Since 1980, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has been dedicated to protecting and expanding animal rights. Scientists once felt animals did not have the same intellect or emotions as humans, that pain was not felt as acutely and that animals had no higher emotions. PETA always disagreed. Over the last thirty years scientists have moved closer to PETA and now agree with Charles Darwin that “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties…The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.”
We now know some animals have many capabilities beyond what was once imagined such as self awareness, feelings of sadness, a highly developed sense of fairness, recognition of human faces, etc. And these capabilities extend beyond mammals to selected species of birds such as corvids. This knowledge only reinforces PETA’s views that we should ban any and all further laboratory testing using animal species. There is considerable evidence that testing of drugs and other therapies can be accomplished satisfactorily without use of animal subjects.
PETA’s campaigns continue. While they are sometimes criticized for their methods, there is no argument about their accomplishments. In an earlier article on this blog dated April 6, 2012 entitled “Persistent PETA Presses to End Primate Experimentation” it was reported that PETA had succeeded in convincing international airline transport carriers, specifically China Southern Airlines and Air Canada, to halt any further international shipments of animals destined for experimentation.
In a further update to this PETA program, the organization announced they had secured the agreement of the world’s two largest air cargo carriers, UPS and FedEx, to no longer transport mammals for laboratory use. In addition, UPS pledged to further restrict the transport of amphibians, fish, insects and other non-mammals. While the two carriers were not transporting many of these animals, PETA was pleased by their agreement and stated, “We felt it was crucial to go to them and discuss this as we knew that facilities trying to send non-human primates and other species would be going to them soon, as more and more passenger airlines refused to do business with them.”
On another front, PETA demanded that the University of California San Francisco return a $2.1 million grant it had received from the National Institutes of Health for violating NIH’s lab animal welfare policies. Citing NIH reports released that document UCSF’s recent failures and $92,500 of fines UCSF paid over the years to settle federal complaints it had violated the Animal Welfare Act, PETA spokesman Justin Goodman said “There are thousands of animals suffering every day, and on top of that, you have UCSF failing to provide many of them adequate veterinary care when they are sick.” UCSF is known to have one of the largest research programs in the U.S. using hundreds of thousands of animals in its lab research.
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