Animal rights row
AN animal rights group is urging the Scottish
Government to act following an international airline's decision to halt the
transportation of live dogs and cats to an East Lothian medical research
Scotland for Animals (SFA) is demanding Scottish
ministers hold an independent inquiry into what it alleges is the "barbaric"
treatment suffered by animals in the country's science labs - including, it
claims, at Charles River Laboratories, based at Elphinstone Research Centre.
Undercover activists working on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals (PETA) have forced German airline Lufthansa Cargo to ban the
transport of dogs and cats destined for British research institutes.
The activists discovered an aircraft hold full of caged beagles destined,
they claim, for the Elphinstone-based centre, along with paperwork detailing
where the dogs would be delivered to during a recent raid on a Lufthansa
Following the airline's decision, SFA has written to every
MSP demanding action now be taken to open up the information process
regarding the experiments on animals, as they claim millions of pounds of
taxpayers' money goes towards funding the laboratories.
a spokesperson for SFA, said: "The Airline Lufthansa has now pledged to end
the transport of animals for research after being exposed shipping a 'cargo'
of dogs to Edinburgh to be experimented on and killed by Charles River Labs
in East Lothian.
"MSPs have consistently cowered away from the issue
of vivisection in Scotland refusing even to discuss the matter as it is "not
a devolved issue", but are always keen to meet with the animal research
lobby and the firms involved in order to organise taxpayers funding for
"With almost 560,000 animals being abused and killed every
year in labs all over Scotland, and this number rising steadily, we think
it's about time they had the courage to face this scandal and tell us, their
employers, what they intend to do about it.
"There are real
alternative research methods now readily available and in the 21st century
we do not need animal experimentation. The practise is really barbaric and
we really need to make stand about it. Animal experiments aren't working and
it's about time those involved in this type of research stopped putting
profit before lives."
"We are urging Scottish ministers to hold an
inquiry about the whole animal experimentation subject."
Lufthansa Cargo are just the latest airline to implement a ban on the
transport of dogs and cats to be used in experiments following in the
footsteps of Air Canada, Cathay Pacific and Quantas.
available to the public regarding these labs is almost totally non-existent
because these companies are currently protected by law and do not have to
divulge anything to the public. It really is a disgraceful set of affairs,"
added Mr Patrick.
County MSP and Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray
said: "Charles River is an important local company and a key employer in
East Lothian, providing many highly skilled and well paid jobs. I respect
the fact that people have strong ethical objections to the use of animals in
scientific procedures. But I recognise that this research has helped
hundreds of millions of people through advances like vaccines that have
eradicated mass killers such as smallpox, and through the development of
medicines and procedures to treat previously incurable conditions like heart
"This research holds out the hope, with other scientific
advances such as genome sequencing, of extraordinary breakthroughs in the
treatment and prevention of diseases as varied as cancer, mental illness and
Alzheimer's. British scientists and companies are at the forefront of this
work. A growing number of stages of vital research and testing can now be
done, thankfully, without the use of animals.
"We all hope that the
time will come when no animal experimentation is needed at all. But that's
not the case at the moment - there are no validated and established
laboratory methods available to totally replace animal experimentation.
"We are rightly proud of our history of animal welfare and protection.
We have banned testing on great apes including chimpanzees, gorillas and
orang-utans, and outlawed the testing of cosmetics, alcohol and tobacco on
animals. We have legislated so that experimentation is only permitted when
there is no alternative research technique and when the expected benefits
outweigh any possible adverse effects.
"Today's approaches to drug
development, involving an integrated programme of nonclinical testing and
clinical trials, have been built up on a scientific basis for more than 30
Officials at Lufthansa Cargo have admitted they have now
added cats and dogs to their self-imposed list of banned animals which also
includes apes, whales, dolphins and any animal captured in the wild.
Axel Heitmann, Director Competence Center Animals at Lufthansa Cargo, said:
"Lufthansa Cargo is regarded by its customers worldwide as a highly
professional transporter of live animals. Many companies and private
individuals place their trust in our services because they know that with us
their animals are in the best hands. This should and will continue to be the
case in future. The decision not transport dogs and cats for animal
experiments provides a further signal that for us the focus is on the
welfare of the animals."
No-one from Charles River Laboratories
Preclinical Services was available for comment, while the company also
refused to divulge how many employees they have at the research centre and
what their operations actually entail.
Charles River has a 60-year
history of providing essential products and services to help their customers
around the globe accelerate their research and drug development efforts. The
company has more than 70 facilities spread across 18 countries and employs
more than 8,500 employees.