IAMS engages world's largest spin merchants
Iams Company, the pet food subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, has engaged
Fleishman-Hillard Inc., the world's largest PR company, to try to spin
them out of the controversy raging over the exposure of cruel and lethal
experiments performed by the company on cats, dogs and other animals.
Fleishman-Hillard Inc.'s world HQ is situated in St Louis, Missouri -
also home to Monsanto and McDonald's.
The corporation's figures for 2000 catapulted to the top of the pile
of public relations firms - it made $342.8 million last year (source:
Inc. boasts spin expertise in many areas of controversial corporate activity,
including agribusiness and biotechnology.
IAMS are being harangued following the emergence of scientific papers
detailing 24 vivisection studies performed on 460 cats and dogs by IAMS.
The papers were published between 1991 and 2000. The Sunday Express ran
the story on the front page - sending IAMS current multi-million pound
marketing campaign into disarray.
Sheffield-based anti-cruelty group Uncaged Campaigns is lined up against
the world's biggest companies in the field of spin and consumer products
who boast a combined annual turnover of $40 billion. (Not to mention our
little disagreement with Novartis Pharma AG). They are unfazed though.
Dan Lyons, Director of Uncaged Campaigns, comments:
"Companies with a problem with the truth have to turn to spin
specialists such as Fleishman-Hillard. In contrast, our attitude is
straightforward and genuine - we urge the public to take a look at the
facts and make up their own minds. If IAMS had nothing to hide they
would just tell it as it is - themselves. The latest statement, analysed
below, is a classic piece of spin - warm words with little actual focus
or substance. Surely these companies cannot believe that the public
are so gullible?"
Below is a copy of a letter sent today by Uncaged Campaigns to Fleishman-Hillard
asking for clarification of Iam's current practices. We won't hold our
Correspondence with Fleishman-Hillard
Annabel Fiddian Green
Fleishman-Hillard International Communications
15 June 2001
Following on from our telephone conversation Thursday lunchtime, I would
like to clarify some of the fundamentally ambiguous elements of the statement
reproduced below. Because of the highly equivocal nature of the statement,
we find the stated intentions to achieve "complete transparency"
and "to clarify" the IAMS' policy regarding animal experimentation
lack credibility. We are not so naïve as to assume that Fleishman's
role as PR consultants for The Iams Company involves a commitment to complete
transparency and honesty - after all if IAMS were committed to such practices
we doubt they would need to employ you! Nevertheless, I hope that you
can give us some straightforward answers. The questions we would like
you to answer appear after the statement.
8th June 2001
THE IAMS COMPANY POLICY
ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF PET FOOD
For complete transparency The Iams Company wishes to clarify its policy
regarding animals in research for the development of pet foods.
"The Iams Company is committed to improving the health and well-being
of cats and dogs through the development of superior nutrition.
"The Iams Company will not participate in any study requiring
the euthanasia of cats or dogs, nor will we conduct the veterinary equivalent
of any tests on cats or dogs which are not acceptable in nutritional
or medical studies in people."
Since the recent acquisition of The Iams Company, Procter & Gamble
has been aligning research policies emanating from our many R&D
technical centres around the world. In the past, P&G's products
have been for use by people.
However, since the acquisition of The Iams Company, it became necessary
to recognise a new set of consumers and include cats and dogs in our
overall global policy. This new statement is compatible and aligned
with P&G's policy, it reflects the decision made two years ago by
The Iams Company to start no further studies which required euthanasia
of cats and dogs and it also demonstrates the commitment of both companies
to animal welfare.
This policy applies to all research of The Iams Company in the development
of pet food regardless of whether it is within our own technical centres,
universities or anywhere else.
Uncaged Campaigns' Questions
- The title/subject of the statement refers to "policy on the development
of pet foods". What does The Iams Company mean, precisely, by 'research
for the development of pet foods' (in other words, what kinds of studies
does this include and exclude)? Does this category of research cover
all of the research conducted on animals currently or in the past supported
in any way (i.e. through part or whole funding and involving IAMS employees/researchers)
by the Iams Company?
- Can The Iams Company provide hard evidence of "the decision made
two years ago... to start no further studies which required euthanasia
of cats and dogs"? To the best of our knowledge, this decision
was not communicated to the Sunday Express prior to the publication
of the first exposé on 27 May when the paper spoke to Dr Dan
Carey, IAMS' Director of Technical Communications. Naturally, this raises
about the truthfulness of the references to this decision. Furthermore,
we did actually request that IAMS provide evidence of this decision
two weeks ago but nothing has been forthcoming.
- How does IAMS propose to facilitate ongoing verification of its stated
policy regarding non-lethal studies on cats and dogs?
- From the wording of the passage referred to in the above point, we
presume that ongoing studies involving killing cats and dogs were occurring
within the last two years. If so, what were those studies and when did
- Will/does IAMS participate in any experiments (i.e. including and
excluding the category of 'research for the development of pet food')
involving the killing/euthanasia of cats and dogs?
- Have any cats or dogs died as a result of experiments that IAMS' has
participated in over the last two years? (The reason I ask this is that
even if we accept for the sake of argument that IAMS does not participate
in experiments REQUIRING the killing of cats and dogs in the "development
of pet food" category of research, such experiments may still have
possibly unforeseen consequences that lead to the deaths of cats and
- Will/does IAMS participate in any studies on cats and dogs that contain
procedures that cause pain, suffering or illness to those animals? (For
example, the severe allergy study conducted on husky puppies (Olson
M. E. et al., "Hypersensitivity Reactions to Dietary Antigens in
Atopic Dogs", Proceedings of 2000 Iams Nutrition Symposium, p.
69-77) which was referred to in the Express article and in our report
clearly caused pain and suffering, yet may not necessarily have required
the euthanasia of those puppies.)
- IAMS state: ". nor will we conduct the veterinary equivalent
of any tests on cats or dogs which are not acceptable in nutritional
or medical studies in people." This is classic spin! The procedures
performed on cats and dogs by IAMS obviously have some parallels with
human medical interventions, but the fundamental difference is that
IAMS' practice has traditionally involved taking healthy animals, making
them sick, and then performing these tests on them. This is hardly the
same as performing diagnostic or other procedures on a human patient
for his/her own benefit. Maybe you could comment on this?
- The remainder of the statement is so vague as to be meaningless. However,
I note that the statement is said by IAMS to be "compatible and
aligned with P&G's policy". Does this mean that P&G conducts
no lethal tests on cats and dogs whatsoever? (Although I concede that
the public relations statement is compatible with P&G policy insofar
as it is deliberately ambiguous in order to give the impression that
the company is less cruel to animals than it really is - it is part
of a pattern we have observed!)
- We presume that IAMS conduct lethal tests on animals apart from cats
and dogs. If this is not so, or if you would like to explain the position
fully, please comment.
I look forward to receiving your reply - for the sake of 'transparency'
and 'clarity' (!) of course. I shall also be posting this on our website
in order to facilitate public scrutiny of IAMS' position and I look forward
to being able to communicate your response.
Uncaged Campaigns 15.06.01