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National Day of Protest Against L'ORÉAL Is Launched - Saturday 25th November 2000

Naturewatch supporters have organised a series of Protest Events to take place all over the UK on Saturday 25th November 2000. From Bournemouth and Weymouth in Dorset to Wakefield in Yorkshire, Naturewatch Supporters up and down the country will be donning animal costumes, setting up stalls, and handing out 'Boycott L'Oréal' leaflets.

In addition, Naturewatch will be lobbying L'Oréal Head Office in Hammersmith, London on Friday 24th November 2000.

If you would like to take part in the activities organised on either the Friday 24th November or Saturday 25th November, or would be prepared to organise your own event, please contact Naturewatch offices on the contact numbers listed below.

For more information please contact: Cathy Green or Mandy Corp at 'Naturewatch' on: Tel: 01242 252871/ Fax: 01242 253569
e-mail info@naturewatch.org

Another Labour U-Turn as Tobacco Test Licenses Approved

The Government has gone back on its pre-election promise to end experiments which involve forcing animals to inhale tobacco smoke.

In it’s glossy brochure published before the 1997 General Election entitled, ‘Labour...New Life for Animals,’ the Labour Party stipulated that, "We will not license the testing of cosmetics, tobacco or alcohol products on animals." However, in responses to Parliamentary Questions put forward by Norman Baker MP (Lib-Dem), the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Mike O’Brien MP (Lab), admitted that lab animals were being made to inhale tobacco smoke again.

It was revealed that there had been, "two recently approved applications." Mr O’Brien attempted to claim that Labour had not broken another promise because these applications were more to, "enable the development of treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema" than safety-test tobacco products. However, he admitted that a total of 3,100 mice, 1,000 rats and 2,100 guinea-pigs are to be placed in inhalation chambers and forced to breathe in tobacco-fumes in order to induce diseases which are directly related to smoking.

Mr O’Brien ended his answers by stressing the, "delicate moral balance," that needs to be struck. This refers to the supposed "cost-benefit analyses" that are allegedly taken into account before issuing project licenses, which generally is as sophisticated as "human life is worth more than animal life, so anything that may save or improve the former is worth whatever is done to the latter."

Notwithstanding the many basic and fundamental flaws in this ‘analysis’ (such as the deliberate infliction of intense suffering and mass killing of innocent, sentient creatures in experiments that are themselves fundamentally flawed due to species difference) the circumstances of these project licenses should swing the "delicate moral balance" against the vivisectors. These experiments will involve the infliction upon innocent animals of pain and death in order to "develop understanding" of essentially self-inflicted human diseases. Not merely self-inflicted, but willingly and obstinately done in the face of masses of evidence and incessant warnings as to the dangers of smoking. In addition, the vague objective is merely to "develop understanding" of smoking-related diseases.

Furthermore, disturbing details of the applications to administer tobacco smoke to animals have recently been uncovered. Such details are always kept secret from the public, animal advocate and humane research alternative organisations. A few months ago it was revealed that experimenters who wanted to administer tobacco smoke to animals thought that making an animal go into spasm 40 times was acceptable. It was pointed out that it was distressing (to say the least) and that operatives should be on hand to observe and take the "right action." The naivety of the experimenters might lead one to think that they were inexperienced, but the application was from a US based international company. As is usual in these cases the application was approved.

Write to: Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street and your local MP stressing (especially if a Labour member) that the Government has broken its pre-election promise on this matter.

Max Newton, Uncaged Campaigns

[Source: House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 10 Feb 2000 at www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199900/cmhansr.../00210w09.htm; Naturewatch correspondence June 2000 - website: www.naturewatch.org]

Regal Rabbit Farm Closed

After their success in closing down Shamrock Monkey Farm in Sussex, the Save the Shamrock Monkeys group (STSM) set their sights on Regal Group UK, in Great Bookham, Surrey. This establishment, run with large profits by William Pitcher and Caroline Smith, bred and sold New Zealand White and Half Lop rabbits to vivisection laboratories across the UK. Inside, were thousands of rabbits in wire mesh cages, locked inside rows and rows of windowless stinking sheds.

Every year in the UK almost 30, 000 rabbits suffer and die in vivisection laboratories. More than 65% of these experiments involve NO anaesthetic. Rabbits are particularly used in the notorious Draize eye test (to record corrosive damage to the eye over several days, usually with no pain relief), and the skin irritancy test (where rabbits are partially shaved and have substances such as insecticides and drain cleaner applied and the effects observed over 1-2 weeks, usually with no pain relief).

Regal also supplied polyclonal antibodies (PABs) on site. This involves injecting animals with substances to provoke the production of antibodies, where animals often reveal signs of acute pain and distress, and undergo severe pathological changes. UK laws permit the largest quantity to be injected. Animals can be injected anywhere al all on the animal’s body (including lymph-nodes, spleen, foot pad and penis. The antibodies are removed by taking the animal’s blood - usually about 15% of the total blood volume at a time, but sometimes by total exsanguination (bleeding to death). The animal is then killed.

On Saturday 8th July, just 12 days into the campaign to close down Regal Rabbits, William Pitcher, owner & operator of the farm, announced to the campaign and to the press that he would cease operating immediately. He also agreed to hand over all of his rabbits to be placed in loving homes.

On Tuesday 11th campaigners went in and rescued 600 rabbits from his sheds and brought them to animal sanctuaries and homes across the country. The remaining 580 rabbits (breeding females and their young) will be re-homed as soon as the young are weaned. Most of the caging and feed was also removed from the farm.

Homes, both temporary and permanent, are desperately needed. Please ring ‘Close Down Regal Rabbits’ on 07020 936 957 if you can offer a home.

Three victories for our movement in the UK in one year!! The vivisectors must be horrified. Thanks for all of your help in saving these beautiful animals from the hands of vivisectors.

Max Newton & Close Down Regal Rabbits

Bank Pulls Plug on HLS

The Royal Bank of Scotland is to pull the plug on a £20m overdraft with the controversial animal testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences. The Edinburgh-based bank’s involvement with the laboratory is the result of its takeover of Nat West which had allowed the firm to borrow £22.5m to run its business. Industry sources confirmed last night the overdraft facility will not be renewed when the deal with RBS expires in August.

The decision leaves the laboratory searching for new sources of crucial funding before the debt becomes repayable on August 31, 2000, and follows months of campaigning against the Nat West by activists across the UK. The press predictably referred to these campaigns in terms of, "threats," and, "intimidation." The overdraft facility was set up two years ago by Nat West around the time new management was installed at Huntingdon’s laboratories after it was exposed for cruel treatment of puppies and told to clean up its act by the government.

As of 13.06.00 the bank had refused to confirm or deny the decision to stop providing banking facilities, citing reasons of "client confidentiality".

Huntingdon’s annual report contains a note which makes clear the critical nature of the loans. The report said that while the directors were confident about the outcome of the negotiations it was "too early to predict the outcome". Brian Cass, managing director of Huntingdon Life Sciences, denied he knew that the bank would not renew the facility but said the laboratory had always known it would come to an end in August.

Huntingdon’s corporate broker, German banking group WestLB Panmure, has also severed ties with the laboratory. The group replaced HLS’s previous corporate brokers, Kleinwort Benson, about six months ago. However, on 6th June WestLBPanmure announced that they too would dump HLS, who found out last when campaigners telephoned them for a reaction!

See www.shac.net for more information about the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign.

Max Newton, Uncaged Campaigns
[Source: The Guardian 10.06.00]

South African Welfare Organisation To Kill Ex-Lab Animals

In South Africa a showdown is looming between the NSPCA (National Council of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - SPCAs - their equivalent of our Royal Society...) and animal rights organisations over the NSPCA’s decision to kill a total of 21 baboons after the closure of a notorious primate vivisection site.

The CAPE (Centre Africain Primatologie Experimentale) has hit the headlines several times over the past ten years. Recently it was raided by NSPCA and police officials and effectively closed down. Twenty baboons and nine vervet monkeys were found in the centre. Seven baboons were immediately "put down." Since then the NSPCA has taken the decision to kill the remaining primates at CAPE.

South Africans for the Abolition of Vivisection (SAAV) labeled as cold-hearted and cruel the decision by the NSPCA to kill the 14 remaining baboons, still held at Centre Africain Primatologie Experimentale (CAPE), rather than to allow them to be moved to an established baboon rehabilitation centre in the Northern Province, the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (CARE). The SAAV, and others, are now calling into question the entire philosophy and role of the NSPCA in South Africa.

"We find it outrageous that the NSPCA has chosen to kill these primates despite the fact that a viable alternative to save their lives, rehabilitate them and possibly return them to the wild, is available."
SAAV spokesperson Michele Pickover.

SAAV sent a letter to the NSPCA questioning what alternatives were investigated before the seven baboons were killed, and querying the welfare organisation’s stance on the remaining baboons. SAAV requested an urgent meeting with the NSPCA, but the NSPCA never even bothered to respond.

CARE, which was specifically established to deal with situations such as this, is one of the oldest wildlife rehabilitation centres in South Africa. On the basis of CARE’s valuable work - including two successful release programmes - the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has recently lent its personnel and financial support to CARE.

"Given the important work of the Centre, we believe that it should be positively assisted by the public and other animal groups such as the NSPCA. The future and survival of baboons in South Africa depends on this," said Ms Pickover.

The SAAV believes it to be clearly incongruous that the NSPCA, while refusing to allow these remaining baboons to be relocated to CARE. It also appears that the NSPCA is endorsing conditions in experimental laboratories where baboons are forced to endure psychological and physical trauma and are forced to exist in small cages, often only 1m x 1m. It is totally unacceptable that the NSPCA is prepared to allow these baboons to remain at CAPE whose facilities are, by their own admission, "unsatisfactory" or, even worse, to kill them rather than to send them to CARE.

It would be more appropriate if the NSPCA used its mandate more productively by assisting with fundraising for CARE; working to ensure that the permit situation with regard to releases is resolved and ensuring that the baboons from CAPE are not killed but sent to CARE and ultimately released into the wild.

Because no response has been forthcoming from the NSPCA, SAAV has taken this issue into the public domain so that pressure can be put on the NSPCA and these baboons’ lives can be saved.

"Their lives have been filled with misery and death. The onus is now on us to try and work to give back what was so cruelly and needlessly taken away from them. The NSPCA must be made to see that killing these primates would be an unforgivable and inhumane act," said Ms Pickover.

The SAAV believes that one of the underlying problems appears to be the fact that the SPCA/NSPCA condones experimentation on animals by co-operating with vivisectors on bodies or ‘ethics committees’ overseeing experiments on animals. SAAV has requested the South African government to review the composition and legitimacy of these so-called local ‘ethics committees’ around animal experimentation issues.

Experience (both in South Africa and the UK) has shown that these ‘ethics committees’ deprive the public of any meaningful participation and lack democratic practices, transparency and accountability. this is because:

i) they are unrepresentative of all stakeholders and role players;
ii) there is insufficient inclusion of persons representing organisations critical of animal experimentation;
iii) there are structural deficiencies with the ethics committees;
iv) the committees are generally always chaired by an animal user and animal-users constitute the majority of members;
v) they provide inadequate protection and review;
vi) instead of a vigorous assessment of the use of animals in research, ethics committees appear mainly concerned with helping animal experimenters to deflect criticism and allay public fears about the decision-making process and use of animals.

Please write to the NSPCA expressing your disgust at their hypocrisy in being an animal welfare group who would rather destroy these beautiful creatures rather than send them to a care and rehabilitation centre.

  • NSPCA/SPCA: Fax: +27 11 907 4013; Email: spca@global.co.za;
  • Snail mail: PO Box 1320, Alberton, 1450, South Africa.

For further information contact:
SAAV, Michele Pickover; Fax/Tel: 011 472 2380; Email: Michele@Library.wits.ac.za; Website: www.enviroweb.org/saav/index.htm

Michele Pickover and Max Newton

Powderject PLC and HIV / AIDS Research With Primates

A relatively new biotechnology company called Powderject Pharmaceuticals PLC has been conducting HIV/AIDS tests on monkeys despite well-documented scientific evidence that such animal-based research is irrelevant to how HIV / AIDS manifests itself in humans.

The company published two studies in May 2000 which were carried out on monkeys infected with SIV (Simian Immune Virus) - the non-human primate version of HIV. It injected the animals with DNA vaccines using its new needle-free syringe, which delivers the drug through the skin with a jet of high-pressure helium. DNA vaccines are based on particles of DNA that recognise and destroy infected cells.

The first study appeared to show that the vaccine prompted the monkeys to produce a high level of " killer T" cells - a type of cell often found in individuals with natural resistance to HIV. The second study appeared to show that the vaccine was effective against two different strains of the SIV virus - important because the HIV virus constantly mutates, making it difficult to design a powerful vaccine against it.

However, what is making it even virtually impossible to develop a successful vaccine against HIV is the fact that, as Dani Bolegnesi, Director of AIDS research at Duke University, North Carolina, USA, has warned that,

"No animal models faithfully reproduce human immune deficiency virus-type infection and disease in humans...animals are not optimal models."

Similar worries have been expressed by Professors Robin Weiss, John Moore and Professor Albert Sabin, the inventor of the oral polio vaccine. The latter said of animal experiments for HIV/AIDS research,

"What has been demonstrated up to now in animals does not have any relevance (to humans)."

Indeed, scientists have spent over 15 years infecting animals with HIV, but have been totally unable to induce human-like AIDS in other species (except in one highly disputed case). Furthermore, the monkey immuno-deficiency virus SIV does not cause AIDS in humans. This is because the physiologies of humans and non-human primates are very different, and so research findings from monkeys cannot be extrapolated to people with AIDS. All the advances in HIV research has, in fact, been developed as a result of studying the way HIV penetrates and reproduces itself in human cells. In short, using non-human primates in HIV/AIDS research in this way is not only cruel and unscientific, but also a criminal diversion of resources away from more promising avenues of research. Meanwhile, thousands of intelligent, sociable creatures are living, and dying, lives deliberately inflicted misery.

The Financial Times (FT) carried this story and warned that,

"Powderject itself said yesterday, showing a positive response in monkeys affected by a virus is a far cry from a cure for the real thing (in humans). The human version of the disease is a very tough nut to crack as it eludes treatments by mutating and a vaccine is at least ten years away."

One is left to wonder how much the studies were inspired by real attempts to find an HIV/AIDS or attempts to ‘prove’ the feasibility of its needle-free syringe. Certainly, the FT was in no doubt that the studies were released solely for the purpose of showing that Powderject's needle-free syringe could work - and thereby improving its share price, which had tumbled from 1000 pence in late 1999 to 488 pence recently:

"The news quashed recent stock market rumours of problems with Powderject's vaccine technology and helped the shares rise 4 per cent to 4621/2p."

If you would like to write to Powderject here is the address of the Chairperson and CEO: Dr. Paul Drayson (Chair and CEO), Powderject Pharmaceuticals PLC, Florey, House, Robert Robinson Avenue, Oxford Science Park, Oxford OX4 4GA, England.

Thanks to Samantha Wilson of Reading for bringing this to our attention.

Max Newton, Uncaged Campaigns
[Sources: Financial Times (FT), date unknown; Positive Nature November 1997; What Doctors Don’t Tell You, Vol1, No. 7]

The Drugs Don’t Work - Vivisectors lose their TRAIL

A ‘breakthrough’ cancer drug awaiting human trials that passed all animal tests, including in vitro animal cell tests, was found to have devastating effects on human in vitro cell cultures.

The drug, TRAIL (an acronym for Tumour Necrosis Factor-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand), was seen in animal experiments to destroy tumour cells by causing them to commit suicide. It appeared that it only affected cancerous cells, leaving normal ones unaffected. The team who conducted the cell culture tests noted in their report that:

"In a study with non-human primates, injection of soluble human TRAIL did not cause toxicity to tissue or organs, apparently ‘clearing the way’ for Phase I studies in humans."

However, the research team, led by Dr. Stephen Strom at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, say they have found that TRAIL could also have a devastating effect on healthy cells. Writing in Nature Medicine, the scientists said that more than 60% of the human liver cells exposed to TRAIL in the laboratory were wiped out within ten hours.

"Apoptosis (programmed cell suicide) and cell death in human hepatocytes was massive and rapid," they reported. The cells shriveled and their DNA fragmented. Tests on liver cells in rats, mice and rhesus monkeys did not show the same response."

These results indicate that if TRAIL was used in human trials, "considerable hepatoxicity or fulminant hepatic failure could result." Yet this new drug had passed all animal tests, had all the usual hype that is routinely lavished on ‘breakthrough’ anti-cancer agents, and was ready to begin trials in human patients. This sorry story re-emphasises the pointlessness of animal experiments given the many important and complicated species differences. This is re-iterated throughout the report by Strom et al:

"These results indicate that there are species differences in sensitivity to TRAIL, and that substantial liver toxicity might result if TRAIL were used in human cancer therapy.

"TRAIL did not induce apoptosis in parenchymal hepatocytes from any other species other than human."

Furthermore, one has to ask why in vitro human cell culture tests were not conducted first, thereby saving innocent animals from being subjected to pain and death. Invasive procedures were conducted on rats, mice, and rhesus monkeys (culminating in death) some considerable time before Strom et al conducted five (5) in vitro cell culture experiments. The Animal Procedures Committee is supposed to ensure and enforce the principle that no license for animal tests will be granted if there are ‘alternative’ methods available. Strom et al conclude with what is surely a statement of the obvious:

"Moreover, the extrapolation of data from preclinical investigations in other species should be made with caution, and investigations with human cells should be included in the preclinical evaluation of therapeutic agents."

It speaks volumes about the mentality of the pharmaceutical industry that, by May 2000, human cell tests are not included in pre-clinical investigations already, and it takes a near disaster with a supposedly ‘magical’ drug for anyone to suggest this.

The final, frightening, word in the of this grisly farce goes to Shigekazu Nagata, from Osaka University Medical School who, again in Nature Medicine, said:

"It may still be possible to delay clinical trials until we have a better understanding of why some cells but not others are resistant to Trail." !

Max Newton, Uncaged Campaigns
[Source: Nature Medicine, Vol. 6, No. 5, May 2000, p. 502-503, and p. 564-567]


Uncaged 1993-2012: This is the archived website of Uncaged. All information correct at the time of archiving - November 2012.