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

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Labour's Broken Promises Provoke Third Hunger Strike

ANIMAL LIBERATION PRISONER BARRY HORNE, CURRENTLY SERVING AN 18-YEAR SENTENCE, COMMENCED HIS THIRD HUNGER STRIKE ON TUESDAY 6TH OCTOBER 1998.

The fast has been prompted by the Labour Government's persistent refusal to honour its pre-election pledges on vivisection. Labour had clearly stated their intention to ban all cosmetic testing, tobacco and alcohol product testing, the Lethal Dose 50% (LD50) toxicity test and "the use of animals in the testing and development of weapons." (New Life for Animals, Labour Party promotional leaflet, 1996.)

Labour also promised "to support a Royal Commission to review the effectiveness and justification of animal experiments... and will initiate a full ethical and welfare review of biotechnology and the patenting of animals".

So far, the Government has managed to negotiate an end to the testing of finished cosmetic products on animals. It is important to bear in mind, however, that it is has not been made illegal: the Government could recommence the licencing of such tests immediately should it choose to do so.

Perhaps the most significant broken promise has been the refusal to set up the Royal Commission on vivisection. The Government is currently stalling by awaiting the review of the Animal Scientific Procedures Act being carried out by the Animal Procedures Committee (APC). However, the APC is viewed with deep suspicion by animal protection campaigners because of it pro-vivisection bias: an interim report produced by the APC was, not surprisingly, extremely disappointing.

At time of writing, Barry Horne has completed fifty days of his hunger strike. He has been placed in appalling conditions at Full Sutton prison in York: his cell does not have a toilet and parcels for Barry are being held up by the prison authorities, even though Barry's condition is deteriorating to the point where he is now blacking out and is looking quite frail.

Whatever the outcome of the hunger strike Uncaged Campaigns will never allow the Government to forget its pre-election pledges to tackle vivisection. Next spring, we will be launching a new campaign to put pressure on the Government to implement its promises.

Action!

  • Support for Barry Horne is being co-ordinated by the Animals Betrayed Coalition. Contact them at PO Box 21339, London WC1X 0NJ. Tel. 0181 208 3289.
  • Write NOW to the Home Office to urge them to implement Labour's pre-election promises: George Howarth MP, The Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT. Fax 0171 273 2565. Contact us here at Uncaged Campaigns for more background information.
  • or visit the animal liberation information page about Barry's current condition.

Uncaged Campaigns 26.11.98


No "Alternatives"? Seek And Ye Shall Find...

Trinity College in Dublin has unveiled a "virtual laboratory" which will be used to research drug treatments using supercomputers. The £250 000 project is expected to help produce refinements in drug treatments and dosages and to reduce the "need" for animal experiments.

It is thought that the use of these advanced computer models will lead to quicker and cheaper drug development and simpler clinical trials on human beings. Dr Ann Marie Healey of Trinity College said, "It will allow us to predict the way the drug will be released in the system. Rather than go into the lab every time you have an idea about how to improve a drug, you could get this information from the computer." The advantages to medical science this method offers over testing drugs on animals whose physiology differs from our own are obvious. The advantages to animals are even more obvious.

Incredibly powerful (apparently) Hitachi SR2201 computers are used for this work. According to Dr Martin Crane of the Hitachi Dublin Laboratory, "as far as I know this is the first application of high performance computing in this area."

Uncaged's question is why we have had to wait until late 1998 for the first application of high performance computing in the area of animals lives?

Uncaged Campaigns 29.09.98


Xenotransplantation Research "In Breach" Of RSPCA Policy

Correspondence with Dr Maggy Jennings, Head of Research Animals at the RSPCA, has revealed that substantial elements of Imutran's research programme are incompatible with RSPCA policy. The RSPCA is opposed to all experiments which cause pain, suffering or distress; is opposed in principle to manipulating animals' genetic constitution; is opposed to the use of wild-caught animals; is opposed to the import and export of laboratory animals; and is opposed to all forms of farming that deprive animals of the opportunity to indulge in their natural behaviour. Of the last of these, Dr Jennings writes:

The RSPCA has always expressed serious concern at the welfare implications of keeping pigs in SPF/QPF conditions [ Qualified Pathogen-Free/Specific Pathogen-Free. Part of Imutran's herd is kept in QPF conditions]. We believe that this seriously limits their ability to express their normal behavioral repertoire and therefore seriously curtails one of the Five Freedoms widely recognized as important for farm animals.

Imutran's research, genetic manipulation and breeding programme on pigs, its export of a transgenic pig to Holland and its transplantation experiments on primates including wild-caught baboons contravene these policies.

Uncaged Campaigns 29.09.98


Huntingdon Life Support Sciences

Huntingdon Life Sciences has been rescued. The controversial (to say the least) laboratory witnessed a plunge in its share price from over £1 to 13p in the year-and-a-half following transmission in 1997 of the Channel 4 documentary, It's A Dog's Life, in which animal technicians were shown abusing dogs. Despite a sustained and intelligent campaign by animal rights activists at all levels which has never allowed the public to forget the kind of exploitation for which HLS is responsible, the company tottered on the brink but has, for the moment been saved. It appears that HLS eventually became so undervalued that corporate speculators could no longer resist the temptation to buy cheap and hope for some recovery.

A £20.2million refinancing plan was approved at an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders on 2nd September, despite the presence of about 35 shareholding animal rights activists. Most of the new shares that have been issued were bought by a consortium of shareholders led by American businessman, Andrew Baker, who was previously a senior manager of vivisection laboratories belonging to Corling in the USA.

Huntingdon is not out of the woods yet by a long way. The activist shareholders did not receive the company prospectus, which they believe renders the meeting invalid. Legal action is planned. The company made an £8.4m loss this year and is obviously far from a copper-bottomed investment. Its future depends on winning back major long term clients who abandoned them in a flurry of synthetic horror when the evidence of animal abuse was made public. Clearly it is vital that these companies, who are obviously simply having their testing done elsewhere, are not allowed to sneak back to HLS when they think the coast is clear. It is our job to ensure that public anger at HLS's corporate indifference to animal welfare - and the lip service they have paid to it since being exposed - does not go away, and the coast is never clear.

Uncaged Campaigns 29.09.98


Govt Prepare The Way For Xenotransplantation Trials

At the end of July Frank Dobson announced the Department of Health's guidelines on applications for clinical trials in xenotransplantation. Immediately before the Government announcement Imutran announced their intention to make an application under the guidelines to use pig liver tissue in a supportive role outside the body, although they did not specify when they would be ready to do this.

The Guidelines contained nothing very surprising to close observers of the issue. The Government's basic position is that the organ donor shortage is unlikely to be solved by other means (which is true if they continue to be unwilling to consider changes in current donation policy and laws) and that they are, therefore, unwilling to stand in the way of a potential solution to that problem if they can be convinced of its safety. Mr Dobson re-iterated the line the government has already taken in Parliamentary Questions and other statements that:

Trials in xenotransplantation involving humans will only be allowed to take place if and when we are fully satisfied that the risks associated with such procedures are acceptable taking account of all the available evidence at the time.

Applications for trials will be considered by the United Kingdom Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority (UKXIRA) and the final decision rest with ministers. Steps have been taken to ensure that all NHS hospitals and ethics committees comply with these regulations, which are non-statutory. The Government states it is willing to introduce legislation but has no timetable at all for doing so at present. Other details include the inclusion of a specific animal welfare role for UKXIRA, preparation of guidelines on source animal welfare by the Home Office and preparation of surveillance procedures (ie testing for evidence of infection or virus transfer) for organ recipients.

Uncaged Campaigns 20.08.98


Virus Transfer Symposium Takes Place Behind Closed Doors

A Government-sponsored meeting of experts to discuss virus transfer took place at the beginning of August. Unfortunately details of what was discussed have not been made public, despite the obvious implications for public health. Speculative reports in the scientific press suggest that the message on risk was mixed.

Apparently studies of previous xenograft (i.e. tissue such as skin or pancreatic cells) recipients show no evidence of virus transfer so far, although these patients were not generally immunosuppressed and, of course, did not receive tissue containing human genetic material. There is also evidence that a third kind of endogenous virus (i.e., a virus "inbuilt" into pig DNA) carried by pigs can infect human tissue in the laboratory. Two other endogenous viruses have already been shown to do this.

Public announcement of the results of Imutran's study of 160 previous xenograft recipients is still pending, as are the results of Prof Robin Weiss' research into the implications of the introduction of genetic material which may make it possible for viruses to "disguise" themselves as human tissue.

Uncaged Campaigns 20.08.98


Huntingdon On Life Support

Huntingdon Life Sciences is now in severe financial difficulty and facing receivership.

After resumption of share trading following a ten day suspension the price fell to an all time low of 13p. A rescue package is being put together and HLS are holding an Emergency General Meeting to consider their options on 2nd September. The shareholders themselves will have to raise over £7 million. Would you consider it a wise use of your money?

The Huntingdon Death Sciences Campaign is organising four demonstrations to highlight this issue.

Fri 21st Aug: Demos at offices of potential investors.

Fri 21st Aug: Demo at London Stock Exchange.

Sat 29th Aug: Demo at HLS at Huntingdon.

Tue 2nd Sept: Demo at Armory House, City Rd where the EGM is taking place. Shareholders meet at 7am at Liverpool St tube station. Others meet at 9am at the venue.

Contact Uncaged or Huntingdon Death Sciences on 0589 026435 for more information on this campaign.

Uncaged Campaigns 20.08.98

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