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Latest Home Office Figures

1998: 20,000 more animals killed in experiments
Genetic engineering is creating more suffering and death

Figures issued by the Home Office this July have revealed that 20,499 more animals died in UK vivisection laboratories in 1998 compared to the previous year. A total of 2,593,587 animals were killed in experiments.

The increase was largely driven by a rise in the use of genetically altered animals. The exploitation of genetically modified rats doubled between 1997 and 1998. Experiments using animals with harmful genetic defects rose by about 10% to 259,318.

Most experiments used mice, with 1,588,859 (61.2%) of the creatures sacrificed, an increase of 72,952. Rats continue to make up the second largest proportion of animals used, with 563,129 destroyed in 1998. This, however, represents a drop of 10.7% compared to 1997.

Other animals massacred include:

  • 70,553 Guinea-pigs (+15%)
  • 11,063 Hamsters (+36%)
  • 7,160 Gerbils (+5%)
  • 27,828 Rabbits (-13%)
  • 1,124 Cats (-2%)
  • 5,575 Dogs (-5%)
  • 2,236 Ferrets (+20%)
  • 8,998 Pigs (+19%)
  • 18,391 Sheep (+20%)
  • 6,871 Cattle (+26%)
  • 849 Marmosets and Tamarins (-15%)
  • 2,241 Macaques and Baboons (+25%)
  • 140,134 Birds (+18%)
  • 122,049 Fish (+3%)

The Home Office minister George Howarth tried to defend the expansion in the abuse of genetically engineered animals by claiming: "The figures reflect the growing importance of genetically modified animals in allowing new areas of medical and other scientific research to be explored."

However, distinguished British biologist Dr Mae-Wan Ho condemns these troubling developments:

"The cloning and ‘pharming’ of livestock, the creation of transgenic animals for xenotransplantation and to serve as animal models of human diseases are all scientifically flawed and morally unjustifiable."
(From her book, Genetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare?, Gateway Books, Bath (1998), p.182.)

Dan Lyons, Uncaged Campaigns


Massacre Of 9 Million "Surplus" Animals Comes To Light

The true death toll in British vivisection laboratories remains a shadowy affair, but evidence has emerged this summer which suggests that the figure could be as high as 11.6 million.

While animals subjected to experiments appear in the annual Government statistics, (see above article), the number of animals killed without being experimented upon is hidden from public view.

By extrapolating from findings of undercover investigations, Uncaged Campaigns had previously estimated that a total of 7.4 million animals (see uncaged! 12)were being killed every year in British labs. Figures relating to the Ministry of Defence’s vivisection programme seemed to confirm this figure in spring 1998.

However, this August the Independent on Sunday published the findings of an investigation by the BUAV which revealed that a staggering 6.5 million mice and 2.4 million rats were destroyed because too many of the animals were bred. Tens of thousands of monkeys, pigs, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs were also exterminated.

The Government is coming under increasing pressure to tackle this secret slaughter. The Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Matthew Taylor called for more accountability of vivisection laboratories. "I am shocked by these figures, said Mr Taylor.

Last year, the Animal Procedures Committee, a Government-appointed advisory body, recommended that laboratories should "minimise" the cull and report how many animals are killed.

Geraint Davies, a backbench Labour MP who chairs the party’s environment committee, urged the Government to act quickly. He stated: "The public has a right to know how many animals are being used for experimentation and needlessly killed."

The Home Office claimed that it was in the process of considering making laboratories publish their figures. Surplus animals can be killed by either gassing, decapitation, breaking their necks or lethal blows to the head. The Home Office claims that these are "humane" methods.

Dan Lyons from Uncaged Campaigns observes: "The mass destruction of millions of animals in British laboratories demonstrates the appalling attitudes to animals inherent to the vivisection industry. It’s no wonder that the Government has failed to publish the extent of this extermination - it would cause a major outcry."

Dan Lyons, Uncaged Campaigns

Action:

  • Write to Home Secretary Jack Straw, the Minister responsible for the Government’s vivisection policy. Urge him to publish figures that account for all the animals killed in British laboratories. Address: Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AT.
  • Write to your local paper to educate the public about the millions of "disappeared" animals in UK laboratories.


New Research Contends That AIDS Was Created From Polio Vaccine Made In Chimpanzees

Study holds serious implications for safety of xenotransplants

Many commentators on the danger of virus transfer posed by xenotransplantation have pointed to the example of HIV as a virus that appears to have crossed from animals to humans with catastrophic effect.

The precise route of transmission of HIV from chimpanzees to humans has been shrouded in mystery. Now, a painstakingly researched book, The River (Penguin, £25), presents a powerful case that the first polio vaccine trials to take place in Africa - in 1957 - were responsible for the global AIDS pandemic which has killed an estimated 15 million people. As the evidence grows that AIDS crossed from animals to humans via a medical product, the warning bells over xenotransplantation ring louder than ever.

In The River, author Edward Hooper produces evidence that a U.S.-based body, the Wistar Institute of Philadelphia, used chimpanzee kidneys to culture the polio virus that formed the basis of the vaccine. Wistar has always denied this, claiming that Asian monkeys were used which do not become infected with the relevant AIDS-like virus.

However, Hooper has traced eyewitnesses who recall that chimpanzees were indeed used in research and vaccine production at an animal research facility at Lindi, in what was then Belgian Congo. Hooper then shows the correlation between the use of the Wistar chimpanzee-derived vaccine in central Africa in the late 1950s and the first confirmed cases of HIV infection in the same region at the same time.

Chimpanzee kidneys are an effective medium for growing polio virus and would have been an obvious first choice for scientists. Significantly, the name of the primate species used to develop the vaccine was not published at the time by the leader of the project, Dr Hilary Koprowski.

The Wistar has always been very sensitive to suggestions that it was responsible for the creation of AIDS. However, it’s main argument against the polio vaccine theory was recently demolished. A British sailor, David Carr, who had returned from Africa shortly before the trials began, was thought to have been the first documented victim of HIV infection, thereby exonerating the vaccine from responsibility. But in 1995 it was revealed that Carr had not travelled to Africa, and he had not been infected with HIV.

One of the best ways to test Hooper’s theory would be to analyse samples of the polio vaccine used in the trials to see if they contain the progentor of HIV, the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). However, there are serious practical difficulties with conducting a relevant study. Wistar claims that the old vials of vaccine may not be exactly the same as the ones used in the trials. Furthermore, the forty-two year time period that has elapsed since the production of the vaccine means that there may not be enough of the virus present to yield meaningful results.

Despite these difficulties, the publication of The River will increase the pressure on Wistar to find an independent research team to test the old vaccine samples. Although negative results would not rule out Hooper’s theory, positive results would confirm it.

The parallels with xenotransplantation are clear. Hooper’s convincing theory demonstrates how a virus that has existed for millenia in its natural host can suddenly become modernity’s most lethal infectious disease. Misguided and cruel exploitation of animals may well have created the AIDS pandemic. Incredibly, we are now on the threshold of embarking on another hazardous medical experiment: the implantation of animal organs and tissue into humans.The most important lesson to be learned is the utter folly of the whole concept of xenotransplantation.

Dan Lyons, Uncaged Campaigns

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