Mitra, Maureen Nandini, Earth Island Journal
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals scored a major victory recently when two of the worlds' biggest cargo carriers--FedEx and UPS--agreed to stop shipping mammals and primates meant for use in laboratory experiments.
While neither of the two carriers transports a significant number of lab animals, Justin Goodman, PETA's associate director of laboratory investigations, says the decision bolsters the animal rights group's campaign to block the import of animals to labs in the United States. Another major carrier, DHL, has confirmed that it has "policies in place" prohibiting lab-animal shipments, Goodman says.
Lab animals, especially primates, are often subjected to painful and traumatic procedures, including experimental drug tests (even though the US Food and Drug Administration says 90 percent of drugs that test safe and effective on animals fail during human trials); military chemical warfare tests; and invasive brain experiments that usually end with the primate being euthanized.
PETA has been fighting to stop the use of animals in lab experiments for many years. But its 'Air Cruelty" campaign--calling on international airlines to stop shipping primates for lab use--has been gaining traction only in the last couple of years, Goodman says.
While many lab animals are bred in the US, the cost of breeding the animals (especially primates) here is much higher than in developing countries' where animal-welfare regulations are more lax. Every year labs import thousands of primates from countries like China, Mauritius, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Some of these animals are bred in captivity on what PETA calls, "monkey factory farms," while others are trapped in the wild. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 18,140 primates, mostly crab-eating macaques, were brought into the US in 2011. All but 96 of them were destined for laboratories.
Faced with growing pressure from animal rights groups, most international airlines have announced bans on transporting primates destined for labs. Many major airlines refuse to ship not just primates, but any animals to laboratories. …