UK Says Animal Rights Activists Misrepresented Claims
In a stunning defeat for the animal rights movement, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority ruled in March that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) misrepresented both animal test and the science behind animal experiments.
PETA had claimed that “nearly 3 million sensitive animals—monkeys, rabbits, mice and others—are killed in the UK each year in painful experiments” and that “animal experiments are crude and unreliable.”
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that laboratory animals may suffer some stress, but PETA had not offered evidence that nearly 3 million animals died “as a result of painful experiments.”
In fact, researchers using animals follow elaborate protocols to minimize the number of animal experiments needed, and also reduce any suffering by the animals.
ASA ruled that PETA’s description of scientists riding a taxpayer-funded “gravy train” was unfair. Scientists say animal experiments represent one of the best ways to verify the safety of new vaccines and medications that protect people, their pets, and other domestic animals.
ASA also ruled that PETA had shown evidence of differences between humans and animal physiologies; but, “the implication that physiological differences rendered the results of animal experiments crude or inapplicable to humans was misleading.”
Researchers have long conceded that non-human animals are not perfect substitutes for humans, but are important protections prior to necessary human testing.
The ASA ordered PETA to stop making the misleading claims and rewrite its publications.
Simon Festing of Britain’s Research Defense Society said, “This ruling demonstrates how animal rights activists attempt to raise funds through deceiving the public about the medical benefits of animal research.” Festing noted that PETA’s annual budget for opposing animal research was more than $28 million per year.
Yvonne Taylor of PETA accused the British advertising standards body of being “old fashioned.”
Last December, the ASA ruled that the leaflets of another animal rights group, Europeans for Medical Progress, were also misleading. The group irrationally accused animal researchers of holding back the treatment of childhood leukemia and cures for cancer. ASA concluded that the accusations were untrue.
The underlying problem here seems to be that animal rights issue-zealots are dedicated to eliminating animals from human society, for reasons we can only guess at. To turn public opinion, they’ve too often made false accusations of animal abuse against medical researchers, farmers, and circuses.
The animal rights activists are making false claims in America, too.
PETA claims, for example, that farmers routinely mistreat their birds and animals. However, mistreated birds and animals don’t yield much meat, milk or eggs, so the vast majority of farmers are extremely careful of their welfare. PETA, on the other hand, routinely kills pets brought to its animal “shelter” rather than finding them new homes.
PETA claims confinement rearing of hogs and poultry is inhumane, but the indoor creatures are protected from winter cold and summer hear, just like people who live in apartments! Their death losses are lower, and there’s less cannibalism among the birds.
PETA even ran one campaign on college campuses, urging students to “Drink beer, not milk.” The campaign erroneously told teenage girls that drinking milk would weaken their bones. In fact, health authorities say that consuming dairy products during a young woman’s growing years is one of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis in later life.
America, unfortunately, has no advertising standards board to guard us against the misrepresentations of activist zealots.
Dennis T. Avery is a senior fellow for Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and the Director for Global Food Issues. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. Readers may write him at Post Office Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421.