Sunday, January 27, 2019

Meat is Killing the Planet

Meat is killing the planet. Period. Full stop. The commercial production of meat is filled with misery, it is cruel, it causes illness, shortens our lives, poisons our water and air, is an engine of species' extinctions, and has a broad negative psychological influence on us. But hey, there's lots of money in it.

Denialists and critics will look at that list of costs and poke holes in it, or try to. But climate scientists, and those not making money on meat commonly acknowledge that eating meat is killing the planet.

A few links:

Scrap subsidies for farmers, scientific journal declares. 'Lancet' says food producers should be banned from lobbying and treated like 'Big Tobacco.' January 30, 2019.

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth.
The Guardian. May 31, 2018.

Climate change food calculator: What's your diet's carbon footprint? BBC News. December 13, 2018.

Think locavore is the answer? Guess again: For a lower climate footprint, vegetarian diet beats local.
Science Daily. October 23, 2018.

I'm very doubtful that we, the human collective, are going to be able to do much of anything to forestall the civilization-crushing effects of global warming; there's just too much money to be made in the short term from ignoring the warning signs and science.

In an odd and sort of selfish way, I appreciate the fact that experts in meat production and their institutions are denying or simply ignoring the problem. Since first looking into the large publicly-funded universities' justifications for their use of animals and their tortured attempts to justify it, I've found that plain facts don't matter to them. Their spokespeople are sometimes uninformed, wrong, and lie. The most charitable explanation for their circumlocutionary claims is money. By the time a vivisector or senior spokesperson is called on to publicly defend an institution's cruelty, they are financially vested. Their income, retirement, persona, academic standing, power, everything, is connected to, and sometimes wholly dependent on their institution's income from publicly-funded experiments on animals.

A less charitable possibility is that the field is populated with an abnormally high percentage of psychopaths. The actual explanation probably includes a bit of each.

The fact that vested professors of "animal science" at large agricultural schools deny the impact of meat falls perfectly into line with the vivisectors' assertions. This makes sense since both groups ardently defend raising animals to hurt and kill.

For instance, Frank M. Mitloehner, Ph.D., Professor and Air Quality Extension Specialist, Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, claims that meat production doesn't have much effect on the environment. His understanding of the science was questioned by a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. UC-Davis hosts one of the hideous NIH National Primate Research Centers. Peas in a pod.

A crazier example is the University of Wisconsin, Madison's promotion of meat. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences just hosted a "meat contest" intended to help meat producers increase their sales -- at a time when every sane person is urging people to reduce their meat consumption. The contest was promoted by local media. It was held in conjunction with the German Butchers' Association. This is a blurb about the contest from the butchers' website: "The winners will receive medals, certificates and trophies as with the quality competitions held by the German Butchers' Association. These awards may be important tools for you to positively represent and market your products and your company."

Denials and flat rejections of the crushing environmental impact of meat by those the public has been taught are experts helps explain the reticence of local media in places like Wisconsin, to cover the impending crisis. This amplifies the harm done by these institutions.

In any case, I have to admit to some satisfaction at the "experts'" efforts to delude the the public. I've watched them do this for over twenty years. Though the implications are bleak, it's nice to know I was right about them.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Shut-downs come and go

[A draft from almost exactly a year ago. Blogger has the annoying characteristic of automatically re-dating posts.]

Of the myriad claims and liists of the dire consequences of the government's "shutdown," none that I have seen are more checkout counter tabloid-like than the one put together by Mother Jones. The long list is kicked off with two doozies:
1. Patients out of options: The National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center will stop admitting patients into its clinical trials. During the 2013 shutdown, 200 patients, including two dozen children with cancer, were unable to seek experimental treatment.

The children-with-cancer card is a tried-and-true PR tool. NIH plays the card regularly as do vivisectors and their lobbyists. Scratching the crocodile-tear-soaked patina suggests that the two dozen children appealed to by Mother Jones were unlikely to have been helped even if there had not been a shutdown.

Experimental treatments are, overwhelmingly, failures. If they weren't, we'd already have a cure for whatever form of cancer these unfortunate children had. And, being enrolled in a clinical trial is no guarantee that one would receive the experimental treatment; one might be in the control group and not receive the treatment. Because such trials are blinded, no one knows what group they are in, so at least everyone can have some hope. But hope can be found in many places, even outside of an government-funded experimental treatment experiment. The main thing is that essentially all experimental treatments fail, and so it is mere pandering to point to a dozen children with cancer who were not enrolled in an experimental study as a result of a brief government shutdown and a cause of serious concern.
2. Patients waiting on a cure: The NIH will stop accepting grant proposals, putting a hold on new medical research.

This is more absurd than the children with cancer not being able to be part of an experiment highly unlikely to be of any benefit to them. The implication is that a few days delay in being able to submit an NIH grant proposal is going to delay some new drug or therapy coming on the market. Whoever came decided to include this on the list, and in such a prominent spot, is utterly clueless. They should have done their homework:
The Medical Revolution Where are the cures promised by stem cells, gene therapy, and the human genome?
Andy Grove: Where are the Cures?!
Desperately Seeking Cures
Where Are the Cures?

A Chimpanzee with No Legs Cannot Hear

[A draft from years ago that I never posted. Just clearing out by draft folder.]

There would be little media attention (or grant money) if researchers published a paper and said that it was just more of the same and demonstrated yet again what has been known for nearly a century. Much better to claim that it is a "first of its kind."

Nurtured chimps rake it in
June 14, 2007

Human interaction and stimulation enhance chimpanzees’ cognitive abilities, according to new research from the Chimpanzee Cognition Center at The Ohio State University. The study* is the first to demonstrate that raising chimpanzees in a human cultural environment enhances their cognitive abilities, as measured by their ability to understand how tools work. The findings have just been published online in the Springer journal Animal Cognition.

The scientists compared three groups of chimpanzees: one with a history of long-term stable, social interaction with humans (‘enculturated’); a group raised in a sanctuary setting, with only caretaker contact with humans (‘semi-enculturated’); and another group raised under more austere captive conditions (laboratory chimpanzees). The experiments looked at how the chimpanzees used rakes in order to retrieve a fruit yoghurt reward. The overall study examined not only whether the chimpanzees understood the properties of the tool, but also whether they understood the reasons why the tool worked....

*Furlong EE, Boose KJ, Boysen ST. Raking it in: the impact of enculturation on chimpanzee tool use. Anim Cogn. 2007 May 22.

Are you familiar with the old joke about the scientist dismembering the grasshopper?

Scientist: "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper jumps and scientist records: GH with 6 legs jumps 24.71"

Scientist pulls off one leg. "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper jumps and scientist records: GH with 5 legs jumps 19.23"

Scientist pulls off another leg. "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper jumps and scientist records: GH with 4 legs jumps 12.03"

Scientist pulls off 5th leg. "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper jumps and scientist records: GH with 1 leg jumps .16"

Scientist pulls off last leg. "Jump grasshopper jump!"
Grasshopper doesn't jump. "Jump grasshopper jump!" Grasshopper still doesn't jump. Scientist pounds table. "Jump grasshopper jump!!" Grasshopper just lies there.

Scientist records: GH with no legs cannot hear.

Like this little allegory, the scientists studying the chimpanzees conclude: "These results provide the first empirical evidence for the differential effects of enculturation on subsequent tool use capacities in captive chimpanzees."

First, this isn't the first empirical evidence of a disparity between enculturated chimpanzees and chimpanzees living in deprived settings.

And second, the conclusion misses the actual phenomena demonstrated in their study.

The earliest empirical evidence regarding the wide disparity in tool use or tool mastery between enculturated chimpanzees and deprived chimpanzees, of which I am aware, can be found in The Ape in Our House (Cathy Hayes. Harper and Brothers; New York: 1951.)

In 1947, Cathy and Keith Hayes were given an infant chimpanzee by Yerkes Laboratory of Primate Biology director and chimpanzee vivisector, Henry W. Nissen. They named her Vicki and raised her as their daughter. The experiment with Vicki was the reason that the Hayes had moved to Orange Park Florida, where Robert Meanes Yerkes' primate colony had been established following its move from Yale. Keith Hayes was employed by the Yerkes laboratory as an experimental psychologist.

Vicki Hayes' developmental progress was closely monitored and recorded through at least the first five and a half years of her short seven and a half year life. (I have yet to find an explanation for her apparent early death.)

Vicki was filmed in a variety of situations. Her time with the Hayes is very well documented.

The Hayes' work with Vicki seems a clear anticipation of the Ohio State University claim. it does not seem that their study is in any meaningful way "a first."

Problem 1. This was a tunnel made of heavy screening, in the middle of which could be seen a gaily wrapped prize. Nearby was a long stick.

The first subject, Cassie, was given two minutes to see if she could figure it out for herself. When she told us that she could not get it, I asked "Shall I show you?" ...

Her little friends, Alice and Kathy, also had to be shown. Then, after much fingering of the apparatus, and shy smiling at the experimenter, they solved [the problem] as Cassie had.... the sole boy subject, Alan, was so fascinated by the equipment itself that after he had earned his prize, he did not open it, but put it back in the tunnel and poked it out again and again.

Vicki performed quite like the children, taking a similar length of time.

Frans, the laboratory chimpanzee, was hopeless. No amount of demonstration helped him, although he wanted his reward of fruit very much. Later, the experimenter guided Frans' hand through the proper movements, thus going beyond the demonstration, and aiding him to have the experience himself. This encouraged Frans to wriggle the stick aimlessly if someone put it into the tunnel for him, but he never did learn to make it move in the right direction. This problem, therefore, told us nothing about his imitative ability. He could hardly be expected to learn by imitation what he could not learn by direct experience. (Other work has shown that because of his lack of experience with sticks, Frans is unable to solve even the most elementary problems which require the use of a stick as a tool.) (pgs. 184-185 passim.)

The Hayes account and the Ohio State account both seem to demonstrate the effects of deprived environmental stimulation (and socialization) written about by Rene Spitz, John Bowlby and others throughout the 1900s. This seems a more likely factor than some special benefit associated with being raised like a human or around them. (Our god-like glow is a gift to all.)

It is unlikely that the deprived chimpanzees would have the same repertoire of tool use as wild chimpanzees benefiting from an intact cultural system and rich opportunity to observe and practice.

More recently, it has been observed that some of the Romanian orphans created by the dictates of Nicolae Ceausescu continue to have significant cognitive deficits. (Beckett C, Bredenkamp D, Castle J, Groothues C. O’Connor TG, Rutter M, and the English and Romanian Adoptees (E.R.A.) Study Team. “Behavior Patterns Associated with Institutional Deprivation: A Study of Children Adopted from Romania.” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 2002; 23(5):297-303.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

UW-Madison says, "Screw you."

The data connecting our meat consumption with global warming is unequivocal. The consumption of meat is associated with increased risk of disease. The production of meat causes suffering on a scale too large to fully grasp. These aren't opinions; they are plain facts.

The average person can be excused for not understanding much of anything. If the intelligence quotient (IQ) distribution graphs are correct, half of us have IQs of 100 or below. An IQ of 100 isn't particularly high; someone with an IQ of 100 probably wouldn't be considered to be particularly bright. But, those of us with a lower IQ are still consumers. And, because we make up half the market for many consumer goods, advertisers do what they can to take advantage of our limited insight.

Society, indeed, civilization, relies heavily on smart people. Smart people have an obligation to those less intellectually gifted to make wise decisions, to be at the tiller and help us navigate treacherous waters. Smart people who take advantage of those less observant and wily than themselves are little more than thieves, crooks, or charlatans, or worse.

We tend to look to those we think of as experts for insight and sometimes guidance. We take their opinions to matter, to help us understand the world. Society labels them for us: MD, PhD, DDS, DVM, etc. These experts are given even greater credence and respectability when they are associated with institutions like federal agencies, medical centers, or universities.

When an entire institution embraces a position, or implies approval of a position, it is unlikely that many of us would or even could question its authoritative position. This leaves a tiny few of us to do so.

We are killing broad swaths of life on Earth, and that article is from 2016. Generally speaking, we do this unknowingly. We have children, we pollute the environment, we buy products that are produced through practices that harm the global ecosystem, we behave as we do because our leaders, those we look to for guidance and wise counsel, are leading us astray.

The brightest among us ought to be doing all they can to lead us to safety; but they aren't. They are consumed by self-interest and greed. This, more than anything else is why civilization may be in its end days.

A case in point is the UW-Madison saying, "Screw you." At a time when the smartest people ought to be telling us to stop eating animals, that an ethic of kindness might yet save us, the University of Wisconsin, Madison is hosting a "meat competition" looking for ways to make meat more appealing, to increase it's consumption, which will hasten the warming of the planet.

Things like this are why hope alone may be hopeless. Stand up, speak out, defend the weak. If you've read this, you are now partially responsible for what comes next.

See too: Another Day, Another Dire Warning. Or, How the Experts and Our Leading Institutions Continue to Fail Us.

Monday, January 14, 2019


parabiosis: par·a·bi·o·sis /perəbīˈōsəs/ Biology noun: the anatomical joining of two individuals, especially artificially by vivisectors in physiological research.

I've been virtually immersed in the dark and cruel details of vivisection for almost 25 years now. One of the things I've come to believe is that there are no limits to what some scientists will do to animals.

As the images above and this blog's title suggest, the main focus of my activism has been on the use of monkeys and chimpanzees. These animals are so similar to us that I naively thought it would be easier to generate concern that would lead to laws protecting them than it would be for other animals. See my essay, "How Like Us Need They Be?" I've also been involved in anti-vivisection campaigns for dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, birds, and mice, and animal rights campaigns for elephants, marine mammals, geese, and chickens. I'm probably overlooking some others.

I mention all of this just to reinforce the fact that I've learned about some really hideous things being done to animals. In spite of all that, I was still shocked when I recently learned about an animal experimentation method called parabiosis. Here's a video: [or watch on YouTube.]

Here's another: [or watch here.]

Here's an MD's take on this line of research.

Interestingly, in a sick sort of way, some of the vivisectors doing this to mice have urged their colleagues to jump on the bandwagon.
While there may not be laws or rules that would outlaw the procedure in certain places, it is possible that a visceral reaction towards the idea of surgically connected mice has prevented animal care committees from approving studies involving parabiosis. Based on our years of experience with this model, we have observed the well-being of paired mice far exceeds that of mice exposed to many pathogens, cancer, traumatic injuries or debilitating mutations. See Eggel, Alexander, and Tony Wyss-Coray. "A revival of parabiosis in biomedical research." Swiss medical weekly 144 (2014): w13914-w13914.
These authors were much more successful than I have been. A search on PubMed finds 1,979 papers mentioningparabiosis. NIH Reporter, finds 74 currently funded projects mentioning parabiosis in the Abstracts or the Project Terms.

It feels like we are living in a horror movie or an incredibly bad dream. If the latter, I hope I wake up and don't remember this.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Vivisectors Love Animals - the Last Part

Vivisectors love animals and other lies the shitheads tell.

Coming full circle, in Vivisectors Love Animals - Part One, I reported that the presentation I attended in Mount Horeb was put on by Americans for Medical Progress, an industry front group. The moderator was AMP's Executive Director, Paula Clifford. The two speakers were Letty Medina, a laboratory animal veterinarian and the Director of Animal Welfare & Compliance at AbbVie, a Pharmaceutical Research & Development company, and another woman named Beth (Deb?) Danahoe or Donahue, or something like that. She identified herself as a "research technologist."

During their presentations, whenever a question was asked that might have led to some discussion, an unnamed woman in the audience would stand up and eventually, they just gave her the microphone whenever she wanted to chime in. When someone in the audience asked a question and tried to follow up, they were shushed and often the anonymous other woman came to the rescue.

In the process of reading more about AMP, I discovered that she was Cindy Buckmaster, the Chair of the AMP Board of Directors. She is also the Director of Center for Comparative Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She is a regular on the animals-are-here-for-us-to-use speaker circuit.

If there was a common thread in the presentations other than the assertion that our interests trump other animals', it may have been cancer. You cannot read the pro-viv literature without being told over and over again that you or a loved one are probably going to get cancer, and that the only choice we have other than throwing up our hands is to give them cancer. It seems that they always stroke people's fear with the names of the diseases that they think will frighten them the most.

Cindy Buckmaster, the unnamed go-to person in the audience, is a presence in the pro-viv community. She has written a number of op-eds [20-ish] for the magazine Lab Animal; I read them all, thanks to Google Scholar. [A subscription to Lab Animal is free upon request unless your name is associated with criticism of hurting and killing animals. I've had a number of subscriptions cancelled over the years under various names.]

It appears to me that Buckmaster genuinely likes animals and has even come to "love" some of them in some sick diseased way. This kind of "love" seems to be a fairly common phenomena -- liking, even loving members of a group or class that one simultaneously believes to be so inferior that hurting or killing them is justified, especially when it benefits members of one's own group. The history of slavery in the U.S. is filled with whites saying that they loved their slaves. Dairymen love their cows.

At the Mount Horeb presentation, Buckmaster never acknowledged who she was, even when I asked the presenter why she was given free rein to carry on at length while my comments and questions, and those of others were deflected and cut off. Buckmaster was the speaker's boss.

These people. Jeeze. I understand why they can't and won't engage in public debate. I wouldn't either if I were them.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Vivisectors Love Animals - the Second to Last Part. Slaugherhouse designer used as moral icon.

Vivisectors love animals and other lies the shitheads tell.

In Vivisectors Love Animals, Part 1, Part Deux, Part 3A, Part 3B, and Part 4 Dogs and Cats, I looked at the misleading images and some of the claims made in the little pro-vivisection propaganda booklet "Love Animals? Support Animal Research" written and produced by the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR: See the SourceWatch report) and 176 co-sponsors including the tax payer-funded NIH National Primate Research Centers. The little booklet was being distributed by the Americans for Medical Progress (AMP: See the SourceWatch report) as part of the vivisection industry's effort to convince the citizens of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin to vote against a revision to the village's public nuisance ordinance that would ban breeding and shipping of dogs and cats for use in a laboratory.

Here's the language that will appear on the ballot:
The following acts, omissions, places, conditions and things are specifically declared to be public nuisances offending public morals and decency: (5) RESEARCH DOGS/CATS. (a) Any place or premises where cats or dogs are possessed for the purpose of taking or sending the cat or dog outside the village to be used for any medical, surgical, or chemical investigation, experiment, research or demonstration OR (b) any place or premises where cats or dogs are used for medical, surgical or chemical investigation, experiment, research or experimentation involving pain or distress to the animal.
The industry is at a loss as to how to deal with the public's concern for animals. One industry front group claims that the real goal of those who claim(!) they are opposed to hurting animals is really to "impede health research."  I don't recall ever running into a vivisector willing to debate the real issue. They seem to understand the ugliness of their fundamental claim and to recognize the likely disgust that would result if they spoke more matter-of-factly. The little pro-vivisection propaganda booklet "Love Animals? Support Animal Research" is just more evidence that this is the case.

They seem to know that the public would recoil at the truth, so they publish misleading pictures and text and claim that they love animals too, which is like veal farmers saying they love calves.

The notion that people like me who recoil at the reality of what is occurring in the animal labs are really trying to impede health research is ludicrous. Why would I or anyone else be opposed to medical research? You don't have to be opposed to medical research to be adamantly opposed to some medical research. I suspect that an overwhelming majority, let's say all reasonably thoughtful and caring people, would be adamantly opposed to research like this, this, and this. But history is sadly unambiguous, there are plenty of people who thought that experimenting on unsuspecting poor people or prisoners or orphans was just dandy; there is no reason to suppose that laws making such evil things illegal did anything to reduce the number of people willing to conduct such experiments.

Here's the second to last image in the little booklet:

The caption reads: "Many research institutions encourage staffers to adopt research dogs through vetted partners like Homes for Animal Heroes and proven programs such as Lab to Leash, a part of Beagle Rescue League." (As if that dog had been used in a lab.)

At least they are consistent. The Beagle Rescue League is a project of Americans for Medical Progress, the group that put on the presentation where I picked up the little booklet. The Beagle Rescue League was an industry response to some limited success by an organization founded in 2010 called the Beagle Freedom Project.

The Beagle Freedom Project got state laws passed mandating the public adoption of dogs and cats who survived after being used in a lab. The were successful in California, Nevada, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Connecticut. In response, the industry ginned up their own "rescue" groups and has tried to return the decision-making to the labs.

 Here's the last image in the little booklet:

The caption reads: "Love Animals? Support Animal Research. Dr. Temple Grandin Does! She's an animal welfare expert and professor of animal studies at Colorado State University."

In this context, "animal welfare expert" is a euphemism. It means that she looks for ways to move animals through slaughterhouses more efficiently. She is paid to design slaughterhouses. Here's an interesting essay from Marc Beckoff about Grandin's position on animals: My Beef With Temple Grandin: Seemingly Humane Isn't Enough.

The dog in the picture does not seem to want to be with her. I wouldn't either.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Vivisectors Love Animals - Part 4 Dogs and Cats

Vivisectors love animals and other lies the shitheads tell.

In Vivisectors Love Animals - Part One and Part Deux, I reported on the nature of the event that led to me picking up the little booklet -- "Love Animals? Support Animal Research" -- from the Foundation for Biomedical Research, paid for by 176 companies including a number taxpayer-funded laboratories and institutions. 

In Vivisectors Love Animals - Part 3A, I began looking at how FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors attempt to bamboozle the public. Nowhere in the little booklet is there an honest representation of what is done to the animals used in the labs.

In Vivisectors Love Animals - Part 3B, I also pointed out the little booklet's misleading claims regarding the federal and local oversight of the labs and FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors continuing use of intentionally misleading images.

The presentation in Mount Horeb by three "experts" brought in for the occasion, was part of the industry's effort to defeat an amendment to the village's public nuisance ordinance making it illegal to breed dogs or cats for research or to transport dogs or cats bred for research through Mount Horeb. Ridglan Farms, a beagle breeding farm, is in Mount Horeb.

Last year, animal rights activists gained entry to the buildings and videoed what they saw. You can read an in-depth article about their efforts and the use of beagles in research here, it includes numerous pictures and video clips.

Here is an image from "Love Animals" (the middle one, as if that needs saying), and two from inside Ridglan:

All the images in the little booklet are intended to deceive the public; there isn't any other rational explanation for using pictures of seemingly happy and well-cared for animals rather than pictures actually illustrative of what is happening in the labs and in the breeding sheds.

The claims, in the text accompanying the happy beagles, are equally skewed and misleading. The entire book is clearly meant to mislead readers.

FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors write: "The number of dogs involved in research is small (less than 1/2 percent)." Presumably, they mean 1/2 percent of all animals used, but it is certainly an even smaller percentage if all the invertebrates, fish, mice, and rats are included. But so what? Why does the number of animals being hurt matter? Further more, the largest consumer of dogs are the product testing labs like Covance in Madison, which reported consuming 4,297 dogs in 2016.

FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors pose the question, "But can't you just use rats and mice?" They say "No, not really. The path from concept to cure is complicated." They make the tired claim that researchers begin with cell cultures, tissue samples, and computers and then must add animal models to their study. They say, "Most start with mice and rats. When they get positive results, they advance to an animal model that more closely resembles humans. That's where dogs usually come in."

But that is pretty much gibberish, a commonly told story told to quell alarm and anger. Reality is much different.

A recent case in point is the outbreak of birth defects associated with the Zika virus. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared that the association between Zika and the cluster of birth defects in Brazil was a public health emergency.

Within a few months of that news, vivisectors who had been (and are) infecting monkeys with an AIDS-like virus began infecting pregnant monkeys with the Zika virus. There was no gradual build-up to using monkeys, they simply went right to them. This is a common pattern. In the 1950s, scientists injected human tissue from people with Kuru into the brains of two chimpanzees to see whether they would become ill; they did.

Having looked for about 20 years at the research conducted by vivisectors around the county, it has become quite clear to me that the NIH-funded scientists are not involved in some sequential series of steps as is claimed in "Love Animals." Those whose work I've followed and examined have done the same sort of experiments on the same species for decades; most of the animal experiments taxpayers are forced to pay for is basic science that rarely -- essentially never -- gets translated into clinical care.

FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors also make the crazy claim that dogs are used because humans and dogs share 4 out of 5 genes. That's sort of true, but its like saying that because two concertos use many of the same musical notes that we will learn the melody line of one from hearing the other. Here's an interesting resource on comparative genomes.

And then, there's this caption and image:

I suggested previously that FBR et al's claim concerning dogs and muscular dystrophy was probably motivated by Peta's campaign to stop Texas A&M's hideously cruel experiments using dogs with an inherited mutation causing them to develop severe symptoms reminiscent of the human disease.  I pointed out that FBR's income is generated by defending institutions and labs that come under fire for the terrible things they do to animals.

I suspect that the allusion to cochlear implants and cats might be a similar case. A few years ago it came to light that a vivisector at UW-Madison was using cats in his research on hearing. and that he had photographed some of the cats who had undergone surgery to implant the cochlear devices and hardware in their brain and screwed to their skulls. His name was Tom Yin. (An aside, he had never used mice, rats, cell cultures, or tissue samples.) You can read about that case here.

This orange tabby used and eventually killed by Dr. Yin was aptly named Double Trouble:

Can you see the difference? FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors want the public to think about the cat with the cone around his/her neck when they imagine cats being used in research. They too must believe that were the public to learn the truth that their ilk might be driven out of business or at least dramatically constrained compared to what they are allowed to do right now.

The two images, the happy beagles playing together and the cat with the cone around his neck make it abundantly clear that the reality of what is happening in the labs is so terrible that those associated with the industry will do everything they can to keep the reality hidden from the public. And not just hidden; they aim to deceive. There isn't an easy alternative explanation for publishing the little booklet. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Vivisectors Love Animals - Part 3B

Vivisectors love animals and other lies the shitheads tell.

In Vivisectors Love Animals - Part One and Part Deux, I reported on the nature of the event that led to me picking up the little booklet -- "Love Animals? Support Animal Research" -- from the Foundation for Biomedical Research, paid for by 176 companies including a number taxpayer-funded laboratories and institutions. 

In Vivisectors Love Animals - Part 3A, I began looking at how FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors attempt to bamboozle the public. Nowhere in the little booklet is there an honest representation of what is done to the animals used in the labs. The pictures they chose to use are evidence that they believe the public would be disturbed and would not be supportive if they knew the truth. In this regard, FBR and the 176 co-sponsors have chosen to ignore the reasons people are opposed to what they do to animals. "Love Animals?" is proof-positive that the industry thinks they need to mislead the public. They're right.

According to "Love Animals?", "Lab people ♥ their lab animals." Yes sir, love, love, love. As proof they have this picture:

The image is from Americans for Medical Progress (AMP; see the SourceWatch profile) on a website they call, "Come See Our World," which is just more hornswoggle. But they did reveal that the dog in the picture is named Peanut, and is being used to study Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and that caught my eye.

One website explains:

Golden retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD)

Golden retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD) is a progressive, fatal disease characterized by degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscle, but some muscles paradoxically undergo hypertrophy. Signs of disease show soon after birth because affected pups are often ineffectual sucklers. Although all Golden retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD) dogs feature a total absence of dystrophin, phenotypic variability is frequently observed. Some severely-affected pups survive only a few days, while other dogs that survive for years with mild clinical involvement have also been documented.
Laboratories maintain colonies of these sick dogs; they breed them knowing that they will suffer until they die or are killed. This is another dog, Jelly, who was also used in these experiments:

It makes a sort of sick sense that AMP and FBR would use a photo of a dog being used in muscular dystrophy experiments because Texas A&M University has been under fire for breeding these sick dogs, and AMP and FBR's reputation among vivisectors is enhanced when they defend a lab and do what they can to fool the public.  It isn't a coincidence that they chose a picture of cute puppy being held on someone's lap; their goal is to mislead people so that the labs' income steams are not negatively affected. Accompanying the misleading picture of the puppy is misleading text. They say:

It's hard to reconcile the claim that everyone involved in the use of animals makes the animals' physical, physiologic, and behavioral needs a top priority when they breed them to be sick and suffer and keep them in barren cages, often alone. It's hard to reconcile those claims with the experimental surgeries, the pain they inflict, the fear they intentionally cause, and the secrecy they maintain. It's hard to reconcile those claims with the stark reality of the laboratories, the reality that FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors are working so hard to keep hidden.

And they treat them "with the utmost dignity and compassion"? Like the Nazi's did the Jews.

And that bit about the law? The industry must be very happy with the changes the Trump administration is implementing. 

And then, FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors assert that the U.S. research regulations are "among the strictest on the planet." Well, maybe. It's hard to imagine that a tumor-burdened rat in a plastic box could differentiate an American lab with, say, a Chinese lab. And according to a map near the bottom of this page, only New Zealand, India, and Europe have banned cosmetic testing. And given what is allowed to be done to animals in American labs, the possibility that American laws are among the strictest speaks volumes about the world-wide plight of animals being used in the name of money and science.

FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors point to the fact that some institutions are required to have an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee; "Love Animals?" doesn't clarify which labs have to have oversight committees. A product testing lab that uses only mice, rats, fish, and/or invertebrate animals does not have to have such a committee. A lab involved only in agricultural research doesn't either.

But every lab using Animal Welfare Act-covered species or receiving federal funding does. But sadly, these committees are not much more than rubber stamps. It is telling that in spite of institutions' violations of the Animal Welfare Act and research that has pointed to the weaknesses of these committees, that those within the industry have never cared enough about the problems to look into them; or if they have, they've kept the results a secret.

The simple fact that these committees are comprised of people whose own projects will be subject to inspection by the researchers they are evaluating has made the system ineffective at best, and in practice, little more than a rubber stamp.

Interestingly, the two-page spread that claims the U.S. has strict laws, features this image supplied by the Jackson Laboratory, of mice, captioned with the observation that there are more than 9,000 strains of mice available to the vivisectors. Here's the image:

Someone reading the little booklet would assume that those mice are protected by the laws being touted in the text, but they aren't. Purpose-bred mice, like those in the image, are not covered by the Animal Welfare Act. They are nominally covered by the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy, but that policy is little more than a mirage.

USDA inspectors make annual visits to labs and institutions and make spot checks to see whether the vivisectors are complying with the Animal Welfare Act. When they find a violation, they tell them to do better. About the only real result occasional embarrassment if the public learns that the university down the street isn't too concerned about the animals it hurts and kills. Monetary fines are exceedingly rare and almost always paltry. But as weak and hollow as enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act has become, the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy makes it look like a police state.

Compliance with the PHS is only promised. Institutions need only promise in writing that they will follow a set of very weak policies. There are only rare and very occasional inspections to check that the policies are being followed, and those occur only when some issue has become too big to sweep under the rug. The PHS requires only that an institution promises to follow the recommendations in a small book called the Guide for the Care and Use of  Laboratory Animals (the Guide.) And even after long-running serious violations have been discovered, action is rarely taken. For more the Guide this see my essay: "The New Watered-Down Version of Oversight of U.S. Government-Funded Experimentation on Animals,"(7-26-12).

Back when the Guide said that labs had to obey state laws, the University of Wisconsin, Madison was violating them regularly, and thus violating the Guide. You can read more about the case that brought these criminal acts to light here. [The university succeeded in getting the law changed to exempt them and did so in a way that made public comment impossible. They were loath to have the public engage in discussion about their use of animals.]

The image of mice was misleading. First, this is the way mice are commonly stored in a lab: 

Second, an image of seemingly healthy mice is altogether misleading. The fact that FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors chose not to include images like these:

reinforces the my impression that FBR and the little booklet's 176 co-sponsors do not want to have a frank public discussion about using animals as mere tools.Why wouldn't they? The reason is neither complex nor nuanced; the simple answer is money.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Vivisectors Love Animals - Part 3A

Vivisectors love animals and other lies the shitheads tell.

In Vivisectors Love Animals - Part One and Part Deux, I reported on the nature of the event that led to me picking up the little booklet -- "Love Animals? Support Animal Research" -- from the Foundation for Biomedical Research paid for by 176 companies including a number taxpayer-funded laboratories and institutions.

I think it reasonable to assume that all 176 of the sponsors and Temple Grandin, who is featured in "Love Animals", want the readers -- the general public -- to believe that the information in the little book is accurate and forthcoming. They must know it isn't, but want the public to believe it is.

The pages aren't numbered, but about 8 pages in, there a 2-page spread showing a closed to door and caption: "To see what's going on in America's research institutions, turn the page."  And when one does, the lying shifts into hyper-drive. There is this photograph from the Oregon National Primate Research Center:

The caption may be hard to read. Here it is again:

Every item on this list is grossly misleading.

"Living spaces are carefully designed to meet the specific needs of every laboratory species." 

Utter nonsense. 

The law requires the Secretary of Agriculture to issue "standards, rules, regulations" regarding the humane care and use of animals which have to include minimum requirements concerning "handling, housing, feeding, watering, sanitation, ventilation, shelter from extremes of weather and temperatures, adequate veterinary care, and separation by species where the Secretary finds necessary for humane handling, care, or treatment of animals."

The law requires that dogs have the opportunity to exercise and that primates' environments promote their psychological well-being. The law also requires researchers to consider alternatives to procedures likely to cause pain or distress, and that steps be taken to limit and ameliorate the pain and distress when alternatives are not available or used. In practice, these requirements are weakly adhered to and the stipulated minimums are de facto standards. For instance,

Dogs over 12 weeks of age, except bitches with litters, must be provided a regular opportunity for exercise if they are individually in enclosures that provide less than two times the floor space required for that dog under section 3.6(c)(1) (i.e. length of dog in inches + 6) x (length of dog in inches + 6)/ 144 = required floor space in square feet. (3.8(a)).

My dog Micky is about 22 inches long. The law says that a dog his size would have to be provided an opportunity for exercise only if the cage he was in was smaller than about 10 1/2 square feet. In other words, as long as the cage was just over three feet by three feet (3.2 ft on a side), a laboratory or university would not be required to ever provide him with more space. Micky has a large backyard and goes on two long walks around the neighborhood everyday. Sometimes we go to a dog park. He loves chasing a tennis ball. He has the run of the house. Keeping him in such a small space would be inhumane. It would be cruel. Worse, the "acceptable" minimum space for him would be a mere 28 inches on a side. As long as he was given some opportunity to be in a larger space for an unspecified period of time, to be determined by the attending veterinarian, he could be kept forever in such a tight space. Keeping Micky in these conditions would meet the legal requirement of a lab having to provide an opportunity to exercise. (From "We All Operate in the Same Way." p 280.)

Mice and rats and other rodents are kept in small plastic boxes. Birds can't fly. More about "Love Animals?" absurd claim below.

"Specially trained veterinarians oversee their well-being and care."

Consider this: Doctors complete a 4-year undergraduate degree program, spend 4 years in medical school, and then complete 3-7 years of residency training before they are eligible for medical licensing. Veterinarians complete a 4-year undergraduate program and a four-year veterinary medical degree program. Doctors learn to treat one species. At a vet school like the University of Wisconsin's, students learn to treat dogs, cats, cows, and horses. The curriculum is focused on animals used in agriculture and dogs and cats. Lab animal vets commonly spend 2-3 years of residency training and may be called on to treat many different species.

Additionally, they are sometimes directly involved in using the animals in their care, much like some of the Nazi doctors who worked in the death camps and experimented on the prisoners.  The attending veterinarian at the Wisconsin National Primate Center, Buddy Capuano for instance, oversees the care of thousands of monkeys and co-authors papers on their illnesses after being intentionally infected with various viruses. You can review some of his publications on PubMed. The animals' well-being is a secondary concern for many lab animal vets.

 "Temperature is monitored 24/7, including weekends and holidays."

 In the many sets of laboratory oversight committee meeting minutes I've reviewed, deaths from overheating as a result of faulty cooling have not been uncommon. The minutes have reported on animals left in overheated transport vehicles, animals dying of thirst from clogged or broken watering systems, animals gnawing on hoses left on the tops of cages, and on and on. The labs are supposed t monitor the animals closely, but in practice entire roomfuls of animals are sometimes overlooked. Animals in dire situations are sometimes left overnight without care. I learned of these events from the oversight committee meeting minutes and USDA inspection reports, back when the USDA was still sort of enforcing the Animal Care Act.

"Lab animals drink clean filtered water."

In some cases, the animals are given very little water in order to keep them thirsty. Thirst is used to motivate them to perform in ways the vivisector desires. In some cases, the water is laced with any of numerous chemicals or drugs. USDA inspectors have found animals having to drink stagnant water; they have found animals having to wade through mud and scum.

"The air they breath is significantly cleaner than the air inside our homes."

This is probably true in some cases. But, many animals are caged outdoors, even in urban settings near busy streets. Also, some animals are used in experiments that force them in breath noxious and harmful fumes and gasses. A paper from vivisectors at the University of Colorado published in 2018, reported on the effects to rats forced to breath in chlorine gas. They wrote, "Massive chlorine inhalation caused severe acute respiratory failure, hypoxemia, decreased cardiac output, neuromuscular abnormalities (ataxia and hypotonia), and seizures resulting in early death." And the knew it would.

"They eat healthy because an expert nutritionist monitors their diet."

Like the previous assertion, this is probably true that in in some cases, animals in labs are receiving adequately nutritious food. The notion that "expert nutritionists" are involved is simple blather. In fact, labs to a terrible job meeting the dietary needs of many animals, even when diet and nutrition are the focus of the research.

The most straightforward example I know of is the Wisconsin National Research Primate Center's twenty-five years-long study on caloric restriction using monkeys. They reported that the monkeys in the control group were dying younger than the monkeys in the experimental group who received less food. (They claimed, based on that data, that reducing one's caloric intake might make one live longer.)

But a parallel study conducted by the National Institute on Aging reported that the monkeys in their caloric-restricted group didn't live any longer or have better health than the monkeys in their control group.

It turned out that the Wisconsin monkeys were being fed a diet very high in processed sugar. The monkeys in the control group, allowed to eat all the wanted, were morbidly obese, as the picture below shows.

The scientists involved in this long running project were squarely focused on diet. They were, arguably, just the sort of experts being referred to in "Love Animals?" Of course, the authors of the little booklet were simply saying whatever they thought might quell the public's concerns. Truth was obviously not their goal.

Primates regularly snack on fruits and veggies cut into bite-sized pieces.

How lucky they are! In fact, efforts are made to make such food items less than easy to eat. A universal problem in the monkey labs is self-injury. The monkeys in the labs are kept in profoundly small barren cages. These animals are smart and in the wild are confronted with complex problems that they must think about to solve.

Like human prisoners in solitary confinement, the common laboratory conditions cause many of them to harm themselves, to develop repetitive behaviors to cope with the mind-numbing dullness and constant threat from humans. They are trapped, there is no escape, and as you or I would, they try to cope. The labs are forced to deal with their self-inflicted wounds and related chronic diarrhea. To reduce some of these problems, the labs have developed ways to take the monkeys' minds off their situation. Many of these involve making prized food items hard to get forcing the monkeys to have to work to get them. FBR's claim is misleading and hides the hard truth.

And environmental enrichment (like the example shown here) helps promote psychological enrichment.  

Of all the claims on their list, this is the most misleading and absurd. It is the most dishonest. The fact that NIH National Primate Research Centers help finance the production and distribution of such misleading propaganda underscores their dishonesty and desire to fool the public. The people who hurt these animals are lying about what they do to them and how they are treated. Look again at the photo they are using from the Oregon National Primate Research Center. This is a photo of one of their outdoor breeding colonies. Compare the proffered Ptempkin village with the reality:

Monkeys are harvested, just like the Morlocks harvested the Eloi in H.G. Well's The Time Machine. Claiming that an outdoor breeding colony is representative of how these animals are treated is the epitome of dishonesty and hoodwinking. It shows in spades that the people who work in these places, the people who try to fool the public about what goes on in them them, who mislead the public about how the animals are treated, should not and cannot be trusted. They are liars who get rich hurtiing those who are much weaker than themselves.

They are despicable.