Celebrating Animals on ‘Earth Day’

As we celebrate this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Animal Interfaith Alliance and its member faith-based animal advocacy organisations will be thinking, not only about climate change, but also about the wonderful animals that are so fundamental to our unique planet.

Every day so many of these animals are abused in factory farms, laboratories, in entertainment and in the wild. This is the year, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, that we started paying the price for our “tyrannical anthropocentrism”, as Pope Francis described it. This is the year that planet Earth started fighting back. This is the year that the abuse of wild animals in horrific wildlife markets caused the global pandemic which is killing humans.

This is the year when we must reflect on our abuse of the animal creation and start becoming the good stewards we were meant to be for the Earth and all its inhabitants. This is the time to end our tyrannical anthropocentrism and to love, cherish and protect all the animals we share Earth with.

Faith Groups Write to the UN Calling for Decisive Action to Prevent Further Pandemics

The Animal Interfaith Alliance (AIA) has written to the United Nations on behalf of its sixteen faith based animal advocacy member organisations, calling on them to take decisive action to prevent further pandemics.  The letter, addressed to Antonio Guterres the Secretary General of the UN, is here:

Your Excellency António Guterres
Secretary-General of the United Nations
United Nations
405 East 42nd Street
New York
NY, 10017

9th April 2020

Your Excellency António Guterres,

Call for the United Nations to take decisive action to prevent further pandemics.

On behalf of the faith based animal advocacy organisations listed below, the Animal Interfaith Alliance, their umbrella organisation, commends the United Nations on its current efforts in tackling the global pandemic caused by the outbreak of Covid-19.

The major faiths, to which these organisations are associated, have over 4 billion followers worldwide.

It is scientifically established that Covid-19 is just one in a series of epidemics that have been caused by our abuse of nature and, in particular, our abuse of animals. These include the influenza pandemic of 1918, rabies, HIV, Lassa fever, Ebola, Nipah, MERS, SARs, bovine TB, H1N1 Swine flu and H5N1 avian flu. We outline further details of how these epidemics were caused by the abuse of animals here:

Governments have failed to learn the clear lessons from these previous epidemics. Had those lessons been learned, the current pandemic, which is destroying so many lives through death and economic collapse, could have been prevented.

We call on the United Nations to do everything in its power to ensure that governments around the world learn from this pandemic and put measures in place that mitigate against the risk of future pandemics occurring. These measures include:

– A worldwide ban on wet markets;
– A worldwide ban on the wildlife trade;
– A worldwide ban on the use of animals in traditional medicine;
– A worldwide ban on factory farming – all farming should be practised to a minimum of RSPCA Assured/Freedom Food standards;
– A worldwide ban on the long distance transport of animals;
– A ban on the use of all animals in entertainment with zoos held to World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) standards;
– The promotion of non-animal based sources of nutrition (which will promote the health of the world’s population);

In order to implement these measures we would recommend that the United Nations works in association with organisations such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (the OIE), the International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to advise on animal welfare standards.

As this is a critical and urgent issue, our members would very much appreciate a considered response to our letter.
Yours sincerely,

The Animal Interfaith Alliance, on behalf of the following 16 faith based organisations:

The Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals
Animals in Islam
Bhagvatinandji Education and Health Trust
Catholic Concern for Animals
Christian Vegetarians and Vegans UK
The Christian Vegetarian Association US
Dharma Voices for Animals
The Institute of Jainology
The Jewish Vegetarian Society
The Mahavir Trust
The Oshwal Association of the UK
Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals
Quaker Concern for Animals
The Romeera Foundation
The Sadhu Vaswani Centre

The Young Jains

Inger Anderson – UN Environment Chief

Iyad Abu Moghli – UN Environment Programme – Faith for Earth

Copies to media

Corona Virus and Animal Testing – by Dr Andre Menache

Animal Testing & Covid-19

The Coronavirus pandemic called COVID-19 is an important opportunity to reassess the way we do medical research. Faced with this viral tsunami, scientists have not had time to find one or more animal species to serve as a ‘model’ to study this disease in the laboratory.

In the case of seasonal flu, doctors have well-known ways to lower rates of infection, such as vaccines and antiviral drugs, which can decrease the severity of symptoms and the duration of the disease. But faced with an emergency situation, researchers decided to test new treatments directly on patients. It should be noted that these are not untested medical drugs but rather drugs used for other diseases, or else different combinations of drugs already on the market.

This kind of human experimentation is called a ‘clinical trial’. Its purpose is to assess the efficacy of a treatment following the approval by ethics committees and the informed consent of the patient. A clinical trial is normally preceded by several ‘preclinical’ steps to assess the toxicity and efficacy of a new treatment. One of these steps is animal testing. This regulatory requirement dates back to the Nuremberg Codes of 1947 and is still the norm in national and international legislation today. Yet, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, out of ten medical drugs that have successfully passed the required tests on animals, nine will fail in clinical trials involving humans (due to lack of efficacy or to side effects not seen in animals). This represents a 90% failure rate or a 10% prediction rate based on animal tests.

It is interesting to note that scientists closely involved in the search for a treatment or a vaccine against COVID-19 also recognise the fact that animal tests are unreliable to predict human reactions. Let us quote some of them. According to Tal Zaks, medical director of Moderna, a successful biotech company in the United States: “I don’t think proving this in an animal model is on the critical path to getting this to a clinical trial” (1). Barney Graham, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) also in the United States notes that standard laboratory mice do not catch this new Coronavirus, as humans do (2). Finally, Karen Maschke, editor of the journal Ethics & Human Research, pointed out that animal studies are often poor predictors of what will work in humans (3).

Of course, making a new vaccine is not without risk. This is the reason for using evidence-based technologies, as demonstrated by ‘personalised’ medicine and vaccines. Indeed, doctors and researchers note that we are not all equal to the risk of infection by this virus. Why are children far less susceptible than the elderly, for example? Crucially, the clinical information that is being collected constitutes the best data to develop personalised treatments and vaccines, more effective and with fewer side effects than conventional treatments.

This is a golden opportunity to get rid of the ‘animal model’, a concept that belongs to the 20th century, and to focus our efforts on the species in question, namely humans. To try to reproduce a human disease in an animal is a perversion of science, a complete misunderstanding of the complex system that we are and of the different complex systems that make up our organism, such as the immune system. Each animal species is a complex system and therefore cannot serve as a model for another. Even among humans, there are important differences between children and adults, men and women, in terms of susceptibility to COVID-19. Rather than experimenting with ferrets, monkeys or mice, it would be more intelligent – and far more scientific – to invest in high-performance technologies of the 21st century.

One example is the ‘MIMIC’ (Modular IMmune In vitro Construct). It is an in vitro model of the human immune system (4). “The information you get from this type of test is far and beyond what you’d get out of a mouse study,” says Michael Rivard, vice president of corporate development at VaxDesign, “both because it’s humans and because you can see the effect across a spectrum of genotypes” (5).

Advanced in vitro technologies (such as MIMIC, ‘organs on a chip’ and others) must aim for a prediction rate of 85 to 90 % in order to be accepted at the regulatory level, whereas the ‘animal model’ achieves a prediction rate of only 10% according to the FDA. A testing strategy based on a battery of in vitro tests using human material would be far more relevant than pursuing animal tests. It is time to change the current paradigm in biomedical research if we want to preserve our health in the face of emerging diseases of the 21st century. Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic will help us to question some of our outdated scientific practices as well as the obsolete regulations that still impose them.


Researchers rush to test coronavirus vaccine in people without knowing how well it works in animals


Researchers rush to test coronavirus vaccine in people without knowing how well it works in animals


Help Ban Wet Markets

Animal Equality have today launched an international campaign calling on the United Nations to demand an immediate global ban on all wet markets.

Please sign their petition here and share it widely.

Animal Equality have investigated wet markets in China, India and Vietnam.  The footage in the video is from a wet market in Wuhan, China, where Covid-19 is thought to have originated.

Wet markets get their name, in part, from the floors that are soaked in blood – the blood of animals such as crocodiles, porcupines, deer, bats, chickens, goats and cats and dogs.

There are no animal welfare or hygiene regulations in place and, despite the documented dangers to public health and extreme cruelty to animals, wet markets remain legal.  They are hell on earth for animals and have now posed a global threat to human health globally.

Covid-19 is not the first deadly virus to emerge from humanity’s misuse of our fellow sentient creatures, and, if we do not learn from our mistakes, it will not be the last. All past pandemics have originated from animals being eaten or taken from their natural environments. These include the influenza pandemic of 1918, HIV, Lassa fever, Ebola, MERS, SARS, Nipah, swine flu H1N1, avian flu H5N1 and Covid-19.  When we steal animals from their natural environments and confine them in unnatural conditions, we can tear viruses loose from their natural hosts to whom they do no harm. They then need to seek new hosts to whom they can be harmful, such as humans.  Further details are here.

In Memory of Jon Wynne-Tyson

Extended CircleWe are very sad to hear of the passing of Jon Wynne-Tyson on 26th March 2020, aged 95.

Jon was a stalwart of the animal rights movement, a vegetarian and a Quaker who was Patron of Quaker Concern for Animals and a trustee of Compassion in World Farming.  Jon was a great writer who set up his own publishing company, Centaur Press.  He wrote The Civilised Alternative (1972) and Food for a Future (1975) but he is probably best known for The Extended Circle: A Dictionary of Humane Thought (1985) in which he collates quotations from many famous people in history to make the case for extending our circle of compassion to include animals.

I was introduced to Jon about 10 years ago by Richard Ryder and was lucky enough to visit him on several occasions at his home in West Sussex when travelling to RSPCA meetings.  He was a delightful, kind man and a perfect host.  I shall miss him very much.

AIA President Richard Ryder was a close friend of Jon and says, “Jon played an important role in establishing the modern Animal Rights movement that has been so successful in getting over 60 pieces of animal protection legislation passed in Britain and the EU over the last 40 years. In 1977, at the RSPCA’s Animal Rights Conference at Trinity College, Cambridge, he came forward as an enlightened publisher of its proceedings (Animals’ Rights – a Symposium ed Paterson and Ryder, pub. Centaur Press 1979) and therefore helped to put the whole new movement on a firm and public footing”.

More can be read about Jon on the Quaker Concern for Animals’ website here.

R.I.P. Jon and thank you for your great contribution to humanity’s progress.

Barbara Gardner

‘Creation Care: Christian Responsibility’ – a Course by Dr Christina Nellist

Pan Orthodox Image

This exciting new eight unit course has been designed by Dr Christina Nellist of Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals which is a member organisation of AIA.

The course establishes that concern and compassion for animals is not a modern phenomenon but one found both in the Bible and in the earliest teachings of the Christian Church. It provides an anamnesis of a lesser-known Orthodox tradition, where all animals are loved and protected by God and that their suffering is against God’s will. It reminds us that in our role as Image, we should strive to reflect the Archetype in our lives. It also highlights the soteriological implications of abuse and exploitation of God’s non-human animal beings. By causing harm to animals or by our indifference to it, human salvation is in jeopardy.

The course is divided into seven/eight* themes/units:
1) The innate goodness of God’s creation.
2) The correct interpretation of Dominion.
3) Compassionate care through the Image of God.
4) Examples of Behavioural Guidance.
5) The concept of Sacramental Life.
6) Sins against the animal creation.
7) A role for the Church.
8) Practical examples of Responsible Care.

The full course can be accessed on Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals’ website here

Covid-19 – When Will We Heed Nature’s Warnings?

Bat 7


AIA CE Barbara Gardner asks why the lessons of past pandemics, which all derived from animal abuse, have not been learned and she suggests how we should campaign at the United Nations to end the animal abuse and ensure such pandemics never happen again.

By Barbara Gardner


Covid-19 is not the first deadly virus to emerge from humanity’s misuse of our fellow sentient creatures, and, if we do not learn from our mistakes, it will not be the last. Whilst it may be the worst and most global virus so far, there could be worse to come. What if the next pandemic killed 90% of people infected, like the 1996 version of Ebola, instead of the 2% of Covid-19, and had the transmission rate of Covid-19?

As an interfaith community concerned for the welfare of animals and the environment, it is incumbent upon us to campaign against our misuse of the natural world, not only for the environment but for the decent treatment of our fellow creatures. Let us first look at the lessons of the past and then look at what we need to do, as an interfaith movement, to bring about the changes required to protect our fellow creatures and ourselves. It is no longer enough that we as individuals do the right thing by living a vegan lifestyle, if our fellow humans continue the activities which cause such mass suffering and global devastation. We really do have to confront their behaviour and make changes at the global level through the United Nations (UN).

Missed Lessons from the Past
When we steal animals from their natural environments and confine them in unnatural conditions, we can tear viruses loose from their natural hosts to whom they do no harm. They then need to seek new hosts to whom they can be harmful, such as humans. Let us look at past examples of when this has happened and ask what we can learn from them.

The Plague (or Black Death): The Plague comes from bacteria living in fleas which are carried by other animals, such as rats. The bacteria infect humans when these flea-carrying animals are brought into contact with them. The Black Death of 1347-1351 is estimated to have killed between 75 million to 200 million people and is thought to have originated in Asia and travelled to Europe via the Silk Road where it was spread by fleas carried by black rats. This was the world’s second plague pandemic. The first, which was known as the Plague of Justinian, occurred in the 6th and 7th centuries and killed 40% of the population of Constantinople. Following the Black Death there continued to be a whole series of plague outbreaks until the early 19th century when these were reduced largely by better hygiene.

Influenza pandemic of 1918 (or Spanish Flu): This involved the swine/avian flu virus H1N1 and is thought to have started in an overcrowded UK troop staging and hospital camp in Étaples in France which was near a pig and poultry farm. A virus was being harboured in birds which migrated to pigs and then to the humans in the camp. It infected 500 million people around the world, 27% of the population. The death toll is estimated to have been between 17 million and 50 million people.

Rabies: Despite animal control and vaccinations, 17,400 people died of rabies in 2015, mostly in Africa and Asia. Rabies is caused by a virus that comes from bats but is also carried by dogs. It is spread in saliva when infected animals bite or scratch others, causing inflammation of the brain and usually death. In the Americas 95% of rabies cases come from bat bites, not dogs. Many of the wild animals found in Chinese wet markets can also carry rabies. Rabies can be controlled by vaccinations.

HIV (Human immunodeficiency viruses): HIV-1 and HIV-2 are believed to have originated in primates in West-central Africa and to have transferred to humans in the early 20th century. HIV-1 appears to have originated in southern Cameroon through the evolution of SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) that infects wild chimpanzees. It is thought to have jumped the species barrier on at least three separate occasions, giving rise to three groups of the virus, M, N and O. Humans who participate in bushmeat activities, either as hunters or vendors, commonly acquire SIV, although the virus is easily suppressed. However, several transmissions of the virus allowed it to mutate into HIV. The earliest documented case of HIV dates back to 1959 in the Congo.

Lassa fever: Lassa fever infects around 300,000 to 500,000 people a year, resulting in 5,000 deaths a year. It occurs in the Lassa belt of Africa which includes Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leonne and Liberia and is caused by the Lassa virus which is transmitted by contact with the urine or faeces of the natal multimammate mouse. There is currently no vaccine.

Ebola: Ebola is a virus carried by fruit bats which when transmitted to humans has a very high mortality rate – 25% to 90%. It was first identified in 1976 in two outbreaks in Sudan and the Congo. In Sudan 284 people were infected and 151 people died. In the Congo 318 people were infected and 280 died, an 88% fatality rate. Between 1976 and 2012 the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 24 outbreaks involving 2,387 cases with 1,590 deaths. The largest outbreak occurred in West Africa during 2014 and 2015 with 28,646 cases and 11,323 deaths. In July 2019 the WHO declared another outbreak in the Congo as a world health emergency. Out of 3,444 cases, 2,264 people died.

The disease can also be picked up from fruit bats by other animals and then passed on to humans. In 1996, in Gabon, 90% of infected villagers died after eating an infected chimpanzee. Other animals have died of Ebola including dogs and chimpanzees. According to a 2006 BBC News report, 5,000 Ugandan gorillas had died of Ebola.

MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome): MERS, also known as camel flu, was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2002. It is a coronavirus which originates in bats and is spread to humans via camels, although the camels appear to be immune to it. Fortunately it has a low infection rate with less than 2,000 cases being reported, although it has a 36% fatality rate and there is no vaccine.

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome): In 2002-03 an outbreak of the SARS corona virus in China infected 8,098 people, resulting in 774 deaths after spreading to 17 other countries. The virus originated in cave dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan Province and had been transmitted to humans by the intermediary of civets. Although there were no further cases of this virus, it is related to the current coronavirus.

Nipah: the Nipah virus occurs in bats and spread to humans in Malaysia in 2018, infecting 700 humans, resulting in a 50% to 75% death rate. There were also 17 deaths from the Nipah virus in Kerala in India. The disease also spreads to pigs and in 1999, after the disease was first identified, millions of pigs were slaughtered in Malaysia to prevent the spread of the disease.

Covid-19: Covid-19 is the latest corona virus which is believed to have originated in bats and spread to humans in 2019 from a wet market in Wuhan in China. It has spread globally very rapidly and is continuing to spread with deadly consequences and has been the worst pandemic since the 1918 influenza pandemic.

The clear lesson to be learned from this is to respect virus-carrying bats and bacteria-carrying fleas and their hosts. Also, it is not enough to stop eating and mixing with bats but we must stop eating and mixing with other animals that act as intermediaries for the virus between the bats and ourselves.

Wet Markets and Factory Farming

INDONESIA-CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS-ANIMALWhen the Covid-19 virus’ natural host is killed, it looks for the nearest new living host.

In wet markets, where live animals which carry viruses, such as rats, bats and pangolins to name but a few, are kept caged alongside each other in unnatural, cramped conditions, often being slaughtered amongst each other, the potential for creating new viruses like SARS and Covid-19 is ripe. They have been time bombs waiting to go off. Unless we stop these markets now, we will continue to invite new pathogens to infect us. We now know that they can be transmitted very quickly all over the globe. If a new virus was created that had the transmission rate of Covid-19 and the fatality rate of Ebola, we would see worldwide death on an unimaginable scale.

But whilst it may be easy to criticise the wet markets of China and other places for spreading pathogens, we must not overlook the possibility of spreading similar diseases ourselves through our own factory farms and long distance transport, which also create appalling conditions.

Swine flu H1N1: Swine flu is common in pigs worldwide and although it does not commonly transmit to humans it can do so where people have regular exposure to pigs. In 2009 the swine flu pandemic H1N1 infected between 700 million to 1.4 billion people and resulted in up to 575,000 fatalities. In 2015 31,156 cases of swine flu were reported in India resulting in 1,841 deaths. Keeping large numbers of pigs in unnatural, confined states such as in factory farms, encourages the infection and spread of swine flu. Other swine flu outbreaks that have occurred which have arisen from pig farms include: 1976 US, 1988 US, 2007 Philippines, 2009 Northern Ireland, 2015 Nepal, 2016 Pakistan, 2017 Maldives.

Avian Flu H5N1: Influenza A/H5N1 was first isolated from a goose in China in 1996. Human infections were first reported in Hong Kong in 1997. Since 2003, more than 700 cases of Asian H5N1 in over 60 countries have been reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO). There are many strains and although fatalities are relatively low compared to other diseases, it is feared that it is only a matter of time before a new strain emerges which is more deadly. Although less prevalent in humans the disease has caused pandemics amongst the bird population with the main breeding grounds being indoor commercial poultry, live poultry markets and backyard flocks.

Why have lessons not been learned?
Given the wealth of information we have about past pandemics, all of which were derived from our abuse of animals, why have we not analysed this data before and acted to prevent further pandemics? How have we allowed Covid-19 to happen? Who is responsible for this monumental negligence? Perhaps there is nothing positive to be gained by playing the blame game, but we must now address how we are going to prevent this ever happening again. I believe that the UN must take responsibility for this. Massive penalties need to be imposed on negligent governments.

Bringing Change through the United Nations (UN)
Clearly, living a healthy vegan lifestyle, whilst good for ourselves and the animals we have not harmed, will not stop the mass suffering of animals and global pandemics. We must take action to change the habits of our fellow human beings too. How can this be done when so many of them are unable or unwilling to change their habits?

Many refer to use of higher welfare farming, but this is a drop in the ocean of global farming practices and, at current levels, does not prevent mass cruelty or the pandemics we have experienced. Bad practices have to be ended and it is the responsibility of the UN and the governments of individual nations to enforce this. Otherwise we will see more pandemics and some of them will have both the spread of Covid-19 and the infection rate of Ebola. Even if the whole world was vegan and there was one wet market left in China, that could be enough to wipe out human society as we know it. The potentially massive effect on non-human species has not yet been fully understood.

Animal advocacy organisations must lobby at the highest levels, including governments, the EU and the United Nations to end the practices of wet markets, factory farming and long distance transport – in fact all practices that harm animals. The 20 member International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW) really needs to press this point home at the UN and the Animal Interfaith Alliance, as the alliance of the faith based animal advocacy organisations, will lobby the UN as well.

As a relatively impecunious organisation, we have never been able to travel to conferences to lobby and have done all our campaigning electronically. We have punched well above our weight in terms of campaigning activity to £ spent, as Marian’s report on the next few pages highlights. Now all organisations will find themselves limited in their travelling abilities but AIA will be well prepared for the new world order and we will do our best, on behalf of our member organisations, to lobby for an end to animal cruelty globally. ֍

Researched from Wikipedia.




Covid-19 – When Will We Heed Nature’s Warnings?

Issue 12 front coverGiven the wealth of information we have about past pandemics, all of which were derived from our abuse of animals, why have we not analysed this data before and acted to prevent further pandemics? How have we allowed Covid-19 to happen? Who is responsible for this monumental negligence? Perhaps there is nothing positive to be gained by playing the blame game, but we must now address how we are going to prevent this ever happening again. AIA believes that the UN and national governments must take responsibility for this.

Full report here:   Animal Spirit – Issue 12 – Spring 2020