The necessity of animal testing: a rebuttal »
When I wrote about the terrible experiments scientists are conducting at the University of Texas, someone reblogged it with a lot to say. Here’s the final paragraph:
"REALLY want to protest animal testing? Walk away from the next antibiotic your doctor prescribes, turn down the next necessary surgery you are recommended, and hope you’re never hospitalized. I can assure you that each and every one of the medications and procedures that you come across has been tested on animals, using the most extreme conditions that could possibly be encountered in real practice."
Do you know why this is bullshit? Benefiting from things we learned in past experiments that we now consider ethically wrong does not mean we should support ethically wrong experiments or continue them in the future. There are all kinds of experiments that went on in the past that are now considered immoral—experiments on PEOPLE—and we’ve learned a lot from them. Think about the Tuskegee syphilis experiments; they were despicable and I hope we never, ever see anything like that again, but we benefitted from the knowledge we gained from them.
Even in psychology—the Milgram experiment? They teach that in every psych class and it’s pretty messed up. And don’t get me started on the Stanford prison experiment and its lasting effects on participants. That inspired new standards of ethics, and now would be considered officially unethical. We also learned a lot from that study, and it is frequently discussed in classrooms.
Peta is also trying to get the president of U.T. to investigate the experiments because they may be illegally abusive to animals. That’s the greater point to many of these cases Peta takes on: the research labs are performing animal experiments beyond what is allowed. Even if you are pro-animal testing, you still have to follow the rules. For example, after a Peta investigation, University of Utah was investigated by the USDA and cited for nine violations under the federal animal protection laws.
Saying “Medical research mostly deserves to be left alone” is cruelly short-sighted. Animal testing should be illegal, but in the meantime it must be closely monitored to make sure the testers are abiding by the law; clearly they can’t be relied upon to do so on their own. If a lab conducts illegal experiments, it should be shut down. Try to find some legal tests to get behind, if you are going to support animal testing.
We have knowledge from unethical—and now illegal—experiments, and that knowledge is valuable. We can’t pretend certain information doesn’t exist when it does. We also can’t condone these experiments and can’t continue them. If we know an antibiotic can cure an illness because that medicine was initially tested on non-consenting humans, do we pretend we don’t know the antibiotic is effective? No. Can we still condemn these experiments? Yes. Do we fight to make sure they never happen again? Yes. The same can be said if the non-consenting subjects were animals. Benefitting from knowledge derived from morally reprehensible experiments doesn’t mean we have to condone them and it doesn’t mean we should continue to practice them in the future.
University of Texas is torturing animals: how you can help! »
Peta, everyone’s favorite, just exposed the disgusting treatment of animals in the University of Texas labs. It’s REALLY disturbing: they are giving sheep spinal cord injuries, burning pigs’ skin with Bunsen burners, and cutting up dogs’ colons. USEFUL and HELPFUL, for sure.
It takes one minute to email the university president with Peta’s email form. Peta has filed a complaint with the USDA. We’ll see what happens, but in the meantime please take a moment to email UT.
[Images from Peta.org]
Natalie Portman gets vegan analogs of Dior shoes to wear in her Miss Dior Chérie ads! »
Earlier this year, Natty P. was named “the face” of Christian Dior’s Miss Dior Cherie perfume. But wait! There’s more! To accommodate her, Dior made vegan versions of their shoes for her to wear in all of the ads directed by Sophia Coppola (who directed the other Dior perfume commercial that uses that dope Brigitte Bardot song. Brigitte Bardot’s music is super great, I highly recommend it)! Portman knows what she’s doing! THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS HOW YOU DO VEGAN.
You know I love when the omnis bow down to our vegan greatness! I’m glad they made them for Portman but I don’t think Dior will be releasing a vegan line anytime soon—though I don’t think I’m in the right tax bracket for Dior shoes anyway. I mean, OMJesus,* $1,000 for shoes? Damn, girl. I don’t think I’d talk to me anymore if I bought thousand-dollar shoes. That’s like a round-trip ticket to Australia!**
Maybe when you heard the news, the same question popped into your head; specifically: does Dior test its perfumes on animals? Well! According to Dior: No! From the horse’s mouth:
They aren’t on PETA’s list of companies that don’t test on animals though. However, they also aren’t on their list of companies that do test on animals. They are on uncaged.co.uk as a company to boycott but it doesn’t explicitly say why. According to Uncaged, a company can state that they don’t test their products on animals without addressing the animal-friendliness of every ingredient. Dior could not have sufficiently demonstrated it or its sibling companies’ opposition to animal testing. So I don’t know, guys: They say they don’t and I couldn’t find anything saying they definitely do; I am le tired and disheartened. It’s still dope about the shoes, though.
*My new catchphrase, soak it in.
**That’s how I get perspective on prices, I measure them in plane tickets. For time, I use beers; like how many beers will it take to walk to Susie’s house? More than one and I’m cabbing it!
[Photo from this dude’s twitter]
It’s your weekend activities, featuring Chrissie Hynde, fancy pets, and protests! »
Are you ready for fun this weekend? Well? Because we have FUN ACTIVITIES for you and we expect you to PARTICIPATE. The Chrissie Hynde show, Pet Pride Day, rodeo and animal testing protests, and the Mini Maker Faire—FUN!
Saturday, Oct. 23
Chrissie Hynde plays Bimbo’s, and you could win tickets to see her! Remember, your Vegansaurus has three pairs to give away; enter ASAP because the contest closes at 6 tonight (FRIDAY!). Purchase tickets here if you don’t win!
The last protest of the gross, gross rodeo happens tonight at 6 at the Cow Palace.
Sunday, Oct. 24
It’s the East Bay Mini Maker Faire! It’s just like the big-time annual Maker Faire, but just for Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and should be pretty cool. It runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Park Day School at 360 42nd St. in Oakland. Tickets are $15 now, or $20 at the door.
Come out to San Francisco Animal Care and Control’s Pet Pride Day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park. Visit the website for details.
Or first come protest animal testing at UCSF at noon for National Primate Liberation Week, the importance of which we illustrated yesterday with a cartoon.
Tuesday, Oct. 26
The Vegansaurus/Nasoya/Skinny Bitch/awesome shorts giveaway ends today! Better enter NOW!
Friday, Oct. 29
Wildcare is having another one of its lovely fancy benefits; tonight it’s an Evening with Owls! Held at the Marin Art and Garden Center from 6 to 9:30 p.m., this will benefit the Hungry Owl Project. Tickets are $75 per person, and festivities will include appetizers, light dinner, desserts and wine, and live owls will be present. Goodness.
Saturday, Oct. 30
It’s East Bay Vegan Bakesale time! Get to Issues at 20 Glen Ave. at Piedmont in Oakland between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; proceeds will benefit Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue and the East Bay Children’s Book Project.
Protest animal testing at UCSF on Sunday for National Primate Liberation Week »
Animal experimentation is the fucking grossest. When did you first learn about it? When did you first connect actual animals with that torture? My little brother and I, after we bought up all the Calvin and Hobbes books, began spending our allowance on Berkeley Breathed’s collections, so it must have been sometime in the early ’90s that we read The Night of the Mary Kay Commandos, which featured the story of Opus’ quest to rescue his mother from a Mary Kay animal testing lab. The image of those bunnies in those cages with their eyelids pried open—I couldn’t believe it, except I did, you know? I was 10, he was maybe seven, and we were both very sad. He’s been a vegetarian for eight years now.
This week is National Primate Liberation Week, and across the country groups have held demonstrations all week at labs that misuse animals. San Francisco’s demonstration will happen at noon on Sunday, Oct. 24 at UCSF, at 513 Parnassus Ave.
According to Stop Animal Exploitation Now, UCSF holds over 900 animals in its laboratories, and that “at least three research projects at UCSF deprive primates of water for as much as 22 hours per day, five days per week.” That seems quite necessary, yes. Here’s something grosser: Rats, mice, birds, amphibians and other animals are excluded from coverage by the Animal Welfare Act, so laboratories/research facilities don’t even have to mention their presence on official reports. Rats and mice! The most common “test subjects” treated like office supplies. It’s sickening.
Demonstration organizer Shani Campbell reminds us that animal testing is government-funded as well, meaning that our tax dollars pay for torturing bunnies and rats and monkeys and pigs and guinea pigs and cats and sheep and squirrels and mice and voles. We pay our elected leaders not to pass legislation, and we pay the National Institutes of Health to fund medical testing on chimpanzees. Chimpanzees, for heaven’s sake.
If this bothers you at all, you should come to the protest. You don’t have to say anything, or hold a sign. Just being there shows how you feel about these atrocities, and that can be enough sometimes. Lab animal never have a choice to participate in the tests they undergo; they don’t get any warning, or reward; they don’t get to return to their life and freedom after the experiment is over. No living creature deserves that treatment. Come out to UCSF on Sunday and stand against it.
Please RSVP to Shani by phone at 925/819-6725 or by email. Contact her with further questions as well.
Vegan Bakesale TOMORROW! Plus, how to clean birds, shoot dogs, save frogs, and MORE in today’s link-o-rama! »
Vegan-type fun-times events!
The SF Vegan Bakesale location has moved! It’s still happening tomorrow, Saturday May 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but now it will be in front of Herbivore at 983 Valencia St. between 21st and 22nd Streets in the Mission. Be there or be an animal-hating, self-denying jerk!
After the Bakesale, you can protest Thomas Keller’s use of foie gras at the French Laundry in Yountville. The protest begins at 6:30 p.m. The groups will also protest at Keller’s restaurants Bouchon in Beverly Hills at 7 p.m., and at Per Se in NYC at 11:30 a.m. (EDT!). For more information, including contacts for carpooling, click here.
Burned out on Bakesales? Don’t want to cross the Bay Bridge? Maybe check out this mysterious “A Taste For You—Spring Flavor Vegan-Style” with chefs Wanda Crudas and HuNia at the North Oakland Senior Center on Saturday at 1 p.m. instead. The event features cooking demos and snacks (including Souley Vegan and Cafe Gratitude), local entertainment, activities for kids, and costs $15 in advance, $20 at the door. For more information, visit one of these sites.
Items of varying degrees of importance!
PETA blows it again! Definitely, spending donations to fly a weird, nasty message over Mobile, Ala., was a good use of money. You guys are SO EMBARRASSING, GOD. That said, oil-drilling and fishing are ruining the oceans. Stop eating fish, stop driving so goddamn much, and bring some hair to the bakesale tomorrow to help clean up the animal victims of the Deep Horizon disaster.
And speaking of whom: Popular Mechanics explains how trained volunteers clean these birds. The Audubon Magazine blog has regular, super-informative updates on the wildlife suffering from this tragedy as well.
Some lady—who isn’t a nutritionist, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or even someone with a certificate in “food studies” from a community college—would like parents to watch out for their "strict vegan" kids, who are probably suffering from "orthorexia." Ma’am, you are an idiot; kindly shut the fuck up. Also: would you like a cupcake?
Bryant Terry was on Martha Stewart on Monday! How did we miss this? He cooked citrus chard with raisins and spinach with garlic and chile, both of which sound simple and scrumptious. Yes, Alice Waters was there, too.
Read a story that’s not worth a whole rant, but definitely rates an angry sentence or two? Send me the link. For the time being, look at my Oliver! Like Toto, poppies make him sleepy. Or maybe it’s the sunshine, who knows.
Obviously we aren’t going because we’re all blogging for pennies/underemployed and -paid/unemployed losers/neither scientists nor medical researchers (if we were, we wouldn’t be here, suckers), but: PCRM is hosting a two-day educational conference in August on animal testing that sounds amazing—it advertises “a global panel of experts to discuss existing and promising alternatives to the use of animals in research”—and if you are involved in the sciences, perhaps you should attend! And send us a postcard about how great it is.
The only place I’ve seen the Shelter Pet Project commercials is on MSNBC during The Rachel Maddow Show, and they are CHRISTMAS-THEMED. Not enough, you guys. Help get the word out—an adopted pet is the best pet!
The ag industry is SO MAD at the Humane Society and its successes in showing consumers that they can change the industry’s cruelest practices. And though Cargill may not care, we’re happy that HSUS has won its federal case against Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which has been charged with multiple violations of the Clean Water Act.
Mine is now available on DVD, iTunes and Netflix! Buy it for your mom, if you believe in celebrating corporate holidays! You could also buy her a falafel from a Michael Mina restaurant, because it’s (apparently) vegan and moms love it when you spend lots of money on them.
A Canadian guy shot a bear that turned out to be a grizzly-polar bear hybrid. A marine biologist says this is a result of climate change, and predicts there will be more interbreeding between marine mammals as the ice caps melt. Uh, neat?
Guns are the fucking worst. In Oakland last Saturday, some police officers shot a deer to death with their pistols, despite having tranquilizer guns on them. Back in February, on a tip, a SWAT team busted into a Missouri home, shot the family pit bull to death, and shot and injured the family corgi. There’s video, but it’s awful, especially around 3:14 when the guy being arrested realizes what the police have done. Right, and of course the guy and his wife were later charged with child endangerment.
But a Dresdner man “married” his cat of 10 years, Cecelia, because she is already 15 and does not have much longer to live and he loves her very much. An unnamed actor officiated the ceremony. So that’s—less depressing than the police shooting your dogs for NO GOOD REASON. On the other hand, the Florida state legislature refused to pass an anti-bestiality bill, because of stupidity.
From the ?!!@$#$#!%$! File: Milking GE Bunnies for Pharmaceuticals »
Abusing cute fuzzy bunnies for medicine is bad enough. But genetically modifying rabbits and milking them to extract proteins for the pharmaceutical industry is fucking disgusting. Pharming, a Netherlands-based biotech firm, is doing just that.
Their goal is to treat people suffering from hereditary angioedema, by extracting a protein called C1 inhibitor—also known by its stage name, C1-INH—by fusing a human gene onto the rabbits and extracting the protein from the milk. National Geographic assures us that “like dairy cows, the rabbits stay relaxed and appear to suffer no discomfort during milking” which means it’s all okay because dairy cows have it easy.
Humans are animals too, and hereditary angioedema sounds awful. But why trade a life for a life, when medical technology is perfectly capable of developing alternatives? In this case, the non-animal “alternatives” are already out there, which makes this all seem a bit gratuitous.
I’m no medical expert but I’m going to drop some science anyway. The problem with producing C1-INH is that it’s too complex a protein to synthesize. It needs a biological process, and a modified bacteria like E. coli won’t do. Still with me?
Well, the yeast Pichia pastoris will do the job for us. In case you’re keeping score at home, yeast isn’t an animal. Nor is it fuzzy, or cute. Then there’s the drug Ecallantide (it’s a different protein made with the same yeast process) and it was just approved by the FDA yesterday. Yesterday! Apparently, Ecallantide isn’t perfect, but neither is the rabbit milk method, which has a short half-life and the possibility of triggering allergies. Not what you want in a drug to treat an allergic reaction. On the bright side, a different part of your windpipe might swell up instead.
And if all else fails, C1-INH from donated human blood treats angioedema attacks, in all cases, with no side effects. Think about that for a minute. Next time someone trots out the excuse that people will die if we don’t torture animals, ask them if they’ve donated blood recently. Because if they haven’t, then maybe they don’t care about people as much as they think they do. THAT’S RIGHT, I SAID IT.