Biotech firm fined $3.5 million for animal mistreatment
A US-based biotechnology company has been fined $3.5 million by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a case related to the mistreatment of animals at its California facility.
Santa Cruz Biotechnology is one of the world’s largest providers of antibodies, which they extract from animals such as goats and rabbits by stimulating antibody production. These antibodies are then used in biomedical research.
The USDA filed numerous complaints against the company, which including failing to provide veterinary care to goats with wounds from coyote and snake bits, or massive tumours, and housing rabbits in cruel conditions, including putting them in elevated cages with open doors or in small, crowded cages.
Santa Cruz Biotechnology contested the claims from the USDA, and agreed to pay a settlement of $3.5 million but “neither admits nor denies” the charges laid against them.
The settlement also revokes the company’s license to sell, buy, trade or import animals. It requires the company to pay the fine and cancel its research registration by May 31.
Animal rights groups welcomed the news. Michael A. Budkie, of the not-for-profit Stop Animal Exploitation Now, says: “This is the most significant victory in the area of animal research for the animal rights movement, ever. I’m speechless.”
Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute, comments: “It should serve as a loud and clear message to all research facilities, animal dealers, exhibitors and airlines regulated under this law. Previously, the highest penalties paid to the USDA were less than $300,000, demonstrating the monumental nature of this settlement.”
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