Animal Defenders International Calls for Boycott of Sony Ericsson Over Ad Featuring Bear

After Sony Ericsson launched a TV ad featuring a performing bear, Animal Defenders International has called for a boycott of Sony Ericsson.

In a press release announcing its boycott, ADI chief executive Jan Creamer said,

The training of performing animals is both unnatural and callous, as wild animals are deprived of their species for normal social interaction and their habitat where they roam free. A brutal regime of repetitive training and domination by their trainers frequently involves coercion and physical punishment. In addition, these animals suffer daily as they are caged and chained by suppliers of animals for the TV and movie industries.

. . .

Global brands such as Sony Ericsson should take on board the fact that public opinion has long since moved away from watching performing animals, as the cruelty of their daily lives has been exposed. If the company find it acceptable to continue to use performing animals in this way, we call on their customers to switch phones to other brands.


ADI Calls for Sony Ericsson boycott. Press Release, Animal Defenders International, August 12, 2005.

European Patent Office Upholds Mouse Patent

In July the European Patent Office upheld Harvard University’s patent on a genetically altered mouse. The EPO did modify the patent so that it applied only to “transgenic mice” rather than the original language of the patent which covered “transgenic rodents.”

In a press release announcing the decision, the EPO said,

As a result of an appeal decision, European patent EP 0 169 672, better-known as the “Oncomouse” patent, has been further restricted.

In 1985 the President and Fellows of Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, applied for a European patent entitled “Method for producing transgenic animals”. The patent was granted in May 1992 in respect of “non-human mammalian animals” for eleven member states of the European Patent Organisation.

Seventeen oppositions against the patent, filed in 1992 and 1993, led to the decision in November 2001 to maintain the patent in respect of “transgenic rodents”. Several appeals against that decision lodged in March 2003 were heard by the Technical Board of Appeal which decided to restrict the patent further to “transgenic mice”.

Greenpeace and a number of other organizations had filed the challenges, seeking to have the EPO overturn the validity of patenting animals altogether. Jan Creamer of Great Britain’s National Anti-Vivisection Society said of the ruling,

. . .patenting life should be wrong. You’re not producing a product that will make a difference.

Harvard University’s Philip Leder, who was one of the co-creator’s of the Oncomouse, disagreed, telling The Scientist,

This is the organism that has the greatest utility. I’m pleased to have the matter resolved.

Dupont, which holds the licensing rights to the mouse, has issued 170 licenses for academic research on the mouse. It charges licensing fees for commercial uses of the patented mouse.


EPO restricts OncoMouse patent. Paula Park, The Scientist, July 26, 2004.

Technical Board of Appeal restricts “Oncomouse” patent. Press Release, European Patent Office, July 6, 2004.

Europe upholds Harvard Mouse patent. Associated Press, July 7, 2004.

Great Britain to Keep Specific Details of Animal Research Anonymous

The British government in early July announced that it would continue to keep specific details about animal research in that country secret while expanding the amount of information about the extent and types of animal research conducted in that country.

Home Office minister Caroline Flint announced that after a review of Section 24 — a confidentiality clause included in 1986’s Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act — the government has decided to retain the confidentiality clause for now and review the issue again two years hence.

Flint told reporters,

Protecting scientists and their families from intimidation and harassment, and tackling animal rights extremism is a priority for the Government. Section 24 will be retained for the time being, ensuring that information that is open to abuse is not put directly into the public domain. Animal research is essential to protect human health and has contributed to almost all of the medical advances in the last century.

The National Anti-Vivisection Society characterized the decision as “a dismal bow to the power of a secretive industry,” and the group’s chief executive Jan Creamer told the Press Association,

This is a bittersweet victory for the NAVS, and for those who believe in the public’s right to know what goes on in our name.

The Government has finally agreed to greater openness, but the most meaningful information could still be withheld from the public.


Researchers who experiment on animals to remain anonymous. John-Paul Ford Rojas, Press Association news, July 1, 2004.

Scientific procedures at HLS to stay under wraps. Cambridge News, July 3, 2004.

Great Britain Announces Center to Explore Alternatives to Animals in Medical Research

In May, Lord Sainsbury announced that the British government would support the creation of a new national center designed to cut the number of animals used in medical research by pushing for ways to further implement the widely accepted view of replacing, refining and reducing such tests. Not surprisingly, the same animal rights groups complaining about the increase in animals used for medical research quickly attacked the plan as “a joke” and “a sham.”

The government’s plans are the result of a House of Lords report that urged the creation of just such a center for exploring non-animal research methods. An unnamed National Anti-Vivisection Society spokesperson complained to the Daily Telegraph that,

Now the government has hijacked the proposal, but made it a center which will explore both animal and non-animal research.

But Lord Smith of Clifton, who chaired the committee that produced the report, praised the government’s plans to create the new national center,

The government has accepted my committee’s recommendations to set up a center. i think the higher profile that the government is giving this question should reassure people that animals aren’t used willy nilly.

Which, of course, will never satisfy the animal rights activists who are against animal testing regardless of whether a given test is necessary or effective. As Geoffrey Thomas of the Dr. Hadwen Trust told The BBC,

I think it is very important that the emphasis is on replacement — and the three R’s is simply diverting attention and resources from that specific topic.

The National Anti-Vivisection Society’s Jan Creamer went even further, telling the Press Association that the center was “a joke.”

What the Government has announced today is a joke. This center is going to be governed by people who are committed to animal research. The Government had an opportunity to invest in cutting edge technologies and research. Instead they have gone for the same old people and the same old tired ideas.

Animal Aid’s Andrew Tyler dismissed the three R’s approach, telling the Press Association,

The only R that has any merit is replacement — given that experimenting on other species produces results that cannot be reliably applied to people.

Lord Sainsbury told the Press Association that while replacement is the ultimate goal, for the forseeable future animal research will be essential in animal research and both reduction and refinement are thus important goals. Sainsbury said only animal groups who accept the three R’s approach will be welcome on the new Center’s board,

It is not about having a debate between people from widely different positions. The extreme actions taken by some animal rights groups is a quite separate issue and we have made it clear as a Government that we do not tolerate that kind of behavior.


Minister backs center to cut tests on animals. David Derbyshire, Daily Telegraph (London), May 22, 2004.

Animal rights groups attack new research centre. Neville Dean, Press Association News, May 21, 2004.

Shake up of animal tests expected. The BBC, May 20, 2004.

British Health Minister Says Animal Research Is "Absolutely Essential"

Lord Philip Hunt, Great Britain’s Health Minister, gave a speech this week to the Association of Medical Research Charities in which he outlined the Labor government’s policy on animal research. Hunt said,

Of course, animals should only be used in experiments where there is no alternative. But it is also clear that properly regulated animal research is absolutely essential to the discovery of new treatments, as well as to the assessment of the safety and efficacy of medicines. That is why we have strengthened the law that protects all involved in research — in the private, public and charitable sectors — to ensure that this vital work can continue.

Hunt repeated previous government statements that the sort of situation that occurred with Huntingdon Life Sciences would not happen again. According to Hunt,

The Government endorses the right to democratic protest. Equally, we condemn the violent intimidation that has taken place, and have introduced strong measures against harassment of people involved with animal research.

Predictably, animal rights groups attacked the speech. According to Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler, the speech was “part of a rather sordid and unconvincing propaganda offensive from the Government, because the argument for animal testing is slipping away from them.”

Michelle Thew of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection complained that, “There is a policy vacuum within the government — no vision, no strategy, no radical agenda for reform and no recognition to reflect the considerable and growing public concern about animal experiments.”

Jan Creamer of the National Anti-vivisection Society chimed in by claiming that “Every time the government has issued licenses to use animal testing, we have been able to find an alternative method.”

Of course, Reuters summed up the reality of the situation noting that,

Currently, most scientists believe that tests in animals are still the best way to study disease or to gauge the effectiveness of treatments before they are tried in humans.

And in most cases they are not just the best way but rather than only realistic way to test.


Animal research essential, UK government says. Manfreda Cavazza, Reuters Health, April 16, 2002.

Minister defends animal experiments. The BBC, April 16, 2002.