It’s not just beagles – up to 100 million animals per year subjected to cruel tests

Mysteries

The transcription of the above interview between George Knapp and Wayne Pacelle can be found at the bottom of this article.


MYSTERY WIRE — Members of congress are expressing outrage over horrific animal tests conducted on dozens of beagles, allegedly with financial support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The controversy has political overtones, but animal welfare groups think it is also a learning opportunity about the true extent of cruel experiments that are required by law.

Current outrage involves dozens of beagles subjected to barbaric experiments carried out in Tunisia and allegedly funded by the NIH and approved by Dr. Fauci. NIH denies that it funded the beagle experiments.

The testing was highlighted by the group called the White Coat Waste Project and quickly went viral across social media. White Coat Waste Project was founded in 2013 by former Republican strategist Anthony Bellotti. His group released three blog posts in recent months.

The allegations have enraged dog lovers and members of congress, some of whom were already after Fauci. But some animal welfare groups are taking this moment as an opportunity to expose the scope of animal testing in the United States.

As many as 100 million animals per year are subjected to deadly experimentation. The exact numbers are not known because the law was changed to exempt labs from reporting experiments on many species.

Another federal law, one enacted in 1938, actually requires animal testing, regardless of whether such tests are even needed for companies developing drugs and other items.

“Under that statute, animal tests are required, absolutely mandated for every new drug,” Animal Wellness Action head Wayne Pacelle told Mystery Wire in a recent interview. “So an Alzheimer’s drug, a cancer drug, and an arthritis drug. Even if the animals don’t contract the disease, you’ve got to go through a battery of first rodent tests, and then other mammalian tests, typically with dogs and primates.”

According to Animal Wellness Action, baboons, cats, cows, dogs, ferrets, fish, frogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses, llamas, mice, monkeys (such as marmosets and macaques), owls, pigs, quail, rabbits, rats and sheep are all used for animal testing.

Pacelle and other advocates say most of the tens of millions of animals killed in cruel experiments died for nothing because the information obtained is mostly not applicable to humans.

“When we really look at the facts and the figures when it comes to new drug development, so this is just one category of animal tests, or for new drugs, the data show that, again, what we’re doing is we’re using animal testing to assess the safety of a drug and the effect of the effectiveness of it,” Pacelle said. “And after we do that, if it passes muster in the animal test, then it goes to human clinical trials. So the data show that in 19 of 20, cases, 19 of 20, when the drugs pass muster in the animal tests, and then they go to the human clinical trials, they fail in the human clinical trials.”

Animal Wellness Action is working with members of Congress to try and update the 1938 law. And according to Pacelle, so far this is a nonpartisan issue. In early October of 2021 Senators on both sides of the isle introduced the FDA Modernization Act to Eliminate Animal Testing Requirement for All New Drug Development Protocols.

“Whether it’s a Democrat in the White House that is overseeing the National Institutes of Health or Republican, these experiments, these tests have been going on forever,” Pacelle said. “I think the response now that we’re learning about it, both Democrats and Republicans want to address it. You know, in the Senate, we introduced this bill recently with senators Rand Paul, Mike Braun, John Kennedy, these are conservatives from very red states, with Cory Booker and Ben Ray Lujan, from blue states. This can be a bipartisan issue, it should be a bipartisan issue. The health of American citizens, the well being of animals, this should not be partisan. Every person who cares about the basic tenets of a civil society, decent treatment of animals, health and longevity for human citizens of our country. These are all noble pursuits, we should be able to figure out a way to advance our health imperatives without victimizing animals in this way.”

This bill is the companion to a bipartisan House bill, H.R. 2565, led by U.S. Reps. Vern Buchan, R-Fla., Elaine Luria, D-Virginia, Nancy Mace, R-S.C., Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., and Brendan Boyle, D-Pa.

According to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA, “almost 1 million animals are held captive in laboratories or used in experiments (excluding rats, mice, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and agricultural animals used in agricultural experiments), plus an estimated 100 million mice and rats.”

These numbers are backed up by government documents put out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The political fight for change is being ramped-up on social media. Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina sent a letter last week to Dr. Fauci writing that she and 23 other lawmakers want him to answer questions about this in a Congressional hearing.

Some political watchdog groups like PolitiFact have tried to drill down through the social media barrage and get answers. Politifact boiled it down to these three statements:

– A conservative watchdog group claimed over several recent blog posts that the public health agency led by Dr. Anthony Fauci has funded multiple research studies involving cruel treatment of beagles, prompting a letter of concern from lawmakers.

– The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that it did not fund one of the studies, which produced widely circulated photos showing dogs’ heads in mesh cages full of sand flies. The journal that published the study that erroneously claimed support from the NIAID has since issued a correction. So, the claims that Fauci funded a study that sedated and let beagles get eaten alive by flies are inaccurate.

– Two other studies testing potential vaccines and treatments for humans ended with the beagles in the study being euthanized. In one, the dogs also had their vocal cords cut. The NIAID said all animals used in NIH-funded research are protected by laws, regulations and policies that were followed in these studies.

politifact.com

The nonprofit group, Beagle Freedom Project, sent a letter to the NIH demanding the immediate end to funding testing using animals.


George Knapp
Wayne Pacelle, of course a lot of news, a lot of interest in Washington these days in the issue of animal testing because of this horrific experiment on dogs that was carried out out of the country, but which was funded and approved, I guess by Dr. Fauci’s organization. Can you share with us what you know about this particular experiment? I mean, all animal experiments are pretty horrible, but this was off the off the charts.

Wayne Pacelle
Yes, well, there’s some dispute about it, and whether the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases actually approved it. But the but the experiment that has been widely covered involves beagles, I have a beagle, so it’s very personal for me. They’re very gentle, sweet dogs. And it’s precisely because of that disposition that some of the experimenters use them. And it was for a drug development program and their heads were in a chamber with maggots and other insects, and they were vulnerable to the attacks of those insects. And, you know, it’s just ghoulish. And this is not anything new, though, George, this is very important to remember that the United States has been supporting this work through the National Institutes of Health, and its respective health subsidiaries, like the infectious diseases and allergies group for many, many decades. And what’s most important, I think, is that the US Food and Drug Administration under a 1938 statute called the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, that’s a statute that regulates cosmetics, drugs and food, you know, for safety purposes, something that’s a noble purpose. But under that statute, animal tests are required, absolutely mandated for every new drug. So an Alzheimer’s drug, a cancer drug, an arthritis drug. Even if the animals don’t contract the disease, you’ve got to go through a battery of first rodent tests, and then other mammalian tests, typically with dogs and primates. So George, we’re talking about all the pharmaceutical companies that are doing drug development, plus the United States through the National Institutes of Health and these other health related agencies that do drug development, the FDA tells every one of them under statute, you’ve got to use animals for testing.

George Knapp
Do you have a sense … I know it’s hard to tell what is in people’s hearts … but do you have a sense of whether the members of Congress who are pursuing this are interested in lopping off the doctor’s head or are they genuinely more interested in animal testing and animal welfare?

Wayne Pacelle
Well, I think that animal testing is one of those things that’s typically concealed. We don’t get a close look at it, because the folks doing it don’t want to publicize that primates are used or that beagles or other dogs are being used. So when it comes to light, it’s jarring emotionally. You know, dogs are members of our families, and for them to be subjected to ghastly experiments, where they’re attacked by insects, or, you know, they have some other terrible procedure that’s conducted on them, people like, Oh, my God, you know, I would never treat an animal that way. But then they think, in some cases, well, it’s been done for noble purposes, like human health, then maybe we’ve got to swallow it. But I’d say that feelings are quite conflicted about that. But the big takeaway is, you know, in 1938, when the statute was passed, that’s how we did safety testing for drugs, or that’s how we did effectiveness testing, because the government wants to find out two things. When it authorizes the use of a drug for consumers to use? Is it going to kill you? Or is it going to do something terrible to your health, and is it going to work? So safety and efficacy. In 1938 that’s the way we did safety and efficacy testing, we tormented animals. It’s 83 years later. I mean, think about the changes in telecommunications and transportation and other sectors of our society. It would be absurd or ridiculous to think we’ve been in a static pose. There are so many alternative methods that exist now. But the government mandate is keeping folks in place. There’s no incentive for these pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative, non animal methods if they’re required by the government to do this. Now, even though that has depressed innovation. There’s no question that dozens of alternative methods now exist. And there’s federal legislation that’s been introduced to eliminate this archaic mandate and allow the best science to be used.

George Knapp
Well, whether this isn’t a headhunting operation out to get Dr. Fauci or legitimate interest in the horrific experiments that are conducted. It has brought attention to this. It’s a moment of opportunity for organizations like yours, I would think.

Wayne Pacelle
Well, it’s a nonpartisan issue, right. I mean, whether it’s a Democrat in the White House that is overseeing the National Institutes of Health or Republican, these experiments, these tests have been going on forever. And I think the response now that we’re learning about it, both Democrats and Republicans want to address it. You know, in the Senate, we introduced this bill recently with senators Rand Paul, Mike Braun, John Kennedy, these are conservatives from very red states, with Cory Booker and Ben Ray Lujan, from blue states. This can be a bipartisan issue, it should be a bipartisan issue. The health of American citizens, the well being of animals, this should not be partisan. Every person who cares about the basic tenets of a civil society, decent treatment of animals, health and longevity for human citizens of our country. These are all noble pursuits, we should be able to figure out a way to advance our health imperatives without victimizing animals in this way.

George Knapp
Let’s speak for a minute about the advisability and the value of these tests in general, I mean, putting bugs to eat the brains of beagles does not sound like an experiment that helps humans in any way. Can you characterize the animal testing and experimentation in general? Is it even legitimate? How often is it useful in teaching us something that can protect the health of human beings?

Wayne Pacelle
Well, listen, if you put if you put enough quarters in the slot machine, you know, eventually, you’re gonna get some yield, you’re gonna lose a lot of money, it’s not a very efficient way to handle your money, but you’ll get something out of it. But when we really look at the facts and the figures when it comes to new drug development, so this is just one category of animal tests, or for new drugs, the data show that, again, what we’re doing is we’re using animal testing to assess the safety of a drug and the effect of the effectiveness of it. And after we do that, if it passes muster in the animal test, then it goes to human clinical trials. So the data show that in 19 of 20, cases, 19 of 20, when the drugs pass muster in the animal tests, and then they go to the human clinical trials, they fail in the human clinical trials. Now, you know, in baseball, the World Series is on now, if a hitter, you know gets a hit three of every 10 at bats, he’s an all star, that’s the standard of success. But if you’re in basketball and you’re a free throw shooter, if you don’t make eight out of 10, you know, you’re a brick layer. Should we accept a standard of 19 of 20 failures when it comes to testing these drugs? You know, we we have to snicker when we see these drug commercials where they have beautiful families talking about the newest drug, and then the music is beautiful. And then the narrator you know, then lists, well, you could swallow your tongue, you could have depression and kill yourself. I mean, there are so many side effects of these drugs. The system is not working. We should be using 21st century technology. Why are we tormenting beagles and primates when they’re not giving us predictive results for the human response to these drugs? These are tests that are showing animals response to a drug, not the human response with drug. That’s why we have people, we have safety protocols, and we already use people in these human clinical trials. And that’s the way to do it along with these new 21st century technologies to screen before we go to human clinical trials.

George Knapp
Can you describe the numbers, the scope of animal testing that’s allowed in the US? I’ve seen anywhere from 25 million to 100 million a year? That’s a lot of animals and the kinds of animals. It’s not just dogs, it’s all kinds of different species.

Wayne Pacelle
Well, in 2000, the Congress passed an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act to stop counting mice, rats and birds, and to forbid their coverage under the protective standards of the Animal Welfare Act. And these are not very protected standards, but it’s basic housekeeping, you know, give them water and give them food, don’t torment them unnecessarily. So we don’t even count them so there’s no actual estimate. So you’ve got the government spending billions of dollars supporting academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies. And that, you know, is just a huge number of animals. Then you’ve got the private industry testing. So there’s cosmetics. There’s chemical testing to assess whether the chemicals are toxic in the products that are in our lives in so many so many places, then there’s the new drug development, which is the category that I think and the data show is the largest category of animals used in testing purposes. I think it’s certainly millions, George. And here we have a case where we are continuing to subject animals in a mandatory fashion. So if the NIH says we’re going to support a drug development protocol, you’ve got to use animals. If it goes to Merck, or to Pfizer, you’ve got to use animals. This is lunacy. I mean, we have a framework that academic institutions, pharmaceuticals, government agencies have all blessed. It’s called the three R’s, refinement of techniques to minimize pain or distress to the animals, reduction in the number of animals if you had 20, in a protocol, and you could use 10, you have a moral imperative to reduce the number. And the third one is replace, when you’ve got a non animal testing method, use it in favor of the animal test, all of these different agencies have blessed it, the problem is they’re not applying it. And the statute is forbidding the application of the three R’s principle, at least on the replacement side, because we’re using animal tests, even when we have these new strategies like lung on a chip, or heart on a chip, where we’re using human cells in a sophisticated arrangement to do testing for safety and efficacy on these new drugs. That’s why our FDA Modernization Act, which has bipartisan support, has the support of many of the most innovative scientists who are using these methods now in saying, Hey, why are we using a horse and buggy when we could be, you know, using a streamlined Tesla vehicle, we just must embrace innovation and accept technology and not have an archaic statute that is requiring the government to tell you that you’ve got to use these tests, even though it’s wasteful of life wasteful of money, and frankly, George, it’s driving up drug prices, it’s delaying the delivery of drugs in the marketplace to people who need them. And it’s also a barrier because it costs one to $6 billion for a company on the front end to invest money in a new drug. That means that the companies have to look at drugs that are going to have some commercial value, that a lot of people are getting sick from them. If the price of entry for drug development were lower, they might develop drugs to help other people who have afflictions that are a little less common than some of these big ticket items.

George Knapp
In addition to testing, supposedly, for the good of human health, which does not work. There’s other testing that takes place. You and I have spoken about before about the USDA, they had a lab that conducted pretty horrible experiments. I don’t know if that’s still open or not.

Wayne Pacelle
Oh, yes, there are multiple US Department of Agriculture Research Facilities. There was one in 2015 that made national news because they were essentially tormenting farm animals in order to just make agriculture even more intensive. And this was done, the government was basically doing experiments to essentially increase the factory farming intensity. Now, this is not a human life situation. You could say, well, it’s food production. Well, we know that a lot of these factory farms are terrible for efficient use of food resources. So it’s even a real stretch for them to argue in that way. In fact, the guy who blew the whistle on this in Nebraska, at the US Meat Animal Research Center now works for Animal Wellness Action. He’s a PhD epidemiologist and a veterinarian, and he was so sickened by these ghastly experiments that he called them out. And the expose appeared on the front page of The New York Times.

George Knapp
Let’s speak in a bigger terms about animal welfare in the world. We’re in the middle of mass extinctions, mass extinctions, 1000s, maybe 10s of 1000s of species are on the edge. And yet the at the same time, the number of animals in the wild is dwindling. The number of animals in private hands, livestock animals has exploded. It seems like we’re headed for trouble in that trend?

Wayne Pacelle
Well, it’s an amazing moment in the history of human civilization, that domestication which you know, started around 10 – 12,000 years ago, we now have more large domesticated animals in terms of, you know, not talking every kind of animal but the cattle and the pigs and the sheep. We have more of them than we have of the antelope and the other hoofed animals, the deer and the elk, the wildabeast. If you add all of those large mammals up in the wild, they now do not exceed in number, the domesticated animals that we raised for food. So we’ve got a little more than 7 billion people on the planet, we’re raising 10s of billions of these animals for human consumption. And they are stepping on soil and desertifying landscapes, they are consuming vast amounts of water, they’re leaving tremendous waste behind on the factory farms, you know, we give them antibiotics and hormones that then, you know, come back and rebound against us. They’re fed crops in so many cases, some of them are foraging on grassland, but many of them are fed corn, and soybeans, which are then inefficiently converted as plant matter into animal protein. So if you travel around Indiana and Iowa, you know, 80 – 85% of the corn and soybeans that you see are headed for the mouths of animals, not for people. If we ate more plants directly, that would be so much more efficient, we’d have to produce much less in the way of these vegetable crops, these grain crops. And it’s just a very inefficient way to do a food system. We’ve been addicted to meat for a long time. It’s been a big part of the human experience for time immemorial. But, you know, the per capita consumption in the United States is incredible. And, you know, we know that heart disease is correlated with heavy consumption of animal products. We know that certain forms of cancer are correlated. We know it’s an inefficient use of our plant crops, we know it’s a big contributor to climate change, we know that there are almost no regulations governing the humane treatment of these animals, even in the slaughterhouses. And it’s an inhumane end for these animals, as well as an inhumane life for those who are on factory farms. I mean, the intellectual and logical case against factory farming in particular, I think, is so compelling, we’re seeing a switch in public consciousness about this, we all need to think about our food choices, you know, the choices that we make have immense consequences for animals and the planet.

George Knapp
You know, what I’ve written about dangers to this species or that, putting them on the edge of extinction, the response I get from some people is, what’s the big deal, every species goes extinct at some point. But the rate of change that’s happening now, the vast waves of extinction that’s underway, it affects us, it affects our long term prospects for longevity. And you see the Amazon rainforest, the lungs of the world, being wiped out just 10s of 1000s of acres at a time so they have more room to grow cattle. It just seems like at some point, humans wake up to it. This is our survival, not just animal species survival.

Wayne Pacelle
Well, listen, we’re all learning about weather events and climate trends that are desert defying areas. We’re learning about flooding that occurs that other times, we’re learning about sea rise and coastal areas that could swamp some of the most valuable properties we have in our states. I mean, farmers are dealing with drought and other problems. I mean, this is a matter of self interest at some level for human beings. I mean, we we can deny all we want, or we can say, well, this is a natural process, but we’re accentuating it, and we’re accelerating it. And I think that’s the issue. And of course, we have to rely on our government to negotiate agreements, multilateral agreements with other countries, it’s important that countries don’t opt out. We’re all on this small planet together. But we also can do things in our lives that also reflect a consciousness about this by eating lower on the on the trophic scale for foods, eating more plant based foods, it’s better for us as individuals, it’s certainly better for animals, it’s better for wildlife. I mean, think of all of those crops that millions of acres planted of soybean and corn to feed to animals. I we had some of that prairie allowed to grow you can have bison and you can have elk and can have prairie dogs, you can have those intact ecosystems. We have preserved national parks and national forests. So we’ve done an admirable job in preserving our public lands, but Increasingly we recognize that those are smaller areas and ecosystems. You need larger spaces for animals to migrate and move and to have ecological processes move forward. And, you know, I think it is enlightened self interest, but it’s also just part of our humanity to recognize that other species matter. Other animals give us great joy, whether they’re domesticated animals in our lives, or they’re wild animals in their native habitats. There’s a reason that we have more than 300 million visits to America’s national parks, people go to see the beautiful landscapes, the mountains, the rivers, the glaciers, but they also go to see the living community, the biotic community, they love to see bison. In Yellowstone, people love to see wolves. Why states are slaughtering wolves. At this time, when we know so much about their ecological effect in helping ecosystems. You know, it’s downstream, but they reduce erosion because they limit the elk populations. And that limits grazing and it means that grasses can flourish. And there’s less sediment that flows into rivers, which makes them you know, murky and destroy some of the life promoting qualities of the rivers. These are all connected issues. The first notion is Aldo Leopold said, of intelligent tinkering is to keep all the parts, we need to keep all the parts and to lose an elephant as a species in our lifetime, or the Bengal tiger, what a condemnation of our era if that happens. I mean, we are custodians, and we are keepers. I don’t understand why anyone would think that this is not a moral calamity, to lose the species.

George Knapp
A lot of these species have better PR, than others, you know, polar bears, I think people see that as oh, gosh, that’s a tragedy, they’re going to go away. Nothing we could do about it, you know, when we are in fact, directly related to it. Our activity is hastening that extinction. Koalas are in trouble. But for every one of those that we know about, there’s smaller species, birds, insects, amphibians, invertebrates of all kinds that are disappearing. And each time they disappear, it affects something else in the food chain in the nature of life. Right?

Wayne Pacelle
We’ve never been alone on this planet. You know, we as a species have always interacted with animals, animals have always been at the center of the human experience. We enjoy these animals that are important for our own health and well being emotional, as well as just the systems of life, the water, the soil, the air, all of these things count and they matter. And again, you know, we’re trudging forward at times thoughtlessly, raising habitats. I mean, to destroy the Amazon, which is the lungs of the planet is just a self destructive activity for us. You know, we can only take so much, people think that this planet is so durable, it is durable, in terms of the hardness of the crust, and what’s below it, the mantle on the core, but there’s a thin, fragile zone of life on the surface of our planet, between the surface going down a few feet, all the way to the atmosphere. And we have done damage to it. We continue to do damage to it. But it’s not too late for us. And I think this is where we have to have good policymakers who advocate for sensible laws to constrain the worst excesses of human behavior. And I think we have to live our lives in a way that’s conscious, not throwing so much plastic out there. Not eating as much meat, not spewing so many pollutants into the environment. It’s one small planet, you know, 7 billion of us that’s a lot on a planet that has 70% of its surface that’s covered by water, and of the of the landmass, not all of its arable. I mean, we’re we’re stressing the system here.

George Knapp
Could you speak for a moment about the wolves first. AWA scored a pretty big victory here in getting a judge to rule to stop, was it Wisconsin, to stop the wolf slaughter.

Wayne Pacelle
President Trump, just days before the November 2020 general election where he lost to Biden sent his interior secretary to the Great Lakes region to announce a delisting of wolves. To remove wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species did so because there are some wolf hating rural communities in these states that are swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin. Some of the ranchers don’t like wolves. Hunters want an opportunity to kill them and shoot them. And they did that and then the wolves were taken off the list officially in January, and Wisconsin, Idaho and Montana basically said we’re going to allow seasons 90% of the 1500 wolves in Idaho are set to be killed this fall. 85% of the wolves in Montana and about half the wolves in Wisconsin. So Animal Wellness Action sued in state court and won just this past Friday, to forbid wolf hunting this year and into 2022. And we hope to extend that. That has protected a whole bunch of wolves. But now we’ve got the threats that are looming from Montana and Idaho and we’re appealing to interior secretary Holland, the first Native American secretary, who has not said a width about these terrible plans in Idaho and Montana and Wisconsin have hatched, not doing anything. Tribal leaders are meeting with her very soon to urge her to take action because the wolf has a central place in Native American cultures throughout the United States, it’s part of the creation stories, that’s a brother. And these wolves are being killed for trophies, they’re being killed with neck snares, they’re being killed with steel jawline traps. And in February when Wisconsin had an outrageous winter hunt, 86% of the wolves were killed with the aid of packs of dogs. So you had packs of dogs chasing packs of wolves, fights emerged like an animal fight situation, and the hunter would come in and shoot a wolf or multiple wolves. I mean, it’s as dastardly and horrible as you can imagine. I’m very proud that we took this case and I’m glad we drew a sensible judge in Wisconsin to stop this mayhem.

George Knapp
Here in Nevada, our state wildlife folks gave thumbs up to a bear hunt. You look at bears in the west over the last couple of years and this terrible drought that’s just devastated them and all kinds of wildlife. And then the fires this past summer that wiped out habitat, killed a bunch of bears and now the remaining bears already scared and health wise debilitated. We’re gonna go shoot them. It’s just unbelievable.

Wayne Pacelle
Well, as you say, the cumulative effects of our behaviors, you know, combined with these perturbations in climate. The animals are struggling to survive. I mean, drought affects wildlife, right? These are not autonomons, are not machines, they need water to drink, they need food to eat, they need space to live, the bears are terribly stressed. And then to send these these trophy hunters out to kill them. People don’t need this food. They don’t need bear meat to survive. Many of the hunters probably don’t even eat the bear meat. It’s a trophy hunting exercise in a state that really doesn’t have that many bears. You have small areas of mountains that are inhabited by bears in Nevada, and why would we permit them to be hunted? I mean, my God, we’ve got to get past this era of trophy hunting. It’s one thing if you’re gonna kill a deer and consume it. If you’re deciding to eat meat. It’s another thing to kill a wolf, who is inedible, a mountain lion inedible, and bears barely edible. It’s just something that is is mystifying to me. Why someone would take pleasure in killing a magnificent animal is really beyond me.

George Knapp
One other question, then we’ll wrap up. Mink. AWA has a campaign to end mink farming or at least to change it. Can you speak about that and why it is directly related to human health and future pandemics?

Wayne Pacelle
We are we are really really urgently advocating the Congress to ban all mink farming in the United States. It’s a terrible example of factory farming applied to wild animals. Mink are solitary, aggressive, carnivorous animals. They defend their territory against other mink, yet they’re bunched together on a factory farm with multiple mink and a cage, George the horror of seeing them attack each other with some of them, the weaker animals just giving up and the others cannibalizing them is something that I’ll never forget. So just on the issue of the inhumane living conditions in the social aggression, it’s disqualified. When you then think of the luxury product that we don’t consume this product anymore in the United States, because we’re getting past the use of animals for fur and we’re exporting almost all of these pelts to China and South Korea for a thin strata of elites to consume these mink coats, it becomes all the more untenable. And then the third reason and the reason that this has come up at the national level, is that mink are uniquely susceptible to the Coronavirus. They’re a bilateral transmitter of the virus which means that they can get the virus from people and they can spill it back. There have been 450 mink farms in the United States and Europe that have an outbreak of the Coronavirus. And in three cases, a variant has developed at the mink mart. Because when 1000s of mink on a factory farm are infected, and it courses through the population very quickly, they all get infected. That means that many more possibilities for a mutation. And that’s how a variant form. So we’re playing Russian roulette with zoonotic diseases, a new variant could emerge from a mink farm has it’s done in France, Denmark, and Michigan, and this could eclipse the vaccines that we’re now using to inoculate people against the virus. I mean, the virus almost certainly started at a live wildlife market in China. And this was a cautionary tale for us to stop bringing wild animals into our midst, keeping them terribly inhumane conditions, stressing them, and allowing interactions between people and those animals. That’s what we’re doing on mink farms. It’s the mink farm workers who interact with the mink, who then spread it to their family members and friends. And that’s how it ricochets all over the world.

George Knapp
Circle back around where we started, whether members of Congress are interested in chopping off the head of Dr. Fauci or are legitimately interested in the abuses of animal testing, or both. This is a moment of opportunity for organizations like yours, AWA.

Wayne Pacelle
You know, the, the pressure that Republicans are bringing on Dr. Fauci is probably motivated by their dislike of Dr. Fauci. But this precedes him. There is a larger issue, if you solve it with Dr. Fauci. It does not solve the larger problem. We’ve been using beagles and primates in experiments. We have a government statute, a federal statute that mandates that the government dictate to private companies that they’ve got to use animals. This is a depression era statute. We have 21st century technologies. It’s in our interest in terms of public health imperatives to use the best testing methods, not to be poisoning, beagles or primates.

George Knapp
Wayne, thank you very much. Always great to talk to you.

Wayne Pacelle
George. Thank you so much.

Recorded Oct. 27, 2021

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