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To hear the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tell it, they’re just animal lovers. They usually claim they simply want to ensure our furry and feathered friends aren’t abused. In reality, they call humans "a cancer" and insist we all become become vegetarians. They also say that all animal testing, necessary for testing new drugs, be eliminated. "Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it," says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk.
Indeed, PETA’s latest target is the world’s largest medical experiment contracting lab, Covance of Vienna, Virginia. They’ve accused the company of committing horrors with laboratory monkeys, claiming they have video footage to back it up. Yet bizarrely the part they’ve released shows no such thing – making a monkey out of PETA.
A PETA infiltrator made secret tapes of monkeys and their handling over an 11-month period, then the group chopped it down to a select 28 minutes, then cut down to just a few minutes which it displays on its website – presumably "the worst of the worst." Yet other than a slight slap, we see nothing direr than workers THREATENING a few unruly animals whereupon the threats are clearly not carried out. Some images are as innocuous as a monkey pacing in its cage.
"If that’s the worst they’ve been able to find after almost a year, I’d have to guess Covance has a first class facility," says Foundation for Biomedical Research President Franki Trull. Certainly nobody has a greater interest in protecting those animals than Covance. Real abuse would also violate the Animal Welfare Act, USDA Animal Welfare Regulations and Standards and send drug companies to labs that take better care of their animals.
Despite this backfiring publicity stunt, however, PETA remains both a savvy and dangerous organization. Fortunately, lawmakers and PETA targets
"Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it," says PETA.
Last month the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told a Senate panel that animal rights extremists, along with eco-terrorists, pose one of the most serious national terrorist threats – one growing by leaps and bounds. Unlike such groups as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), PETA takes no credit for such actions as torching laboratories. But it does support these groups both vocally and financially.
"I find it small wonder that the laboratories aren’t all burning to the ground. If I had more guts, I’d light a match," Newkirk has said. Other gems: "I wish we would all get up and go into the labs and take the animals out or burn them down," and "Would I rather the research lab that tests animals is reduced to a bunch of cinders? Yes." She also insisted, "I will be the last person to condemn ALF."
PETA vegetarian campaign coordinator Bruce Friedrich has declared that "blowing stuff up and smashing windows" is something PETA doesn’t do "but I do advocate it."
PETA has donated to the Earth Liberation Front, a certified terrorist group that, according to the FBI, along with the ALF has committed more than 600 criminal acts causing more than $43 million in damages. During the 1990s, PETA paid $70,200 to an ALF activist convicted of burning down a Michigan State University research laboratory. During sentencing, the federal judge implicated Newkirk in the crime.
PETA compares broiler chickens to holocaust victims.
Individual victims of PETA campaigns have usually been afraid to fight back, lest they draw more attention to the charges against them. But as with law enforcement agencies, companies are realizing just how serious the threat has become.
Covance’s initial reaction to PETA’s allegation was anything but instant denial. Rather, "If and when we receive these materials, we will immediately review the allegations," it stated. "We will thoroughly examine the complaint to determine if there are any credible issues we need to address" and if "if there are legitimate problems, we will act accordingly to resolve them." It also sent copies of the half-hour tape to primate experts for review.
Only then did the company throw a monkey wrench at PETA, suing the group and its filmer for fraud and for conspiring to harm its business.
"This type of malicious activity by PETA, in which it conspires with individuals to lie about their intentions, to videotape and potentially disrupt medical research, and then to launch vile disinformation campaigns against pharmaceutical research companies, has got to stop," said Covance lawyer James Lovett.
The suit also demands that PETA and its infiltrator hand over the full set of tapes, so we can see what PETA left on the cutting room floor.
It’s about time that somebody hit back at these fanatics who compare the deaths of broiler chickens to the Holocaust. "I’m getting a sense that institutions that chose not to sue in the past because didn’t want to draw attention to themselves are really saying now, ’Enough already!’" Trull told me. "That’s encouraging because bullies only pick on you if they think you won’t fight back."