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Animal Justice Urges Government to Fund Animal Testing Alternatives & Plant-Based Food

Animal Justice August 9, 2018

Animal Justice is urging the federal government to fund innovative industries that save the lives of animals by creating humane, animal-free products. Specifically, Animal Justice is asking the government to invest in developing alternatives to animal testing, and invest in growing Canada’s burgeoning plant-based food sector.

The federal government is currently consulting on 2019 federal budget priorities, focused on economic growth and ensuring Canada’s competitiveness. Animal Justice’s submission, filed last week, suggests opportunities that improve life for animals while supporting animal-friendly economic opportunities.

Animal Justice is seeking funding for the new Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM). The first of its kind in Canada, CCAAM was set up at the University of Windsor in 2017, and has a mandate to develop and promote scientific research, teaching, and toxicity testing methods that do not require the use of animals.

Canadian researchers used over 4.3 million animals in cruel experiments in 2016, an increase of over 20% from 2015. Conventional medical research relies heavily on animal models of disease, even though it is difficult to reliably translate results in animals over to human patients because of significant biological differences between humans and other animals. Scientists around the world are already at work developing animal-free methods because they are more reliable, accurate, and cost-effective. Not only do these animal-free alternatives spare millions of animals from death and suffering, they also represent a significant economic opportunity for Canada as the field grows.

Animal Justice is also asking the government to invest in the plant-based food industry, which is growing at an astonishing rate. People are incorporating more plant-based food products in their diets to protect animals, human health, and the environment. A preliminary draft of Canada’s new Food Guide, released in 2017, also suggests a shift toward recommending that Canadians eat more plant-based foods.

The global meat alternatives market is valued at $4.33 billion and is expected to reach $6.43 billion by 2023. Meanwhile, the global plant-based milk market is set to reach $16.3 billion by the end of 2018.

The federal government has already recognized the economic potential of the plant-based sector, investing $150 million in the industry through the Innovation Superclusters Initiative in 2017.

Canada is already one of the largest producers of flaxseed, canola, oats, and durum wheat, and the third largest producer and exporter of pulses, with the highest yields in the world. With further government investment, Canada is well-positioned to become a powerhouse in the field of plant-based protein. The exponential growth of the plant-based market promises to create a more profitable and competitive economy for Canada, as well as ensuring long-term sustainability in the changing economic landscape.

Have your say! Contact your Member of Parliament to urge them to include animal-friendly initiatives in the 2019 federal budget.

 

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Animal Justice Files Animal Cruelty Complaint Over University of Calgary Research Lab

Animal Justice August 7, 2018

CALGARY – National animal law non-profit Animal Justice has filed a complaint with the Calgary Humane Society over shocking animal cruelty alleged to have occurred at a University of Calgary psychology research laboratory.

According to a news report, multiple former students have come forward to blow the whistle on disturbing experiments conducted in an addiction research laboratory supervised by assistant professor Devran Lovic. The whistleblowers allege that rats were improperly anesthetized, causing multiple rats to wake up during surgery. On at least one occasion, researchers allegedly continued to perform surgery on a conscious rat, restraining the distressed animal with a surgical pad while his back and neck were cut open.

Lovic has been on leave since December 2017, and the University apparently shut down his laboratory in March.

“Slicing open live, conscious rats is a clear violation of both federal and provincial animal cruelty laws, and that’s why authorities must investigate the University of Calgary and prosecute this shocking mistreatment,” said animal rights lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “It is illegal to perform surgery on an animal without appropriately administering anesthesia, and researchers have a legal obligation to ensure rats spared discomfort during the entire surgical period. It’s heartbreaking to think of the horrific trauma these rats would have endured when they regained consciousness during painful, invasive surgery.”

Animal Justice is also criticizing the University of Calgary’s response to the troubling allegations, and is calling on the University to come clean and release publicly any documents associated with the experiments in question.

Federally, Canada has the weakest laws in the western world for protecting animals used in research. Unlike in other countries, here are no federal laws, no inspectors, no public inspection reports, and no way for the public to effectively oversee the secretive activities of animal researchers. Instead, there are only voluntary guidelines created and overseen by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), a non-profit with no legal authority. The CCAC can recommend that the federal granting agencies withdraw research funding from a non-compliant institution. There is no evidence that this has ever occurred or that funding has ever been withheld.

However, Alberta’s provincial Animal Protection Act makes it mandatory for researchers to comply with CCAC guidelines. The CCAC’s Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals states that appropriate anesthesia, proper instrumentation and competent pre- and post-operative care are all essential to the welfare of the experimental animal. It requires that all surgical procedures are to be carried out under anesthesia; that those doing surgery have an obligation to be aware of the efficiency of the anesthetic technique being used; and that it is the responsibility of the surgeon and anesthetist to ensure that this animal is spared discomfort during the entire peri-operative period. Failing to comply with these measures is illegal.

Animal Justice is also calling on the CCAC to recommend that funding be withheld from the institution for failing to comply with CCAC guidelines.

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The Canadian Council on Animal Care Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals can be found here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

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Authorities Investigate Footage of Pigs Crammed in Sweltering Manitoba Transport Truck

Animal Justice August 3, 2018

BRANDON, MB—The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating potential animal protection law violations after viewing footage showing pigs crammed into a transport truck, pushed together and climbing on top of each other, on a sweltering day in July. The footage was captured outside the Maple Leaf Foods pig slaughterhouse in Brandon, Manitoba by members of Manitoba Animal Save, who also recorded the temperature inside the truck at nearly 40 degrees Celsius.

“It was heartbreaking to see the animals crammed in next to each other in such unbearable heat,” said Cheryl Sobie, an organizer with Manitoba Animal Save. “Some animals were panting and foaming at the mouth, which we know means they’re heat-stressed. Others seemed to have given up. If this were a truck full of dogs, people would rightfully be outraged. There’s no reason not to extend the same consideration to pigs, who are equally sentient. Sadly, our group regularly documents farmed animals in similar conditions, leading us to believe it’s common across the country.”

“Federal law prohibits crowding animals in transport, and guidelines indicate that animals must be given even more space on hot days,” said Anna Pippus, an animal rights lawyer for the animal law non-profit Animal Justice. “However, animal protection laws in Canada are weak, vague, and under-enforced. This is a case in point. Business-as-usual in Canada’s animal farming system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Government must hold transporters accountable for routinely putting profit and convenience ahead of the basic needs of the vulnerable animals in their care.”

Pigs don’t have sweat glands and have no way to cool themselves in sweltering weather aboard unventilated metal trucks. Transport trucks aren’t equipped with fans or water sprinklers, but pigs are transported every day of the year regardless of weather.

Canada’s animal transport laws haven’t been updated in four decades and have been criticized by experts as being the worst in the western world. Pigs can be trucked for up to 36 hours without a break for rest, food or water. Government data show that in 2017, over 14,000 pigs arrived at slaughterhouses dead, having died en route.

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The footage can be seen here.

For more information, contact:

Cheryl Sobie
manitobaanimalsave@gmail.com

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

 

 

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