British Researcher Denied License to Clone Horses

British Professor Twink Allen accused the British government of caving to pressure from animal rights activists in denying his application for a license to clone horses. Dr. Allen wanted to clone horses, in part, to improve genetic selection of competition horses.

According to the BBC, The Home Office, which approves animal research in Great Britain, turned down Allen’s request after concluding that the possible benefits did not outweigh the possible harms to the animals involved.

Allen told the Daily Mail that British politicians were afraid of animal rights activists and chose the easy way out,

It is wimpishness on the part of politicians. They are frightened there might be some protests and they don’t want to even face that. It’s blatant Government suppression of innovative science for political expedience.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals backed the government’s decision. The RSPCA’s Natasha Lane told the BBC (emphasis added),

Cloning horses or any animal for competition purposes is completely unacceptable. It’s a trivial purpose and cloning causes pain and suffering to animals because the vast number of embryos die, and those that don’t die may develop abnormalities and die young.

Lane’s line about the death of cloned embryos is a bit odd — does she consider horse embryos to be moral patients?

Not to worry though, this research — like others — will simply move to other countries. Italian scientists cloned the first horse in August 2003.

Allen plans to appeal the rejection of his license application.


Expert fights horse cloning ban. Christine McGourty, BBC, May 5, 2004.

Horse-cloning scientist hits out at ‘Home Office wimps’. Robin Yapp, Daily Mail (London), May 6, 2004.

EIDOS Releases Animal Rights-Themed Game for PS2/XBOX

Eidos recently released a videogame for the PS2 and XBox — Whiplash — which has the player navigating two animals through destroying a research lab and freeing the animals therein.

The game quickly drew fire from both researchers and animal activists, however.

On the research side, Ian Gibson of the House of Commons select committee on science and technology said that the game’s over-the top setting (the two main characters are spastic animals who have been used to test a hair spray) would lead children to have distorted views of animal research,

This is unhelpful to the whole debate. It is a nasty and vicious way of prejudicing young minds for the rest of their lives. Young people with fresh minds need to be brought into an understanding of the problem with both sides of the argument being put forward in a rational and reasonable way. Clearly such programs are not bringing a balanced judgment to serious and difficult areas of understanding.

But the game was not a big hit with the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals, either, with deputy head of research Penny Hawkins complaining that the game makes light of animal suffering,

Animals suffer when they are used in research and it’s extremely disappointing that someone would see fit to produce a so-called humorous computer game out of that suffering. The RSPCA puts a lot of effort into encouraging children to be compassionate towards animals and empathize with them. This is obviously sending out completely the opposite message, that animal suffering is funny — that it is something to make a joke out of.

So which is it — or neither. Well here’s how one Internet reviewer described the game play, and I can’t imagine many animal rights activists thinking this is promoting their cause,

So you go to your only main weapon…….Redmond. Your fuzzy little bunny partner becomes the instrument of destruction for you, simply by beating the ever loving hell out of him, and using him to get past various obsticles. And when I mean use him, I mean physically. This poor rabbit takes a ton of abuse! When you come to people you need to knock out, Spanx uses Redmond as a mace, whipping him around and smacking him into the bad guys. Do that enough times, and Redmond will go into a rage and really tear into whatever he can. So you use him to smash up more things! He’s only a rabbit you know. That’s just the humane stuff! It’s hard to explain the extent of the things Redmond is forced to do. For example you come to a big gap in the floor with an electric ring hanging in the middle. So you toss Redmond at the ring, and while he’s sticking to it and frying like an egg, you can cross to the other side of the gap. Need to set something on fire? Find a special machine that burns things up and throw the rabbit in! He should stay crispy just long enough to do what you have to. You can fill Redmond up with helium to float in the air like a balloon to reach high places, and you can dip him into radioactive waste and use him as a poisoned wrecking ball. You even stick him in the toilet now and again!! This is just the beginning, you can eventually learn how to use Redmond in a number of other ways.

Both groups should just take a deep breath — its an over-the-top game. Children are not going to think it’s a realistic depiction of animal research or of how to treat animals anymore than they are going to think that Simpson’s Road Rage is an accurate simulation of proper driving techniques.


Free the animals, smash up the lab and chain-whip policemen — this is the latest video game for children. Richard McComb and Renee Mickelburgh, The Daily Telegraph (London), February 15, 2004.

Two really strange peas in one bizzare pod. Michael Mullis, NLGaming, November 20, 2003.

RSPCA Unhappy about Plans to Obtain Primates from Mauritius

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued a press release in August saying it was “shocked and appalled” by a recent decision by the UK government to import research primates from a breeding center in Mauritius.

The RSPCA claims that the breeding center, Centre de Recherches Primatologiques, does not meet basic animal welfare standards and notes that in 2002 it provided the government with video footage and photographs of the center which the RSPCA says prove its claim.

RSPCA deputy head of research animals Penny Hawkins complained that the government does not make public its criteria for evaluating primate breeding centers,

We just do not know what standards the government applies and the RSPCA cannot therefore assess the scale of the problem.

In addition, the RSPCA claims that the Mauritius center and other international centers use primates caught in the wild which promotes the hunting of such animals. In the UK it is illegal to import a wild caught primate, but it is not illegal to import the captive-born offspring of a wild-born primate.

According to Hawkins,

The ultimate aim has to be to replace experiments on primates with humane alternatives. However until this is achieved, reducing the suffering associated with their breeding and supply must be an urgent and immediate priority for scientists, industry and the government.


Fury Over Wild Monkey Hunts. Financial Times (London), August 31, 2003.

Primate centre decision shock. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, August 2003.

Number of Scientific Procedures on Animals in the UK Increased Slightly in 2002

The UK Home Office recently released its annual Statistics on Animals in Scientific Procedures 2002 which showed a slight increase in the number of scientific procedures performed in 2002 as compared to 2001.

According to the report, there were a total of 2.73 million such scientific procedures performed on animals in the UK, representing a 4.2 percent increase over the 2.62 million procedures performed in 2001.

The slight increase brought attacks from animal rights groups. Dr. Penny Hawkins, who heads up the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ efforts related to research animals told the Press Association,

We hear an awful lot from scientists and the Government about everything they are doing to replace animals with alternatives. These figures reveal that they are failing.

Similarly, Wendy Higgins of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection told the Press Association,

This shocking rise, and the alarming increase in the use of genetically modified animals, is a shameful reflection of this Government’s utter failure to tackle the controversial issue of animal experiments. Nearly three million animals still suffer painful and lethal experiments in UK labs and the UK public are legally denied access to detailed information about what goes on. The Government is stuck in a policy vacuum on vivisection, meanwhile the lab animal death toll continues to go up and up.

Higgins and Hawkins are both lying about the alternatives and the trends in the UK regarding animals procedures.

First, this was hardly a shocking rise. In fact, the total number of animal procedures performed in 2002 was barely above the 2000 level. The total number of procedures declined by 3.5 percent from 2000 to 2001, so the increase of 4.1 percent from 2001 to 2002 simply returned the number of procedures back to the 2000 level (full statistics on all species for 2000-2003 are available here.)

Moreover, this represents a dramatic decline in the total number of scientific procedures on animals over the last 5 years. In 1998, there were a total of 3.4 million such procedures conducted on animals. So researchers in the UK have reduced the total number of procedures by more than 20 percent in just 5 years.

It’s simply absurd that Higgins and Hawkins would turn around and accuse research of not being serious about using alternatives.

Second, Higgins is simply lying when she says that all 2.73 million procedures performed in 2002 involved “painful and lethal” research. Consider the 710,000 procedures on genetically modified animals that Higgins is so horrified about. What she conveniently leaves out is that more than 550,000 of those procedures involved breeding. Now maybe things are different from Higgins perspective, but breeding animals typically is neither painful nor lethal.

In fact, almost 30 percent of the 2.73 million “painful and lethal” procedures preformed in 2002 involved breeding.


Scientific tests on animals increase. Western Mail and Echo Ltd., July 19, 2003.

Number of animal experiments rises. Sam Sheringham, Press Association, July 18, 2003.

Michelle Thew Named Animal Protection Institute President

Michelle Thew, currently chief executive officer of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, was recently named to succeed Alan Berger as CEO of the Animal Protection Institute.

BUAV focuses mainly on animal experimentation and Thew was one of four finalists in the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals’ search for a new chief executive. That job was ultimately given to anti-hunting activist Jackie Ballard.

In an API press release announcing Thew’s selection, she said,

API is an organization whose work I have long respected, and I am thrilled to be joining as its new CEO. Creating real change for animals takes determination, skill and creativity. API will get the job done. High profile media work, professional lobbying, legal skills and public campaigning are key to success. API will use all of these tools in coming years to put the issue of animal rights on the map in the United States. I look forward to working with the excellent team at API to end animal abuse worldwide.

API has not been especially focused on animal experimentation, but appears poised to take a more active role in that area of the animal rights movement. Along with hiring Thew, API announced a new partnership with BUAV,

API and BUAV also announced that the two organizations are forming a new strategic partnership, a transatlantic relationship that will benefit animals worldwide. In addition to becoming API’s chief executive officer, Thew will also serve as a consultant to BUAV, with special responsibility for global strategic issues in animal experiments. “The challenges that animal advocates face are global and their response must be global too,” said Thew.

So is this really API making Thew its CEO or simply the UK organization opening up BUAV USA?


New CEO to lead Animal Protection Institute. Press Release, Animal Protection Institute, June 13, 2003.

New Look, But RSPCA Up to Its Old Tricks

A recent article in the Independent (London) reported that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has recently moderated some of its rhetoric in order not to be associated with violent activists targeting Huntingdon Life Sciences, but this is still clearly an RSPCA that is beholden to the animal rights ideology.

Currently about 1,500 non-human primates are imported into Great Britain every year for medical research, and the RSPCA is laying out a plan to gradually phase out such research (it is already illegal in Great Britain to conduct research involving on chimpanzees).

In a new campaign against primate research, the RSPCA sets out three goals: make it illegal to import primates into Great Britain; strictly regulate the transportation of animals within Great Britain; conduct a “critical review” of the role of primates in medical research.


RSPCA demands monkey import ban. The BBC, December 7, 2001.

Time to stop monkeying around with animal rights. The Independent (London), December 7, 2001.