News Feature | February 20, 2014

Government Concern Over Animal Mistreatment By Antibodies Producer

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By Liisa Vexler

One of the world's biggest supplier of antibodies is being taken to court by the US Department of Agriculture for mistreating animals. Antibodies are widely used by medical and cell biology researchers and are generally purchased from dedicated suppliers such as Santa Cruz Biotechnology, based in California.

Antibodies are proteins produced by live animals, so suppliers need to keep large numbers of animals and comply with strict guidelines for animal welfare. Over the past ten years, Santa Cruz Biotechnology has been fined several thousand dollars for noncompliance with the Animal Welfare Act. UDSA inspections of the company's facilities, housing thousands of goats and rabbits, found that that animals were neglected, the food supplied was not of the required standard, and that sick or injured animals were not adequately cared for.

United Press International reported today that the USDA inspection reports were studied by the group Stop Animal Exploitation Now! as soon as they were published online. In 2011, the group's executive director, Michael Budkie, told reporters about the repeated history of violations and urged the USDA to act against the company. The USDA has now filed a formal complaint against Santa Cruz Biotechnology. The company did not respond in writing, so they will have to answer the allegations in court next July.

Matt Scott, a research biologist from Stanford University, told reporters from The New Yorker, “I don’t think what’s going on is widely known in the scientific community. If it was more widely known, it would have an impact. Biologists care about animals and the land, and don’t want to take part in something where either of those is hurt."