Services was available for comment, while the company also refused to divulge how many employees they have at the research centre and what their operations actually entail.

Charles River has a 60-year history of providing essential products and services to help their customers around the globe accelerate their research and drug development efforts. The company has more than 70 facilities spread across 18 countries and employs more than 8,500 employees.

Jump to first paragraph.

Comments

Have your say - post a comment on this article

Registered users log in here
If you are registered with us, you can login here. If you are not registered, please do so now. Once logged in you wont have to complete word verification each time you post.

  • This comment has been removed by our moderation team because it didn't meet our community guidelines.

  • F. Giles
    Unregistered User
    May 6, 15:49
    Report abuse

    This barbaric animal experimentation is downright disgusting! Many humans are nothing but gutless barbarians, those who are in any way complicit in causing helpless animals suffering. I hope all the non-human animal life dies out, then humans can wollow in being the only specie on this poxy evil planet.

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 1

  • Local Yokel
    Unregistered User
    May 6, 20:11
    Report abuse

    F.Giles, othwise known as the voice of reason.

    In one breath denouncing medical research involving animals, and then in the next expressing the hope that all non-human animal life dies out!

    I think F.Giles needs to have sit down in a dark room and think about how silly he/she sounds.

    Recommend?   Yes 1     No 0

  • Eli
    Unregistered User
    May 7, 10:12
    Report abuse

    People need to get a grip and look at this objectively. Objecting to testing on moral or ethical grounds is fine, but don't start spouting off rubbish before you know the facts.

    More small animals (rodents/birds etc) are killed each week by domestic cats than are used in animal testing each year. More rodents are killed by pest control/exterminators etc than are used for research. There are more stray dogs on the streets than are used in testing. Last year the RSPCA put down over 10,000 dogs, and investigated over 100,000 allegations of cruelty. 6000 dogs were used to try and cure human diseases in laboratories. UK meat and fish eaters consume 2.5 billion animals every year, nearly 700 times the number that are used in research.

    It's not perfect, and I don't think anyone would want to test on animals if there were alternatives, however the sad fact is that this is the best way forward at the moment. By all means protest and make your views on animal cruelty heard, but I'd be looking towards pet owners and meat eaters before I looked at pharmaceutical companies.

    Recommend?   Yes 6     No 0

  • elizabeth
    Unregistered User
    May 7, 14:55
    Report abuse

    It is a known fact that any creature used in these tests cannot improve our sorry lives. There is a doctor at Harvard that has stated that these tests should not be used because they have never done much to improve our lives.

    And yes, there are many new and improved ways of testing and they are being used by those companies that have some form of morals. These creatures do not owe us anything. They have done nothing to us, and Eli if you want to use something that will actually make a difference toward improving our sorry lives, then why not step up to the plate and let them use you!

    For some reason you feel that you need to use an excuse that others are doing this or that, but the fact remains, these tests do nothing and prove nothing and it is a sad fact that people like yourself won't take the time to look into the new ways to test anything that goes to the market where we will then purchase them, or put in your mouth. It is selfish people like yourself who feel that these innocent creatures were put here to suffer for our good...selfish! you are.

    As for Yokel attacking Giles...again people who don't care about any living, breathing creature, except yourself is lacking in morals!

    Actually I think what Giles is saying is, if there were no creatures on this earth...what would man then test on? what would man eat?? Their suffering is because of us. And they have rights to live on this earth free from the likes of us!

    There are alternatives! You need to do your homework, and then maybe you can make statements like the ones you have stated here on this site.

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 2

  • Eli
    Unregistered User
    May 7, 16:03
    Report abuse

    "It is a known fact that any creature used in these tests cannot improve our sorry lives. There is a doctor at Harvard that has stated that these tests should not be used because they have never done much to improve our lives. "

    It's clearly not a known fact, otherwise we wouldn't be discussing it would we. One doctor at Harvard doesn't really stack up against the vast majority of scientific opinion across the world.

    "And yes, there are many new and improved ways of testing and they are being used by those companies that have some form of morals. These creatures do not owe us anything. They have done nothing to us, "

    Yes, there are many new ways of testing, and yes many of them involve no animals at all. Brilliant. But they're not a viable complete replacement. Not yet anyway. It's a fact that any medicine, any pesticide, any chemical that you sue in your everyday life, will at some point have been tested for safety and efficacy on animals. And there are thousands more medicines/chemicals etc which have been kept off the market due to the results of such testing.

    "and Eli if you want to use something that will actually make a difference toward improving our sorry lives, then why not step up to the plate and let them use you!"

    I regularly take part in clinical trials for pharmaceuticals, do you?

    "For some reason you feel that you need to use an excuse that others are doing this or that, but the fact remains, these tests do nothing and prove nothing and it is a sad fact that people like yourself won't take the time to look into the new ways to test anything that goes to the market where we will then purchase them, or put in your mouth. It is selfish people like yourself who feel that these innocent creatures were put here to suffer for our good...selfish! you are. "

    I didn't use it as an excuse, if you read my post again, you'll see that I wasn't saying anything like that. What I was saying was that there are better targets for protest, not that it's not worth protesting against.

    You wait until you, or someone you know, needs a medicine to save their life. You turn it down because it was tested on animals, then I'll listen to your argument.

    Recommend?   Yes 1     No 0

  • A Molecular Biologist
    Unregistered User
    May 8, 11:05
    Report abuse

    Any new medication that passes Phase III clinical trialling will have been tested on anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 HUMANS, generally over 15 times more animals than are tested on in the entire development cycle of the pharmaceutical drug. After all this extensive testing we find quite wonderfully that over the last 30 years drug testing is approximately 98% effective even if you count every withdrawal of any drug in any MEDC (approximately 50 drugs in total, of which only 10 are withdrawn in all the MEDCs of Europe and North America).

    Nearly every human condition has been observed in at least one other species. All mammals are amazingly biologically similar, cardio-pulmonary systems are very similar, renal systems are very similar, hepatic systems are very similar, CNS are very similar, nearly every major system of every mammal species functions in approximately the same general manner. For feck's sake man our basal molecular biology is identical to even such organisms as unicellular eukaryotes like the unikonts. We are so similar to many animals that even their hormones function in us: adrenocorticotrophins, calcitonin, insulin (more on that later), oxytocin, thyrotropin, vasopressin and so on from a range of ungulates and even bloody fish.

    Naturally there are differences and these actually tell us quite a lot in themselves, one example of this that has been hitting the Lancet recently is to do with the differences in the proportion of muscle wastage in cases of Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy between mice and humans. Recognition of this difference has lead us to discover the α-dystrobrevin gene which is absent in mice yet present in nearly every other mammal and has been found to have a key role in muscle wastage in DMD. Leading to the discovery of a site for possible gene therapy to reduce a decent proportion of the most debilitating aspect of this genetic condition!

    Legally animals CANNOT be used in research if there is a viable non-animal alternative. As much research as possible is carried out using non-animal techniques as is demonstrated by the fact that 3,656,080 PROCEDURES (bear in mind the actual number of animals used has fully halved) were carried out in 2008 about half that of the 1970s and not a huge increase on the plateau levels of the 90s despite the fact biomedical research investment in the UK has more than tripled in the last few decades. Come on guys, scientists are generally lifelong academics therefore pretty damn liberal leading to a massive ethical and moral pressure to minimise animal suffering and testing at all where necessary. Then there is the large economical incentive to minimise vivisection for those of you who will say big pharmaceutical industry doesn't have ethics; animal research is hideously expensive due to the, quite rightly, stringent legal proceedings, spec*alist training for handling (the Home Office course to handle lab rats is a lengthy, detailed undertaking far in excess of that required for the far more brutal pest eradication), as well as the costs of the facilities needed to keep the animals comfortably (including 24/7 vet requirement) and Animal Liberation Front nutters out.

    I love alternative technologies some of them are amazing elegant and effective for increasing elements of our understanding but we cannot replicate systemic syndromes in them YET. The alternatives are still mainly reductionist paradigms with the holistic attempts still very much in their infancy which leaves only in-vivo experimentation to look at processes on a holistic whole organism basis.

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 0

  • A Molecular Biologist
    Unregistered User
    May 8, 11:20
    Report abuse

    Any new medication that passes Phase III clinical trialling will have been tested on anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 HUMANS, generally over 15 times more animals than are tested on in the entire development cycle of the pharmaceutical drug. After all this extensive testing we find quite wonderfully that over the last 30 years drug testing is approximately 98% effective even if you count every withdrawal of any drug in any MEDC (approximately 50 drugs in total, of which only 10 are withdrawn in all the MEDCs of Europe and North America).

    Nearly every human condition has been observed in at least one other species. All mammals are amazingly biologically similar, cardio-pulmonary systems are very similar, renal systems are very similar, hepatic systems are very similar, CNS are very similar, nearly every major system of every mammal species functions in approximately the same general manner. For feck's sake man our basal molecular biology is identical to even such organisms as unicellular eukaryotes like the unikonts. We are so similar to many animals that even their hormones function in us: adrenocorticotrophins, calcitonin, insulin (more on that later), oxytocin, thyrotropin, vasopressin and so on from a range of ungulates and even bloody fish.

    Naturally there are differences and these actually tell us quite a lot in themselves, one example of this that has been hitting the Lancet recently is to do with the differences in the proportion of muscle wastage in cases of Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy between mice and humans. Recognition of this difference has lead us to discover the α-dystrobrevin gene which is absent in mice yet present in nearly every other mammal and has been found to have a key role in muscle wastage in DMD. Leading to the discovery of a site for possible gene therapy to reduce a decent proportion of the most debilitating aspect of this genetic condition!

    Legally animals CANNOT be used in research if there is a viable non-animal alternative. As much research as possible is carried out using non-animal techniques as is demonstrated by the fact that 3,656,080 PROCEDURES (bear in mind the actual number of animals used has fully halved) were carried out in 2008 about half that of the 1970s and not a huge increase on the plateau levels of the 90s despite the fact biomedical research investment in the UK has more than tripled in the last few decades. Come on guys, scientists are generally lifelong academics therefore pretty damn liberal leading to a massive ethical and moral pressure to minimise animal suffering and testing at all where necessary. Then there is the large economical incentive to minimise vivisection for those of you who will say big pharmaceutical industry doesn't have ethics; animal research is hideously expensive due to the, quite rightly, stringent legal proceedings, spec*alist training for handling (the Home Office course to handle lab rats is a lengthy, detailed undertaking far in excess of that required for the far more brutal pest eradication), as well as the costs of the facilities needed to keep the animals comfortably (including 24/7 vet requirement) and Animal Liberation Front nutters out.

    I love alternative technologies some of them are amazing elegant and effective for increasing elements of our understanding but we cannot replicate systemic syndromes in them YET. The alternatives are still mainly reductionist paradigms with the holistic attempts still very much in their infancy which leaves only in-vivo experimentation to look at processes on a holistic whole organism basis.

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 0

  • Robert Hannett
    Unregistered User
    May 8, 12:41
    Report abuse

    "Legally animals CANNOT be used in research if there is a viable non-animal alternative."

    You're being disingenuous here "A Molecular Biologist"

    Home Office rules actually state that a Licence to conduct animal testst should not be granted unless "there is no validated alternative to animal tests"

    This is highly subjective as the 'validity'of an alternative is purely decided by the Govt. and it's main advisers who are to a man/ woman pro-animal model.

    If you're positive that animal testing is completely necessary then would you support and open, independent public inquiry into this and public access to labs and information surrounding their work?

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 0

  • Francis Giles
    Unregistered User
    May 9, 10:18
    Report abuse

    Local Yokel, I take your point! I am simply saying that as long as non-human animals are on this planet, many will keep being cruelly abused by many humans, therefore, the animals would not suffer if they became extinct. Ideally, it would be truly sad for them to become extinct. I want them here, but not to keep being abused by the evil, cruel hands of many humans.

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 0

  • Francis Giles
    Unregistered User
    May 9, 10:39
    Report abuse

    Thanks Elizabeth! You've basically explained to Local Yokel what I was implying. I say there should be no suffering inflicted on animals nor humans! Incidentally, a "Francis" is a male name, a "Frances" is a female name. Local Yokel should have written s/he, not he/she, not that it matters for much.

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 0

  • Local Yokel
    Unregistered User
    May 10, 20:01
    Report abuse

    Elizabeth seems to be saying that I don't care about any other living creature except myself! Very wrong. I even have a pet dog that I care a great deal about. I was merely pointing out the absurdity of what F.Giles had stated. It was ill considered nonsense. By the way Francis, I didn't know and didn't care which gender you were when I posted my response to yours. At the time I actually thought that the F was a pun, and may have been short for Farmer!

    The intelligent and knowledgeable posts from A Molecular Biologist were great to see though.

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 0