New Internationalist

The Facts

January 1991

new internationalist
issue 215 - January 1991




. Genetic structure: Humans share 99% of their genetic structure with chimpanzees.1

. Pain: Humans share the capacity to suffer and feel pain with all vertebrates (including fish).2

. Altruism: They share the capacity for altruistic behaviour with mammals such as elephants, whales and dolphins.2 Elephants will administer first aid to wounded companions, applying clay to staunch a flow of blood.3

. Communication: Humans communicate with one another - as do other animals, be it vocally, chemically or otherwise. Some non-human primates have even man- aged to learn human sign language.2

. Dexterity: Humans - like apes - are tool makers and users.2




Pets: Pet dogs were kept 30,000 years ago in the Canadian Yukon, and cats 9,000 years ago in the Middle East. Pet-keeping is most popular today in the Western world. North Americans spend $7.5 billion a year on pet-food and veterinary care - as much as India spends on education a year.4,5 But many pet own- ers lose interest. 30% of US dogs end their lives in shelters and 15 million cats and dogs have to be put down every year.6

Healers: Greeks and early Christians believed that pet animals had healing powers. The idea was revived in 1969 by US psychiatrist Boris Levinson who used pets for therapy to help bring out extremely withdrawn children.4

Sex objects: In Britain bestiality became a capital offence in 1534 and remained so until 1861. In 1679 a woman and a dog were hanged together for the offence on Tyburn Hill outside London. In the 1950s the Kinsey reports found that 8% of US males and 3% of females had had sex with an animal.4




Draught animals: There are 80 million in India with a power output equivalent to 30,000 megawatts.7 Working animals are valuable to farmers, who tend to look after the animals so that they may live long, productive lives.

Circus animals: Are also working animals, but totally deprived of dignity - either confined to small cages or forced to perform unnatural tricks in an alien environment.

Zoo animals: More than one million are kept in an estimated 5,000 zoos and menageries around the world.23




Humankind consumes around 140 million tonnes of meat a year - about 30 kilo-grams per person.7

[image, unknown]

Much of today's meat is produced by cruel, unhygienic factory farming methods:
. 90% of all meat in the US.6

. 90% of chicken and 55% of pigmeat in the UK.14

. 99% of pigmeat in Aotearoa (NZ).10

Many animals die in transit:
. Australia exports 7 million live sheep to the Middle East every year. 40,605 perished when the Farid Fares ship caught fire and sank in 1980.

. The Government of Aotearoa banned live sheep-exports after 4,450 out of 30,270 sheep died during a 19-day ocean journey to Iran, but lifted the ban in 1985.2

Meat production is a waste of food:
. Every steak a meat-eater eats could have provided enough food for five people who do not eat meat.16

. Ten hectares of land will support 61 people on a diet of soya beans, 24 on a diet of wheat, but only 2 on a diet of beef.15




Not Tested on Animals An estimated 200 million animals are subjected to painful experiments in laboratories around the world. They may be given electric shocks, injected with diseases or experimental drugs, subjected to toxic chemicals or radiation.'7 Few countries keep figures.

But estimates are:
US: 71 million
Japan: 20 million
UK: 3.5 million.17

In the UK over 70 per cent of experiments on animals are conducted with no anaesthetic.

Medical research: Experiments on animals for medical research are judged to be 71% unreliable.18

. If Penicillin - which has saved millions of human lives - had been tested on animals we would not have it now. It kills guinea pigs.

. Thalidomide - which causes severe disabilities in unborn children - passed animal safety tests. So did Opren - which has caused death in humans.19

Products testing: Unless they state otherwise, nearly all cosmetic and household products are tested on animals. Over 200,000 animals are used for this purpose worldwide. In the UK testing of raw ingredients and finished product claimed the lives of over 17,000 animals in 1989.20

Standard international tests are:
LD50 (Lethal Dose 50% Toxicity test): Animals are force-fed a product until half of them die. Most household products such as detergents are tested this way unless otherwise stated.

Draize eye test: Substances are dropped into the eye of rabbits for seven days, and the effects observed. Rabbits cannot blink - so the substance may eat away at the eye. Pain-killers are not usually used.

Draize skin test: Animals are shaved and substances are repeatedly applied to observe degree of blistering and burns.19




. 100 million animals are killed every year for their fur.20

. Only 1% of North American animals trapped for their fur are hunted by native people whose livelihood depends on hunting.20

. There were 100,000 tigers at the turn of the century. Now fewer than 8,000 remain in the wild.21

. Over 1,000 animal species are under threat of extinction, thanks largely to human actions. The world's elephant population has declined by 60 per cent in the past decade.3 The black rhinoceros population has declined from 65,000 in 1970 to under 3,000 today. And the blue whale population is now below 10,000- compared with an estimated pre-whaling population of 300,000.21

. In the UK bloodsports claim the lives of 63,000 foxes a year - at the average cost of £1,000 per fox. About 12 million pheasants and one million wildfowl are shot, also for sport.22



[image, unknown]
Peter Francis / CAMERA PRESS


. In the Italian province of South Tirol vivisection has been banned.

. Since 1989 Swedish law requires the registration of all laboratories using animals, prohibits the tethering of sows and demands the phasing out of battery cages for hens over a 10-year period.

. India, hitherto the biggest exporter of frogs legs (cut live from the animal), banned exports in 1985.

. US Federal officials cut off funding experiments on baboons at Dr Gennarellis laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, in 1985 after the US Animal Liberation Front raiders removed 60 hours of videotape showing baboons subjected to experimental head injuries - and experimenters laughing at their paralysed and mutilated victims.2

. International cosmetics firms Revlon, Avon, Estée Lauder and Max Factor have declared a ban on animal testing due to pressure from animal rights groups.

. In the UK vegetarianism amongst students and schoolchildren has doubled to one in six in the past year.15 In the US nearly nine million people now claim to be vegetarians. Women far outnumber men.6

. The number of animal welfare groups tripled in New South Wales, Australia, between 1975 and 1986.

. In Japan 10 Animal Rights candidates stood in parliamentary elections in 1986 and polled 181,940 votes.2

1 Humane Society of the United States.
2 Animal Revolution, Richard Ryder (Basil Blackwell 1989).
3 Sacred Elephant, Heathcote Williams (Jonathan Cape 1989).
4 In the Company of Animals, James Serpell (Basil Blackwell 1987).
5 World Military and Social Expenditures 1989, Ruth Leger Sivard (World Priorities 1990).
6 People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, US.
7 The Gaia Atlas of Planet Management, Norman Myers (Pan Books 1985).
8 United States Oepartment of Agriculture 1989 figures.
9 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1989 figures.
10 New Zealand Meat Board 1989 figures.
11 Statistics Canada 1989 figures.
12 UK Meat and Livestock Commission 1990 figures.
13 Compassion in World Farming, UK.
14 Vegetarian Society, UK.
15 Why You Don't Need Meat, Peter Cox (Thorsons 1986)
16 International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals.
17 Living Without Cruelty, Mark Gold (Green Print 1988).
18 British Union Against Animal Vivisection.
19 Lynx - Campaign Against the Fur Trade, UK.
20 World Wildlife Fund.
21 Standing Conference for Countryside Sports, UK.
22 Zoocheck, UK.
23 The Extended Circle, ed. Jon Wynne-Tyson (Centaur 1985).

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This feature was published in the January 1991 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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