LABORATORY ANIMAL PRACTICES
À LA MEDUNSA
When our voluntary inspectors visited the animal laboratory at Medunsa,
it was apparent that conditions did not nearly approach what is generally
considered to be 'Good Laboratory Animal Practices.' This despite the
fact that the Head of the Laboratory, Prof. Willem de Klerk, was also
a member of the South African Association of Laboratory Animal Sciences.
The Primate facility was situated in a dilapidated brick building which
had broken windows. There was a concrete floor and corrugated iron roof.
The absence of a ceiling naturally served to intensify the already high
temperatures experienced in that part of the country. Four Baboons and
ten Vervet monkeys were kept in separate cages. The small cages in which
the animals were kept, were not in accordance with the minimum acceptable
standards and thus added to the discomfort of the
animals. Some of the feed chutes of the vervets had apparently not been
cleaned for a considerable time and contained foul smelling, rottedvegetables.
A separate building housed the rabbits. There were at least 30 of them
confined to individual cages. They appeared to be in good health apart
from the obvious discomfort of having to spend their lives cooped up in
cages, with their paws on hard wire mesh. An additional six rabbits had
been isolated in a separate room for an experiment entailing the introduction
of larvae onto their backs, which were covered with cloth bags. Each rabbit
had an Elizabethan collar to prevent that area being accessed. These rabbits
appeared less healthy than the others, and in distress with the situation
which was no doubt exacerbated by the fact that the cages were too small
to allow movement. The cage bottoms and floors in both rooms were covered
with droppings, which must have accumulated over several weeks. The drinking
water was filthy. Hardly surprising that the information board in the
facility showed that rabbits died virtually every day. A far cry from
the Easter bunny, a far cry from what are considered good laboratory animal
practices and certainly not in line with one would expect to find at a
laboratory where the SPCA serves on the ethics committee. Medunsa is known
to be having financial difficulties. Judging from the photographs, it
would appear that they have now not only reached rock bottom, but have
started to dig. A laboratory which is unable to give its animals the basic
care needed to stay within the animal welfare laws, should be shutdown
From the Diary of Daft Experiments
A glance at some of the particularly daft experiments, carried out at
Medunsa, might explain why their animal lab had fallen into such disrepair.
After all, who would actually pay for this information? 60 rats in hypertensive
traditional medicine experiments. This is a particularly ridiculous experiment,
given that people have for centuries been taking traditional medicines
for particular ailments, to which rats do not normally succumb. Clinical
trials on people would have been more relevant. Not that this type of
research is without benefit to the researchers. As they say, a rat is
an organism which, when injected, produces a paper. 10 vervet monkeys
infected with SIV. The object of this research was said to be that 'the
use of the Simian Immunodeficiency virus (SIV) model of AIDS provides
a critical opportunity to study the mechanisms underlying HIV neuropathogenesis.'
But other researchers disagree. Dr. Stephen Kaufman from the Medical Research
Modernization Committee points out that all strains of SIV differ markedly
from HIV-1 which infects humans, not monkeys, and the mechanisms of SIV
and HIV-1 infection most probably differ substantially. Not surprisingly,
therefore, our understanding of AIDS pathology and pathogenesis has derived
from studies of human AIDS patients. SIV researcher Ronald Desrosiers
acknowledges that SIV test results 'vary greatly according to the strain
of virus used for challenge.' Which begs the question: Since results from
different SIV strains cannot be reliably extrapolated to one another,
how can SIV findings be extrapolated to the substantially different HIV-1?
Michael Wyand concludes that AIDS-related animal experimentation has 'played
a small role' in the development of anti- AIDS drugs and vaccines. One
reason for animal experimentation's meagre role in this process, Wyand
notes, is a general lack of faith that any 'animal model' has predictive
value regarding HIV infection in humans.' The last word comes from Prof.
Salim Abdool Karim, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Natal
who is co-chair of the protocol committee overseeing the AIDS vaccine
initiative. In response to scientists' excitement over the reaction of
monkeys injected with an AIDS vaccine similar to that which is due to
be tested in South Africa soon, Karim says: 'While the response is exciting,
we cannot extrapolate the findings to humans as monkeys and humans have
different immune responses.'
Are you still supporting IAMS cruelty?
A new nine-month undercover investigation conducted by US group People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has uncovered harrowing neglect
and suffering endured by cats and dogs in IAMS-sponsored experiments.
The damning evidence confirms that IAMS' stated "research policy"
was nothing more than a sham designed to conceal shocking suffering caused
by their experiments on animals. IAMS' cruelty was first exposed in May
2001 (reported in Snout 8) when Uncaged Campaigns gained a front-page
exposé of horrific experiments involving the killing of scores
of cats and dogs in IAMS nutrition experiments. IAMS, a subsidiary of
Procter & Gamble, responded with a carefully-coordinated spin campaign,
making unsubstantiated claims in policy statements while refusing to answer
direct questions. However, their statements are now being investigated
by the UK Advertising Standards Authority following a detailed complaint
by Uncaged Campaigns, who are spearheading a global consumer boycott in
protest at cruel animal tests performed by IAMS and Procter & Gamble.
Dan Lyons, director of Uncaged Campaigns, says: "The new evidence
gained by PETA establishes without doubt that IAMS have misled consumers,
concealing neglect and cruelty for the sake of commercial greed. We'd
like to congratulate PETA on such an important
investigation that confirms what we've always suspected - IAMS are callous,
calculating liars whose only concern is profit." The investigator,
who infiltrated a commercial laboratory in the Mid-West of the United
States, uncovered the killing of 27 IAMS dogs who had already had chunks
of their thigh muscles hacked out.
IAMS, which also produces the Eukanuba brand pet food, had claimed after
the Uncaged expose that no cats or dogs would be killed in research. Despite
regular visits from IAMS representatives, cats and dogs were housed in
inhumane and dangerous laboratory conditions, with little of the environmental
enrichment or care that IAMS had claimed they would ensure for animals
used in their tests. Just a couple of months ago, dogs in IAMS experiments
had their vocal chords cut out to stop them barking, a cruel and u n n
e c e s s a r y mutilation. Yet IAMS have been pretending that they would
only perform procedures deemed acceptable in human nutritional studies.
Dan Lyons continues: "We'll be presenting this information to consumers
across the UK and the world, and it will deal a further body blow to IAMS
and P&G sales. People understand that in today's global economy, if
they buy a packet of I A M S from the supermarket in Manchester, they're
funding the abuse of animals in the mid-west of the USA."
A revealing excerpt from PETA’s report is provided on pg. 7
A global boycott IAMS and Procter & Gamble Day VII is Saturday 24th
May 2003. For further details visit the Uncaged Campaigns website at
Beagles that have been operated on
—photo courtesy of PETA
MORE ABOUT IAMS
Following the latest PETA exposé, Dayton's Iams Company said it
was suspending work at a research lab it had hired. This is cold comfort,
considering IAMS' history of alleged animal abuse. Only two years ago
there was a similar exposé regarding the cruel treatment of dogs
and cats at another lab where IAMS research was conducted. Of even colder
comfort is the fact that no doubt an 'Ethics committee' monitored the
shocking experiments detailed below in the excerpt from the PETA report:
"Our investigator videotaped Iams dogs being dumped on cold concrete
flooring after having huge chunks of muscle cut out of their thighs; a
co-worker instructing her to hit the dogs on the chest if they quit breathing;
another co-worker talking about an Iams dog found dead in his cage, bleeding
from his mouth; a dog limping in pain from Lyme disease; cruel studies
done by Iams involving sticking tubes down dogs' throats to force them
to ingest vegetable oil; Iams dogs with such severe tartar buildup on
their teeth that it was painful for them to eat; vet technicians with
inadequate training and experience performing invasive procedures; two
co-workers conducting a pregnancy test on a terrified dog lying on top
of a cart with wheels that moved every time she struggled; dogs and cats
gone stir crazy from confinement; dogs and cats in windowless, dungeon-like
buildings; co-workers talking about the live kitten who was washed down
a drain; coworkers talking about how they had to go home because the ammonia
fumes in the animal trailers were so overpowering that it made their eyes
burn (try being one of the animals in those cages!); and cats kept in
a cinderblock room with crude wooden "resting" boards that had
nails sticking out of them. One of the boards fell on a cat, crushing
her to death, while our investigator was there. The lab director did not
remove the boards when the cat was crushed but he did remove them when
he was told the lab was going to be inspected because he knew they were
illegal." For more details about this expose, visit the PETA website
Shilo was one of the first laboratory dogs released into SAAV's care on
December 2000. Bred for research purposes by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, this
loveable Beagle had only known cages and cement floors before being placed,
through SAAV, into a warm and loving home.
We are comforted by the fact that during her last years she was able to
know a world without cages. She was able to romp about in a lovely garden
and spend her days as part of a loving family. She had learned to wag
her tail. She is sadly missed.
Standing in front of the pet foods section in the super markets, few are
aware of the tremendous suffering inherent in the making of these products.
Furthermore, the documented suffering increases when confronted with products
usually sold by the local vet - Iams, Eukanuba and Hills Science Diet.
The culture of consumerism has brought about increased testing of pet
foods, merely in order to be able to state 'bigger and better'. But this
dubious claim also demands increased and, it would seem, more cruel methods
of testing. Surely there should be a point at which 'good' should be good
enough? Most well known pet foods do bring about good muscle build and
shiny coats, and there is also the missing ingredient which no pet food
can supply - being part of a caring family. World-wide consumer boycotts
of cosmetics which were cruelly tested on animals caused giants of the
cosmetic industry, such as Revlon, to suspend animal testing. So, in fighting
the cruelty inherent in testing it is the consumer, the pet lover, who
will bring about change.
At best, one can boycott 'new' pet foods (do we really need another new
pet food?) as well as those that have been subjected to cruel tests. At
worst, one can at least make one's voice heard and demand that inhumane,
invasive tests are ceased. After all, there are other methods. And veterinary
surgeons who care about animals should be at the forefront of those who
demand a better deal for animals.
FROM THE SCIENCE CAFÉ
There was a stunned silence in the Science Café, established at
Roodeplaat in the Interests of Better Science. 'Would you care to repeat
that?' asked the Erudite Owl. The Little Bird who had flown in took a
deep breath. 'I said,' she continued, 'that according
to The Star Prof. De Klerk was arrested at Medunsa for cruelty to laboratory
animals. He was taken to the Rosslyn police station and locked in a cell.
Very odd he looked too, grasping the bars
and peering out between them. Just like the primates in his laboratory.'
'So what is going to happen to him now?' asked Vulture No. 1. 'Well,'
replied the Little Bird, 'he will be experimented on, of course.' 'Another
daft experiment?' asked the Canary.
'Oh no, they're talking about establishing whether they can cross-breed
veterinary surgeons to be humane'; said the Little Bird, 'This will resort
under the Species Improvement Programme, so there'll be no wastage of
tax payers' money.' 'Of course,' pondered the Erudite Owl, 'it will be
monitored by an ethics committee and the SPCA will be sitting on that.
' 'That's just it', continued the Little Bird, 'he does not want the SPCA
to be on the ethics committee. He's afraid they might have taken an oath
of silence. So he's demanding that SAAV monitors his well-being.'
'But SAAV only rescues animals,' retorted Vulture No.2. 'Well yes,' replied
the Little Bird, 'and now he spends his days barking like a baboon.' 'And
what might be the objective of that?' enquired the Erudite owl. 'Maybe,'
chattered the Canary, 'maybe he thinks that if he barks like a baboon
SAAV will come to the rescue.' 'Definitely not the sharpest tool in the
shed,' pondered the Erudite Owl. 'So he now professes not to be a human!'
added Vulture No.1. 'After all these years that he professed to be a professor!'
exclaimed the Sparrow.'Well, clearly he now professes not to be a professor,'
chattered the Canary. 'Perhaps,' hesitated the Sparrow, 'perhaps he can't