The month of May has seen animal rights activists in the United Kingdom take different strategies instead of the standard peaceful demonstration. Activists sent threatening letters to shareholders of the pharmaceutical giant Glaxo-SmithKline, a company known to use animals for testing.
Activists were threatening to post the names and addresses of all the drug company's stockholders on the internet unless their shares were sold. The month of May also saw 12-year jail sentences handed to four animal rights activists who desecrated the grave of 82-year-old Gladys Hammond. Hammond's family used their Staffordshire farm to breed guinea pigs for medical research. After five years of protests outside Darley Oaks Farm, combined with death threats and the mailing of a gasoline bomb, activists dug up Hammond's grave holding her remains hostage unless the farm's animal breeding ceased.
"If we can make Procter and Gamble change their policy on this issue it's likely to have a ripple effect on the rest of the industry," says Uncaged Campaigns director Dan Lyons. "They're one of the world's biggest and one of the world's worst in terms of their animal testing practices."
P & G spokesperson Heather Valento admits the company does test products on animals.
"In very rare cases, when there are legal, regulatory or safety requirements, we'll use research involving animals to ensure the safety of some ingredients," Valento says.
The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) reported in 2004 that more than two million animals were used across the country for scientific experimentation and research. Animals including cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits and mice were part of these experiments. The CCAC does not report what happened to those two million animals afterwards.
P & G would not comment on their laboratories or the number of animals used for testing each year. But while the company is coming under fire on the international stage by Uncaged, P & G says scientific research will eventually eliminate the need for animal testing.
"We are committed to eliminating animal research and we will do that as soon as science allows," says Valento of P & G. She says the chemical contents are usually what are being tested on the animals not the actual product sold over the counter. There are no mice running around a cage wearing lipstick and rouge.