Written by PETA
In case it's never been said before, I'm going to go ahead and say it: Colorado activists rock!
Activists in Colorado Springs showed that they are fed up with Fort Carson for stabbing and reportedly burning and shooting live goats in bloody trauma-training exercises that attempt to mimic human battlefield injuries. They staked out a busy intersection near Fort Carson and got busy alerting commuters that the exercises are not only cruel but also archaic and unnecessary.
Oh, did I mention that some of the activists in attendance were ex-military? You know that things are shady when even former soldiers start breaking rank. (I can think of a few other soldiers who would probably agree.)
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Back in December, we announced the winners of our annual "Proggy" awards, which recognize animal-friendly people, companies, and products. One of those companies is CeeTox, a Michigan firm that develops humane alternatives to cruel and archaic animal tests. Well, the good folks at the Kalamazoo Gazette just did a nice story about CeeTox and the award. Check it out here.
What CeeTox does is so great because many chemical-testing methods still involve pumping substances into animals' stomachs and lungs and dripping chemicals into animals' eyes or onto their raw, shaved skin. CeeTox, by contrast, uses in-vitro (test tube) toxicity screening to test drugs, chemicals, cosmetics, and consumer products. This enables research and development organizations to assess the toxicity of chemicals using pioneering and humane cell-based technology.
Besides being kind to animals, these modern, non-animal tests are cheaper, faster, and more accurate. What's not to like? Well, unfortunately, the wheels of progress grind slowly at the EPA, which lags far behind European authorities in validating modern test methods. But thanks to the work of CeeTox and other companies like it, it's becoming obvious that animal testing is long overdue for the old heave-ho.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Is your sweetie sweet on animals? Don't say that we at the PETA Files never gave you anything. Check out these Cupid-approved, cruelty-free gifts from PETA's catalog:
But wait—there's more! If you order $40 or more worth of goodies before Monday at PETACatalog.org, enter the promotion code VALFB, and you'll get $5 off. Consider it a Valentine's Day present to yourself.
Written by Amy Elizabeth
Our awesome friends over at PETA Europe have some exciting news! With their help and funding, new skin irritation tests that do not use animals have been successfully validated to replace the use of rabbits completely! This will save thousands of rabbits.
This wonderful news means that animals will not be used in the overwhelming majority of such tests in the future in Europe. The MatTek Corporation announced yesterday that the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods' Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) has formally endorsed the scientific validity of the company's Modified EpiDerm Skin Irritation Test as well as L'Oreal's SkinEthic test. I know those are an awful lot of big, impressive words, but it basically means that the big men and women on campus are totally down with these new processes, which do not involve animal testing.
This will allow manufacturers worldwide to use these exciting new non-animal methods. It will also help manufacturers test cosmetic ingredients humanely, which is especially important because animal testing for skin irritation and most other purposes will be banned in Europe as of March 2009. Tens of thousands of rabbits have been used for skin irritation tests each year in the past, but we say, "No more!"
The validation of these tests is an important step in adopting cruelty-free scientific methods that are effective and humane, and PETA Europe should be so proud to have played a part in that. You can read more about this whole situation here.
On another totally not surprising—but totally awful—note, the U.S. still does not accept these tests. We are, of course, writing the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle, to tell him to get the U.S. to stop stalling!
Written by Christine Doré
This is an awesome year for many reasons (have you seen our slideshow?), and a great one has to be today's victory over cruel animal tests! Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed with PETA and ruled that no further animal testing is needed to declare that a natural plant-based sweetener derived from stevia is safe for use in food and drinks. Why is that so great? Well, before today's decision, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was pushing for more animal tests on the herbal extract, even though it's been widely recognized as safe. I mean, stevia has been used safely for more than 400 years! It's bad enough that it was tested on helpless rats in the first place, but they wanted to test it on even more animals? Come on!
Everyone knows how animals in laboratories suffer, so why would anyone knowingly choose to inflict pain on another creature for the sake of unreliable and cruel animal testing, especially when there are so many cruelty-free alternatives? CSPI tried to say that they needed to test on rats and mice because the rats they used before weren't good models for the substance's toxicity in humans. Hang on, what? That's right, they know that the tests on rats don't work, but they want to repeat the tests on rats and do even more tests on mice. Anyway, the FDA finally did something right and approved the substance without the additional animal tests. Score!
Unfortunately, there is still animal testing going on, and the CSPI is still pushing for more and longer animal tests. You can help by sending a polite letter to CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson asking him to focus CSPI's work on safe and effective non-animal testing methods.
Written by Lianne Turner
With Halloween this month and scary B movies certain to flood theatres (and the U.S. Postal Service via Netflix), we're going to honor October's worst vivisector with a special honor: the Frankenscience Award. We'll serve up two "scientists" with horrendous records of drugging, isolating, and otherwise torturing animals and allow you, dear readers, the honor of telling us who makes you gag the most.
Michael B. Hennessy, a psychology professor at Wright State University, spends his time tormenting baby guinea pigs. With help from over $350 thousand in funding from taxpayer dollars, Hennessy has learned a lot about sickness and stress in laboratory animals, but he himself isn't confident that the results can be safely extrapolated to humans.
Hennessy takes guinea pigs from their mothers when the newborns are less than 1 month old to observe the resulting "stress-induced sickness behavior." To worsen things, the babies are injected with a behavior-altering substance to see how it affects them. They are forced to endure invasive surgeries, including having their heads cut open, tubes stuck inside, and various chemicals and agents injected into them—including E. Coli bacteria!
To make matters worse, even Hennessy himself sees the obvious problem with his methods—the fact that guinea pigs aren't people. In a recent paper, he concludes that "caution is required in generalizing from studies of sickness in laboratory animals to depression in humans."
Owen B. Floody, a psychology professor at Bucknell University, came to our attention after a concerned alumnus contacted us. We learned that Floody has spent more than 30 years performing deadly sexual and reproductive studies … on hamsters.
Floody starts with healthy female hamsters, carves into their skulls, damages their brains, and then examines how this affects their sexual behavior. To assess this, he drops them in a box with a male hamster or "manually stimulates" them (you don't want to know). At the end of this bizarre ordeal, the animals are killed and their brains are dissected.
Floody even gets his students involved in these experiments, allowing undergraduate students in his physiological psychology course to help with this torture. PETA has already expressed its concerns to Bucknell, and you can chime in to help end these experiments by clicking here.
What'll it be? The Wright State professor who grasps the underlying problem with vivisection but does it anyway? Or the Bucknell professor who "manually stimulates" then kills female hamsters? Leave a comment to let me know!
Written by Sean Conner
You know those commercials we all laugh at? The ones for whatever weight-loss pill, claiming something to the effect of "It's SO easy! You don't have to exercise OR change your diet"? The ones that you laugh at with your friends and that make you say, "Yeah, right"?
Get this—the vivisectors at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences have announced a new wonder drug, a magical pill that would, they say, mimic the effects of exercise. Just swallow a little pill, their report says, and experience increased muscle endurance and doubled fat-burning muscle. It's SO easy!
The mice who were subjected to the drug apparently showed a decrease in fat and an increase in oxygen consumption—but not any of the other benefits from exercise. People are asking serious questions about the "just like exercise" claim.
It seems to me that the vivisectors at Salk got vaguely promising results from the mice and decided to cash in on America's fascination with weight loss and reluctance to exercise—not to mention all the Olympics-related fitness hubbub that's going on right now!
But come on, we really shouldn't be surprised that these "scientists" are grossly exaggerating their lab results in order to make headlines—think about all the other "scientific breakthroughs" that have been "proven" by mouse vivisection. As Yale University's Dr. David Katz writes, "Extrapolation from rodent research to outcomes in people is notoriously uncertain and fraught with danger. Basic science studies and animal experiments have resulted over the years in headlines about cures for cancer, a definitive obesity gene and effective AIDS vaccines, to name a few. None of these has yet to materialize, and early hyperbole in each case gave way to disappointment."
Well, I'm sure people will be disappointed—disappointed that animal testing is still going on, despite its cruelty, its inaccuracies, and the better alternatives that exist.
Written by Amanda Schinke
It looks like scientists do sometimes spend time on worthwhile projects and have now found that being caged, having your bone marrow sucked out, and being used for bioterrorism research is torture—no matter whom it's being done to.
A recent study showed that 95 percent of 119 chimpanzees who had been used for "research" exhibited the same symptoms as humans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone—I mean, chimpanzees and humans share the same blood types and have at least a 98 percent genetic similarity. Why wouldn't they have shellshock and nightmares if we do?
This study is being presented today at a primate conference in Edinburgh—I hope it shakes things up in some rigid minds!
Do you know the saying "Don't steal—the government hates competition"? I was reminded of it recently when news broke that the U.S. Army is shooting live pigs in an open range with high-power rifles at a training camp in Hawaii. The Army says it's teaching combat medics how to treat battlefield injuries, but here's the thing: The Army is required—by its own regulations—to use alternatives to animals in any kind of experimentation or training when scientifically valid and comparable alternatives exist. And guess what? Those alternatives exist.
My colleague Shalin Gala rattles off these humane alternatives like nobody's business: the Combat Trauma Patient Simulation System, Simulab Corporation's TraumaMan system (insert superhero figure with a T on his chest), partnering with trauma centers for real-life experience, and Dr. Emad Aboud's "living" cadaver perfusion model. Shalin also tells me that he regularly receives calls from whistleblowers in the Army and the Navy telling him about the use of pigs, goats, and monkeys for trauma training and chemical casualty training—all in apparent violation of regulations.
Kathy Guillermo, the director of PETA's Laboratory Investigations Department, had this to say: "In order to effectively save our soldiers' lives, Army medics should be trained with human trauma patients and advanced simulators that mimic human responses. Shooting and maiming pigs is as outdated as Civil War rifles."
I agree, but I'm kind of stuck on the fact that the horror of the Army's pig shooting in Hawaii goes way beyond just that. Readers of The PETA Files are well aware that you don't have to be Einstein to get your head around the few paltry regulations intended to protect animals in laboratories, but even so, violations of these regulations are rampant. A recent audit noted that nearly a third of U.S. laboratories are failing to search for alternatives. Is it any wonder when the government—charged with ensuring that laboratories comply with the law—doesn't seem to have its own house in order?
Posted by Grace Friedan
Quick, what happens when you throw a stone in a pond of water? That's right, ripples form. Don't worry, we're not revisiting Physics 101, but that metaphor describes how phenomenal it is to see our actions generate positive consequences.
Check out this stone-skipping scenario: Last fall, an Israeli group videotaped hideously cruel experiments on monkeys and cats that were taking place at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, in which the animals were kept hungry and thirsty so that they would "work" in exchange for a few drops of water. Vivisectors drilled holes in the animals' skulls, inserted electrodes in their brains, and then strapped animals into restraint chairs, where they were kept entirely immobile for hours at a time while data were recorded. These experiments have been going on for more than 20 years, and get this: Our tax dollars—right here in the United States—have been paying for them, courtesy of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
When PETA received the video footage, we sprang into action, writing to the NIH, identifying influential friends who could nudge the Weizmann Institute, and setting up a petition so that concerned people everywhere could tell the Weizmann Institute what they thought.
And now, thanks to the massive outpouring of concern, Israeli academics opposed to cruelty to animals have started organizing and speaking out. Operating under the banner "Academics for the Protection of Animals in Labs," three hundred professors at Israeli universities have signed a petition calling for greater accountability and transparency for animal experimentation. In the words of one organizer, "What I am proposing is that there should be more transparency and supervision, and yes, also fewer experiments ...."
They're not monkeying around, and those are some serious stones!
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.