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Read the secret history of xenotransplantation experiments

 

 

news release

Xenotransplantation operationUncaged's fight to stop new pig transplant horror

This autumn, Uncaged is stepping up to the plate to campaign against re-emerging GM pig organ transplant (xenotransplantation) experiments. Xenotransplantation has been condemned as 'dying on its feet' by scientific experts, and is deeply unpopular with the public. Despite this, the UK Government has once again bypassed its own regulations to promote horrific animal cruelty.

This bizarre research - which appears to be taking place at Imperial College London according to published scientific papers - first came to light following boasts in the media by one of the scientists involved, Professor Lord Winston. Xenotransplantation threatens to open up a whole new area of misery and death for animals, as well as expose humanity to new viral epidemics. Given the massive biological obstacles to such transplants, this research is virtually certain to fail. But in the meantime, hundreds of pigs and other animals are suffering cruel and pointless vivisection. This research project also threatens a repeat of the horrific Diaries of Despair, where biotech company Imutran transplanted pig organs into hundreds of higher primates at Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Xenotransplantation operationOur Diaries of Despair revelations exposed the horrific reality of animal testing and vindicated our opposition to pig organ transplants. Five years of intensive cruelty had simply proved that it is not possible to transplant organs between different species, separated by 180 million years of evolution [1]. This is more bio-alchemy than bio-technology - science that has been perverted by arrogance and greed.

Illegitimate animal testing

Imutran was closed down immediately Uncaged exposed the truth about their activities. Scientific commentators pronounced that pig organ transplants were 'dying on their feet', and the Government's own expert advisors acknowledged that the research had been a 'blind alley'. Furthermore, a detailed study funded by the pro-vivisection charity Wellcome Trust has found that the public overwhelmingly rejects the idea of pig organ transplants as unethical and dangerous. It was seen as the least popular solution to transplant waiting lists, with the public sensibly preferring greater promotion of donor cards or a 'presumed consent' system.

In 2003, Uncaged won a historic legal victory on public interest grounds, which allowed us to publish documents leaked from Imutran and the Home Office revealing the inside story of their failed pig-to-primate organ transplant experiments. We had argued that it was necessary to reveal evidence of law-breaking and Home Office failure to regulate the research. The emerging picture of the licensing of these experiments exposes the same rubber-stamping approach to animal research regulation.

Rubber-stamping

The Home Office has bypassed various stages of scrutiny in licensing this research. Department of Health's United Kingdom Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority's (UKXIRA) official remit includes advising the Government on the acceptability of applications to undertake xenotransplantation research and also act as a focal point in Government for xenotransplantation issues. It has also made much of its role in advising the Home Office over xenotransplantation research on animals.

Yet our request under the Freedom of Information Act has shown that the UKXIRA was not consulted about the merits or otherwise of this research. We have also learned that the Animal Procedures Committee (APC) was not consulted, despite the wider ethical implications and social concerns surrounding pig organ transplants (Home Office policy states that the APC should be consulted on such research) [2].

Given that the government's own scientific advisors have essentially written off pig organ transplants, it's scandalous that the Home Office has gone behind their back to rubber-stamp these bizarre experiments that are causing pain and suffering to hundreds of animals. Further enquiries have also revealed that the Home Office has failed to keep tabs on the results of the research programme, meaning that it cannot be implementing the core requirement of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 - the so-called 'cost-benefit assessment'.

This is further confirmation that the claims of 'strict regulation' are cynical lies designed to manipulate the public conscience. In reality, vivisectors are a law unto themselves, free to explore abstract theoretical questions for the sake of professional advancement and that can have no bearing on defending public health.

Action

  • Contact your MP to urge them to complain to the Home Office about this research. Click here for suggested wording - but composing your own message will be most effective. You can find out who your MP is by clicking here.
  • Please make a vital donation so we have the funds to pursue this campaign as vigorously as possible. Possible future actions that need financing include organising imaginative and peaceful protests, legal challenges to Government secrecy, public education and lobbying campaigns.

References:

  1. Hammer C. 'Xenotransplantation: the good, the bad, and the ugly or how far are we to clinical application?' Transplant Proc. 2003 May;35(3):1256-7.
  2. See APC's Annual Report for 2004, page 3, paragraph 7.

Uncaged Campaigns 09.10.06

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Uncaged 1993-2012: This is the archived website of Uncaged. All information correct at the time of archiving - November 2012.