In Defense of Animals/Fund for Animals Claim Victory that Wasn't

At the In Defense of Animals web site, IDA reprints a list of “Animal Rights Victories in 1999” that was compiled by Michael Markarian of The Fund for Animals. Not surprisingly, one of the “victories” on the list never actually happened. Midway through the list is this item,

The NIH banned the use of mice in monoclonal antibody production, saving the lives of up to one million mice per year, and admitting that animals feel “pain, distress, or discomfort.”

The only problem is that the NIH did not ban the use of mice to produce monoclonal antibodies and the reason it decided against a ban goes to the heart of the debate over animal research.

What’s a monoclonal antibody? It is a method of mass producing specific antibodies. Researchers take tumor cells that will reproduce forever if given the proper nutrients and fuse those with cells that produce specific antibodies. The result is called a hybridoma which is then cloned to produce large numbers of cells that will produce specific antibodies.

The ability to produce monoclonal antibodies is a direct result of years of animal research and animals are essential for the first phase of the process, the creation of a hybridoma. Typically, a hybridoma is created by immunizing an animal (almost always a mouse), and then obtaining immune cells from the animal’s spleen. These cells then get fused with the tumorous cancer cell so that they can reproduce indefinitely.

Nobody suggests that there is an animal alternative to this process. Regardless of how they are later cultivated, monoclonal antibodies require the use of an animal during the initial phase.

But cultivation of these cells is another story. Researchers are able to growth monoclonal antibodies either in vivo or in vitro.

The in vivo model involves injecting animals (again, almost always mice) with hybridomas. The hybridomas reproduce and produce a fluid called ascites on the animal’s abdomen. The fluid contains a large number of monoclonal antibodies that can then be harvested for further study.

The in vitro model involves culturing the hybridomas in one or another culturing medium. Note that this also involves the use of animals (though not whole animals), with the most popular method of culturing being using fetal bovine serum.

In 1997, the American Anti-Vivisection Society petitioned the National Institutes of Health to prohibit researchers receiving NIH grants from using the whole mouse method to produce monoclonal antibodies. Since in vitro methods were available to produce the antibodies, AAVS argued, animals were suffering needlessly.

Contrary to what IDA apparently believes, the NIH rejected an outright ban. Instead, after commissioning a study of the issue from the National Research Council, it issued a policy that for NIH grants in vitro methods of monoclonal antibody production should be the preferred method of production.

Using whole mice to produce monoclonal antibodies is still allowable under NIH, however, it in vitro methods are not suitable for one reason or another.

The National Research Council that looked into the issue found that there is a continued scientific need to produce monoclonal antibodies in mice. According to its 1999 report (which is available here),

There are several reasons why the mouse method of producing mAb cannot be abandoned: some cell lines do not adapt well to tissue-culture conditions; in applications where several different mouse mAb at high concentrations are required for injection into mice, the in vitro method can be inefficient; rat cell lines usually do not efficiently generate mAb in rats and adapt poorly to tissue-culture conditions but do produce mAb in immunocompromised mice; downstream purification or concentration from in vitro systems can lead to protein denaturation and decreased antibody activity; tissue-culture methods can yield mAb that do not reflect the normal modification of proteins with sugars, and this abnormality might influence binding capacity and other critical biologic functions of mAb; contamination of valuable cell lines with fungi or bacteria requires prompt passage through a mouse to save the cell line; and inability of some cell lines that do adapt to tissue-culture conditions to maintain adequate production of mAb poses a serious problem. For these reasons, the committee concludes that there is a scientific necessity to permit the continuation of the mouse ascites method of producing mAb. However, note that over time, as in vitro methods improve, the need for the mouse ascites method will decrease.

Maybe someday there will be no need to use mice to mass produce monoclonal antibodies, but that day is not yet upon us.

At the time the NIH changed its policy, the American Anti-Vivisection Society estimated that about 90 percent of monoclonal antibody production done as part of NIH grants would move to in vitro models, with the other 10 percent still being performed in vivo. So far, this writer is unaware of any research on just how much the new policy affected the landscape of monoclonal antibody production.

But, one thing that did not happen was an outright ban of antibody production in mice as In Defense of Animals and The Fund for Animals claimed.


Animal Rights Victories in 1999, Compiled by Michael Markarian of The Fund for Animals For the 2000 Summit for Animals. In Defense of Animals, 2000.

Animal protection group precipitates historic policy change at NIH. Press Release, American Anti-Vivisection Society, December 22, 1999.

Monoclonal Antibody Production. National Research Council, 1999.

The Christian Science Monitor on Constitutional Amendments to Protect Hunting

The Christian Science Monitor’s Patrick Jonsson wrote an interesting article recently surveying efforts to add amendments to state constitutions that protect the rights of hunters. Since 1996, Alabama, California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and Virginia have enacted such amendments to protect hunting. Efforts are underway in at least 13 other states to enact such amendments.

Of course animal rights activists are highly critical of such efforts. Jonsson quotes The Fund for Animals’ Jeff Leitner saying,

I think that, because the number of hunters across the country is dwindling, the hunting community sees this constitutional amendment approach as a way to give themselves a public relations boost for an otherwise flagging pastime. More and more Americans don’t want anybody hunting in their back yard.

But despite the decline in the number of hunters, hunting is still viewed positively. People might not have the time or ability to hunt themselves, but in a 2001 Roper Starch poll conducted for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 87 percent of respondents said hunting was as acceptable as golf and tennis.

And such broad support means these constitutional amendments are very likely to become the norm in states where animal rights activists are trying to limit hunting.


‘Right to hunt’ vs. animal rights: What’s fair game? Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, April 3, 2002.

Lets Help the Activists Burn Out More Quickly

Karen Davis, the founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, recently penned a long whine about how easily animal rights activists become burned out. There are some worthwhile lessons to be learned here.

According to Davis, “It’s easy for an animal activist to become consumed by rage and despair, to grow exhausted and burn out confronted with the horror, each and every day, of our species’ relentless assault on other species.”

Especially when you’re not getting anywhere. Davis quotes Norman Phelps of The Fund for Animals as telling her that he started campaigning against hunting in the mid-1980s thinking it would be outlawed within the decade, and here he still is fighting to get it banned. Closer to home for Davis, she notes that UPC and others managed to stop a popular pigeon shoot, but simultaneously the number of chickens killed in the United States has increased by 10 million a day since her involvement with the animal rights movement began.

Davis herself seems doubtful that the animal rights movement will achieve any real long-term success, writing, “My attitude is not ‘If I didn’t think we’d win, I’d quit,’ to which I would say, ‘Then quit.'”

Davis identifies three reasons that cause animal rights activists to give up the fight,

…the endless omnipresence of animal suffering caused by humans, public resistance to our message, and letdown by other activists. We start out full of energy, we picture victory and a crowd of protesters at every demonstration, we envision reason and compassion taking charge of people’s lives, and then reality erodes our dream.

These are all situations, of course that those of us opposed to the animal rights movement should do our best to encourage.


How does one survive dealing day after day with a cruel industry?. Karen Davis, United Poultry Concerns, Summer 2001.

Is the Hunting Industry "Targeting" Women?

    It’s not quite PETA-esque, but the Fund For Animals’ recent ranting and raving against the sport hunting industry for allegedly “targeting” women to join the sport is still downright bizarre.

    According to the Fund’s recent report, “Desperately Seeking Diana,” “hunting has been a masculine pursuit … throughout recorded history” an that’s the way things should stay. But, in fact, the status quo is not holding, and hasn’t for a long time. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, almost 1.5 million women hunted in 1985 — about 9 percent of all hunters that year. In 1996, almost 1.2 million women hunted, or about 8.5 percent of hunters.

    According to the Fund for Animals, the million or so women who hunt in any given year are actually part of a giant industry conspiracy. See if you can follow the logic — most people who hunt began hunting before the reached their 20th birthday (83 percent of hunters began hunting before they were 19 according to The Fund).

    Furthermore, according to the report, since women’s role in American society today is far more egalitarian than it was in say the 1950s or 1960s, a woman’s opinion on hunting will greatly influence whether or not children are allowed to go hunting.

    Ergo, the hunting industry is trying to hoodwink women into hunting so that they will, in turn, transform their children into hunters as well.

    One of the really demeaning aspects of The Fund’s report, however, is its view that women are largely brainless dupes who are incapable of thinking for themselves. The report and an accompanying press release talk about hunters and gun groups “targeting our moms” and “recruit[ing] women — especially mothers — into sport hunting.” This is not just a queer choice in wording but seems to genuinely reflect the view of The Fund that women, in general, are so unsophisticated that they can easily be brainwashed by hunting interests. For example, here’s how the report describes a woman who told a newspaper reporter that she had changed her mind on gun control after becoming a hunter:

    With sponsors like the National Rifle Association (NRA), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and the Federal Cartridge Company, BOW, despite its organizers’ protestations of being “non-political,” advances a pro-gun political agenda. Consider this quote from a BOW participant that appeared in an Omaha, Nebraska newspaper: “I have never taken a position [on gun control], except to realize there is too much violence. So, naturally, I thought it would be a good thing to do away with guns.” But attendance at a BOW workshop opened her eyes: “Now I understand it’s not the guns that are dangerous. It’s the way people use guns.” (Porter qtd. in Thomas et al. 12-3) Before BOW, she favored strict gun control; after the workshop, she was repeating the NRA’s mantra that “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Can that really be a coincidence?

    Well can it be a coincidence? Can a person who has maybe never shot a gun for any reason go to a seminar and learn about guns and hunting and come to the conclusion on his or her own that gun control is not a good idea? Or must it be, as The Fund report implies, that a woman would only change her mind about gun control if she was a helpless victim of NRA brainwashing? Regardless of which side of the gun control issue the reader comes down on, it is absurd to suggest that women are incapable of deciding on their own whether or not they favor gun control.

    This, of course, fits with The Fund’s generally sexist views of women which boiled down to its essence seems to be that women are incapable of violence unless brainwashed into it by men (The Fund includes a list of “Non-Consumptive Outdoors Experiences For Women” from which I deduce that men hunt, while women bicycle and hike).

    For the most part, The Fund’s report relies on stereotypical views of male and female roles, dismissing the experiences of women who choose to hunt as inauthentic because hunting is a “male” activity. Now that’s insulting.


Targeting Our Moms: Hunting and Gun Industries Set their Sights on Mothers and their Children. The Fund For Animals, press release, May 11, 2000.

Money, Motherhood, and the Nineteenth Amendment: The Hunting Industry’s Open Season on Women. The Fund For Animals, May 2, 2000.

Fund for Animals lectures Dalai Lama about peace

People with only a passing
familiarity with the Dalai Lama — the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner — might
assume the religious leader to be a vegetarian. In fact not only does
the Dalai Lama eat meat, but recently he has told reporters he approves
of some medical experiments on animals. Sounds a lot like the animal welfare
position espoused by this site.

Well, of course, it annoys
animal rights activists to no end to have the world’s best known preacher
of peace not in their camp. On August 5, 1998 The Fund for Animals released
a letter it sent to the Dalai Lama urging him to issue a statement affirming that
“Buddhism’s compassionate opposition to all forms of animal abuse,
including the genetic manipulation of living beings and the use of animals
in scientific research.”

According to the letter, authored
by The Fund for Animals coordinator Norm Phelps, “By refusing to
make your [the Dalai Lama’s] body a coffin for slaughtered animals, you
can only enhance your work for world peace.” The letter does not explain how going vegetarian will convince the Chinese to withdraw from

No word yet on what the Dalai
Lama thought of the letter. Could it be that the Dalai Lama values the
life of a breast cancer victim over the life of a lab rat?


Animal advocates tell Dalai Lama that ‘peace begins in the kitchen. The Fund for Animals, Press Release, August 5, 1998.

Fund for Animals Tries to Score Points After Arkansas Shooting

In their campaign to stop hunting,
the Fund for Animals took a swipe at hunters following the tragic shooting
at a school in Jonesboro, Arkansas which left several people dead.

According to Michael Markarian,
director of campaigns for the Fund for Animals,

These children were
taught by their families to hide in tree stands or behind duck blinds,
to lure animals with calls or scents, and to shoot from ambush. They used
these exact same skills, dressed in camouflage, on the day they lured
their classmates and teachers outside with a fire alarm and shot them
from ambush.

The Fund for Animals never explains
why, if hunting causes children to be violent to other children, so few
children who hunt engage in such horrible acts of violence or why violence
predominates in urban areas where youths have little opportunity to
hunt. We would also be amiss if we didn’t note that since most animal
rights terrorists convicted of violent crimes are vegetarians, it would
logically follow that abstaining from meat leads people to a life of violence
as well.

The Fund for Animals has a 30-page
report on the horrors of children learning about hunting in their schools.