PETA Protests Against Land Acquisition By Covance

Animal testing firm Covance Inc. recently purchased 38 acres of land in Chandler, Arizona, which prompted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Citing an undercover video it shot of Covance’s Vienna, Virginia, laboratory and a several hundred page complaint PETA filed against Covance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, PETA wants Chandler to prevent Covance from building a facility in that city.

In a press release, PETA’s Mary Beth Sweetland said,

Chandler should be showing Covance the door, not rolling out the red carpet. Covance has an abysmal record of animal abuse and threats to public health that shouldnÂ’t be welcomed by any city.

PETA’s Alka Chandna told the Chandler News,

We have to petition Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn and the Chandler City Council to pull up the carpet and prevent Covance from setting up shop. These are hardly the sort of people Chandler residents want as their neighbors.

For its part, Covance is suing PETA and the undercover activist who shot the video, and denied that it engages in animal cruelty.

The land that Covance purchased is currently zoned agricultural, so any decision by Covance to build a facility on the land would require a zoning change. A Covance spokesperson told the Chandler News that it has no immediate plans to build on the site and has not applied for any building permits yet.

City spokesman Dave Bigos, however, told the Chandler News that the city council sees attracting biosciences firms to the area as crucial,

Biosciences is a growing presence in the Valley. It’s critical for the future of the Valley and Chandler.


Bioscience firm irks PETA, Covance busy land in Chandler. Alex Pickett, Chandler News, August 23, 2005.

PETA calls on Chandler to reject CovanceÂ’s proposed animal-testing lab. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, August 15, 2005.

PETA Calls on Richmond, VA, to Reject Philip Morris Facility

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently sent a letter to Richmond, Virginia, Mayor L. Douglas Wilder urging Wilder to stop the planned construction of a Philip Morris research facility in that city.

Philip Morris plans to finish construction on a $300 million research and technology center in 2007. Richmond has donated land worth $3.2 million for the project and agreed to a 10-year tax abatement to convince Philip Morris to build in Richmond, where Philip Morris is based.

According to PETA, architectural plans for the new center include rooms labeled “Primate Room 1” and “Primate Room 2,” which PETA claims are rooms destined to house non-human primates for research. However, PETA itself is not in possession of any plans that show these primate rooms. Instead, Mary Beth Sweetland told The Richmond Times Dispatch, PETA is relying on information it received from someone who PETA believes does have access to those plans.

Philip Morris spokesman Michael Neese told the Times-Dispatch that there were no plans to house primates at the facilities and that any animal research there would be conducted with rodents.

The animal research is likely directed at finding safer cigarettes, which Philip Morris and other cigarette companies have long investigated (Philip Morris has, in fact, test marketed different versions of a safer cigarette over the years).

Regardless of the type of research or animals used, the project is unlikely to be derailed by PETA. A spokesman for Richmond told the Times-Dispatch,

The mayor does intend to stand by the commitment he made to Philip Morris, and they are a valued corporate citizen in Richmond.


PETA urges city to pull Philip Morris support. John Reid Blackwell, Richmond Times-Dispatch, August 12, 2005.

PETA Calls On Mayor Wilder To Pull Public Financing Of Philip Morris Center. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, August 10, 2005.

SEC Orders General Electric to Include PETA-Sponsored Proposal at Company’s Shareholder Meeting

In March, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that General Electric Co. and a number of other U.S. companies must allow shareholders to vote on proposals put forth by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Groups like PETA frequently buy small amounts of stock in publicly held companies so they can have a chance to voice their opposition to animal testing or other polices at shareholder meetings. For the most part, this is a pretty ineffective strategy as it rarely generates even minimal media coverage anymore.

An alternative is to submit a proposal for shareholders to vote on, as PETA did, that would require the company to stop its animal testing. Typically, companies refuse to include such proposals arguing that something like testing with animals is simply a routine part of the business and outside the realm of shareholder proposals.

When GE and other companies rejected its proposal, PETA appealed to the SEC and the SEC agreed with PETA that shareholders should be allowed to vote on the proposal.

PETA’s Mary Beth Sweetland told the Associated Press,

We are pleased that the SEC agrees with us that shareholders have a right to vote on important issues affecting their investments. With caring consumers now boycotting companies that conduct animal tests, adopting progressive humane alternatives can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.

Of course if consumer’s were really boycotting GE because it tests on animals, its a bit difficult to understand that company’s 2005 profit outlook that estimates $1.78 to $1.83 in profits per share.

GE shareholders ultimately rejected the PETA resolution.


SEC rules against GE on animal testing. John Christoffersen, Associated Press, March 25, 2005.

PETA’s Hypocrisy on Cloning Cats

A California company, Genetic Savings & Clone, became the first company in the country to offer cloned animals private individuals. Cloned animals have been available for commercial livestock and some endangered species, but Genetic Savings & Clone is the first company to my mind where anyone can walk in, put down their money, and at some point walk out with a cloned animal — in this case, cats.

The service is not cheap. The company charges $295 to $1,395 plus annual charges to store the genetic material of cats. Producing an actual clone from said genetic material will run more than $30,000 (initially the company charged $50,000, but apparently reduced that due to lack of demand).

Of course such services have produced an inevitable backlash, especially given how many unwanted cats there are out there. The California legislature is considering banning cat cloning, the American Anti-Vivisection Society has petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate it, and even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is getting in on the action with a very odd argument.

In a report on the cat cloning business on the website of Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper, PETA’s Mary Beth Sweetland is quoted as saying,

It defies logic to think that somebody can feel right about paying $50,000 for a cat when 17 million dogs and cats are killed in shelters every year. That money could be put towards the support of innumerable homeless animals if these people truly care about animals.

Huh? Has Sweetland check out any of PETA’s Form 990s lately? For example, according to its 2002 Form 990, PETA had total expenses in 2002 of $21,484,419. How much of that went to helping alleviate the issue of pet overpopulation? Exactly $208,598 for a spay/neuter program. In contrast, that same year PETA sent almost $4.8 million to the Foundation to Support Animal Protection which is a front group PETA uses to contribute money to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine while pretending the two are independent organizations.

How much good could PETA have done by spending that $4.8 million on helping shelters? Yet Sweetland has the gall to complain because someone might spend 1 percent of that amount to clone a favorite pet?

I personally think spending that much to clone a cat is a bit silly, but then again I also do not understand why anyone would pay $35,000 for a Mickey Mantle rookie card or $200,000 for a Lamborghini. To each his own.


‘Frankenkitty’ or priceless duplicate? Howard Witt, Sun-Sentinel.Com, March 6, 2005.

PETA Actually Donates to A Small Number of Animal Shelters

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently awarded grants of $1,500 to 15 animal shelters around the country. What did these shelters have to do to be recipients of PETA’s largesse? They each are boycotting Iams pet food because of PETA’s allegations that Iams relies on “painful and often deadly laboratory tests on dogs, cats, and other animals.”

PETA’s Mary Beth Sweetland told The Lake City Report (Florida),

Nearly 100 shelters have decided to boycott Iams after learning about the company’s cruel and unnecessary tests on animals. Iams uses its profits to create misery for dogs and cats, but these shelters need funds for their vital work of protecting animals from harm.

Iams spokesman Kurt Iverson responded by saying that PETA is,

. . . spreading a lot of untruths and sensationalized stories. The story that they are telling is based on a facility we used two years ago and that we no longer use. They also don’t tell you that the person that was gathering their video footage was the person Iams was paying to take care of those dogs and cats.


PETA donates $1,500 to local animal shelter. Justin Lang, Lake City Reporter (Florida), January 27, 2005.

Iams to End Outside Animal Tests and Expand Its Own Internal Animal Testing Facilities

Iams, which has been targeted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals over conditions at testing labs it contracts to, announced in October that within two years it would end all testing contracts without outside laboratories. Instead, the pet food company will more than double its own animal testing facilities from 350 cats and dogs to more than 800 cats and dogs by the end of 2005.

That represents a victory of sorts for PETA which had included among its demands that Iams end all contracted animal testing, but its a bit of a pyrrhic one. The animal rights organization had been able to gain a lot of publicity on the backs of the contracted labs, especially when Iams ended up funding an animal welfare specialist at a Missouri lab who turned out to be a PETA mole. Now that Iams is essentially going to do the same amount of testing internally, it should prove more difficult for PETA to get those attention grabbing headlines.

PETA’s Mary Beth Sweetland said of the change,

I think Iams has to prove itself to us. Yes, this is part of what PETA wants. But that said, Iams has lied to us in the past. The question is, is Iams going to commit to ending testing on all animals? The expansion of that Dayton facility means more testing.

PETA sponsored a resolution at the annual shareholder meeting of Procter & Gamble, which owns Iams, calling on Iams to end all animal testing, but the measure was overwhelmingly defeated.

PETA’s Allison Ezell told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “P&G should make Iams move out of the laboratory completely, because it’s the right thing to do.”


Iams division to change animal testing practices. Associated Press, October 7, 2004.

Iams bringing animal tests inside. Cliff Peale, Cincinnati Enquirer, October 7, 2004.

Lafley to stockholders: Few problems at P&G. Cliff Peale, Cincinnati Enquirer, October 13, 2004.