Animal rights activists target Teva: 'Stop working with HLS'
Huntingdon Life Sciences, the biggest contract testing firm in Europe, kills 180,000 animals a day
The international battle against animal experimentation has reached Israel's Teva (TASE, Nasdaq: TEVA). Protestors are demonstrating outside company offices in Israel, Belgium and Britain today, demanding that Teva sever its relations with Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), an animal experimentation firm that kills about 500 test subjects each day.
Huntingdon Life Sciences is the biggest contract testing firm in Europe, say the SHAC protestors. SHAC stands for Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.
"We demand that Teva immediately sever its relations with HLS and adopt more efficient, safe scientific methods to test materials, which do not involve causing pointless pain and death to animals," according to the Israeli branch of SHAC.
HLS runs two labs in Britain and one in the U.S. Together they slaughter 180,000 animals a year, including dogs and cats, monkeys, and rabbits.
SHAC'S purpose in life is to shut down HLS, through imposing economic pressures on bodies and companies that do business with the animal-testing firm. That includes the banks that give it credit, investors, clients and suppliers. It has been working: more than 100 bodies have cut their ties with HLS and its shares have lost most of their value. The company's owners were forced to infuse money of their own and also to move the company's headquarters from Britain to the U.S.
But the company's attempt to move its shares from the London Stock Exchange to the NYSE did not go well. In a dramatic move, the NYSE announced on September 7, 2005, the day HLS shares were to have started to trade, that it was suspending trade in its stock, with no specific limit in sight. It was the first time in history that the NYSE halted trade in a company's shares based on a public battle against the company. Although at the time the NYSE did not explain its move, it is known that animal rights activists were preparing to target the exchange as well. (Huntingdon's US listing is halted at last minute)
SHAC was founded in 1999, two years after Channel 4 television in Britain aired deeply disturbing footage in a show called "It's a dog's life". The films, shot in secret, showed HLS workers punching beagle puppies in the face, shaking them violently, and throwing them against walls.
Four subsequent investigations uncovered horrors in way the regular HLS staff treated the animals, from deliberate cruelty and torture to bestiality. Animals were operated on without anesthetic. Test results were falsified in order to expedite the time to market of products.
Several HLS workers were convicted after these findings and HLS itself was slammed with heavy fines.
What do the test animals face? Starvation, electrification, burns, poisoning, heat and cold, deliberate infection with diseases, mutilation, and surgery without anesthetic. That is far from an exhaustive list.
Leaving aside the moral question as to the justification of any such testing, there is a question about efficacy. Many scientists say that alternative techniques available today are better. The tremendous differences in the way species react to a given therapy render animal testing unreliable to useless, and major drugs such as digitalis and aspirin were created without a single animal. Moreover, based on animal tests, both would have been disqualified.