Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. Edward Abbey

25 July 2006

Animals were used in 2.9 million medical experiments in Britain in 2005

Reuters reports that:
Animals were used in 2.9 million medical experiments in Britain in 2005, an increase of 1.4 percent from the previous year, the government said on Monday. Most of the animals involved were mice, rats and other rodents. Less than half of one percent of the procedures included dogs, cats, horses or non-human primates, according to the figures released by the Home Office.

This repulsive civilisation of ours need to be dismantled one brick at a time if we have to.

21 July 2006

Making science palatable

With their use of complex terminology and potential benefit to human health, scientists always seem to manage to make vivisection sound "okay".

Here's a snippet from Nature (oh the irony in that name), where the scientists (names removed to protect me) describe their "research protocol" when implanting human tissue into a mouse. Note: they don't even bother to call it a mouse experiment, they refer to a mouse model, taking away its individuality, making it an object to be studied, instead of a fellow subject to be respected.

Quote starts:

"Nature Protocols 1, - 206 - 214 (2006)
Subject Category:
Cell and tissue culture | Utilizing model organisms
Reconstruction of human mammary tissues in a mouse model

a model system that more accurately recapitulates both normal and neoplastic breast epithelial development in rodents is central to studying human breast carcinogenesis. However, the inability of human breast epithelial cells to colonize mouse mammary fat pads is problematic. Considering that the human breast is a more fibrous tissue than is the adipose-rich stroma of the murine mammary gland, our group sought to bypass the effects of the rodent microenvironment through incorporation of human stromal fibroblasts. We have been successful in reproducibly recreating functionally normal breast tissues from reduction mammoplasty tissues, in what we term the human-in-mouse (HIM) model. Here we describe our relatively simple and inexpensive techniques for generating this orthotopic xenograft model. Whether the model is to be applied for understanding normal human breast development or tumorigenesis, investigators with minimal animal surgery skills, basic cell culture techniques and access to human breast tissue will be able to generate humanized mouse glands within 3 months. Clearing the mouse of its endogenous epithelium with subsequent stromal humanization takes 1 month. The subsequent implantation of co-mixed human epithelial cells and stromal cells occurs 2 weeks after humanization, so investigators should expect to observe the desired outgrowths 2 months afterward. As a whole, this model system has the potential to improve the understanding of crosstalk between tissue stroma and the epithelium as well as factors involved in breast stem cell biology tumor initiation and progression.

quote ends

I mean just listen to them. Using all these silly words they've created for their exclusive domain and their excuse is the potential promise of treating breast cancer.

Take one line for example:
"Here we describe our relatively simple and inexpensive techniques for generating this orthotopic xenograft model."

What they're actually saying could be:
Hey everyone it's really easy to create a human-mouse chimera.

Here's another:
"[I]nvestigators with minimal animal surgery skills, basic cell culture techniques and access to human breast tissue will be able to generate humanized mouse glands within 3 months."

What they could be saying is:
Hey, any old fool can slice into a mouse without killing it. You only need basic animal surgery skills (ie lower level required than human surgery skills), some human breast tissue and voila, you too can create these chimeras in just 3 months.

Sounds like one of those tv marketing ads ... "and that's not all, now you too can create a chimera in your garage".

god forgive us for what we are doing to the animals ...

14 July 2006

If you don't embrace the bat - it will come to you

My totem animal popped up again today. I was still sleepy when I got to work this morning and after opening my office, went to the toilets for some soap and paper towel to wipe my desk. As I opened the door to the women's toilet I saw a small, dark - what I thought was a leaf - lying under the door. This little thing had flattened itself and crawled in under the door for protection.

Initially I thought it was a mouse, but when I scooped it up, it spread the most beautiful wings I have ever seen, right across the length of my lower arm. Flimsy, diaphanous, but very real and belonging to someone special.

The little bat was cold to the touch and seemed to be hyperventilating. I immediately took her to my office and switched on the heater. She fell quiet in her box and I settled down to work.

About an hour later I was stirred by a loud flapping sound. I opened a slit in the box and she turned her head towards the opening and tried to escape. Her breathing had normalised and she asked me to please release her. I took her upstairs to the balcony. Had one last look, opened the box and watched in anticipation.

She took a moment and then launched herself. She flew east, she turned west, she orientated herself and flew back over me in a southerly direction. Purposefully, like she knew exactly where she was going.

I was in heaven.

12 July 2006

The Africa XI soccer team

World Cup winners France (or as they are known on this continent: the Africa XI) have 17 players in the French squad from ethnic minorities. That outnumbers the 11 black members of Parliament (out of 577).

Soccer players are becoming influential personalities the world over. I would like to see players in Europe, who are from ethnic minorities, and those from developing countries who play for UEFA clubs, speaking out and leading an onfield revolution. I'd like to see them do more to make the elite, the business owners and the rich people of Europe recognise the inequalities of the world.

I salute Lilian Thuram who has already made some progress in this regard.

11 July 2006

Stats on the illegal skin trade

Fiona Mcleod is a tireless campaigner for nature. It's difficult to get people to read about the destruction of the planet. After all, you're competing with Wayne Rooney's fiance's latest outfit, TomKat and Branjolina pregnancies and the war on terrorism.

Despite the competition, Fiona manages to get published.

Her latest piece contains some gripping stats about the trade in leopard and cheetah skins, many of which are being sold to the wealthy in the northern suburbs of Joburg. The article is headlined ingeniuosly with Virgin's Richard Branson at the launch of his South African credit card, wearing a, supposedly, fake skin draped across his chest.

Here are some of those stats:
  • "A ceremonial outfit made of leopard skin, which would include an apron, headdress and armbands, fetches about R6 000."
  • "[L]eopard skins at the market are brought in from Botswana and Zimbabwe by couriers on buses. They cost between R3 500 and R4 500 after being treated."
  • "Cheetah skins, which mostly come from Namibia, cost R5 500 when treated."
Mcleod concludes with a bizarre story about a trapped 16-month old leopard cub who was being offered for a canned hunt. The captors wanted R16000 for the hunt. Thank earth the cub was released and the captors (slave owners) arrested.

06 July 2006

African Grey Parrots "Under Threat From Pet Trade"

Reuters reports that African Greys are being put at risk by the wild bird trade.

"The African grey, one of the most popular avian pets in the world, is declining in most of the 23 countries in which it is found and may soon become a threatened species, the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) said." Read more ...

There are calls for banning the wild bird trade in Europe and I would support that, but one wonders of the trade won't just go underground with people selling wild caught birds as domestically bred birds?

Surely the better option would be a campaign to help society to start seeing the keeping of birds, with clipped wings, in tiny cages as undesirable and cruel!

Change attitudes and you change the world.

05 July 2006

Batho Pele - the long term implications

I loved the term, when the SA government coined Batho Pele as its vision for a service orientated public service. But the term has taken on a new ominous meaning for me.

Batho Pele Mission: "The creation of a people-centred and a people-driven public service that is characterised by equity, quality, timeousness and a strong code of ethics."

That's all well and good, but what does that mean for the environment? Trees, animals, rivers and mountains all come second to people. If you are cold, you can chop down that 100-year-old tree to make a fire.

But the long term implications of such actions are that 7 generations from now, there will be no trees left to chop down. The rivers will be polluted and the wild animals extinct.

I am sick of people being the only species recognised as subjects. I think it's time for a new slogan: Lefatshe Pele - Earth First!

04 July 2006

Tinner the eternal Winner

Today's tribute goes to my dear friend Tinner the Winner. She was my close companion and best friend for much of her 80-odd doggy years.

Tint was always there for me and never let me down. She was my teacher. But unlike human teachers who often feel you fail them, no matter what I did, in Tinner's eyes I always passed with flying colours! She was wise, strong, quiet, loving, undemanding, beautiful and determined and she loooooved cheese.

Princess, I love you so much. I miss you. Thank you for everything. I know that you have heard the owl call your name and I know that you too are now one of those wise old owls yourself and that you will watch over us the Wilde-Area gang!

TinTin of Wingshot
24 October 1993 - 3 July 2006