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Richard Berman cares about animals: clients exposed

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on global corporations.

Richard Berman Cares About Animals: Clients Exposed. Richard Berman dedicates funding from clients in the tobacco, processed food, meat & dairy, pharmaceutical and animal testing industries to 'exposing inconsistencies' of 'malicious animal rights activists'.

Overview & clients

PetaKillsAnimals.com was created in July of 2004 by the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). According to it's website, they also "stand up to the food police, environmental scaremongers, neo-prohibitionists, meddling bureaucrats, and other self-anointed saints who claim to know what's best for you". They even feature a "Daily Headlines" service which provides "valuable information" about "these activists, and analysis of their activities." They "welcome your support" and "financial contribution".[1]

PETA has since created a response site, PETA Saves, which discusses Richard Berman and the CCF’s smear campaign.

CCF is an industry-funded organization and front group for the restaurant, alcohol, tobacco and other industries. It is registered as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization under the IRS code 501(c)(3). Over 40% of the group's 2005 expenditure was paid to Rick Berman's public relations company, Berman & Co. for "management services". [2]

CCF provides virtually no referencing, yet their statements are circulated by other industry groups, animal breeders and brokers, news wires and even some media outlets. CCF does not link back to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), nor any sites of groups or individuals purportedly being "exposed". Richard Berman and CCF clients have included Phillip Morris, Monsanto, Tyson Foods, Dean Foods and Coca Cola [3]. Tyson is also a major supplier of restaurant chains, including Kentucky Fried Chicken [4] and McDonalds. [5] Monsanto contracts product toxicity testing on animals out to Huntingdon Life Sciences. [6] All of these corporations, as well as Phillip Morris contract laboratory Covance Laboratories, have subjects of campaigns and investigations by PETA and/or other groups.

Clients & investigations

PETA has convinced numerous corporations to cease cruel product testing on animals, including Coca-Cola. It has conducted investigations on some of the worst offenders for animal welfare violations.

See also PETA, section 2.

Over 90% of the animals used in experimentation are excluded from the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the only federal law which over sees animal testing. Rats, mice, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish are expressly eliminated from all safeguards. Species not covered under the AWA do not even have to be reported. [7] Thousands of rats, mice, rabbits, dogs, and primates are killed in "pre-clinical" tests for new drugs (including all ingredients and even minor differences in formulas). Following an extensive battery of animal testing, drugs generally undergo three phases of clinical trials. The fact that months or years of human studies are also required suggests health authorities do not trust the results. [8] In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that 92 out of every 100 drugs that successfully pass animal trials, subsequently fail human trials. [9], [10]

See also animal testing, sections 1 through 3.

Altria (Phillip Morris)

PETA investigation of Covance Laboratories, Vienna, VA. - April 2004 - March 2005

In 2005, PETA filed a shareholder resolution at Altria requesting they cease animal testing of of tobacco products. PETA pointed out that animals respond very differently from humans to exposure to tobacco smoke. After decades of of testing, animals do not develop lung cancer; even when hooked up around-the-clock to smoke ventilation machines. Claiming ownership of 114 shares of common stock, PETA submitted a shareholder proposal to eliminate animal testing for the company's tobacco products. Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have placed limits or bans on the testing of tobacco products on animals. A PETA representative attended Altria]´s April 28, 2005, annual meeting in East Hanover, New Jersey on April 28, 2005 to present the resolution, which failed to pass.[11] The Altria Group is a client of Covance Laboratories. [12]

Covance Laboratories

Covance Laboratories is an international contract research organization (CRO) and laboratory animal breeding company. Firms hire CROs to conduct animal toxicity tests for agrochemicals, petrochemicals, household products, pharmaceutical drugs and toxins. Covance is the largest importer of primates in the United States and the world's largest breeder of laboratory dogs. Under its former name of Hazleton Laboratories, Covance provided animal data favorable to the tobacco industry and contributed to the continued marketing of cigarettes. In the 1990s, Covance performed studies sponsored by the tobacco industry claiming that even extreme exposure to secondhand smoke was safe for humans. [13]

For a 6 month period from April 26, 2004, to March 11, 2005, an undercover investigator from PETA videotaped systematic abuse of animals at Covance Laboratories' facility in Vienna, Virginia. [14] Covance has amassed a history of gross animal welfare violations in the United States and Europe.

See also Covance Laboratories.

Huntingdon Life Sciences

U.S. & European investigations of Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) is the 3rd largest contract research organization (CRO) in the world and the largest animal testing facility in Europe. HLS provides full programs for agrochemicals like pesticides, herbicides, weed-killers and fertilizers. They also test detergents, tanning lotions, diet pills, food wrapping plastic, food additives, cosmetics and some pharmaceuticals. Viagra was tested at HLS. Olestra was a "fat free oil" that was found to be safe in animal tests but caused anal leakage in humans. HLS also tests controversial genetically modified organisms and has performed Xenotransplantation experiments. [15] An estimated 12,800 animals were killed in the process of testing Splenda. [16]

See also Splenda: Sadistically Sweet.

In September of 1996, undercover PETA investigator Michelle Rokke, was hired as a lab technician at Huntingdon's New Jersey lab. Wearing glasses with a pinpoint video camera in the bridge, she taped some 50 hours of laboratory activities in her 8 months of employment. She also made six hours of audiotapes and copied 8,000 pages of documents, including a client list. [17] HLS has a long history of gross animal welfare violations.

See also Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Senate hearings focusing on HLS issues

According to Dr. Jerry Vlasik's October 10th, 2005 address to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works:

"Huntingdon Life Sciences has been infiltrated and exposed 5 times in recent years by journalists, animal rights campaigners and members of the public; each time evidence of animal abuse and staff incompetence has been uncovered. A 1999 inspection of their Occold (UK) facility by the Good Laboratory Practice Monitoring Authority revealed 41 deficiencies, including errors in standard operating procedures, training issues, record keeping, quality assurance, equipment, labeling and facilities. 520 violations of the UK Good Laboratory Practices Act were documented in an expose by the Daily Press (UK) in 2000. They are the only UK laboratory to ever have their license revoked by the government. ...Each of the witnesses that have testified before me have their own financial interests at stake in the continued oppression, torture and murder of non-human animals by HLS." [18]

Dr. Vlasik is a trauma surgeon, former vivisector and Press Officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. He was the only activist invited to attend these hearings. A previous hearing in May featured statements from David Martosko of CCF. [19]

Tyson Foods

PETA investigation of Tyson Foods. - 2007

In separate investigations in 2007, PETA documented Tyson Foods workers urinating in the "live hang" area and on the conveyor belt that carried birds to slaughter. Other abuses included breaking legs and wings, throwing birds against shackles, breaking a chickens back by beating it on a rail, stabbing birds in the neck and shackling birds by the neck instead of the legs. The investigation also documented supervisors who were either directly involved or refused to enforce animal welfare policies. For example, a supervisor was recorded telling the investigator that ripping the heads off live birds was acceptable. Another refused to intervene when after birds became trapped at the end of the conveyor belt and when birds were cut at the body (instead of the throat). Abuse was was documented at both the Georgia and Tennessee plants. [20] Tyson is also a major supplier of restaurant chains, including McDonalds [21] and Kentucky Fried Chicken. [22] Tyson also has a history of human rights abuses which include safety violations, workplace fatalities, substandard wages and benefits and harassment and physical assaults on striking workers.

See also Tyson Foods.

Dean Foods

In September of 2009, PETA revealed footage from a five-month undercover investigation of a Pennsylvania dairy CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) that supplies milk to Dean Foods label, Land O' Lakes. Land O' Lakes is the largest seller of branded butter in the U.S. The footage documented abuse and neglect of cows and calves at the facility. Cows in pain and unable to stand were electro-shocked and stabbed with a pocket knife. Sick and injured cows were left to languish in their own waste for days and even weeks, without veterinary care. In one case, workers were told to wrap an elastic band around a cow's gangrenous, infected teat to "amputate" it. The cow deteriorated for 11 days before she died. [23]

See also Land O' Lakes.

CCF & puppy mills

See also Missouri puppy mills & Prop B.

Corporate concern

According to CCF:

"PETA has repeatedly attacked research foundations like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, solely because they support animal-based research aimed at curing life-threatening diseases and birth defects." [24]

PETA campaigns against charities which fund animal testing, such as the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society and Muscular Dystrophy Association. [25]

American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is the largest non-religious charity in the world. As of the fiscal year ending in August of 2007, the ACS had a net revenue 1.17 billion dollars. [26] ACS's daily expenditures exceed one million dollars with 16% going into patient cancer programs. The rest is funneled into expensive research and bureaucratic overhead. Meager prevention programs are designed not to offend the industry. The average American diagnosed with cancer spend upwards of $25,000 of their savings on cures. Claims of progress include people with benign diseases. Those in remission longer than 5 years are declared cured, although many will die from either cancer or treatment after five years. [27] More is spent on cancer than any other medical problem. There are more people living off of cancer than cancer sufferers. Millions of laboratory animals, including rats, mice, monkeys, guinea pigs, cats and dogs have been injected with cancerous material or implanted with malignancies. [28], [29] According to leading cancer researcher, Robert Weinberg:

"The preclinical (animal) models of human cancer, in large part, stink… Hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted every year by drug companies using these models." [30]

See also War on Cancer.

March of Dimes

Human studies have clearly demonstrated the negative effects of tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse on pregnancy. Never-the less, the March of Dimes continues to fund cruel, painful studies on animals and their infants. They have funneled millions into nicotine, alcohol and cocaine addiction experiments, sensory deprivation and transplanting organs from one species to another. [31]

See also March of Dimes

In 1990, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a study on 38 types of birth defects from 1979-80 through 1986-87. During this period, 29 birth defects increased, two decreased and seven remained stable. [32] Approximately 25% of all infant deaths could be eliminated with better pre-natal services and infant deaths would decrease by 10 to 25% if women gave up smoking during pregnancy. Alcohol abuse during pregnancy is the leading cause of preventable birth defects. [33]

It is easy decipher CCF's position on "life saving research". Cutting down or eliminating alcohol, tobacco and dangerous, animal tested pharmaceuticals and toxins, is bad for business.

PETA Kids

According to CCF:

"PETA brags that its messages reach over 1.2 million minor children, including 30,000 kids between the ages of 6 and 12, all contacted by e-mail without parental supervision." [34]

PETA's departments include Peta Kids, which is geared to children and contains age appropriate material.

PETA, ALF & ELF

In October of 2000, Ingrid Newkirk, the director and co-founder of PETA, published a book about the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) entitled "Free the Animals: The Story of the Animal Liberation Front". [35] According to an interview with David Shankbone in an HBO documentary about her life, she understands but does not support arson.

"I do support getting animals out in the same way I would have supported getting human slaves out, child labor, sex slaves, the whole lot. But I don’t support burning. I don’t support arson." [36]

During the 1995 trial of Rodney Coronado for the arson of Michigan State University (MSU), U.S. Attorney Michael Dettmer "alleged" that Ingrid Newkirk arranged to have Coronado send her stolen documents and a videotape. [37], [38] According to David Martosko's written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works in May of 2005, pages from PETA's IRS documents from 1994 show "disbursements to the Rodney Coronado Support Committee" and a loan to his father. According to the same testimony, their IRS documents from 2000 show a disbursement to Earth Liberation Front (ELF). [39] ELF is an organization with no official membership and is similar to that of ALF. [40]

So, a lawyer for the prosecution "alleged" prior knowledge. Donations were public record and included in IRS statements (independently audited and available upon request). There was even a committee set up for donations to Rodney Coronado. Ms. Newkirk's book about ALF was published in 2000 and sells on Amazon. She has also discussed ALF in an HBO documentary and an episode of 20/20. According to David Martosko's testimony, PETA has published interviews with ALF activists. This is hardly the clandestine arrangement characterized by CCF.

CCF & green baiting

Lobbyists have taken out full page, anonymous ads in the New York Times and the Washington Post, labeling animal rights activists as "terrorists" for being a little too successful and knocking Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) from the New York Stock Exchange. HLS is a contract research facility (CRO) with a long history of gross animal welfare violations.

See also Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Even children's movies are subject to relentless green baiting and guilt by association. For example, the best selling book and popular movie "Hoot", was labeled "soft-core eco-terrorism" because teenage protagonists tried to save an endangered owl from developers. According to CCF, the movie remake of Charlotte’s Web also promoted "animal rights extremism". [41]

The only attempted murder in the history of the U.S. animal rights movement was coordinated by corporate provocateurs.[42]

Between 1977 and January 2007, there were over 13,000 incidents targeting abortion clinics and doctors, including 7 murders. There have been over 2,100 acts of union violence between 1991 and 2001, including bombings, shootings and near fatal injuries. In 2004 alone, there were over 4,500 racially motivated incidents in the U.S. There were 1,480 incidents based on religious bias and another 1,460 based on sexual orientation. Animal and environmental groups have committed far fewer acts, yet are labeled "terrorists", while those who shoot abortion doctors or burn down synagogues are perceived only as felons.[43]

See also AETA, section 7.

Animal activists who have been injured or killed

However, there have been a number of incidents involving victimized animal activists who have been injured or killed.

PETA's local programs in Virginia & North Carolina

According to CCF:

"Hypocrisy is the mother of all credibility problems, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has it in spades. While loudly complaining about the "unethical" treatment of animals by restaurant owners, grocers, farmers, scientists, anglers, and countless other Americans, the group has its own dirty little secret. PETA kills animals. By the thousands. "[44]

CCF does not advocate for "restaurant owners, grocers, farmers, scientists, anglers, and countless other Americans", but large corporations with histories of gross animal welfare violations, human rights, health and environmental abuses as well as puppy mills.

PETA administers humane euthanasia services for at least four shelters (where animals might otherwise by shot or gassed). Also, due to lack of facility space from area "no-kill" shelters; other "unadoptable", homeless and/ or owner surrenders are often dumped on the premises or into the care of staff members. However, the fact that VA and NC permit this organization to take responsibility for animals (who would otherwise be left to fend for themselves or killed inhumanely) does not alter the fact that PETA is an advocacy organization, not a shelter. They make no such claim to their members or anyone else. They created the [45] website to counter CCF claims and explain their euthanasia stance. For complete statistics, see also Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) On-line Animal Reporting.[46]

According to CCF:

"PETA holds absolutely no open-adoption shelter hours at its Norfolk, VA headquarters." [47]

National organizations conduct research, public education, outreach and assist local shelters. However, PETA also answers emergency calls for strays, abused, neglected and homeless animals and animals turned away from shelters. For example, the local branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Norfolk, Virginia has a "selective admission" policy. In 2004, it took in only 1.7 percent of all homeless animals, or 765 out of 45,450. [48] They do not operate an animal shelter other than two small, cageless rooms set aside for animals surrendered to their organization.

NC shelters & gas chambers

In 2000, PETA was contacted by a police officer who was appalled by the terrible suffering of animals in local North Carolina shelters. Some "shelters" were nothing more than exposed, unheated or cooled shacks that left animals to either drown or freeze, depending on the weather. PETA became involved in assisting shelters with cleaning, adoptions, training, staff, providing supplies, conducting cruelty investigations and providing adequate shelter to animals. PETA has spent over $300,000 on services to NC shelters in the last few years. Many pounds in the area had no adoption programs or even operating hours. Unwanted animals were either shot, gassed in windowless metal boxes or injected with a paralytic agent that caused them to slowly die of suffocation. These practices were carried out for decades until PETA began providing humane euthanasia. Although veterinary services for lethal injection were secured for one of the four pounds they discovered, animals at the other shelters would have been gassed, shot or died of suffocation had they not been picked up by PETA staff for euthanasia.

Although some of the animals have been adopted out, most of the dogs and cats from NC shelters have suffered from various debilitating conditions. These include Parvo, heart worms, mange, Lyme disease, untreated injuries, embedded collars, broken and exposed bones and severe parasitic infestations. [49], [50]

NC gas chambers, stats & local services

Over 250,000 homeless animals are killed in North Carolina shelters annually. In NC, over 20 county shelters still use gas chambers and other inhumane methods. Animals gasp for breath while they slowly suffocate. Witnesses have seen animals struggling and wailing for up to ten minutes before succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning. In their panic, some bite themselves and each other and beat their heads against the walls while they choke and vomit. Groups of up to 25 animals are gassed together and some will not die the first time. At least 3 NC gas chambers have exploded and four government employees who operate gas chambers have died from heart and lung problems in recent years.[51]

PETA provides free services to local animal shelters, constructs shelters and provides free local spay/neuter services. They also advocate for chained and "backyard dogs. [52] They have spent over $300,000 on services to NC shelters in the past few years. [53]

See also PETA, sections 2 & 4.

PETA overview, financial statement & salaries

According to CCF:

"PETA kills animals. Because it has other financial priorities. PETA rakes in nearly $30 million each year in income, much of it raised from pet owners who think their donations actually help animals." [54]

PETA is an international animal advocacy organization. Members are not under the false impression that they are an animal shelter. They are kept informed via email and member publications and may participate in campaigns. According to PETA's (independently audited and available upon request) statement for the fiscal year ending July 31 2008: 83.66% of funding went directly into programs. 12.16% was spent on fund raising and 4.18% on administration and operations. 29% of PETA's staff earn $19,000 to to $29,999; 45% earn $30,000 to $39,999 and 26% earn over $39,999. President Ingrid Newkirk earned 35,462 dollars in 2008. [55]

Organizations like CCF not only represent multi-billion dollar corporations, but industries which are heavily subsidized by tax payers.

See also U.S. Government's War on Animals.

Other targeted organizations

According to CCF:

"(PETA)'s 'Holocaust on Your Plate' campaign crassly compared the Jewish victims of Nazi genocide to farm animals." [56]

Groups like Farm Sanctuary and United Poultry Concerns (who do run sanctuaries) are also CCF targets. Another CCF target is Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM). FARM was founded by Dr. Alex Hershaft, a child survivor of the Warsaw ghetto. [57] According to Isaac Bashevis Singer:

"As a son of Holocaust survivors and grandson of nonsurvivors, to me such 'moral equivalence' is neither a diminishment of nor an insult to the memory of the Holocaust’s human victims. ...the dehumanization and persecution by the Nazis of their victims should (to quote Einstein) 'widen our circle of compassion' to include the dreadfully analogous mass objectification and brutalization of our fellow animals." [58]

See also A Visit to the ActivistCash.Com Web Site.

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles

References

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External resources