AWI Quarterly

Laboratory Animals

Inadequately anesthetized mice were sliced open and had their organs cut out by a research assistant at a California-based laboratory, according to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report. The approved research protocol, which was ignored, stated that the mice would be dead when their organs were "harvested." Three of the institution's veterinarians and a veterinary technician attempted, but failed to stop the employee from continuing with the torturous procedure. The assistant had been cited twice before for causing pain and distress in mice and rats so she should not have been experimenting on animals at all.

This egregious situation occurred at Amgen, Inc., which according to its website, "is the world's largest independent biotechnology company." USDA has cited Amgen with failing to comply with the modest legal requirements for veterinary care, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) responsibilities, personnel and training. Despite these serious problems, Amgen is accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), International.

Mice are not currently being protected under the Animal Welfare Act. Though the law mandates protection for all warm-blooded animals, the regulations for enforcement of the law specifically exclude mice, rats and birds. We know about this incident only because an alert USDA veterinary inspector realized that Amgen's failure to protect rodents suggested the facility would not adequately protect the other warm-blooded animals being experimented on at the facility and noted it on her inspection report.

Research industry groups are rallying scientific organizations in an effort to prevent the legal protection of mice, rats and birds used for experimentation. They argue that there is no need for protection of these vulnerable animals. This is nonsense.


"...it seemed obvious that the veterinarian, and perhaps other IACUC members, feared reprisal for discussing the details of the incident with us....Employees who fear reprisal will not report deficiencies they discover, and such deficiencies will then go uncorrected."

-USDA Veterinary Inspector, Jan. 13, 2000


Caged Laboratory Animals Drown by the Tens of Thousands

Flooding in Houston, Texas on June 9 and 10 caused the death by drowning of more than 35,000 animals used for experimentation at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School. The animals, which included dogs, primates, rabbits, mice and rats, were trapped in their cages. The National Institutes of Health has said it will work to "accommodate the setbacks" in the federally funded research (a bonanza for animal dealers), but has not announced any practical plans to prevent a repetition of this tragedy. One can only imagine the terror of the animals confined in cages in basement laboratories throughout the vast medical complexes as they listened to the frenzied struggle of their fellows drowning in the lower tiers of cages as the water inexorably rose.

In Remembrance of Nick Carter

 

Nick Carter's death on March 16th in Zambia marked the loss of a dedicated and passionate conservationist. His work took him all over the world from London's emergency animal clinics in the 1950s to the Far East and Africa to investigate wildlife smuggling and illegal whaling. His painstaking investigations to expose pirate whaling operations gained him recognition in the 1970s and led to the seizure in South Africa of two whaling ships before their maiden voyages. Countless endangered whales were saved.

In 1994, Nick was a recipient of AWI's Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award for his last project, the Lusaka Agreement, a unique African initiative establishing a multinational Task Force to fight cross-border wildlife crime. Working quietly behind the scenes he shepherded the idea from paper to reality over 8 years, winning the Goldman Environmental Award in 1997. Instead of keeping the $75,000 prize, he gave it away, helping to establish a Fighting Wildlife Crime Fund. This was typical of Nick. He died owning nothing of value but his books. His personal needs came last. Work was his life. His wisdom, strength of purpose and clear sense of right inspired many. His death leaves a vacuum, but the legacy of his work and the motivation he inspired in others will ensure his spirit lives on.

—Rosalind Reeve

I want to add a note about one of Nick's brilliant ideas: He took a small ad in a journal for maritime engineers asking readers to communicate with him about any information they might have on pirate whalers. Wonderfully, he received a message from the engineer employed by a pirate whaler. The engineer bravely videotaped the piracy, including an endangered humpback whale being dragged up the slipway, butchered, and boxed for the Japanese market. The tape was shown widely on European television to great effect.

—Christine Stevens

Two AWI Missions to Central Europe

By Tom Garrett

On March 10, Agnes Van Volkenburgh and I traveled to the ancient Czech city of Prague with Samoobrona Chairman Andrzej Lepper for a meeting of farm unions and agrarian parties from the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Cyprus and Estonia. The meeting, catalyzed by a European Union ultimatum that countries seeking E.U. membership "modernize" their "agriculture sectors" by eliminating peasant farmers, began at Prague University on the 11th. By the end of the day the participants had agreed to strengthen farmers' defenses by forming a European Democratic Rural Union (EDRU) of agrarian parties.

On the following morning, a committee convened to draft the guiding principles of the proposed alliance. Lepper, preoccupied with events in Poland, assigned Agnes (who is his animal welfare consultant) to negotiate for Samoobrona. I was seated as her "adviser" and we brought the session to an impasse by proposing language on environmental protection, animal welfare and clean food. The Czechs objected with particular vehemence. But when Lepper, with his indefinable sense of force, came to the table to ask what the problem was, opposition disintegrated. The final language of the memorandum has the EDRU striving for "preservation of natural environment in the broadest possible sense, increasing production of natural food supply and promoting humane farming methods."

Whether this rather startling victory will survive the formal inauguration of the new union (probably in October) remains to be seen. Farm animal welfare has never before appeared in a central European political platform.

On March 15, Agnes and I joined Lepper in Warsaw for two more defining events. One, which put to the test our effort to form a peasant-ecologist alliance, was a Samoobrona-led demonstration at the U.S. and German embassies protesting foreign takeover of Polish assets. Fortunately, by the time we reached the main gate of the U.S. Embassy, "locked down" and guarded by scores of Interior Ministry troops wearing black ski masks and carrying sub-machineguns, parties of ecologists had arrived and hoisted their banners. Later, at a boisterous AWI sponsored luncheon of farmers and ecologists, Lepper sat with Green Federation head Olaf Swolkien and other ecologists to hammer out a working alliance. The cover of the latest Green Brigades journal pictures Swolkien and Lepper standing beneath a Green Federation banner.

We also met with Adam Tanski, head of the State Farm Property Agency (AWRS), the agency established to privatize the 20% of Polish farmland that was incorporated into state farms. Tanski came quickly to the point. "I have seen in your video how you raise hogs in Iowa," Tanski said. "I would like to begin this kind of husbandry on state farms. If you can provide the technical expertise we need to convert to your system, and help us to establish markets, I can supply the land, the buildings and the people. We have 40,000 unemployed former state farm workers who need something to do." We assured Tanski that we would bring a team of experts to Poland as soon as possible.

On May 15, Agnes flew to Warsaw to complete arrangements for a small AWI sponsored peasant-ecologist conference. She was joined on the 18th by AWI's Farm Animal Advisor Diane Halverson, Iowa farmer and Niman Ranch coordinator Paul Willis, Minnesota farmer Dwight Ault, AWI's Greek International committee member Dr. Theo Antikas, and Ionos Tsironis, the head of the Greek Hog Farmers Union.

The conference, on May 19th and 20th, attracted not only farmers and ecologists, but a substantial cadre of Polish veterinarians. After hearing a powerful presentation by American Riverkeepers' Kevin Madonna on the hog factory disaster in North Carolina, Dr. Bartosz Winiecki, President of the Polish Veterinary Chamber, denounced industrial hog raising and pledged to mobilize Polish veterinarians against a Smithfield takeover. Winiecki praised the AWI/Niman Ranch system and said that he wants to bring a delegation of Polish vets to the U.S. to see it first hand.

Unfortunately, the AWI team's arrival in Poland coincided with an acute crisis within Poland's unstable governing coalition. While we were able to tour state farms in northeastern and central Poland, the planned "nuts and bolts" session with Tanski did not eventuate. Tanski, like other government politicians, was caught up in the scramble trying to keep the foundering coalition afloat. It was not until after the rest of us had returned home that Agnes, who remained in Poland an additional week, was able to meet Mr. Perycz, Tanski's deputy, and learn what the AWRS now has in mind.

"If AWI will prepare and translate a brochure with text and pictures explaining what must be done to qualify for the program and why it is profitable to raise pigs in that way" Perycz told Agnes, "AWRS will bear the costs of printing it. We will distribute it to existing state farms and to everyone who is raising pigs on land being leased from us. Then we will collect the names of farmers who are interested in converting and transmit them to you. If you can then investigate on a case by case basis and prepare a blueprint for converting each farm, we will bear the costs of conversion." Perycz made it clear, however, that his agency would only approve conversions if humanely raised pork could be effectively marketed.

In a last minute blitz, Agnes traveled to Poznan with Andrzej Lepper, spoke at a press conference and visited a private farmer —already raising pigs humanely on deep straw—who is anxious to convert to the AWI system. The Samoobrona office in Poznan has received numerous inquiries from farmers who have seen the AWI video and want to adopt the AWI system. On her final day in Warsaw, Agnes attended a meeting of the Polish Ecological Farming Association, which is involved in marketing Polish organic produce. Its President, Professor Gorny, immediately volunteered to help set up channels for distributing humanely raised pork. It devolved that Gorny was already in conflict with Animex, but that he did not realize that it had been taken over by Smithfield and was being used as the bridgehead for a full-scale invasion.

The next step for AWI is to complete the brochure requested by AWRS. Agnes has already arranged for it to be distributed by Samobroona and by the Polish Federation of Agricultural Employees as well as AWRS and to be reprinted in Trzoda Chlewna, the Polish pig raisers journal. In the meantime, Mr. Tsironis has decided to set up a demonstration project conforming to AWI standards on his property in Greece and has suggested that the brochure be translated into Greek for distribution by his union. As an example of the serendipity inherent in international gatherings, Tsironis has resolved to set up a peasants self defense network, modeled on Samoobroona, in Greece, Cyprus and Macedonia.

Saving Sharks from the Jaws of Greed

The legendary image of sharks portrayed in movies such as Jaws perpetuates remarkable fear among humans. In fact, many species of sharks have experienced dramatic population declines as a result of cruel killing and poorly managed fisheries across the globe. A new report from WildAid, The End of the Line?, describes in great detail the threats facing sharks worldwide.

While sharks have swum through the oceans of the world for as long as 400 million years, according to WildAid's Executive Director, Peter Knights, "Sharks are likely to be in the first round of marine extinctions caused by human activity." The End of the Line? reveals some of the myriad reasons for which sharks are killed: to consume their meat, to use their body parts in medicines and teeth for jewelry, and, increasingly, to slice off their fins for shark fin soup. As described in the Report: "The shark is hauled up on deck, the fins sliced off, and the shark-often still alive- thrown back into the sea. This conserves space in the hold for high-value food species such as tuna and swordfish."

The Report highlights threats to various specific shark species such as the great white shark, fished for sport and killed for its jaws, and the world's largest fish, the whale shark, targeted for fins "sometimes fetching thousands of dollars a set-for use in soup and as displays to advertise shark fin soup."

The authors lead us through the countries most heavily involved in the trade: from Hong Kong, "the center of the global shark fin trade" to China, "the major importer" and "the world's largest consumer of shark fin."

In the US Congress last year, the Shark Finning Prohibition Act was enacted. In February, the United States Department of Commerce issued its "National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks."  Hopefully, The End of the Line? will spur all nations involved in killing and consuming sharks to implement similar regulations to ensure their survival.

For more information, contact: WildAid, 450 Pacific Ave., Suite 201, San Francisco, CA 94133, or log on to http://www.wildaid.org/.


Caption: Sharks are caught as bycatch in most of the world's fisheries. (R. and V. Taylor/Interspace Visions)

Elephant Seals Hot Iron Branded

 

Hot iron branding has caused terrible pain to animals, both wild and domestic. Photographs of branded elephant seals, with hot iron brand marks covering a significant part of the animals' sides (both sides so scientists can read the number easily) were published in the Sydney, Australia Mercury.

According to the March 29th Mercury, "The evidence collected shows the brands have created large weeping and infected wounds on many seals." The Parks and Wildlife Director, Max Kitchell, said, "a significant number of seals were left with horrific injuries which could be life-threatening."

The brandings, part of a 10 year population study, have now been mercifully stopped by the Macquarie Island government.

Another Dealer is Exposed for Illegally Acquiring Dogs for

 As many as 1,000 former racing greyhounds may have been acquired fraudulently by a USDA-licensed Class B, random source, dealer and sold for experimental purposes. The owners of the dogs were led to believe the animals would be adopted to homes; instead the dealer, Daniel Shonka, sold them to laboratories for $300-400 each.

Allegedly most of the dogs were sold to Guidant Corporation, a cardiac research facility and manufacturer of implantable pacemakers and defibrillators. The dogs were used for experimental purposes at the company's site in St. Paul, Minnesota. Research facilities that want to ensure they do not get stolen or fraudulently acquired dogs and cats should not use Class B random source dealers.

Most of the dogs Shonka sold for experimentation have been killed, but approximately 100 may still be alive at Guidant. The laboratory is reversing the experimental procedures it conducted on the dogs and is releasing them. Some of the dogs have had surgically implanted wires removed and after recovering from the surgery, the greyhounds will be adopted to good homes as initially anticipated by their owners.

Shonka, a long-time scout for the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles, runs a kennel for racing dogs at St. Croix Meadows Greyhound Racing Track in Hudson, Wisconsin and operates his so-called adoption program from his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Since 1996 he has held a USDA license for his Cedar Rapids location to sell animals to laboratories, but the license does not entitle him to acquire animals by deceit. When the allegations against Shonka surfaced in April, he disconnected his home and business telephone.

No charges have been filed yet, but the USDA, Wisconsin Division of Gaming and the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation are investigating Shonka. Adoption of the Pet Safety and Protection Act, currently pending in Congress, would prevent this illicit supply of dogs and cats for experimentation.


Photo, Note the fresh surgical scars on Biscuit and Saucy, who were among the first greyhounds released by Guidant Research Laboratory.  Having survived the ordeal, they are now together in a loving home.

Trendy Talbots Tied to Tasteless Sales

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has recently released a report revealing the link between Talbots clothing stores and the sale of whale, porpoise and dolphin products across Japan by their parent company JUSCO, one of Japan's largest supermarket operators. Talbots Inc., a retailer of women's specialty clothing since 1947, owns and operates 733 stores in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. In June 1988, JUSCO USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Japanese retail conglomerate JUSCO Co. Ltd. (JUSCO), purchased the Talbots franchise. JUSCO USA currently owns approximately 58.1% of the outstanding common stock in Talbots.

Since JUSCO acquired majority ownership of the Talbots chain in 1988, more than a quarter of a million whales, dolphins and porpoises have been killed by Japanese hunters in poorly regulated and unsustainable hunts. JUSCO's large distribution chain has enabled the Japanese whale and dolphin hunting industry to thrive in spite of repeated international censure.

EIA's recent investigations in Japan have established that JUSCO's supermarket chain is a large distributor of whale and dolphin meat and blubber, with products being sold in hundreds of stores throughout Japan. EIA surveyed 388 JUSCO owned supermarkets in Japan and found that almost half sold whale meat. Subsequent site visits across Japan revealed whale, dolphin or porpoise meat on sale in 22 out of 37 stores. JUSCO supermarkets sell whale meat from protected minke whales hunted in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary and the Pacific Ocean; they also sell dolphin and porpoise meat from coastal populations that are threatened or in decline. DNA analysis of samples taken from JUSCO supermarkets revealed minke whale, bottlenose dolphin, Dall's porpoise, short-finned pilot whale and sei whale (a species that has been internationally protected since 1986).

Not only does JUSCO USA own Talbots, the two companies are also closely united in corporate governance. Four of the nine Directors on the Talbots Board hold key executive offices within JUSCO or JUSCO USA. Talbots is inextricably linked to JUSCO, and EIA is calling on the Board of Talbots to persuade its parent company (JUSCO) to ban the sale of all whale, dolphin and porpoise products in its stores permanently.

ACTION Tell Talbots they have a whale of a problem! Write to Talbots CEO Arnold Zetcher: One Talbots Drive, Hingham, MA 02043 or fax him at (781) 741-4369 and ask him to demand that JUSCO permanently ban the sale of cetacean products in its stores. Log on to www.ecocrimes.org for more information and to send an automatic webfax to the CEO of Talbots.

Judge Strikes Down Phony "Dolphin-Safe" Label

 

On April 11, 2000, Judge Thelton Henderson of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled against the blatant defrauding of consumers by the U.S. government. The judge struck down the new "dolphin-safe" label for canned tuna fish—a label that is distinctly dolphin unsafe. Judge Henderson questioned the diligence of the Department of Commerce in adequately studying the reason for the lack of recovery of several species of dolphins, hard hit for decades in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Despite the death of over seven million dolphins who were chased, exhausted and netted to catch the tuna schools beneath them, Secretary of Commerce William Daley made a preliminary finding last year that there was no proof that this technique of fishing caused "significant adverse impact." His finding triggered the release of a new, official Department of Commerce "dolphin-safe" label for canned tuna fish. The new label would have been used on cans of tuna caught by harassing dolphins. Judge Henderson essentially voided this fraud and sent the government back to the drawing board. His ruling came in the nick of time, with Mexico poised to flood the U.S. with tons of dolphin-deadly tuna.

Thanks to especially vocal consumers, all canned tuna now sold in the United States is caught without netting dolphins. All three major American tuna importers have vowed to continue the present definition of dolphin-safe and reject the phony label.


Photo, Spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) are one of the two species most heavily impacted by being chased and encircled by tuna nets in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. (Psarakos/Earthtrust)

Animal Dealers Arrested and Convicted

Special Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Division perform invaluable services in capturing criminal animal dealers and following each case to its conclusion. "Operation Chameleon" has resulted in the conviction of over 20 smugglers and reptile dealers in three countries. In 1992, a major Florida reptile dealer, Tom Crutchfield, was arrested and convicted.

Meantime, the prestigious San Diego Zoo had been augmenting its collection through trafficking in rare and endangered reptiles. Earl Thomas Schultz, former Curator of Reptiles, admitted he had misappropriated more than $100,000 of the zoo's money, but used it to "the zoo's benefit and to enhance its reptile collection. Much of the money was used for gifts to dealers." According to The San Diego Union Tribune, "He conducted all transactions in cash, some of which he kept at home." Schultz testified, "I was following directions… I did not take [the money] from the San Diego Zoo."

The Special Agents of FWS Law Enforcement Division have earned the appreciation of all of us who strive to protect endangered species, and they deserve strong support from the Congress and the Administration.

Humane Slaughter Act Resolution Introduced

In 1958, Senator Hubert Humphrey and Congressman W.R. Poage shepherded the Humane Slaughter Act through the national legislative process. Over forty years later, with great disappointment, it is increasingly evident that the law is being flouted at large slaughter plants across the country. Today, corporate slaughter lines move with such rapidity that every animal cannot be stunned properly and rendered unconscious before being hoisted by a hind leg, violently skinned and brutally dismembered.

To address this horrifying situation, Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald (R, IL) has sponsored a concurrent resolution "Expressing the sense of the Congress that the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958 should be fully enforced so as to prevent the needless suffering of animals."

Although enacted over forty years ago, public interest over this issue still runs high today. In April, a Washington Post investigative report entitled "Modern Meat/A Brutal Harvest," revealed that there are "repeated violations of the Humane Slaughter Act at dozens of slaughterhouses" and that USDA inspectors have little support from USDA in enforcing the law. According to the paper, "the USDA has stopped tracking the number of violations and dropped all mentions of humane slaughter from its list of rotating tasks for inspectors." Senator Fitzgerald, in his statement on the Senate floor, lamented the practical impact of the USDA's futility in inspecting facilities and recording violations: "This is simply unacceptable. We cannot manage nor regulate what we do not monitor nor measure."

Thus, S. Con. Res. 45 requests that Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman fully enforce the 1958 law to prevent needless animal suffering, resume tracking Humane Slaughter Act violations and report the USDA's findings to Congress annually. It further reiterates, "it should be the policy of the United States that the slaughtering of livestock and the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter shall be carried out only by humane methods." Representatives Constance Morella (R, MD) and Elton Gallegly (R, CA) have introduced a companion resolution in the House of Representatives, H. Con. Res. 175.

During the Congressional deliberations on the original humane slaughter bill in the '50s, Congressman Poage noted that the meat packing industry, "up until a few months ago [had] done practically nothing to meet the requirement of human kindness, and even decency in the slaughtering of animals." It's truly sad that Congress has to remind the USDA and slaughterhouse industry again of the need for basic compassion. The cruelty inflicted on animals in 2001 is even worse than it was when Poage lamented.

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