Great Britain bans animal testing – sort of

During the last election cycle, Great Britain’s
Labor Party promised to abolish animal tests for cosmetic products, and
it followed through in November by announcing an agreement with the cosmetics
industry to ban all such tests.

The ban, however, will affect only a small
percentage of animal tests in the UK. According to the Home Office, only
1,266 of 2.64 million animal procedures involved cosmetics testing that
would be banned under the agreement. And the ban doesn’t mean cosmetic
products in the UK will no longer involve animal testing. Most such testing
already takes place outside the UK, in countries such as Japan, France
and the United States. Most of the little cosmetic animal testing done
in the UK will simply be outsourced to those countries.

The real point of the ban is largely symbolic
– animal rights activists hope the ban in Great Britain will help
kick start their efforts to get a European Union-wide ban on animal testing
for cosmetics ingredients and finished products.

It is about terror

Animal rights terrorists and their defenders
usually try to argue they’re only concerned with damaging property
to stop experiments or registering their moral outrage, but a recent release
from |Stop Quintiles’ Animal Tests| (SQAT), reveals the true motives
behind the activists ‘direction action.’

The release described a recent protest at |Quintiles|,
a laboratory that conducts experiments on animals. Fourteen activists
showed up to harass Quintiles employees as they were leaving work. According
to SQAT’s press release, employees “were forced to run a gauntlet
of shouting protesters … and several cars belonging to Quintiles
staff were chase up the road by irate demonstrators.”

And the goal of this protest – to instill
a sense of terror and fear into the researchers.

Fear was evident
on the faces of many of the workers, both inside the lab and as they were
leaving, and several cowered in their cars in response to the verbal onslaught.
Those who cause fear and terror to innocent creatures had been forced,
in some small degree, to experience those feelings themselves.”

Rhetoric almost identical to the pro-life movement’s
strategy of intimidating abortion providers and their clients.

Tumor-destroying virus tested in mice

A reovirus that normally causes mild respiratory
infections in human beings has been found to be an effective killer of
cancerous tumors in mice.

According to a report in Science,
the reovirus uses the Ras pathway in the cells of mice, which normally
regulates cell growth. It is the Ras pathway that is activated in about
75 percent of human cancers.

Other viruses have been found to destroy tumors,
but this is the first virus that uses the Ras pathway. “This is the
pathway everyone wants to target,” said Peter Forsyth, an oncologist
at the University of Calgary. “The treatment is very effective.”

The main advantage of the reovirus is that
it doesn’t seem to affect noncancerous cells. Clinical trials in human
beings are years away, however.

Damned if you do . . .

One of vice-president Al Gore’s big environmental
projects has been to force chemical companies to test thousands of chemicals
already on the market for toxicity – most of these chemicals were
in widespread use before modern safety regulations and thus never went
through the testing regimen that new compounds go through. The Environmental
Protection Agency pressured the Chemical Manufacturers Association into
running a battery of five animal toxicity tests on 3,000 or so chemicals.

The use of animal toxicity tests brought an
objection from the Humane Society of the United States, which wants the
EPA to use this initiative to develop and implement alternatives to animal
testing, saying among other things that “the relevance of all this
animal testing to human safety is questionable, according to several toxicologists
with whom we have conferred.”

According to HSUS, the LD50 test (which establishes
the dose level that kills 50 percent of the experimental animals) is “widely
criticized on humane and scientific grounds.”

In fact, if interpreted properly, the LD50
tests still give important information about toxicity that can’t be gleaned
solely from the tissue and cell culture alternatives that HSUS and other
animal rights organizations push.

Those tests certainly have their place,
especially for establishing potential toxicity before conducting animal
tests, but there is still an enormous gap between testing on isolated
tissues and cells and testing on a whole organism.

Do other primates deserve the same rights as human beings?

A group of New Zealand activists calling itself
the Great Ape Project of New Zealand recently asked that nation to amend
its constitution to grant great apes the same rights as human beings.
Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos would be given the same
legal right to life and freedom from torture and invasive surgery that
humans have.

According to David Penny of the Great Ape Project,
“There is now a mountain of evidence that the great apes are as intelligent
as young human children and very similar in their emotional and cognitive

Dredging data to "prove" white meat consumption contributes to cancer

The American Journal of Epidemiology
recently published a study that animal rights and vegan/vegetarian activists
are sure to jump on – Dr. Pramil Singh and Dr. Gary Fraser of the
Center for Health Research at Loma Linda University in California claim
their study of 34,000 Seventh Day Adventists shows that white meat consumption
increases the risk of colon cancer.

Should you give up or cut back
on white meat? Certainly not based on this study, which arrives at its
results by shameless data dredging.

What’s data dredging? Suppose
I wanted to prove that vegetarians who attend animal rights protests have
a higher rate of colon cancer than vegetarians who don’t. So I get
several thousand vegetarians to fill out questionnaires detailing how
often they attend such protests.

At first I’m sorely disappointed
by the results – vegetarians who attend animal rights protests don’t
seem to get colon cancer any more often than those who stay away from
such protests. But that’s not the result I’m looking for, so
I need to get fancy with the data. I start looking at the results from
every possible angle and find an interesting trend.

While there is no general increase
in colon cancer from attending animal rights protests, I do find an oddity
that activists who regularly read Humane Society of the United States propaganda but only occasionally attend People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals-sponsored protests have lower rates of colon cancer than those
who rarely read HSUS propaganda but regularly attend PETA protests.

And so I publish my results –
I have proven that attending PETA protests increases the risk of colon


This is the sort of methodology
Singh and Fraser use. Their study, in fact, found there was no statistically significant association between read meat consumption and
colon cancer and white meat consumption and colon cancer. But that didn’t
produce the result they wanted, so they went searching for associations
in subgroups of data and found a couple.

Specifically the subgroup in their
study who reported they ate red meat more than once a week but ate white
meat only occasionally had a 90 percent increased risk of colon cancer,
while those who consumed white meat more than once per week but only occasionally
eat read meat had a 229 percent increased risk of colon cancer.


Meat consumption and colon cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology, October 15, 1998.

Study finds chicken cauces cancer too. Reuters, October, 1998.