Hey there! How is it in your neck of the woods? Here all good, just avoiding burnout by taking it a bit easier at work and meditating more.
You might have noticed in the past months a petition started by Cruelty-Free International asking for the closure of Vivotecnia, “an independent European toxicology contract research organisation based in Madrid, Spain. Since 2000, it has offered services to support pharmaceutical and biotech, cosmetic, chemical and agrochemical industries. Its customers include companies from Spain, Europe (including the UK), Central America, Japan, Korea and the USA.”
Similarly, Animal Freedom Movement started a similar petition to the UK Parliament asking for the “phases out all animal testing and importation of animal-tested products by 2025.”
These are just two of the petitions asking for governments to ban vivisection (especially for beauty products). It would appear that more and more people realise that experimenting on live animals is just barbaric, considering that there is so much research confirming the uselessness of these practices.
To be honest, I have only a little bit of hope that these petitions will be successful because the experiments are usually required by the main pharmaceutical and beauty multinationals. And this brings me to the Huntingdon issue in the UK.
Huntingdon and MBR Acres Ltd.
Maybe you have heard or maybe not, that during the years people have been protesting what is happening at the MBR Acres Ltd facilities in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England (just to give you an idea, one of the latest protests was this May). But if you don’t have a clear idea of what I am talking about, here are some facts about Huntingdon (Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc.):
- it’s a contract research organisation, privately owned
- founded in 1951
- had an initial focus on focused on nutrition, veterinary, and biochemical research
- their research uses animals, both wildlife imported from other countries and “local”
- it went on researching pharmaceuticals, food additives, industrial and consumer chemicals
- in 1996, a member of PETA went undercover as an employee of the organisation and recorded the treatment of the animals in Huntingdon’s facilities
- the tape sparked rage amongst animal rights activists and PETA was sued by HLS. HLS managed to win.
- the buildings in Huntingdon have been the subject of numerous protests by animal activists.
The MBR Acres actually grows mostly dogs of the breed Beagle because they are small and docile.
I shouldn’t be stating the obvious, but any form of experimentation on animals is just wrong. It wouldn’t be justifiable even if what they are testing was the cure for cancer. And they are not experimenting on that. In the 2000s they stated that they were very close to a breakthrough in xenotransplants, organ transplants from animal to human. Pigs and primates were the main subjects of these experiments: the non-human animals were grown to then harvest their organs and then put them in humans. The longest a human has survived after such a transplant is three months. THREE MONTHS.
The suffering that this practice brings is twofold: it causes much pain to the animals that are grown for the sole purpose of taking their organs and the people into which these organs are implanted.
What is vivisection
Depending on the dictionary one uses, one will get a slightly different definition of what this practice is. From Merriam-Webster, vivisection is
: the cutting of or operation on a living animal usually for physiological or pathological investigation
broadly : animal experimentation especially if considered to cause distress to the subjectMerriam-Webster Dictionary
While Cambridge Dictionary offers that vivisection is
the use of living animals in tests that are intended to increase human knowledge of human diseases and the effects of using particular drugs.Cambridge Dictionary
Contradictions of vivisection
The main contradiction is that the promoters of such practice will say that they use such and such animal species because they will get similar reactions as if it were human, but when they’ll be asked if they’re concerned about the feelings and emotions and pain that these species will have to endure, the vivisectors will say that although similar in bodies to humans, they really don’t feel the same as them.
Without even going into the philosophical aspects of the ethics behind this practice, the mind is part of the body: pain receptors ARE pain receptors, which means that they are telling the brain that that thing is painful and the non-human or human animal is feeling pain.
All animals, humans and non-humans, when they are enclosed in small spaces, hearing screams or seeing their fellows being taken away and then taken back wounded and hurt, are going to feel fear, being afraid.
So, if someone is telling you that live non-human animals are good for testing because of their similarities with humans, but not to worry because they don’t feel the same as humans do, call BS on them.
There are alternatives to animal testing. It’s 2022, we went to the moon and around space. We keep finding ever smaller particles. We do have ways to avoid the use of animals in research: from cell culture to computer simulation, there really are viable alternatives. Companies who don’t use non-human animals in their testing are known as cruelty-free.
The problem is in the money.
The whole animal business brings a lot of money to all the parties involved: those who grow the animals, those who are capturing the animals, those who create licences and regulations, etc. While investing in alternatives would take away a big slice of the cake from many of these parties.
Money makes the world go round, right?
If you want to read a bit more about the alternatives to animal testing, you can find some more here and here (2 Wikipedia pages, to get you started).
Huntingdon Life Sciences and MBR Acres are just two of the many organisations around the world that are using live animals to test on. If you think that animal testing is wrong, there are quite a lot of websites that are providing you with lists of brands that conduct this kind of testing, as well as those that are in the process of becoming cruelty-free. Keeping on testing on animals, with money spent on this instead of investing in alternatives just extends the suffering of both human and nonhuman animals.
If you want to read more:
- Huntingdon Life Sciences
A brief history of cross-species organ transplantation by David K. C. Cooper (2012), National Library of Medicine
The History Of Animal-To-Human Organ Transplants Explained, Grudge
- Protests and SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty)
Wikipedia, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty
AnimalRightsExtremism.info, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC)
SourceWatch.org, Huntingdon Life Sciences
PeterboroughToday, Animal welfare protesters praise ‘successful demonstrations’ as hundreds gather outside beagle breeding site in Cambridgeshire
itv, Animal welfare campaigners at Huntingdon breeding centre call for ban on testing on Beagles
JSTOR, The Dynamics of Restraint in the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty Campaign
- Cruelty-free lists