Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Save animals -- train a scientist; Your Animal Testing Weekly Report!

You did it! Across the country, laboratories are shutting down their experiments on chimpanzees. Painful invasive research on chimpanzees will soon be relegated to the history books. 
But our mission is not complete until their futures are secure. Hundreds of chimpanzees need a sanctuary to call home. It would be overwhelming except that if we all pull together, we can make it happen. 

AAVS's 'BUILD IT!' fund will help sanctuaries ensure that ALL retired chimpanzees have a home. 

And thanks to a special designation from the estate of longtime AAVS member Georgean Balay, if you make a contribution this week, your gift will be doubled! 

There's no good reason why chimpanzees should continue to languish in labs. They have literally waited a lifetime for freedom. Your gift will ensure that chimpanzees receive quality care, enriching environments, and the comfort of stable social groups with friends to pass their days. 

AAVS supports several accredited sanctuaries capable of caring for chimpanzees; however, they are already full or at near capacity. With your support of AAVS's 'BUILD IT!' fund, we will support their expansion and help provide a sanctuary home for every chimpanzee who is released from a laboratory. 

The decades long effort to end the use of chimpanzees in research will only be truly realized when every chimp is at home in an accredited sanctuary. Let's not make them wait any longer! 

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has contributed to the development of a software program that allows scientists to predict the toxic effects of chemicals without testing on animals. The next step is to train scientists in how to use it. And we need your help to make that happen.

The program is called the Quantitative Structure Active Relationship (QSAR) Toolbox, and it has the potential to save thousands, if not millions, of animals from suffering and death. The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) has arranged for PCRM to train 15 regulators on the Toolbox in February 2016.

As a result of this training, CalEPA will be able to rely upon nontesting approaches such as the QSAR Toolbox as standard practice, instead of requesting pesticide manufacturers to conduct additional animal tests. Adequate training in nonanimal testing approaches has been identified as a serious barrier to their uptake. Because California is a trendsetter in pesticide regulations, this shift will have a national impact.

I am reaching out to you today, because CalEPA has now asked to double the number of participants for this training – a very exciting development that will accelerate the benefits of the Toolbox – better testing and more animals spared! However, to fulfill the agency's request and train 15 more regulators, we need to raise $15,000 to cover the additional training expenses.

Please help us raise $15,000 by Nov. 15 so we can take advantage of this critical opportunity to double our impact and help end the poisoning of animals in pesticide toxicity tests. If we exceed this goal, the additional funds will be earmarked for future training requests by CalEPA, the U.S. EPA, or other government agencies.

Thank you for bringing us one step closer to ending animal experiments once and for all.

We need to raise $15,000 to train scientists on nonanimal testing methods. 

Help us reach our goal and save more lives!

Rabbits yanked by their sensitive ears and pinned under workers' feet while they're violently sheared. 

Animals denied treatment for severe and chronic infections, sores, and malnutrition—some were so weak that they lay in their own waste and didn't respond to being touched. 

Rabbits plucked bare by workers who ripped fur out of their skin by the fistful. 

This is the cruelty exposed by a groundbreaking PETA Asia investigation that has helped prompt more than 100 retailers, including Calvin Klein and H&M, to ban angora from their store shelves. 

It's misery that may be happening right now on many Chinese angora-wool farms where rabbits are purportedly being treated "humanely." 

Don, will you support PETA's vital work for rabbits and all other animals by making a generous donation online today? 

Following this exposé, PETA and PETA Asia representatives joined officials from an international clothing company, along with an auditor that company trusted, in visiting five angora-wool farms in different regions of China. Unlike typical farm audits, these visits were all unannounced. 

But despite assurances from the auditor just months earlier that conditions on these farms were "humane," this group found that horrific abuse of rabbits—similar to what was revealed in that initial PETA Asia investigation—was taking place. 

Rabbits were kept in filthy cages with little, if any, protection from the elements, even when temperatures soared above 100 degrees. Many rabbits' heads were tilted at a 90-degree angle, a condition caused by damage to their ears, likely from being roughly handled every 30 to 60 days when they're yanked out of cages for shearing. This tilt left some unable to orient themselves to eat or drink, leaving them to die slowly from starvation or dehydration. 

When the auditor who accompanied the group was asked if the conditions seen on this trip were any different from those seen when he had reported that the rabbits were treated "humanely," he said no. In China, there are no standards to regulate the treatment of animals and no penalties for their abuse. Factor that in with cozy relationships among some auditors and farm owners and broadly interpreted farm evaluations, and you can see how much of a myth "humane farming" truly is. 

Please donate right now and help stop the misery of all animals—including those condemned to so-called "humane" farms. 

Whenever animals are treated as a commodity, suffering is rarely far behind. From the "ethical" angora-wool farms to dairies that purport to have the "best cared-for cows on the planet," time and again PETA has revealed that the pain and abuse that animals endure are often the same as those seen in facilities unconcerned with using buzzwords to mask their cruelty. 

But change is within our grasp. Soon after the release of this latest PETA exposé in October, tens of thousands of caring PETA supporters took action online to demand that Urban Outfitters-owned Free People drop angora from its store shelves. Their tremendous outcry prompted that company to announce that it would stop buying and producing angora products—just days after our findings were revealed. 

Your much-needed support today will help us continue to expose and stop the abuse that companies try to hide. It will allow us to give consumers the tools that they need in order to see past the fictitious "humane" claims of farms and retailers and embrace only animal-friendly foods and fashions. 

Thank you for standing with us and for your commitment to making the world a more compassionate place for rabbits and all other animals. 

Last month, we held a physician-led demonstration outside the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Chattanooga to protest the school's use of live animals for medical student training.

Local residents joined us on a rainy Thursday morning as we called out the school for refusing to use the human-based training methods implemented by nearly every other institution. During the demonstration, a member-sponsored mobile billboard circled the medical building, alerting locals: "Warning: You Are in UTHSC Chattanooga's Substandard Medical Training Zone!"

Now UTHSC Chattanooga and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore are in a race to the bottom as they are the last two medical schools using live animals for training.

Join the efforts of our concerned physicians and local residents by contacting university officials and urging them to end this educationally and ethically inferior practice immediately.

Leading up to the demonstration, the Physicians Committee sponsored a series of 10 billboards that surrounded the main UTHSC campus in Memphis, urging top decision-makers at the school to modernize training at all of its campuses. The UTHSC campuses in Memphis and Knoxville use only nonanimal methods to train their medical students, while the satellite campus in Chattanooga continues to lag behind the times. The billboards held the school accountable for its substandard training methods by stating, "What does UTHSC have that 99 percent of medical schools don't? Live Animal Labs;" "UT Health Science Center: Modernize Medical Training;” and "First, Do No Harm. Stop using live animals to teach human medicine."

At UTHSC Chattanooga, students are instructed to practice surgical procedures on live animals as a part of their third- or fourth-year surgery clerkship. This training involves practicing suturing and knot-tying skills, making incisions into the abdomens of pigs to insert long, thin tubes with lightened cameras known as endoscopes, and inserting surgical instruments to practice procedures. At the end of each session, the animals are killed.

This animal use is at odds with current standards of practice as 99 percent of the 197 accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada use only human-relevant methods such as human patient simulators, laparoscopic surgery simulators, partial task trainers, and cadavers. Of the 44 new medical schools that have opened in the United States since 1979, not a single one has ever used animals to teach medical students. In fact, UTHSC Chattanooga already has a state-of-the-art Clinical Skills and Simulation Center that could immediately replace the use of animal with modern methods.

Please contact David M. Stern, M.D., executive dean of the College of Medicine, and David C. Seaberg, M.D., dean of UTHSC Chattanooga. Tell them they don't want to win the race to the bottom and ask them to improve medical education standards at the university by ending animal use in favor of human-based methods.

Hundreds of Nonhuman Rights Project supporters have written to us in recent weeks expressing your hope for change, your interest in learning more, your desire to help.

We want to make sure you know we’re beyond grateful to have such engaged and thoughtful animal advocates on board with our mission. Thank you for your ongoing support for our work to free chimpanzees Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo from unlawful imprisonment.

We remain in negotiations with Hercules’ and Leo’s owner, the New Iberia Research Center, to move them to a sanctuary now that Stony Brook University has announced it will no longer use them in experiments. We’re also reworking our pleadings and memoranda in preparation for re-filing Tommy’s and Kiko’s cases in the appropriate courts.

As Justice Jaffe noted in our Hercules and Leo decision, the legal system moves slowly, but the day is drawing near when courts will recognize the fundamental rights of self-aware, autonomous nonhuman animals.

In other NhRP news:
  • Our new Executive Director, Kevin Schneider, has been busy with a number of exciting projects since joining the NhRP a month ago. Among them, he is working to expand our international network of lawyers and volunteers, lay the groundwork for a multi-partner coalition for nonhuman animal personhood, and help prepare for our next round of litigation. Kevin is thrilled to be on the team, and is looking forward to continuing and expanding the NhRP's historic progress towards nonhuman animal personhood.
  • The NhRP is a signatory to a letter opposing the federal approval of permits for three American ‪‎zoos to import 18 elephants from Swaziland. You can read the letter here and read more about what’s happening here. Note that the NhRP’s next lawsuit will be on behalf of one or more captive elephants.
  • I argued for legal personhood for self-aware, autonomous nonhuman animals in a debate at the Florida A&M University College of Law on Oct. 19th. As I said during the debate, “You cannot imprison for life a being who is autonomous just because they’re not a human being.” Watch the video here. Thank you to Florida A&M, the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies, and the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund for hosting!
  • Our Wild World Radio invited me to discuss the intricacies and importance of legal personhood and nonhuman rights in an hour-long show on Nov. 2nd. Listen to the show here and, for new NhRP supporters especially, read more about the research behind our long-term strategic litigation campaign here.
  • I was in Lisbon, Portugal, to give a talk to the Lisbon Police Department about the NhRP on Oct. 29th and Oct. 30th, and at the Facultade de Direito Universidade de Lisboa on Oct. 30th. Many thanks to my hosts, the Lisbon Police Department, and its Commandante Jorge Alexandre Gonçalves Maurício, to my fellow speakers, and attendees for their insights and enthusiasm!
NhRP FAQ: Did you know that our chimpanzee plaintiffs’ imprisonment is not considered illegal under any existing animal cruelty or animal protection statute? Supporters who are new to the NhRP often wonder why our plaintiffs’ owners can’t just be charged with animal cruelty. Why must we go so far as to seek recognition of our plaintiffs’ legal personhood and fundamental rights?
The fact is, it breaks no law to keep Tommy alone in a cage with only a TV for company, to put a padlock and chain around Kiko’s neck, to force Hercules and Leo to live in a research lab, or to otherwise violate their fundamental right to bodily liberty. As long as they are considered merely legal things, rather than persons, Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo are, like all nonhuman animals, subject to the interests of their human "owners" who are legally obliged only to provide them with food and shelter and meet basic standards of care.

This is not enough.

We seek recognition of our plaintiffs’ legal personhood and fundamental rights not only because—in accordance with common law values and principles—it makes ethical and legal sense to do so, but also because it’s the best way to secure their freedom and vindicate their interests as self-aware, autonomous beings.

Please look out for answers to other FAQs in future NhRP newsletters. Thanks again for your passionate commitment to nonhuman rights, and we'll be sure to keep you posted with any news about our plaintiffs.

WHAT?! You Won’t Believe the Cruel Animal Tests Being Performed by This Popular Soy Sauce Brand.

This may be hard to believe, Green Monsters, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently discovered that the popular soy sauce company Kikkoman has been, “conducting and funding cruel and deadly experiments on animals in order to make health claims about its products.”

PETA has uncovered a whole host of grisly and disturbing details about Kikkoman’s animal testing practices, dating to as recently as this August. The rats used in the experiments have had feeding tubes repeatedly forced down their throats so that Kikkoman workers could feed them fermented soy milk and assess its impact. The animals were also force-fed soy sauce through surgically attached stomach tubes, before enduring a horrific death by decapitation, and having their brains removed. Mice have been bred to be obese and fed citrus extract before being killed and having their muscles removed. Finally, the company was revealed to be force-feeding rabbits a high-calorie diet for the express purpose of inducing heart disease, before later being killed.

Animal rights attorney Marisa McDonald explained to VICE that Kikkoman was, “force-feeding rats to study the physiological effects of fermented soy milk (FSM).” Any time a food company wants to make a health claim about their products, the Food and Drug Administration requires that these products undergo testing to prove the claims.

However, there is no stipulation saying the tests HAVE to involve animals. Justin Goodman, PETA’s Director of Laboratory Investigations, pointed out to VICE that in vitro human digestive systems or 3D microfluidic cell culture chips could, in fact, provide a more accurate simulation of the human psychological response.

In a statement, PETA said: “These types of cruel health claim experiments are not required by law, and there are more relevant non-animal research methods – including tests with human tissues and human volunteers – available that are humane and can actually establish the health benefits of food products for humans. PETA has repeatedly contacted Kikkoman to share information about modern non-animal research tools that can better meet the company’s objectives and save animals, but it has refused to meaningfully address the issue.”

Animal testing is rapidly becoming an outdated scientific method for many reasons. More than 90 percent of medical drugs that have passed animal trials and been deemed “safe” prove to be ineffective or dangerous for human consumption. It works the other way around, too. According to public health specialist Dr. Aysha Akhtar, “Of every 10,000 potential drugs tested in the lab, only about five pass on to clinical trials. Many don’t pass the animal test because of species-specific results. Yet many of these agents would likely have worked spectacularly and been safe in humans.” One example of this is the popular painkiller aspirin, which, while safe and effective in humans, causes severe birth defects in lab animals such as mice, rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, and monkeys.

Luckily, the ongoing emergence of new, effective, animal-free technologies could soon render animal testing obsolete. In the meantime, you can click here to find out how to boycott companies that continue to run cruel tests on animals. The internationally recognized Leaping Bunny logo will also help you to identify which brands have been certified as cruelty-free.

PETA are now running a petition calling for Kikkoman to end its cruel and unnecessary animal tests, and urging followers to purchase soy sauce from competing brand San-J, which has confirmed that it doesn’t conduct or fund any tests on animals. Click here to sign. You can also share this article to spread awareness about Kikkoman’s cruel practices and put pressure on the company to end its animal tests NOW.