tagged w/ Veganism = Animal Rights
Plans to overturn the 25-year old global ban on commercial whaling in return for reducing the numbers of whales killed each year were in confusion today with governments and groups divided.
The 88 countries who are members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) today agreed to meet in closed session for two days in Agadir, Morocco, to decide whether to adopt a draft plan which would allow Norway, Iceland and Japan to legally hunt whales around Antarctica and elsewhere for 10 years in exchange for a gradual drop in the number killed.
The EU, led by Britain, adopted a common negotiating position at the weekend which rules against the resumption of any commercial whaling. But the US and New Zealand have continued to strongly back the package of measures proposed by the chair of the IWC.
In a move that took many people by surprise, three of the world's largest international non-government groups, Greenpeace, WWF and the Pew Environment Group, today said they were prepared to see commercial whaling resumed if six conditions were met.
In a joint statement they demanded: an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean; an end to trade in whale meat and products; the elimination of unilaterally decided whaling quotas; an end to hunts of endangered whale species; putting science at the centre of IWC decisions and prevention of objections or reservations by IWC members if the moratorium is lifted.
"I urge the negotiators to take political risks to improve the current proposal, end the decades of IWC deadlock and bring it into the 21st century. The meeting in Agadir can and must save whales, not whaling industries reliant on bribery and embezzlement for survival," said Junichi Sato, programme director of Greenpeace Japan.
But this was immediately rejected by many other environment groups including the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the International Fund for Animal Welfare who said they were not willing to accept any return to commercial whaling.
"This weakens the EU position. It would be a fundamental mistake now to reward those three whaling nations who have continued to ignore the international consensus on commercial whaling and are opposed by millions of people around the world," said Nikki Entrup of WDCS.
"What kind of message does that give out to countries like Korea who used to whale? I urge Greenpeace to withdraw their position. They want to do the right thing in principle but more whales are killed in the northern hemisphere than in the south," he said.
Whaling kills up to 2,000 whales a year, including species on the verge of extinction. Since the ban was introduced 25 years ago, approximately 33,000 whales have been killed, according to the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington.
But there are fears that if no agreement is reached, the IWC as an organisation could collapse. The meeting in Agadir ends on Friday 25 June.Plans to overturn the 25-year old global ban on commercial whaling in return for... more
Attempts to agree a compromise between whaling nations and their opponents at the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) annual meeting have failed.
After two days of private discussions, delegates reported they had been unable to reach agreement on major issues.
The deal would have put whaling by Iceland, Japan and Norway under international oversight for 10 years.
Talks on the "peace process" have been going on for two years, and a further year's "cooling-off period" is likely.
The path forwards now is unclear. Many delegates are asking whether there is any point in leaving the issue open for a further year; if agreement is impossible, they suggest it would be better to face up to the fact now.
Opting for more time would "raise the question of the commission's credibility," said Remi Parmentier, senior policy adviser to the Pew Environment Group, which has been one of the organisations backing the exploration of compromise.
But there may also be a reluctance to leave the more constructive tone of the previous two years behind, and risk a return to the acrimony that formerly characterised the IWC.
However, other anti-whaling groups were pleased that their governments did not accept the draft agreement, as in their view it would have legitimised the whaling programmes of Iceland, Japan and Norway.
"Had this deal lived, it would have lived in infamy," said Patrick Ramage, head of the International Fund for Animal Welfare's (IFAW) whales programme.
"There may be a cooling-off period in the IWC, but meanwhile the whalers will be in hot pursuit of their prey."Attempts to agree a compromise between whaling nations and their opponents at the... more
What a F******* Disgrace, poor sack of SH*T, LESS THAN A HUMAN BEING A**HOLE!!!!
to shoot a dog because he couldn't handle him?? and because he couldn't wait for the people with expertise?????
http://www.machovideo.com/video/Nonthreatening_dog_shot_19170/What a F******* Disgrace, poor sack of SH*T, LESS THAN A HUMAN BEING A**HOLE!!!!... more
2 years ago
Animal rights advocates' video claims electric prod was used on horses at the College National Finals Rodeo in Wyoming to make them buck.
The animal rights group, SHARK, has posted a video on YouTube showing a man allegedly shocking two different horses to force them to buck during the June 17, 2010 performance of the College National Finals Rodeo in Wyoming.
SHARK Obtains Undercover Video
Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK, claim its investigators obtained undercover video documentation of horses being secretly shocked to make them buck.
A press release issued by SHARK states the man shocking the horses quickly slid his sleeve over the device, hiding it from view.
“He was fast, but not fast enough for our cameras,” the press release read.
The video appears to show a young man wearing a long-sleeve tan shirt and black hat with his hands on the horses' necks and pulling them quickly away. In all scenes, he immediately tucks a device under his unbuttoned sleeve.
In the first and second scenes, the slow-motion versions of the video show the man holding in his left hand what appears to be an electrical device. In the third scene, he is shown stuffing the device in his left front pocket.
Steve Hindi, president of SHARK, said the device is a Miller Manufacturing Hot-Shot Power-mite electric prod.
Rodeo Representatives Say Devices are Safe
In a June 18, 2010 press release, College National Finals Rodeo spokeswoman Susan Kanode maintained that the "safety and the welfare of animal and human athletes is of the highest concern to the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.”
Kanode maintained that the use of prods is acceptable where the animal’s safety is a concern as in the case of a horse stalling in the bucking chute.
"These 'humane' rules are a public relations scam," countered Hindi. “If a horse is a known chute-staller, it should not be permitted at a finals rodeo event in the first place.”
Hindi Says Pain Factor Ignored
Hindi has been following rodeo for 16 years, although he's never competed, he said, adding this is SHARK's first visit to the CNFR. He said the practice of using electric prods on horses runs throughout rodeo, and the sports associations don't want to own up to the pain they can cause.
Hindi maintained that Miller Manufacturing’s company officials have told him that the device should not be used on horses or at rodeos.
Two years ago, Hindi and SHARK applauded Cheyenne Frontier Days for tightening its rules on the use of hand-held electric shock devices on horses by posting similar videos on YouTube.
College National Finals Rodeo.com, Accessed June 18, 2010
Shark Online.com, "Shark Busts Another Rodeo", Accessed June 18, 201
http://www.sankeyprorodeo.com/images/Logos&Misc/Houdini.jpgAnimal rights advocates' video claims electric prod was used on horses at the... more
Take a deep breath and imagine the oceans.... This disturbing video is a short Greenpeace documentary outlining the threats that humans pose to our oceans and a proposal for what we ALL can do to help restore their health.Take a deep breath and imagine the oceans.... This disturbing video is a short... more
Opponents of bullfighting call it barbaric. Proponents defend it on grounds of tradition, and they suspect their rivals have an ulterior motive: to assert regional identity and separatism.
By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
June 17, 2010 | 2:08 p.m.
Reporting from Barcelona, Spain —
Fans laid on a hero's welcome when Jose Tomas made a triumphal return to professional bullfighting in Barcelona three years ago, ending a much-lamented retirement.
But when Tomas arrives here next month for another comeback of sorts — one of his first engagements since being badly gored in Mexico in April — the celebrated matador could find himself in quite a different position: as an outlaw.
Regional lawmakers are expected to decide soon whether to abolish bullfighting once and for all here in Catalonia. Signs indicate they'll vote yes, which would make this northeastern coastal region the first on the Spanish mainland to approve such a ban.
It's about time, backers say, that Catalonia got rid of a cruel and bloody sport that essentially makes a virtue of the torture and killing of a captive animal.
But opponents of the ban suspect the stated concern for animal welfare is a smokescreen for a more political aim: thumbing a nose at the rest of Spain, in an assertion of Catalonian identity and nationalist aspiration.
The debate has stoked regional tensions in a country where such divisions can be a combustible mix, occasionally transmuting into separatist violence — for example, in the Basque area. Although Catalonia doesn't have the same history of violent separatism, plenty of people here see themselves as different from "the Spanish" and yearn for independence.
The anti-bullfighting campaign has sparked an angry backlash in Madrid, Valencia and Murcia, whose governments have moved to declare the sport a cultural landmark, a status that could give organizers tax breaks and other special protections.
"Bullfighting was a source of inspiration for Goya, Picasso, Garcia Lorca, Hemingway and Orson Welles," Esperanza Aguirre, the head of Madrid's regional government, told reporters recently, posing with a pink matador's cape. "It's an art that has been in our culture for as long as we can remember."
Bullfight reviews routinely turn up on the arts pages of Spanish newspapers, and when a dashing torero like Tomas steps into the arena, exhibiting a daredevil yet classical style seldom seen anymore, aficionados speak in hushed tones about a mystical experience.
Animal rights activists have little patience for talk of culture and tradition. To them, the dashing gold matador outfits and the romantic aura built up around bullfighting are merely ways of dressing up ritualized cruelty.
"We think it's a shame for a country to have a symbol like that," said Manel Macia Gallemi of the organization Prou ("Enough" in Catalan), which has led the drive for a ban. "Spanish traditional culture has flamenco and other things you don't have to be ashamed of."
Macia Gallemi noted that opposition to bullfighting isn't just a Catalonian phenomenon. In Madrid, a bullfighting protest in March drew thousands of demonstrators toting placards with slogans such as "Torture is not culture."
And plenty of Catalonians themselves have been enthusiastic followers of bullfighting.
"It's true, in the past Catalonia liked bullfighting more than now. My grandfather was an example," Macia Gallemi said. "It was a kind of popular entertainment, because they had no other distractions."
But society and notions of ethical treatment of animals have moved on, and bullfighting should follow activities such as bear-baiting to the dustbin of history, activists say.
Their petition to ban the sport drew 180,000 signatures. That was three times more than the number necessary to land the petition in the Catalonian regional assembly, forcing lawmakers to vote on whether to initiate legislation.
The issue was so sensitive that for the first time in memory, lawmaker David Perez said, the chamber turned off the electronic voting board so that "no one would feel scared."
Perez, a member of the left-leaning Socialist Party, opposes abolition.
"It's unfair to ban everything that you personally don't like," he said.
Plus, the proposal to end bullfighting ignores other traditions that could also be deemed cruel, including the practice during some rural festivals of attaching flaming torches to bulls' horns.
To Perez, that silence is proof of inconsistency, and an ulterior motive.
"It wasn't a question of animal suffering or animal abuse. It was a question of Catalan identity," he said.
In fact, the real enemy of bullfighting may not be animal rights activists or Catalonian nationalists but time. Except for the adoring crowds that Tomas, the star matador, can draw, the audience for bullfights has been steadily dwindling. Barcelona's main bullring, the Plaza Monumental, often struggles to fill even half its seats.
The coup de grace for bullfighting may therefore end up being delivered not by outright hostility but, instead, by casual indifference.Opponents of bullfighting call it barbaric. Proponents defend it on grounds of... more
Buras, Louisiana (CNN) -- The sign out front points the way: birds, please enter to the right; humans, enter on the left.
Huddled in a pen and covered in brown streaks of oil, a dozen pelicans await treatment after exposure to the pools of crude on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
Increasing numbers of birds are arriving at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in this coastal Louisiana town as the environmental disaster in the Gulf stretches on. At least 50 birds were treated on Tuesday alone.
Wildlife workers say the birds get oiled when diving for fish. Their efforts at preening sometimes worsen the coating of crude on their feathers.
The lucky ones are found by state workers and volunteers in time to save their lives.
"The animals that are coming in are covered in oil," the center's Rebecca Dunne says. "But they are pretty healthy animals. So that makes us feel like like we have a chance to save them. We have been pretty successful so far."
While around 200 birds have been dead on arrival at the center, so far none of the 400 birds brought in alive have died.
But not all of them express their gratitude.
"If you let 'em loose, they'll bite ya," says one volunteer holding shut the bill of a brown bird tucked under his arm.
New arrivals get a physical, and a day to "de-stress." Next, it's time for a scrubbing. They're washed with Dawn soap, rinsed and dried.
Finally, it's out to the aviary pens out back -- labeled "pelican island" -- where they are kept for observation and recovery.
On Tuesday, top football stars from the Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints came out to thank the center's volunteers.
"It's all about doing whatever we can down here in south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, to help these people come back," quarterback Drew Brees told CNN's John King.
After rehab, the birds are scheduled for release in Florida, where they are less likely to repeat their run-in with the spilled oil.
But not all birds are so lucky.
"For every bird they rescue, there are other birds that are oiled, but that they couldn't rescue," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says. "That is what is so heartbreaking to the people of Louisiana."
The latest Consolidated Fish and Wildlife Collection report says 380 oiled birds and 50 sea turtles have been rescued; 594 birds and 250 sea turtles have been found dead.
For better or for worse, more birds are being found and brought in each day. Workers are planning to build eight more receiving pens in the coming days to handle the increasing influx of winged guests.Buras, Louisiana (CNN) -- The sign out front points the way: birds, please enter to... more
2 years ago
In a groundbreaking legal settlement, the EPA has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution.
June 3, 2010
Photo Credit: Farm Sanctuary
In a legal settlement that could affect the entire U.S. meat industry, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution with animal waste.
The settlement requires the agency to propose a rule on greater information gathering on factory farms within the next 12 months. It will require the approximately 20,000 domestic factory farms to report such information as how they dispose of manure and other animal waste.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance filed the suit in 2009 over a rule that exempted thousands of factory farms from taking steps to minimize water pollution from the animal waste they generate.
"Thousands of factory farm polluters threaten America's water with animal waste, bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make people sick," said Jon Devine, an attorney with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.
"Many of these massive facilities are flying completely under the radar. EPA doesn't even know where they are," said Devine.
More than 30 years ago, Congress identified factory farms as water pollution sources to be regulated under the Clean Water Act's permit program.
But under a Bush administration regulation challenged by the environmental groups in this lawsuit, large facilities were able to escape government regulation by claiming, without government verification, that they do not discharge into waterways protected by the Clean Water Act.
Under the settlement reached May 26, the EPA will initiate a new national effort to track down factory farms operating without permits and determine if they must be regulated.
The specific information that EPA will require from individual facilities will be determined after a period of public comment. But the results of that investigation will enable the agency and the public to create stronger pollution controls in the future and make sure facilities are complying with current rules.
"The EPA's rules have failed to protect our rivers and lakes from polluting factory farms," said Ed Hopkins, director of Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program. "Gathering more information to document factory farms' pollution will lay the groundwork for better protection of our waters."
The National Pork Producers Council expressed "deep frustration and anger" over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's continuing efforts "to develop costly agricultural regulations that provide few if any additional environmental benefits."
"With this one-sided settlement, EPA yanked the rug out from under America's livestock farmers," said Michael Formica, NPPC's chief environmental counsel. "NPPC is looking at all appropriate legal responses to EPA's disappointing course of action."
Factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs, confine animals on an industrial scale and produce massive amounts of manure and other waste that can pollute waterways with dangerous contaminants.
These CAFOs apply liquid animal waste on land, which runs off into waterways, killing fish, spreading disease, and contaminating drinking water. The plaintiff groups cite EPA estimates that pathogens, such as E. coli, are responsible for 35 percent of the nation's impaired river and stream miles, and factory farms are one of the most common pathogen sources.
"This agreement sets the stage for new Clean Water Act permitting measures that will add to producers' costs, drive more farmers out of business, increase concentration in livestock production to comply and hurt rural economies," said Randy Spronk, a Minnesota pork producer who heads NPPC's environmental committee. "And the measures will do nothing really to improve water quality.
"Additionally," said Spronk, "the settlement was negotiated in private and without consultation or input from the regulated farming community. This flies in the face of the Obama administration's pledges to operate government more transparently. And, in this economy, the administration should be enacting measures that create jobs, not implementing regulations that put American farmers out of business."
Today there are more than 67,000 pork operations compared with nearly three million in the 1950s. Farms have grown in size; 53 percent of them now produce 5,000 or more pigs per year.
"The record is clear -- large CAFO operations, and many medium and small operations, commonly discharge pollutants into the surrounding environment," said Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Hannah Connor. "What is also clear is that if we want to continue to drink, fish and enjoy water that is not contaminated with raw animal excrement, these discharges must be stopped."
"We believe that the terms of this settlement will help reverse this industry's history of bad behavior by improving implementation and enforcement of the law," Connor said.
Litigation brought by these three groups has forced the EPA to revise its CAFO rules twice within the past decade to tighten the pollution control requirements on these facilities.In a groundbreaking legal settlement, the EPA has agreed to identify and investigate... more
If you’ve ever wondered about the historical background of whale hunting in Japan, contemporary Japanese attitudes towards whaling or wanted an overview of this controversial issue, check out the following two part video report from Al Jazeera English.
Part one of the report gives a basic summary of the economic, cultural, societal and historical aspects of whaling in Japan. In part two (in COMMENTS section below), 101 East reporter Fauziah Ibrahim discusses issues of sustainability, culture, sovereignty, legality and allegations of corruption surrounding the whale hunt with Japan’s former whaling commissioner and a representative of Greenpeace Japan.
http://www.greenfudge.org/2010/06/12/video-report-whale-hunting-in-japan/If you’ve ever wondered about the historical background of whale hunting in... more
By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
June 10, 2010 6:18 p.m. EDT
A brown pelican coated in heavy oil tries to take flight on East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana.
Some experts see it as a well-meaning flight of fancy. To others, cleaning a bird soaked with oil from the Gulf of Mexico is the only chance it has for survival.
In the case of the brown pelican, removed last year from the endangered species list, it may be the only way to save the entire lot.
"It's like triage on a battlefield. You have to weigh where you can have your best success," said Ginette Hemley, the World Wildlife Fund's senior vice president for conservation strategies and science.
Earlier this week, a German biologist painted a less rosy picture in an interview with the magazine Der Spiegel. Silvia Gaus of the Wattenmeer National Park said it was more humane to euthanize the birds because they will suffer a painful death regardless of whether the oil is scrubbed from their feathers.
"According to serious studies, the middle-term survival rate of oil-soaked birds is under 1 percent," Gaus told the magazine. "We, therefore, oppose cleaning birds."
The statement spotlighted a similar statement in 2002 from the World Wildlife Fund, which said it was reluctant to advise cleaning birds after the Prestige spill off the coast of Spain. In that incident, a sunken tanker dumped about 20 million gallons of oil off the Galician coast.
The fund issued a statement earlier this week saying its 2002 remarks could not fairly be applied to the situation in the Gulf of Mexico. Thursday marked Day 52 of the gusher.
"In many cases, WWF believes there is value in trying to clean and rehabilitate wildlife, especially if productive, viable adult animals can recover from exposure to oil," the release said. "But every situation is different, and it is too soon to fully calculate the impact the Gulf spill will have on the long-term viability of populations of many species in the region."
Hemley said it could take up to three years to determine the spill's total impact on wildlife.
According to Wednesday's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service numbers, rescue officials have collected 1,075 birds. Of those, 442 were alive and "visibly oiled." Another 633 were found dead, and 109 of those were visibly oiled.
The report states BP's Deepwater Horizon spill is not responsible for all dead birds.
"How long will the birds survive that have been cleaned and released? We don't know yet," Hemley said, explaining it depends on a variety of factors.
Included are how quickly the bird was saved, the bird's age and size and the length of exposure to the oil, she said.
Lee Hollingsworth, a wildlife adviser with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Wales, said other concerns are the level of saturation and how much oil a bird has ingested.
Seabirds' feathers are weatherproofed by natural oils, stimulated by a gland in their lower back. This is why birds nuzzle their tail feathers when they're preening, Hollingsworth said.
"If that gland is damaged," he said, "then that no longer secretes oil."
Other rescue methods, such as holding the birds in captivity to protect them or moving them to a new habitat, can be dangerous as well, he said. Captivity is stressful, and changing a bird's environment introduces it to new prey and predators, whereas it was accustomed to its food and enemies in its natural habitat.
Many birds are quite specialized, he said, and don't do well in artificial, foreign or zoo-like environs.
The Welsh society joined the World Wildlife Fund in 2002, saying that heavily oiled birds could not be helped.
But on Thursday, Hollingsworth said the 8-year-old statement was specific to the situation in Spain, which happened in chilly November. The Gulf is warm, which could bode well for the birds, he said.
"The majority of [birds affected by the Prestige incident] didn't survive anyway. That, again, is due to the ingestion of oil and weatherproofing," he said.
Hollingsworth said many people cleaning birds are working for charities that don't receive much government funding, and it's important for such groups to prioritize their efforts and target areas where they'll do the most good.
In the Gulf of Mexico, that may mean focusing on brown pelicans. The birds, which are native to the Atlantic Coast and eastern Gulf, spent almost 40 years on the endangered species list until last year
"The chances of success increase every time we deal with one of these unfortunate situations. ... Hopefully we're getting better at this.
--Ginette Hemley, World Wildlife Fund
When salvaging just a few birds is so vital to the survival of a species, Hollingsworth said, "something has got to be done, and of course it's worth saving the bird."
Despite conflicting studies on the viability of washing birds, there are plenty of success stories. The International Bird Rescue and Research Center, which is working in the Gulf, cites several examples on its website.
After the 2000 Treasure spill off the coast of South Africa, rescuers saved 21,000 African penguins and released about 19,500 birds back into their colonies, according to the center.
The website notes rescuers also saved 32 snowy plovers after the 1999 New Carissa spill off the Oregon coast, 180 king eiders after a 1996 spill near Alaska's Pribilof Islands and 175 waterfowl after California's Santa Clara River spill of 1991.
"It may seem like a small number but it was significant to us, as we knew what those animals endured being covered in very heavy and thick oil," wrote Jay Holcomb, the center's executive director.
Hemley said the wildlife fund would generally "err on the side of recovering birds." After all, she said, it's not costly to rinse the birds and let them rest before scrubbing them with Dawn, the dishwashing liquid whose motto once was, "Takes grease out of your way."
Rescuers are always looking to improve on their methods for saving animals, and they've learned a lot since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill off the coast of Southern California, she said.
"The chances of success increase every time we deal with one of these unfortunate situations," Hemley said. "Hopefully we're getting better at this."By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
June 10, 2010 6:18 p.m. EDT
A brown pelican coated in... more
Many studies great news for mice, not so much for humans
By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
June 8, 2010 8:18 a.m. EDT
(CNN) -- Potential cancer vaccine! Possible anxiety treatment! Scientific studies looking at potential therapies for physical and mental illness often sound exciting -- that is, until you read further and realize they're in mice.
The applicability to humans of studies in rodents varies widely, and some diseases are more accurately modeled in these animals than others, experts say.
Uncertainty about the applicability to humans is usually a big disclaimer in rodent studies, even in respected journals. One that's getting buzz in Nature Neuroscience suggests that a brain hormone is a "remote control" for cholesterol. The findings support previous research that the central nervous system controls processes that the body uses for energy, but must be further investigated before being translated to humans, the authors say.
Another is a recent study in Nature Medicine that found a vaccine was effective in preventing breast cancer in six mice that had been genetically engineered to develop breast cancer.
Generally, small studies like the cancer one appear to fit the adage "great news if you're a mouse," said Lois Parker, senior pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital. It's just too soon to draw meaningful interpretations from the available data.
"If it's just in rodents and only in a small number of rodents, personally I find it hard to get that excited about it," she said. "Maybe that's unfortunate, because maybe some of that stuff is worth getting excited about." But there's a large time gap from lab to clinical practice, she said.
Mice and rats are so often used because they can be bred easily, and they are convenient because of their small size, said Dr. Raymond Dingledine, chairman of the department of pharmacology at Emory University. Scientists also have an extensive knowledge of their physiology, so they can be compared against what is known about people.
But in most rat and mouse studies, the animals are highly inbred, and therefore represent a much more narrow sliver of genetics than seen in people, Dingledine said. Humans have a great deal more variability in their biochemical makeup than inbred mice, he said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration typically demands that drugs be tested in animal models before trials begin in humans. Out of every 250 compounds tested for safety in the lab or animal models, only one gets approved, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. That's out of 5,000 to 10,000 compounds considered for testing in the first place. The entire process of development takes 10 to 15 years for those that make it to approval.
Here's the good news: There are specific conditions that rodents do model well. The effectiveness in humans of anticonvulsants have been quite predictive in mice and rat models, Dingledine said. Epilepsy turns out to be easily modeled in these animals.
But when it comes to the immune system, rodents and humans are so different that studies looking at treatments for certain diseases in mice or rats have not been successful when applied to people, he said. Increasingly, research is turning to nonhuman primates for preclinical research on immune-based therapies for a variety of conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These kinds of studies look at understanding the body's response to viruses, bacteria, and other invaders.
In terms of cancer, it is difficult to translate animal models to human applications because a human tumor takes several years to develop, and rodent studies often just inject human tumors into the rat or mouse, said Dr. Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, professor of medicine and cancer biology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
In general, animal models give some hints about how to use cancer drugs in humans, he said. "But by no way should we be overexcited about it; we should be cautious about how to interpret that data" and in applying cancer studies in rodents to humans, he said.
Cancer drug researchers generally like to test potential treatments on two animal species, such as rats and dogs or mice and monkeys, and examine how the drug behaves in the fluids of the body, before proceeding to humans, Lopez-Berestein said.
"There are many genetic mutations that can result in cancer, and you can develop a compound or a drug that works great against one genetic mutation, but if that human patient doesn't have that genetic mutation, it'll be ineffective," Dingledine said.
Toxicity is also an issue for cancer research, as potential harmful side effects in humans do not always show up in rodents, Dingledine said.
We may think of our brain as an organ that is uniquely human in its intricacy and capacity for complex thought, but a great deal about us can still be learned from rodent models, researchers say.
Humans and rodents share brain circuits that are evolutionarily ancient, said Dr. Gregory Quirk of the University of Puerto Rico Medical School department of psychiatry. The amygdala, involved in the "flight or fight" response, and the prefrontal cortex, associated with decision-making, are human brain structures that can be probed in rats and mice.
Quirk's research has found that injecting a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor into the rat's prefrontal cortex decreases a fear response, which may be useful for the treatment of anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder. It may be years before this can be translated into humans, but Quirk is hopeful that researchers can identify existing drugs to be used in this way.
Other research groups are also making headway on treating anxiety based on studies of mice and rats. An antibiotic called D-cycloserine was first observed in rodents to diminish fear and went into human clinical trials relatively quickly, he said.
"It can be frustrating for the public to hear about the nth rodent study," he said. "But I think fear and anxiety is one of the areas where there's low hanging fruit."
Rodent research has also been driving human brain imaging research, Quirk said. It helps scientists to form an initial hypothesis based on observed patterns of brain activity in rodents before testing humans. Of course, human brain scans may reveal activity in structures associated with higher thinking that rats do not have, he said.Many studies great news for mice, not so much for humans
By Elizabeth Landau, CNN... more
Sat Jun 5, 3:37 pm ET
DENVILLE, N.J. – Seven northern New Jersey students are facing numerous charges for placing rabbits, mice, roosters and chickens inside ceilings at their high school as part of a senior prank.
Denville police say the students are all boys. Their names were not released because they're juveniles.
Officers went to Morris Knolls High School shortly before midnight Tuesday after a custodian reported seeing people inside the building.
Police say the boys got in through an open window and that most of the animals were stolen from farms.
The seven face various charges including burglary, criminal mischief and conspiracy. Authorities said Saturday that animal cruelty charges are pending because at least one of the animals was injured after falling through the ceiling.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100605/ap_on_fe_st/us_odd_senior_prank_arrestsSat Jun 5, 3:37 pm ET
DENVILLE, N.J. – Seven northern New Jersey students are... more
(Reuters) - Whales and dolphins should get "human rights" to life and liberty because of mounting evidence of their intelligence, a group of conservationists and experts in philosophy, law and ethics said Sunday.
Japan, Norway and Iceland, the main whaling nations, oppose such arguments that would outlaw hunting or even keeping the mammals in marine parks. They have long said there is no real evidence that they are smarter, for instance, than cows or pigs.
Participants at a University of Helsinki conference said ever more studies show the giant marine mammals have human-like self-awareness, an ability to communicate and organize complex societies, making them similar to some great apes.
"We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing," they said in a declaration after a two-day meeting led by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).
Thomas White, director of the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University in California who was at the Helsinki talks, said dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror, an ability rare in mammals that humans only acquire at about 18 months of age.
"Whaling is ethically unacceptable," he told Reuters. "They have a sense of self that we used to think that only human beings have."
Hal Whitehead, a biology professor at Dalhousie University in Canada and an expert on deep-water whales, said there was more evidence that whales have human-like culture.
He said that sperm whales have sonars to find fish that are so powerful that they could permanently deafen others nearby if used at full blast. Yet the whales do not use sonars as weapons, showing what Whitehead called a human-like "sense of morality."
"It's like a group of human hunters armed with guns," he told Reuters. "There's a clear sense of how the sonar can be used."
Nations in the International Whaling Commission will debate a proposal to approve limited hunts for 10 years by the main whaling nations at a meeting next month, relaxing a 1986 moratorium imposed after many species came close to extinction.
"We want a shift to putting the individual at the center of conservation," said Nicholas Entrup, of the WDCS. That would mean giving minke whales, relatively plentiful and most often hunted, the same protection as endangered northern right whales.
But one expert biologist, who was not at the conference, said many researchers had wrongly concluded that whales and dolphins were smart because they have big brains.
"There's nothing to separate them from other mammals -- seals, lions or tigers," Paul Manger of Johannesburg's University of Witwatersrand, told Reuters. They had evolved big brains largely to keep warm in the chill waters.
Saying whales were not especially bright was not the same as advocating hunts, he said. "We protect fish stocks even though no one argues that they are intelligent," he said.
If anyone else has more information regarding the logical argument of expanding the definition of human/human right to other species who demonstrate human level thought, behavior, and intelligence; then please leave links to any such discourse.(Reuters) - Whales and dolphins should get "human rights" to life and... more
Australia said Friday it will challenge Japan's whale hunting in the Antarctic at the International Court of Justice, a major legal escalation in its campaign to ban the practice despite Tokyo's insistence on the right to so-called scientific whaling.
Japan's Foreign Ministry called the action regrettable at a time when 88 member-nations of the International Whaling Commission were discussing a proposal that could allow some limited whaling for the first time in 25 years.
"We will continue to explain that the scientific whaling that we are conducting is lawful in accordance with Article 8 of the international convention for the regulation of whaling," said Japan's Foreign Ministry Deputy Press Secretary Hidenobu Sobashima. "If it goes to the court, we are prepared to explain that."
Japan, Norway and Iceland, which harpoon around 2,000 whales annually, argue that many species are abundant enough to continue hunting them. They are backed by around half of the whaling commission's members.
Australia has declared the southern seas a whale sanctuary and has long lobbied for an end to whaling there. The government says Japan's hunt is in breach of international obligations, but has declined to release any details of how it will argue its case before the court in The Hague.
The whaling commission has proposed a plan that would allow hunting without specifying whether it is for commercial or other purposes – but under strict quotas that are lower than the current number of hunted whales.
Commission Chairman Cristian Maquieira expressed optimism Thursday in Washington that the issue could be resolved at a meeting next month in Morocco. But senior U.S. official Monica Medina said the current proposal would allow the hunting of too many whales, signaling difficult negotiations ahead.
Australia could argue that Japan is abusing its rights under the whaling commission's 1946 Convention, which allows scientific whaling, said Don Anton, an international law professor at The Australian National University in Canberra. It could claim that the number of whales Japan kills each year is far more than necessary, that nonlethal research alternatives exist and that there is a commercial aspect to the scientific program.
Australia could also argue that Japan has failed to conduct an adequate environmental impact assessment before engaging in whaling, Anton said.
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A panel of lawyers and conservationists reported to the Australian and New Zealand governments last year that Japanese whaling in the Antarctic could be stopped if Japan were held accountable for dumping waste and for undertaking hazardous refueling at sea. The Canberra Panel claims that activity violates the 46-member Antarctic Treaty System, to which Japan belongs.
Australia will lodge its claim with the court next week. It is likely then to seek an international injunction to stop any Japanese whaling during the 2010-2011 whaling season, said Don Rothwell, an international law professor at ANU who chaired the Canberra Panel. An injunction ruling could take three to six months, and it could be another four to seven years before the case is settled, he said.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said his government will decide within weeks whether it will also file a case against Japan.
Sobashima and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the dispute should not jeopardize the countries' overall good relations, with both governments treating the matter as an independent legal arbitration.
Australia's move also fulfills a 2007 campaign promise by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's center-left Labor Party.
Associated Press writers Kristen Gelineau in Sydney and Malcolm J. Foster in Tokyo contributed to this report.Australia said Friday it will challenge Japan's whale hunting in the Antarctic at... more
The oil giant Exxon has agreed to pay $600,000 in fines for killing 85 protected birds. The dead birds--hawks, owls, and waterfowl--were evidently exposed to hydrocarbons at drilling facilities and waste water storage plants at a number of Exxon's natural gas operations across the Midwest.
According to Greenwire,
The birds died from exposure to natural gas well reserve pits and waste water storage facilities at Exxon Mobil drilling and production facilities in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming between 2004 and 2009.
In addition to paying around $7,000 for each bird killed, Exxon has agreed to make corrective measures to its facilities in order to prevent future deaths from occurring. The oil company has stated that it's already spent an estimated $2.5 million on such efforts.
"The environmental compliance plan that Exxon Mobil has agreed to in this multi-district plea agreement is an important step in protecting migratory birds in these five states," said John Cruden, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.
Exxon has also been used as an example for companies who might currently be in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act--an act that mandates preventative measures to protect migratory birds. And, for Exxon's part, the company has evidently been cooperative and willing to take corrective action.The oil giant Exxon has agreed to pay $600,000 in fines for killing 85 protected... more
Born and raised in London, Nick Brandt studied Film and Painting at St. Martins School of Art.
He started photographing in December 2000 in East Africa, beginning the body of work that is his signature subject matter and style. He no longer directs, devoting himself full time to his fine art photography now.
Brandt's first book of photographs, "On This Earth", was published in October 2005, by Chronicle Books, with forewords by Jane Goodall and Alice Sebold (author of "The Lovely Bones").
He has had numerous one-man exhibitions between 2004 and 2006, including London, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Hamburg, Santa Fe, Sydney, Melbourne and San Francisco.He now lives in Topanga, California....
Few photographers have ever considered the photography of wild animals, as distinctly opposed to the genre of Wildlife Photography, as an art form. The emphasis has generally been on capturing the drama of wild animals IN ACTION, on capturing that dramatic single moment, as opposed to simply animals in the state of being.
I’ve always thought this something of a wasted opportunity. The wild animals of Africa lend themselves to photographs that extend aesthetically beyond the norm of 35mm-color telephoto wildlife photography. And so it is, that in my own way, I would like to yank the subject matter of wildlife into the arena of fine art photography. To take photographs that transcend what has been a largely documentative genre.
Born and raised in London, Nick Brandt studied Film and... more
Four highly endangered mountain gorillas have been found dead in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, likely because of extreme cold in their mountain habitat, experts said Thursday.
Some of the group were found still alive but dying earlier this week by trackers from the Karisoke Research Centre in the mountains of north-west Rwanda.
"While the cause of death has yet to be determined, the gorillas are thought to have died because of the extreme cold and rainy conditions," the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement.
"The gorillas? current range is high on Mount Karisimbi, and at high altitude it will be even colder," WWF said.
The wildlife group said there were no signs of foul play but that the dead gorillas, one female and three infants, have been sent for autopsy to determine the cause of death.
The four were part of a research group called Pablo.
"Unless the post mortem results show something contagious, it may be just a natural event ... likely to be down to the cold weather," said Ian Redmond, a gorilla expert who is chief consultant with the UN's Great Ape Survival Partnership.
"As in human populations, an extreme cold spell can be the cause of death for weak or ill individuals who might have otherwise recovered," Redmond told AFP.
Karisoke research centre was founded in 1967 by Dian Fossey, the US primatologist who brought mountain gorillas to the attention of the public and who was brutally murdered in the Virunga National Park in 1985.
"The sudden death of the four is not only a great shock but also a big loss for Rwanda and for the whole conservation team," said Rica Rwigamba, a tourism and conservation official at the Rwanda Development Board.
The Virunga volcanoes on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are home to about half of the world's 700 mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). The other half live in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Gorilla tracking is a major draw for tourists in Rwanda, with visitors paying 500 dollars for a permit to spend an hour with the primates in their bamboo forest habitat.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gb2hOzVW2TGZ2etDI4r_ZxLlfhIAFour highly endangered mountain gorillas have been found dead in Rwanda's... more
For Lolita the killer whale, home has been the Miami Seaquarium for 39 years.
But Saturday her captivity became a cause of protest as more than 50 demonstrators waved signs demanding her return to the Pacific Northwest outside the marine life attraction along the side of the Rickenbacker Causeway.
``Keeping her in captivity is cruel and inhumane,'' said protest leader Shelby Proie, director of SaveLolita.com.
Organizers said critics of the 3.5-ton, 40-something orca's confinement rallied in 43 cities. They want her released to a sea pen near her native Puget Sound, near Seattle.
``She can be with her mother and her pod,'' said Simon Hutchins, director of expeditions at the Oceanic Preservation Society. A Canadian, he was also expedition director for this year's Oscar-winning feature documentary, The Cove.
For its part, the Seaquarium disagreed.
General Manager Andrew Hertz issued a statement calling plans for release an ``irresponsible . . . experiment'' that would ``jeopardize her health and safety.''
He also dismissed the idea of release as ``the whims of a small group of individuals who have no firsthand experience working with a killer whale.''
Hutchins countered that protesters were advocating a gradual, humane release. ``It's not like we're going to give her $50 and a bus ticket,'' he said.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/15/1631428/seaquarium-protesters-call-for.html#ixzz0oEgJBjckhttp://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/15/1631428/seaquarium-protesters-call-for.html... more
ScienceDaily (May 3, 2010) — Ever since Darwin, researchers have tried to explain the enormous diversity of plumage colour traits in birds. Now researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, are adding something new to this particular field of research, which is so rich in tradition, by demonstrating how a bird can become red instead of yellow.
Sixteen years ago, Malte Andersson, a professor at the University of Gothenburg, published the book Sexual Selection, which analysed how animals use behavioural signals, colours and other ornamentation to compete for a mate. Based on, among other things, a famous experiment involving a long-tailed widowbird published in Nature in 1982, and is now a standard zoological work that has been cited in around 5,000 scientific articles and innumerable textbooks.
The third generation of ecological researchers at the Department of Zoology at the University of Gothenburg are now publishing their findings in this field. Together with colleagues and project leader Staffan Andersson, postgraduate student Maria Prager has studied how sexual signals in widowbirds and bishops (Euplectes spp.) are produced and change during the evolutionary process.
In the past, the function of signals was much disputed but is now well-known: it has to do with attracting a mate for reproduction and deterring rivals. But why the animal kingdom displays such an enormous range of signals and traits has still not been explained. The African widowbirds and bishops are an excellent illustration of this phenomenon: despite being closely related and using classic avian signals -- elongated tail feathers and bright colours -- there is a fascinating amount of variation in the traits of these species.
Maria Prager's thesis follows on from field studies that indicate a general pattern amongst these and many other birds: females prefer males with the longest tail feathers, while males with larger and redder colour signals are able to occupy larger breeding territories. Maria Prager's hypothesis was that the signals of widowbirds and bishops thus have become ever more extreme during evolution.
A lack of fossil feathers means she has studied modern DNA in order to reconstruct the evolution of colours and plumage in the genealogical trees of these species. The results show that today's species of widowbirds and bishops are descended from birds with short tails and yellow colour signals.
The current red colour has evolved through several means: the birds store large amounts of yellow dietary pigments in their feathers, which produce a red hue, or they convert some of the dietary yellow pigment to red with the aid of an enzyme. As yellow widowbirds and bishops seem to lack this enzyme, colour diversification may be due in part to physiological or genetic limitations in some species.
Evolution of colour
Malte Andersson was a pioneer in work to test and further develop Darwin's concept that the reproductive success of males often depends on eye-catching ornamentation. Maria Prager's research now clarifies three new aspects of colour signalling: the pigment mechanisms behind colours, the development of colours in individuals, and the evolution of colour signals over time.
"Our combined research provides a unique and complete picture of colour evolution in birds, and there are few other animals for which we now have so much knowledge of the various aspects of these signals."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100503111521.htmScienceDaily (May 3, 2010) — Ever since Darwin, researchers have tried to... more
3 years ago