There are people who stand to profit from weaker regulations in the lab, and one of these is the largest animal testing facility in the UK — Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) is the largest Contract Research Organisation (CRO) in the UK, with two laboratories in the UK and one in the United States. HLS tests medicines, chemicals, and agricultural chemicals such as pesticides and weed killers on animals. The company’s 2008 Annual Report showed that the company had revenues of $242 million. Nearly every major pharmaceutical firm in the world is listed amongst its clients, and according to the prominent campaign body Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), the three main customers to HLS are AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer, closely followed by Bayer, Sanofi Aventis, Schering Plough (Merck) and Syngenta.
SHAC states that Huntingdon Life Sciences tests medical and non-medical substances on around 75,000 animals every year, including primates. Video footage shot covertly inside HLS in 1997 by PETA showed staff members abusing animals. The footage was aired onChannel 4 in the UK and the employees were prosecuted, and HLS’s animal testing licence revoked for six months, but in the end HLS got its own way; PETA stopped its campaign against the company after HLS threatened the organization with legal action. In the US, Huntingdon Life Sciences obtained a gagging order that prevents PETA from publicising or talking about any of the information that they discovered about HLS in their investigative work. The order also prevented PETA from communicating with the American Department of Agriculture when it was investigating animal abuse at HLS.
Undercover investigations by members of Animal rights organisations have also found that shareholders that invest in Huntingdon Life Sciences include big investment bankers like Phillips and Drew, and the beneficiaries – the people they were investing for, are usually big pension funds. Greg Avery, who is currently serving a nine-year jail sentence because of a SHAC campaign, reported to The Guardian newspaper that the beneficiaries of HLS included ‘the Labour party pension fund, and those of Camden Council, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Rolls-Royce and Rover.’
Banks were also found to be involved in the money side of things. HLS was found to have taken a £24.5m loan from NatWest Bank, which was owned by The Royal Bank of Scotland. After much high-profile mass protest and non violent direct action, Animal rights activists convinced RBS not to renew the loan. Stephens Investment Bank, based in Arkansas, USA, attempted to loan to HLS instead but it also withdrew after pressure from American SHAC demonstrators.
Avery provides sufficient evidence, then, to state that CROs like Huntingdon Life Sciences are behind the continued and unnecessary practices of animal testing and research, with the Support of other large corporations and the UK government. When and whether the truth will filter into the public mindset remains to be seen, as Blair’s war on Animal rights activists is still at large in the general public’s thinking today. As Brigitte Bardot, celebrated actress and founder of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals once said, ‘It is money that rules this world and leads to the worst possible atrocities’. It’s a statement that sadly rings too true when it comes to animal testing.
If you want to find out more or get involved with the campaign against animal testing, contact Stop Huntingdon Life Sciences, The RSPCA, or PETA.
Image Source: Hans Gerwitz/Flickr
If it is morally wrong to test on human animals, then it’s equally wrong to do so on any other creature. If people want medicines and cosmetics, why don’t test on them???? Sounds wrong right???? But it doesn’t, when referring to creatures who can’t consent to it and who aren’t going to use any of these. Well, no life is of less importance than any other life. Using animals like that is just another clue to how arrogant, selfish and ignorant towards the feelings of creatures with non human speech. Nature did well b4 us and if we just leave it alone it will be perfectly fine again. We are the problem and trying to solve this problem, by imprisoning and torturing other living creatures is just sooo wrong.
I am a Vet, vegetarian and environmentalist but sad to say this article is very badly researched. Firstly, animal testing is mostly done to understand how biology works and diseases work – if we don’t know that we cannot cure disease outbreaks in what are often endangered species, or a cat with cancer. Bringing back species that mankind or nature (maybe because we have changed it?) has made extinct will also rely on these experiments, as do all of the tools I use to heal injured animals. This is why most experiments are done by academia and medical schools and NOT private industry.
There was recently an article in one of the papers (that this reporter could apparently do with reading) that looked at why there are more experiments and it was caused by breeding mice to find out what genes do (while other sorts of experiments are on the way down) and investment in UK science. The UK has some of the best scientists in the world and the highest animal welfare standards so the more is done here and not places like China the better!
I know a Vet who works in a lab looking after the animals, and she has told me that most experiments are virtually harmless and only a tiny number lead to any noticeable suffering. She also said that it is illegal to use an animal if there is any other way to do it so I do not know what the “Safer Medicines Trust” is talking about. If you think about their claim that drugs deemed safe by animal tests do not always work in humans, the alternative is to have no animal tests so EVEN MORE drugs like Vioxx would hit the market. It also suggests that the tests were completely harmless to the animals, which is why the drugs were licensed…
The problem with articles such as this is they do not mention why the experiments are done. It is at the same time for animals and humans benefit and to protect the environment. Nature is not non-violent. It is also full of disasters and disease. If we are going to protect animals and our environment, we must have the tools and knowledge to do it and very, very unfortunately this is at the moment the only way to do it. I’ve written an essay here eh!
The real scandal is people eating meat which is undefensible. More innocent animals are killed every day for food than are used in a year of animal testing.
Anyone who thinks that animal testing causes no suffering needs to see it happening before writing such an essay.