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World Day for Laboratory Animals marked across globe



Monkey Experiment by Ed Schipul via Flickr

Horrific monkey experiments exposed in UK and Europe

In the countdown to World Day for Laboratory Animals on April 24th the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) has released shocking details of primate experiments and their failure.   The animal suffering in the experiments is clear and NAVS, the world’s oldest anti-vivisection organisation, describes them as “unreliable, unethical, unnecessary.”

Around 6,000 primates are used in European laboratories each year, 2,466 in the UK. Over half are subjected to a barrage of regulatory safety tests.  Our closest relatives in the animal kingdom are restrained, force-fed and injected with drugs and other substances to measure their toxic effects. Despite advanced alternatives like microdosing, which enable more accurate earlier study, many of these tests continue to be driven by outdated regulations.  The NAVS reveals:

  • A vaginal gel tested on female monkeys – despite a similar product being examined in women.
  • Monkeys being electrically masturbated during tests of a cancer drug.
  • Bolts and chambers screwed into the heads of monkeys.
  • The gums of monkeys cut into and cavities created in teeth to test dental filling materials – the researchers noted that the inflammation process was different in humans.
  • Monkeys suffering fever, lethargy and severe damage to the liver, spleen and lungs after being forced to inhale bacteria by the Ministry of Defence.

National Anti-Vivisection Society Campaigns Director Tim Phillips says: “Thousands of primates are subjected to horrific experiments in the UK and Europe each year. It is to our shame that we continue to use our closest relatives in tests where there are technologically advanced, humane methods available that give reliable human-based data.  It is almost a decade since the European Parliament called on the European Commission to set a timetable to replace these tests, yet there has been little progress.”

Monkeys were used in vaginal HIV tests alongside a clinical trial in women.
Fourteen female macaque monkeys were used for an HIV study conducted at St George’s, University of London and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Sir Joseph Hotung Trust.  During pre-clinical tests for an intravaginal gel, the primates had an HIV protein and the gel inserted into their vaginas under sedation. Every 2-3 days the procedure was repeated, a total of nine times, with some animals undergoing three cycles of treatment. At the end of the experiment the animals were killed. The researchers admit the repeated sedation may have influenced immune responsiveness.

A similar topical gel had already shown “great promise against vaginal HIV transmission” in women.   NAVS asks, why are monkey tests continuing when far more reliable data must be coming from the human studies?

Monkeys were subjected to eletroejaculation for tests on a drug being used at the same time in cancer patients.  In a test by GSK Vaccines, every two weeks six monkeys were injected with the compound a total of eight times, while two monkeys received saline injections. To evaluate sperm formation, the monkeys underwent electroejaculation while fully conscious, a total of nine times every three weeks. The procedure commonly involves restraining the animal and wrapping defibrillator pads and lubricating gel around the penis, applying increasing voltage until ejaculation occurs. The animals were killed at the end of the experiment. Conducted at CiToxLAB in France, the primates had been imported from Mauritian primate supplier Noveprim Europe’s distribution hub in Spain. The NAVS has exposed animals at the facility being brutally handled by staff and confined in small cages. The dealer is also known to take primates from the wild to replenish its breeding stocks.

For 40 years experiments have been conducted on the brains of monkeys at the Institute of Neurology in London. In one such study funded by The Wellcome Trust, the National Centre for the 3Rs, and theBiotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council the heads of three monkeys were cut open to implant a recording chamber, a restraint head piece fixed, and electrodes were implanted into their brains. The monkeys were required to grasp different objects for a food reward, their brain activity recorded with and without the delivery of an electrical current to their brain. At the end of the experiments two of the animals were killed.

This was another example of monkeys being invasively experimented upon when humane studies of patients were also being undertaken.  Despite acknowledging this and the availability of such data, the same group went on to publish a similar study two years later. Twenty years ago, in 1996, an NAVS investigation inside the Institute of Neurology revealed monkeys being used in such procedures.

Despite a number of previous animal and human studies, researchers at the National Veterinary School of Lyon simulated human periodontal disease in 8 macaque monkeys to study dental cavity material effects on healing. Funded by manufacturer Dentsply, the monkeys were subjected to multiple surgeries, involving cutting into their gums to expose the roots of the teeth and jaw bones. Eight cavities were created in each monkey and inflammation of the gums deliberately induced. Then various substances were used to fill in the damaged teeth. After twelve weeks the monkeys were killed and examined. Highlighting a fundamental flaw of the research, it was noted “the induced inflammation… different from the inflammation caused by [human] periodontal diseases”.

The Ministry of Defence implanted monitoring devices into 26 marmoset monkeys, gave them daily injections, and forced 16 of the monkeys to inhale the meliodosis bacteria.  The bacteria is responsible for respiratory disease suffered by people who have had contact with infected soil and water in parts of Asia and Australia.  Symptoms the animals endured included fever, lethargy and severe damage to the liver, spleen and lungs. All were killed at the end of the experiment. The MOD claimed they were seeking a therapy, yet there are already a number of human therapies to treat meliodosis, which commonly incubates over more than two months compared to just hours in marmosets.

Almost ten years ago, in 2007, Members of the European Parliament instructed (in Written Declaration WD40/2007) the European Commission to set a timetable to phase out experiments on monkeys.  Sadly little progress has been made.

Aside from the ethical considerations, there are fundamental differences at the cellular, genetic and immune system level, making data from primate tests unreliable for humans – as shown in the cases of TGN1412 and BIA 10-2474. Outcomes can also be affected by factors including stress and the animal’s age, diet and sex.

In the coming week, as the suffering of laboratory animals is marked all over the globe on World Day for the Laboratory Animals, the NAVS is calling for action to end cruel experiments on monkeys.

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How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener




green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?




shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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