Clandestine images of “cruelty and gratuitous abuse” allegedly taken at an animal testing facility in Spain – which had previously secured funding from the EU and Spanish authorities for projects – was released, amid calls for the center to shut down.
Madrid-based contract research organization Vivotecnia is conducting experiments on a range of animals including monkeys, dogs, mini-pigs, rats, mice and rabbits for the biopharmaceutical, chemical, chemical, cosmetics, tobacco and food. An animal rights organization said that the images were taken by a whistleblower who worked in the facility between 2018 and 2020. It appears to show animals housed in sterile conditions, taunted, punched and shaken, and cut without anesthesia or inadequate anesthesia.
The images, published by Cruelty Free International (CFI), appears to show technicians vigorously shaking and rocking rats to stun and subdue them before dosing.
Scissors have been shown to be used to decapitate young rodents. Rabbits have been seen struggling in their restraints, falling and suffering injuries. Dogs are shown picked up by the skin of the neck and thrown into boxes or cages.
Vivotecnia CEO Andres König has categorically denied the existence of a culture of animal abuse used in experiments at Vivotecnia. “We are working at all times to ensure the quality of our work, always taking animal welfare into account,” he said in a statement sent to the Guardian.
Some of the most evocative examples of cruelty include fully conscious rats having blood drawn from their eyes – what CFI described as a generally “terminal” procedure meant to be performed under anesthesia. In another incident, a senior member of staff is seen drawing a “face” on the genitals of a male monkey who was pinned to the table while another staff member practiced drawing blood from the animal’s leg.
According to CFI, the animals were not always supervised – staff worked 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and fewer hours on weekends – and this resulted in the deaths of several animals. CFI said the whistleblower raised his concerns to senior officials but no action was taken.
The images appear to show practices contrary to Spanish and European law – directive 2010/63 – that, among other things, the suffering warrants in the animals used in the experiments be reduced to a minimum, added CFI, which is campaigning for the closure of the facility and an overhaul of the laws on animal experiments.
Veterinarian Joan Antoni Fernández Blanco, who works with the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park, said he was surprised to hear the allegations. “I don’t know this specific case, but I would say it’s something really strange.”
In Spain, all animal experiments must be approved by an ethics committee, which often includes veterinarians and researchers who specialize in working with laboratory animals. Legislation too exposes that all personnel working with animals for scientific purposes must have “adequate prior training”.
Fernández Blanco compared claims that the lab sometimes performed procedures without adequate anesthesia with the requirement to minimize suffering. Animals should always be supervised, he said, and, if necessary, “they should be euthanized if it is considered that they are in too much pain and that they can no longer be included in the procedure.”
He added: “It is not justified to allow a living animal to suffer and take no action.”
Once an animal’s physiology is altered due to stress, any test data collected on that animal is essentially unreliable – ultimately, it is in the best interest of researchers to ensure the highest level of animal welfare or to risk “using a lot of animals for nothing,” he said.
In a statement, CFI Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs Dr Katy Taylor said: “These images once again show the dark side of regulatory toxicity testing on animals. The European Commission tells us that Directive 2010/63 not only protects animals used in science, but also proposes a strategy to replace animal testing. He does neither.
“There are various examples where the procedures were performed so poorly or the treatment was so bad that they broke the guidelines, but… we also have cases of gratuitous cruelty and abuse.”
CFI discovered similar violations of the laws elsewhere in Europe, most recently during a installation in Germany.
Facilities such as Vivotecnia that use non-human primates are supposed to be inspected at least once a year, including advertised visits. König said Vivotecnia has been audited every year and its facilities and processes are also audited every six months. The establishment worked on projects funded by European and Spanish authorities.
“There is clearly a problem with facilities not being inspected frequently enough in Spain and this is a good example of why there needs to be more inspections,” Taylor said.
“It gives a very clear picture that there is something fundamentally very wrong with animal experiments in Europe.”
In his statement to the Guardian, König said: “We would like to stress that at Vivotecnia Research, animal welfare is a fundamental priority. The working procedures at Vivotecnia respect the European Union Directive (2010/63 / EU) for the protection of laboratory animals, as well as Royal Decree RD 53/2013 establishing the basic rules applicable for the protection of animals used for experimental and other purposes scientists.
“All our technical staff are trained according to Ministerial Decree ECC / 566/2015, we have processes and protocols to control compliance with the internal code of conduct, which is monitored through a chain of command, the unit of quality assurance, our appointed veterinarians and the ethics committee, as well as through audits of customers and authorities. “
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Undercover footage shows ‘cruelty free’ at Spanish animal testing facility | Animal experimentation
Source link Undercover footage shows ‘cruelty free’ at Spanish animal testing facility | Animal experimentation