Nothing But The Truth
'I could not kill or hurt any living creature needlessly, nor destroy any beautiful thing' - John Ruskin, Professor of Literature, 1885, who resigned his position at Oxford University the day after vivisection was introduced.
In December 2003, following an undercover investigation at Covance in Munster, Germany, the BUAV exposed the contract-testing company for breach of animal welfare laws. Earlier this summer, following a lengthy undercover investigation at Covance, Virginia, PETA released damning video evidence of serious malpractices - this time by staff at the US vivisection laboratory.
The Covance footage shows primates screaming in terror as technicians and vivisectors drive tubes into the animals' nostrils and down their throats, and pump them full of experimental drugs. It shows them driven insane by their forced isolation and confinement in tiny metal cages, from which they witness the torture of other primates at the hands of their jailers. It shows them subjected to verbal and physical abuse as they fight for their lives, convulsing at the bottom of their cages and dying without being given basic veterinary attention to necrotic tissue, and infected wounds. They are subjected to this torment every day until they die.
That two branches of the same corporation on separate continents have been thus exposed reaffirms that the abuse of animals is systematic and endemic. In research laboratories throughout the world, it is endured by animals over and over and over again; it is re-enacted relentlessly and without remorse.
Broken Record Much?
Were a small public show of remorse forthcoming, one would at least be forgiven for thinking that Covance might give lip service to the idea of improving standards in their laboratories. (And pigs might fly). Instead of which, of course, out pops another injunction!
In a display of arrogance we have come to recognise as typical of the pro-vivisection lobby, Covance's immediate response was to apply for injunctive relief against the UK arm of PETA, as well as others, to prevent them from showing the video footage. This graphically demonstrated their complete contempt not just for the minimum concept of animal welfare, but for the public they allegedly serve. Covance UK stated in court that: 'PETA's tactics against Covance and any other medical research organisation ultimately come at the expense of the patients and families who rely on scientific research to ensure that medicines are safe and that new cures are brought to market as soon as possible'.
'Safe'? 'New cures'? If cures and safety are what these companies are about, and if vivisection is the answer, why are they no nearer to discovering cures for cancer, for Alzheimer's, for Parkinson's, for AIDS or for mental illness? If their research ensures human safety, why have people died from drug therapy, or been permanently disabled by it? Why are there unexpected side effects to drugs marketed as safe, forcing the drug companies to take them out of circulation?
The Lady Doth Protest Too Much
Knee-jerk reactions to damning revelations appear to be commonplace among large institutions that are weighted down by their corporate whiter-than-white façade; this applies as much to governments as to inflexible multinational corporations. When they make such a showy display of outrage at being hapless victims, you know you have hit a nerve - this is as true of Covance as it is of Oxford University, and beyond to the vivisection industry at large.
Maintaining the image that their sole raison d'être is humanitarian is par for the course for multinationals and their subsidiary bodies, and takes a great deal of good PR work. They don't mention that in order for them to exist, they must co-exist alongside incurable disease; that in order for them to exist, they must make money. Huge amounts of it, taken from the taxpayer, from legacies, from Government subsidies, from inflated prices for drugs that could be sold at a fraction of their market value to the poor, to the millions dying in the silent AIDS epidemic in Africa.
Playing on human fears, desires or emotions is the key to prolonging the shelf life of any product, and the pharmaceuticals are just that - a product. By playing on these emotions, they can sell their wares at vastly inflated prices, while ensuring the perpetuation of their 'godlike' status. Were their primary aim altruistic, it would still not make vivisection either morally justifiable or scientifically valid, but it might at least give their loud protestations some genuine weight.
The Truth is out there The truth has the potential to be damaging. Increasingly under attack from all sides, the pharmaceutical companies are being forced to take the defensive stance. Damage limitation must be a familiar subject in the plush offices of those benefiting from animal suffering these days. They fear us. Every injunction they take out against animal rights campaigners proves that. Don't be fooled by the illusion that they have the upper hand because they can do this - despite their money and their power, they are still on the run from the truth. And truth is our weapon.
The primary US lawsuit seeking to claim damages against PETA and their undercover worker, for violation of employee contract, fraud and conspiracy to harm the company's business, is a case in point. In the UK, the pharmaceutical company has followed two schools of thought: (a) the attempted intimidation of UK activists, (b) the use of injunctions to procure silence. This second proved to be an unexpected disappointment for them when residing Newcastle Judge Langan, who seemed unwilling to dance to the beat of their drum, turned down their application for a permanent injunction. He described the content of the film as 'highly disturbing.'
Pro-vivisectionists are under mounting pressure from all sides to justify their very existence and stave off the inevitable. With their options narrowing, their use of dirty tricks is no surprise. But injunctions cannot stem the tide, nor can the targeting of individual campaigners. Their time is coming to an end - our task is to deliver the final blow. If the trend we are seeing now is any indication, that time is almost upon us. We cannot and will not fail.