Proudly hosted by

Issue 16
MRC Baboons
Vet Council Continues to obfuscate
Local researchers question animal models
Does Dove give a Rats's *** ?
Proposed Code a 'Vivisector's Charter'
Who'll move the cheese ?
Enchantrix - now country-wide distribution
Vivisection retards medical progress
The compassionate Consumer
Dr Vernon's Casebook
Regulars
Editorial
Science Cafe
Hall of Fame
Top Quotes
Archives


ARCHIVE : Issue Eleven


NEW ANIMAL RESEARCH CENTRE IN SOUTH AFRICA

Vivisection has always been a money spinner, with vast amounts being spent on animal 'research' supposedly for the benefit of humans. Medical luminaries who are in the know, would confirm that, because of species differences, animals cannot serve as models of the human being. The experiments are therefore of benefit only to those humans who derive pecuniary gain in the form of jobs or grants. In the wake of the supposed demise of Roodeplaat and Biocon, the news is that a multi-million rand "internationally recognised"
Biomedical Research Institute, the Institute for Infectious diseases and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM) is to be built at the University of Cape
Town (UCT) to "consolidate and expand existing research into Africa's most ruthless diseases." Most appropriately, the launch of this institute took place at the Baxter Theatre, marking the start of a special meeting on the Biochemical and Molecular Basis of Disease. The meeting was attended by hundreds of researchers and scientists delivering papers on research done on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer, nutrition, genetics, drug resistance and drug design. Marketing Materials for the IIDMM were produced with the support of Campaign Manager, Claire Jeffrey. Amidst the attendant fanfare, the senior deputy vice chancellor of UCT, Wieland Gevers, waxed lyrical about the benefits and increased productivity of such a move. Not publicised, was the cruel fact that a baboon trapper from George had been commissioned to supply wild caught baboons, trapped in the last remaining indigenous forest in the Western Cape, as experimental models. According to unconfirmed reports, the good professor's speech was heralded by an impassioned rendering, by the Baxter Theatre Trio, of the Ol' Blue Eyes song 'Bring in the Clowns.'
(See: Government channels Tax payers' money into animal research)

Wieland Gevers


RESEARCHERS AGREE THAT USING ANIMALS AS
MODELS FOR HIV AND CANCER HAMPERS PROGRESS

In a collaborative article: In Search of an HIV Vaccine published in Science in Africa April 2002,
researchers from the University of Cape Town, the University of North Carolina and The Medical
Research Council in S.A., admit that 'The lack of an ideal experimental animal model of HIV infection has
hampered progress.' Despite billions spent on 'Aids Research' we are no nearer a cure. Not surprisingly, as AIDS is a disease of the immune system and the immune systems of human and non-human animals differ in important aspects. It is, therefore, foolhardy to try and experiment on one species with a view to extrapolating the results to another. And so any progress in the fight against AIDS has come from test tube research using human cells, clinical research and epidemiology. This same pitfall has resulted in 'cancer research'
suffering tremendous setbacks. Despite billions being spent on cancer research using animals, the incidence
of cancer is on the increase. Hardly surprising, as less that one-third of all known carcinogens cause cancer
in animals. One of Britain's leading cancer research institutes, the Marie Curie Foundation, announced at the end of 1986 that it would henceforth renounce all animal experimentation. This decision was explained by the
realization that experiments on animals provided no meaningful results for human beings. Alan Oliff, executive director for cancer research at Merck cited the problem that 'the (animal) model systems are not predictive at all.' Edward Sausville of the National Cancer Institute sums it up as follows: "We had basically discovered good mouse drugs rather than good human drugs." The limitations of animal models have led the NCI, amongst others, to test drug candidates in cultures of human cells. The Institute now relies on a panel of 60 human tumour cell lines, including samples of all the major human malignancies. Now the British Cancer Control Society has
stated: 'It is clear that the incidence of cancer will never decline until we look at prevention rather than cure...(but)... very simply put, treating disease is enormously profitable, preventing disease is not.' So why then does animal based research continue? This question has been answered by the 'no cure' hypothesis. Cancer research became a major money spinner, with more people said to be living off the proceeds of cancer 'research' than were dying of the disease. And now the new money spinner is AIDS research. Bear in mind the vast sums of tax payers' money being diverted from prevention and channelled towards the establishment of new animal laboratories, complete with elaborate marketing campaigns and accompanying fanfare for the benefit of those
researchers who stand to gain financially, and the no-cure hypothesis becomes a very ugly reality. (See Editorial)



NATIONAL CODE OF ETHICS 'A CODE FOR RAPE'

In South Africa, the Animal Protection Act (71 of 1962) offers no protection to animals in laboratories. Nor are any experimental procedures prohibited by the Animal Protection Act. With regards to animal experimentation there is, therefore, a pressing legislative imperative. In the 1980's, a proposed National Code for the handling and use of Animals in Research was drawn up by The South African Association of Laboratory Animal Sciences (SAALAS) the main role players of which, at that time, consisted of Roodeplaat (RRL) Veterinarians (the RRL was the infamous front company for the South African Defence Force's Biological and Chemical Warfare programme.) Apart from the obvious pitfalls, that the vivisection industry was in effect to monitor itself, the Code had no teeth as it was not enforceable by law. It was coached in such vague terms and had so many loopholes that it became known as the 'Vivisectors' Code.' Furthermore, the proposed Code entrenched the lack of transparency and accountability which is the norm in the industry today. In effect, it appeared to do nothing for the animals apart from specifying the minimum size of cages in which they were to be held. Indeed, Dr Vernon Coleman MD likened the Code of Ethics for Animal Experimentation to 'having a code for rape, eg. it is in order to rape as long as the bed is soft and you buy the victim flowers beforehand.' Since the 1980's there have been attempts to have the Code revived and it seems as if this twenty year old proposal is again back on track, with a view to becoming law. But the Department of Agriculture, which is in charge of Animal Protection Legislation (a conflict of interests here?) and with whom the ultimate decision will apparently lie, seems to have been rather tardy with relation to its responsibilities. SAAV, as a major role player, has been monitoring the situation closely. At the Workshop on Animal Welfare in a Diverse Society, which was held on 12 May 1998, input from the various stakeholders present was noted and the Department of Agriculture promised to consult with the various groups in the immediate future, with a view to drawing up new Animal Welfare laws. Four years later we are still waiting. Despite the fact that the not inconsiderable salaries of the officials in the Department of Agriculture are paid out of our taxes, and one would therefore expect some measure of public accountability, letters of inquiry remain unanswered. It can hardly be to the Department's (or the Government's) credit that SAAV had to go to the Public Protector to try to get the Department to fulfill its promise made at the workshop. SAAV is now resorting to legal opinion on how to pursue the matter further, with regard to a rewriting of the existing legislation.
(See SAAV's Vision)



EDITORIAL

The issue of cloning has been a controversial one, and so it is hardly surprising that researchers have indulged in complex rationalisations in order to defend the indefensible. So, for instance,when scientists in the United States were said to have cloned two calves, it was lauded as an achievement which 'could lead to production of drugs for humans in cows' milk.' (presumably that is over and above the gonadotropin hormones already being fed to humans in this manner). In a world which perpetuates Cartesian philosophy, whereby sentient animals are reduced to unfeeling machines, scientists and agribusiness now hope to mass produce customised cloned animals for use as eliminate chemical factories to secrete drugs and chemicals. But as that luminary of medical science Professor Pietro Croce has pointed out, 'medicine transformed into industry cannot do otherwise than have increased production as its goal, requiring increased demand and increased illness, whereas medicine, alone among human activities, should at least tend toward progressive limitation of itself.' That is, if human health is indeed its goal. Quite apart from the impact on the animals themselves, this sort of experimentation on animals leads to experimentation on humans. Over twenty years ago a group of young activists, including the American writer Jeremy Rifkin, urged scientists to consider the grave ethical, social, economic and environmental issues raised by the new 'science' and warned that transgenic animals, patented genes, surrogate parenting andanimal - and human - clones would likely be realised by the end of the 20th century. They were ridiculed, of course, but today we see these predictions materialising and there is already talk of cloning humans. As Rifkin points out, reducing the animal kingdom to customised, mass produced replications of specific genotypes is the final articulation of the mechanistic, industrial frame of mind. A world where all life is transformed into engineering standards and made to conform to market values needs to be opposed by every caring and compassionate human being who believes in the intrinsic value of life. Animal cloning risks undermining the biological diversity within each species that is essential to maintaining species viability into the future. Just because it can be done, does not mean it should be done.



THE ETHICS AND SUFFERING OF CLONING

The debate over the health of clones and how they age has swung one way and then the other. Labs that have cloned animals have reported that the cattle, sheep and goats that make it to adulthood are normal in every way that can be measured. But in January, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, Dolly the sheep, was reported to have prematurely developed arthritis. Now Japanese researchers who cloned a dozen mice reported that
virtually all of the animals died early, a report that casts more doubts on the safety of cloning. The mice had abnormal livers, lungs and perhaps some immune system anomalies, it was reported. Researchers also
noted that clones may be born "old." Mice born through natural mating and conceived using artificial fertilization lived much longer. Many clones die at or before birth."The possible negative long-term effects of cloning, as well as the high incidence of spontaneous abortion and abnormal birth of cloned animals, give cause for concern about attempts to clone humans for reproductive purposes," Atsuo Ogura and his colleagues at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo reported in the Feb. 11 issue of the journal Nature Genetics. Ogura further says that his team's work suggests that some effects of cloning are not apparent in the days, weeks or even years after birth. "It is very probable that, at least for some populations of clones, some unpredictable defects will appear in the long run," he says. The report is sure to be taken as more evidence that cloning people should be banned. (See Editorial)


GM EXPERIMENTS 'CAUSE ANIMALS
UNNECESSARY SUFFERING.'


Scientists say hundreds of thousands of animals are being needlessly genetically modified and cloned every year. A report by genetics monitoring group GeneWatch argues the practices are irresponsible and of little health - or commercial value. It says the majority of the 582,000 animals genetically altered in Britain in 2000 for medical or agricultural research were mice. Other animals such as sheep, pigs and cats are also being increasingly used. The report, which covers the development of GM animal technologies world-wide, drew on previewed scientific studies and patent applications made by companies. It says many experiments are highly inefficient, wasteful of animal lives and frequently involve suffering. The Guardian quotes it as saying: "Abortion, premature death and infertility are regular side-effects of these genetic technologies. The use of GM animals in medical research must undergo a complete review as the science does not support the vast abuse of animals that is taking place." Dr Sue Mayer, one of the report's authors who also sits on the government's agriculture and biotechnology committee, says: "The extent of animal suffering and the reasons for it are being hidden from public scrutiny and debate." Mark Mattfield, doyen of the collective unconscience of the Research Defence Society, rationalizes as follows: "GM animals are proving crucial in the understanding of many serious and fatal diseases from cancer to cystic fibrosis and motor neurone disease. Scientists take their responsibilities towards all laboratory animals, including those that are genetically modified, very seriously." But an article in The Scientist (Feb 4 2002, p22) closed with the following:"There isn't a single genetically manipulated mouse that has been used yet to produce a drug that cures a disease," says [Kathleen] Murray of Charles River - the biggest lab animal breeding company in the world



SAAV's VISION

At the Workshop on Animal Welfare in a Diverse Society which was held on 12 May 1998, SAAV
tabled its vision in respect of the way forward regarding the issue of animal experimentation (SAAV appeared to be the only role player at the time which had a detailed and specific proposal drawn up). In this vision, SAAV stated its aim of abolition of vivisection, not least because of the scientific invalidity of using the non-human animal as a model for the human being. In view of this, SAAV rejected the mere regulation of animal experimentation. Pending the achievement of a total ban, however, SAAV stated that they might support the necessary steps towards abolition of vivisection, within a definite specified time period. In terms of this submission, SAAV put forward four specific proposals:

Accountability and democratic practice in the
vivisection industry
Instead of vivisection being cloaked in secrecy and behind locked doors, information on animal experimentation should be made accessible to the South African public.

The rejection of local "ethics" committees
Local ethics committees are seen as a structurally deficient, self-policing, self-perpetuating, peer review system. Such committees merely become a rubber stamp and deprive the public of any meaningful participation in a process which is largely funded at public expense.

The rejection of the proposed "National Code of practice" SAAV is, in principle, against any
regulatory system which "governs" the use of animals in laboratories, especially when such code was not drawn up in a consultative and transparent way and was not discussed with all stakeholders and role-players. Any code which does not deliver justice for animals, would constitute legalised cruelty. Indeed, it would be like having a code for rape.

The establishment of a National Monitoring
Mechanism
SAAV proposes the establishment of a National Monitoring Committee (NMC) which should monitor the whole situation - from breeding units, holding stations, and transportation, to animals in the laboratories etc. The NMC should be a public-interest body; it should act as ombudsman and an auditor and it should sit in judgment. The NMC will also establish an "Inspectorate" which will be publicly accessible. This Committee should be a publicly-appointed body reflecting the desire of the public to see animal experiments replaced with non-animal techniques; it must be independent from the institutions that conduct animal research; the Committee should be constituted through a formal, public interview and documented (transparent) process and the profiles of the candidates must be published.


AT THE SCIENCE CAFÉ

There was an excited buzz in the Science Café, established at Roodeplaat in the Interests of Better Science.
'So at last,' continued the Little Bird who had just flown in with the latest news, 'at last there's a millionaire animal rightest. And he's going right up there with the astronauts to do some experiments for the benefit of the Animal Kingdom. The process is for SPC.' 'Shuttleworth's Party Cake?' ventured the Canary. 'No,' sighed the Erudite Owl, 'it stands for Soluble Protein Crystallisation. It's a method scientists have for studying the arrangement of atoms in molecules, by means of X-Ray Crystallography." 'So no party cake?' 'If I may continue,' deliberated the Erudite Owl, 'he's going to take rat stem cells into conditions of zero gravity. They then want to see whether they will grow faster. The University of Stellenbosch postulates that future conception and embryonic and foetal
growth might occur in outer space.' 'Because there are too many humans on earth?' 'They also say it will benefit childless couples, endangered species and valuable animals. Take the extinct quagga for instance. They could send the stem cells and foetuses up by satellite and grow new quagga up there.' 'How clever,' gushed the Canary, 'and then they can grow more elephants and rhinos up there too, so that South Africa can have rhino horns de-listed at the upcoming summit.' 'I say,' commented Vulture No. 1, 'that would cost a packet. Mark can't go on funding this creation of rhinos and elephants forever.' 'Well then,' hesitated the Sparrow, 'would it not be cheaper just to cull the hunters?' 'And, of course,' continued the Erudite Owl, 'they say it will benefit AIDS. The ultimate trump card, don't you think? They might even establish whether the H.I. virus causes AIDS.'
'But have they isolated the virus yet?' 'Oh yes,' responded the Erudite owl, 'they isolated it so much that they can't find it." 'Perhaps,' hesitated the Sparrow, 'perhaps it's from outer space?'


GOVERNMENT CHANNELS TAX PAYERS' MONEY
INTO ANIMAL RESEARCH

Despite a world-wide trend to ban experiments on non-human primates, especially wild caught ones, a baboon trapper in George has been granted a permit to trap and supply wild-caught primates from the last indigenous forest in the Western Cape. But who cares, when one has a peek at the money behind this project, much of it to come from our hard-earned taxes. Anational Biotechnology Strategy for South Africa was prepared by a Government committee chaired by Prof Iqbal Parker. It was approved by Parliament and a decision made to allocate R180 million per annum and R45 million as start-fund to set up a biotechnology- based research industry in South Africa. The Health Sciences Faculty (HSF) of the University of Cape Town and especially the Institute for Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM) are well poised to benefit from this initiative.
A further role player is the Rockefeller Foundation of which a lesser known aspect is its major interest in drug manufacturing firms. The Rockefeller Foundation sponsored workshops to identify collaborative research projects in Sub-Saharan Africa suitable for major international funding. These workshops were arranged under the banner of USHEPIA (an association of seven universities in Sub-Saharan Africa).
In preparation for receipt of this slice of tax payers' money, a management board was appointed for the Animal Unit with Prof. Frank Brombacher as Chair and
as acting director of the Animal Unit. A decision was made to relocate animal breeding and holding facilities. Frank Brombacher - Acting Director of
the Animal Unit.

In collaboration with the Medical Research Council (MRC) the university will build and operate animal breeding facilities at Delft. A new smaller animal holding unit and waste disposal building will be planned for the north east corner of the campus abutting Falmouth and Anzio Roads. (See Researchers Agree ....)



TWO LEGS GOOD, FOUR LEGS EQUAL?

It is 180 years since the first animal welfare law. Now we are promised a Bill of Rights for pets. Penny Wark traces the history of our changing attitudes, while Roger Scruton remains sceptical. You might think that those who campaign on behalf of animals would welcome the Government's attempts to enhance their protection with a Bill of Rights for animals. This is not quite true, however. While campaigners approve of the principle, they are
also inclined to be cynical: this is just politics at work, they say. They have seen it all before. Those who have
studied the 200 years in which numerous human beings have chivvied and philosophised and even planted bombs to improve the lot of animals are aware that legislation does not always lead to improvement. It is widely believed that the Government has banned the testing of cosmetics on animals, for example; in fact, it has merely pledged not to renew licences for this procedure. Similarly, there is still no law to prevent live calves from being
exported. So campaigners suspect that the legislation being promoted by the Environment Minister Elliot Morley
- to guarantee pets a minimum quality of life - will again protect the status quo of the economy by failing to outlaw factory-farming procedures and vivisection. "We need a cultural revolution in the way that we relate to animals, and Morley's exercise is not about that," says Andrew Tyler, the director of Animal Aid. "It's putting a sheen on the status quo, but doesn't get to the core." What cannot be disputed is that during the past 30
years the animal rights movement has been impossible to ignore. Broad-based, pragmatic and well organised, it is no longer seen as the preserve of the batty, the well-meaning or the terrorist. Almost 6 per cent - and probably much more - of the UK population no longer eats meat; militant activists are a tiny minority of those who support animal welfare. So how has the animal rights movement achieved such mainstream approval? The answers lie not in a sentimental attachment to animals but in social and political history, and in our relationships with each other.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the rise of organised political discussion led to debate - in political, religious and philosophical circles - on the protection of those unable to speak for themselves. The first legislation to protect animals from cruelty was passed in 1822; the SPCA (later the RSPCA) was founded two years later to improve "moral temper and consequently social happiness". As the century progressed, concern for animals was associated with the formation of the classes; by acting benevolently towards animals, the middle classes
dissociated themselves from the rabble, and from the uncaring upper class. But it was not until after the
Second World War that the movement gathered wide momentum. Hilda Kean, the author of Animal Rights
(Reaktion Books, Pounds 9.95) associates its rise with increasing politicisation and the collapse of orthodox
and fixed ways of thinking. Where people had once been concerned merely about stopping cruelty to animals, now - understanding that human beings were capable of destroying the world - they were intent on preserving it and living together in peace. "In the 1970s you had the founding of women's liberation and gay rights, you had the anti-nuclear movement, environmental concerns. People were looking at the world in political terms rather than just through the prism of class," she says. "You'd had the student uprising in 1968 and people were asking
'What sort of future do we want for our children?' Campaigning round animals isn't always about animals, it's often about cultural and political ideas." She cites the effective campaign against the vivisection laboratory run by Huntingdon Life Sciences in which shareholders have been targeted: "It is not dissimilar to the dynamic behind
anti-globalisation protests. Animal rights are part of a concern about much broader issues." There was also a moral debate. In 1964, Ruth Harrison's book Animal Machines catalogued the suffering inflicted on animals by industrialised agriculture. Nine years later, the philosopher Professor Peter Singer, now at Princeton University,
introduced the notion of "speciesism" in his seminal book, Animal Liberation. Speciesists regard human beings as more valuable than members of other species, a form of prejudice akin to racism. Singer argued that animals' interests are equal to those of human beings and raised moral objections to the way in which they are caged and killed for people to eat them. A moral act, he believes, is one that satisfies the most interests, and that includes the interests of animals.Clearly his arguments gave moral justification to many people concerned about animals' rights. "Before the student protests in the 1960s, the animal rights movement was very conservative, focused on man beats dog rather than the systematic cruelties of factory farming or animal research," he says. "People
weren't aware of it, and there was a general view that animals didn't matter, that humans were more worthy.
"Then students woke up to various forms of oppression, and for many people it seemed that animals were the most exploited and powerless beings around. It was also an issue that could be addressed in various ways, by doing something about the way we live, what we eat. A lot of people started to think that there was more to life than how much they earned. People were more inclined to look at ethical issues. It became a matter of conscience. "You need a certain amount of economic security before you can be concerned about how you treat
animals, and that affluence did exist." This is why the animal rights movement is concentrated in Europe, the United States and Australia, rather than in countries that still have a poor record on human rights. It is also significant that the past 30 years has been a time of change in human relationships. The old order in which relationships lasted for life has been replaced by one in which relationships are often transitory, giving people the
time and emotional energy to invest in causes outside their own homes. This view is too close to sentiment
for Singer's taste, but the notion that the animal rights movement is linked to our tendency to invest more
thought in all our relationships is gaining currency. "There has been a breakdown in the sense of belonging, and that forces people to think in an autonomous way about their relationships with each other," says Andrew Tyler of Animal Aid. "We didn't hold up Peter Singer's book and go into battle. Moral perception is part of a practical movement that is to do with how we live our lives and make our purchases." While Singer does not support militant action, it is no coincidence that as he was writing his treatise about the commercial exploitation of animals, the extreme animal rights movement was emerging. In 1972 the Band of Mercy was formed as an expansion of the hunt saboteurs movement; in 1976 it became the Animal Liberation Front, which has no cardcarrying members but is used as a banner under which numerous criminal, and terrorist, acts have been
carried out in the name of enhancing the lot of animals. "Direct action happened because people looked
back at history and realised that only people who had gone outside the law - in campaigning for the abolition
of slavery, and the suffragettes - had made a difference," says Robin Webb, the ALF's spokesman.
"They also saw that the law had failed time and time again." In America two Harvard professors are now
campaigning for the progressive extension of legal rights to animals, starting with primates. The British bill will not go this far. "The law still sees animals as property, which means that they are expendable objects," says Tyler.
"We need legislation that will challenge extreme abuses. People with consciences recognise that it's wrong to rape and pillage and make war, but what isn't recognised is that society rewards the exploitation of animals. To take a pig, fatten it in a pen, put it in a truck, take it to the slaughterhouse, hang it by the back leg and cut its throat is primitive and grotesque. "It's a profound emotional and cultural disfigurement to do this, to pretend it doesn't go on, and to pretend we have healthy relationships with each other. We can't have a healthy human culture until we make peace with the animal world."

Penny Wark
The Times (London)
May 7, 2002, Tuesday





  ::   home  ::   archives  ::   contact us  ::