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
"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 Defences 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 partys 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. Its no
wonder that the Government has failed to publish the extent of this extermination
- it would cause a major outcry."
Dan Lyons, Uncaged Campaigns
- Write to Home Secretary Jack Straw, the Minister responsible for the
Governments 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 Annes Gate, London,
- 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
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, its 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
One of the best ways to test Hoopers 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 Hoopers
theory, positive results would confirm it.
The parallels with xenotransplantation are clear. Hoopers convincing
theory demonstrates how a virus that has existed for millenia in its natural
host can suddenly become modernitys 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