We wanted to provide a quick update on the Sentience Bill ahead of today’s debate. This afternoon at 14:30, the House of Lords grand committee meet for the second time this month to continue reviewing suggested amendments to the bill.
Two particularly important amendments being debated today are calling for invertebrates, like crabs and lobsters, to be included in the bill. If the Lords agree that these amendments should be made, then we’re a big step closer to getting these animals protected!
At the time of critical debates such as this, it is essential to show how much support there is for this issue! Make sure to show your support today by completing our two actions. They only take a few minutes and make a massive difference:
These things happen legally because crustaceans and molluscs are not included in the Animal Welfare Act.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell the UK government to end these cruel practices and make it mandatory to treat these wild animals humanely – WITHOUT PAIN AND SUFFERING! – it will only take you a couple of minutes and it has to be NOW because they deciding right now whether to include crustaceans in the Sentience Bill and the Animal Welfare Act.
Stop lobsters, crabs and other shellfish being boiled alive by uploading a selfie to show the government you support Crustacean Compassion’s campaign.
The government is still undecided about including crustaceans in the new Sentience Bill, so please, no matter where you’re from, upload a selfie to tell the British government to do the right thing. This is an opportunity we’ve never had before. Thanks to Crustacean Compassion we are closer than ever to getting some protection for these horrifically abused animals. Don’t let it slip through our fingers. Add your picture to Crustacean Compassion’s selfie wall now!
I haven’t posted in a few weeks – still working on The English Family Anderson Chapter 4 which is not ready yet – but right now I want to share something I just read at the Tamera Peace Research and Education Centre. It was written in January this year and is filled with truth and rationality – something very hard to find in the current climate. I thought it would interest you too.
You can read the whole article here. [NB I’ve tried to change the colour of the paragraphs from the Tamera article but I’m not proficient in this new block editing thing so, rather than throw my laptop out the window, I will tell you that the paragraphs above the top image and below the bottom one are from me. The bits between the photos is all Tamera 😉 ]
For a year, Covid-19 has held the world in suspense. The infection with SARS-CoV-2 is evidently mild in most cases, but unfortunately not in all. … At the same time, we observe millions of cases of human suffering which aren’t caused by the virus, but precisely by the measures taken to contain it: The elderly, the vulnerable and the sick, who in many places become lonely, desperate and often enough have to die alone; the traumatization of an entire generation of children and young people, who are being inculcated with the fear of other people and the guilt of being themselves a danger to others and loved ones; an increase in psychological distress, mental illness and domestic violence, a rising suicide rate; and the medical undersupply of millions of people, because hospitals, medical practices and examination institutes cannot work as they used to, due to imposed Corona measures.
In addition, there are the unmistakable socio-economic consequences of the prevailing Corona policies. We are seeing an economic crisis and redistribution of wealth that has been unparalleled since the 1920s: countless small and medium-sized businesses have been driven into insolvency, while the super-rich reap unprecedented profits. While hundreds of millions of people become unemployed, while hunger and homelessness skyrocket around the world, large corporations are recording all-time high profits, especially in the digital and pharmaceutical sectors. Stock markets have flourished. Between April and July 2020 alone, in just four months, the wealth of billionaires grew by 27.5%, or US $10.2 trillion.
The economic and humanitarian consequences of the lockdowns have been particularly devastating in much of the Global South. In many countries, almost the entire informal sector came to a standstill virtually overnight, pushing hundreds of millions into extreme poverty, hunger and misery. The UN currently estimates that the number of people starving worldwide will increase by 83 million to 132 million as a result of the Corona measures alone. Last summer, the aid agency Oxfam predicted that by the end of 2020, up to 12,000 additional people would starve to death every day as a result of the measures alone.
Today, we know that the early hypothetical model calculations for Corona deaths, which moved governments in many countries to impose lockdowns and other drastic measures, were inflated. At the same time, many experts have voiced doubts over determining infection numbers by PCR tests alone, over the effectiveness of lockdowns, social distancing and mask-wearing and over the hastily approved new vaccines and their associated risks. Yet, to date, very few diverse expert committees have been able to review the effectiveness and proportionality of the measures taken.
The Corona virus has often been portrayed by the media and politicians as an unprecedented new phenomenon. Nevertheless, as with any disease, the same principle applies: Treatment measures must not cause more harm than the disease itself.
Fear has been the principle that governments and media in many countries have followed in responding to the Corona crisis from the beginning. Instead of providing prudent information, many governments fomented fear of disease and death – sometimes deliberately, as can be seen, for example, in an internal strategy paper of the German government, to “achieve the desired shock effect” and make people comply with the measures. Fear, however, is rarely a good advisor when it comes to managing crises. Unconscious fear causes polarization, disrupts communication and makes it hard to assess events in a rational manner. Fear often leads to protective measures that only intensify danger or even conjure it up.
The Covid-19 measures are resulting in deep societal divisions, and meaningful communication between the different camps hardly seems possible. On the one hand, governments are trying to curb the spread of the virus with extensive information campaigns and restrictions, while on the other hand, thousands of renowned doctors, scientists and experts critical of the way Covid-19 is being managed are ignored by politicians, defamed by mass media and censored on social media.
A new vaccine that was approved within just a few months is proposed for billions of people, even though it normally takes 5–10 years to complete the necessary studies and testing phases to assess the extent of harmful side effects of new vaccines. With this, the pharmacologist Prof. Stefan Hockertz warns of “human experimentation.” Already now, there are more and more reports of side effects, some of them severe, from various countries. However, it is still unclear as to what extent the vaccine may actually contain infections. On December 29, WHO lead scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan admitted, “I don’t believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from actually getting the infection and therefore being able to pass it on. So I think we need to assume that people who have been vaccinated also need to take the same precautions.”
The Covid-19 measures raise deep ethical and social questions. In his essay, “The Coronation,” the author and visionary Charles Eisenstein writes, “What world shall we live in? How much of life do we want to sacrifice at the altar of security? If it keeps us safer, do we want to live in a world where human beings never congregate? … Are we willing to accept the medicalization of life in general, handing over final sovereignty over our bodies to medical authorities (as selected by political ones)? How much are we willing to live in fear?”
If you don’t trust pharmaceutical companies, or politicians, why would you believe anything they tell you about this or anything else? I haven’t heard anyone in the mainstream talk about ending animal farming to prevent future crises; or teaching people that plant-based nutrition will strengthen their immune system while an animal-based diet will compromise it. I wonder if that’s because pharmaceutical companies make nearly all their money from the medications they sell for the chronic diseases caused by consumption of animal products; the medications they sell (eg vaccinations) to tackle the avoidable infectious zoonotic diseases* like covid which emerge from the way humans treat animals; and the medications they produce for the farmed animals themselves**.
The World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and the World Organisation for Animal Health got together to uncover the key underlying causes of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases . They came up with four main risk factors. These include the exotic pet trade, and bush meat, but number one on their list was the increasing demand for animal protein the world over. They blame the emergence of COVID-19, H5N1, SARS, Nipah virus, all these new deadly viruses, on over-consumption of animal products. [From a youtube video by Dr Michael Greger]
This is a brilliant inspirational post from Eartha Lowe, which makes me want to grow my own food, and tells you all the ways to go about it, even if you don’t have a garden. Click here to read the whole thing.
Gardening, for many people, is a uniquely fulfilling leisure pursuit. There are few better ways of quieting anxieties, stilling emotions and regaining a truer perspective on life. The whole point of maintaining a garden is to provide relaxation, or even food for the spirit with your own nurturing hands. However small your plot is, use it to grow aromatic herbs or flowers, attract butterflies, or maybe even vegetables and fruits – if you are really ambitious.
Healthy, fresh food is right at your doorstep, but before you get growing, you MUST do a bit of planning. You can grow food even if you do not have a yard. Grow food on a window ledge, up a wall, on a roof, in a community garden allotment garden, or through a backyard sharing program. Here are some important things to know to start growing food at home.
Why? It’s a good time to explore ways to grow your own food. You get to enjoy healthy, delicious, family favourites right where you live. Growing food at home in your city, is also an important and effective way to create food-friendly neighbourhoods, and space to grow can be found anywhere.
Where? As more and more people are interested in growing their own food and exploring ways to create productive gardens at home, getting to know the small spaces, bigger spaces, or space in between where food can be grown, is an important first step.
The Perils of Percy Peardrop continues from yesterday. To catch up on the story so far, click here 😀
Oh come on Mildred – don’t leave us hanging! What’s your plan? Is it clever enough and will it be quick enough to save Percy from the fast slow-approaching steam roller? I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out. See you then! 😉
Oh my goodness! Will Mildred and the girl scout twins reach Penelope in time? Will baby Percy be caught by the despicable Mr Bottom? Will the Flat-Capped Menace fall out of his balloon basket? Come back tomorrow to find out!
The RSPCA has made it easy for us to contribute to the UK Government’s consultation about their proposed end to live transport. They’re asking for the opinion of a lot of farmers who will argue for its continuation so we’ve got to make sure they know how many people are desperate for it to end.
Or you can fill in the complete consultation questionnaire here on DEFRA’s website. There’s quite a few questions but many of us non-farmers will just answer N/A (not applicable) to many of them.
When I began it, I tried to follow the RSPCA suggestions but I soon found I could no longer pretend to agree that it was okay to transport animals to their deaths at all. I know this is a consultation to end live transport and not to end animal farming altogether, but I felt that surely it must be worth making the point that there is no justification for any animal farming in the first place. It might make an impression if enough of us say it. Anyway, if you want to speed up the process of answering the full DEFRA questionnaire, you’re welcome to copy my answers:
Until we, the human collective, fully awaken–from within our hearts–to acknowledge the Absolute Truth that we are One with ALL Life, ONLY then can we ensure the survival of Mother Earth and her Universal Family.
To evolve to the inner consciousness of ONENESS means living with the full understanding that ALL Life is sacred and must be treated that way.
ONLY then can we bring our normalized violence–which separates and targets any being, human or nonhuman, deemed “NOT LIKE US” and therefore, “LESS THAN US” – to an end.
ONLY then can sustainable social change take place – in our outer world – to ensure that institutionally oppressed INDIVIDUAL lives matter. To transform systematic racism, sexism, heterosexism, speciesism, transphobia, etc., we, the human collective, must now awaken within us a new COMPASSION for ALL that will reflect an inclusive culture, honouring the interconnectedness of life.
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” Paul Farmer
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. ” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
ONLY Compassion for ALL Beings can create a culture of Peace on Earth.
Compassion means, literally, “to suffer with.” The State of Being Compassionate involves allowing oneself to be moved by suffering, so that we experience the motivation to help alleviate and prevent it.
Compassion can ONLY be manifested by daily NON-VIOLENT choices and actions. And that includes standing up against ALL Injustice.
In Dr. Will Tuttle’s book, The World Peace Diet, he reveals the invisible attitudes we ingest at every meal by the relentless and routine killing of animals for food. Our inherent wisdom and compassion, he says, is brutally suppressed as our culture’s mentality of violence and disconnectedness is injected into our meal rituals of animal-derived food.
If we, the human collective, continue to live much of our daily lives by rote behaviour passed down through the ages, from parent to child, disconnected from our True Nature as we separate ourselves from the diversity of Life – which includes other human and nonhuman animals alike – and abandoning Mother Earth herself, our compartmentalized existence will NEVER sustain a world worth living in for ALL.
Until we choose to awaken our hearts to the INTENTION of Compassion for ALL who share our Home [Planet], with daily NON-VIOLENT actions aligned to that conviction, ONLY then will our chaotic, violent culture slowly begin to change our current reality.
Therefore, Veganism must be the necessary FIRST step to deprogram ourselves from centuries of archaic human conditioning that has indoctrinated us to believe in, and fully accept, the Paradigm of OPPRESSION in our culture.
“A revolution of the heart,” says Gary L. Francione, is required. “What I mean by that is that we must reject all ideologies of domination and power, whether religious or secular, that allow us to transform sentient beings—human or nonhuman—into the ‘other,’ thereby allowing us to ignore their moral value and to treat them as things. We must embrace nonviolence as a basic normative principle—a principle that we see as reflecting a moral truth.”
Compassion for ALL understands that “Thou Shall Not Kill” means ALL sentient beings, for we are all valued members of Mother Earth’s Universal Family. “FARM” ANIMALS ARE SENTIENT BEINGS. FISH ARE SENTIENT BEINGS. RATS AND MICE ARE SENTIENT BEINGS. PITBULLS and “RACE” HORSES ARE SENTIENT BEINGS. WILDLIFE ARE SENTIENT BEINGS. THE HOMELESS, HUMAN AND NONHUMAN, ARE SENTIENT BEINGS.
And YOU and YOU and YOU across the globe, no matter the body you live in, no matter the skin color, the age, the race, the nation, the culture, the economic class, no matter the sexual orientation, the gender, the physical or mental disability, the spiritual or religious belief. And no matter the species. For here is the diverse beauty of our interconnectedness.
Last week, or the week before, I got an email from a lovely lady called Alison who works at REDFIN (an Estate Agent) in Seattle. She said she wanted to do a blog post filled with beginner tips for how to make your home vegan, and wanted us to join in. We were delighted to help and if you read her post you’ll see that the best tip (number 7) comes from Violet’s Vegan Comics! 😉 I also suggested another tip about wearing an extra jumper so you can turn your thermostat down, but I guess she didn’t have room for that 😀
By Alison Bentley of REDFIN:
“The beginning of every year is filled with New Year’s resolutions- whether that’s planning to clean your home more, make your home more sustainable, or deciding to go vegan. Every year more and more people take steps to live a more vegan lifestyle. But for many, becoming vegan can be tough to follow through with, and people often give up a couple weeks in. To help make living a vegan lifestyle easier, we’ve reached out to experts from Atlanta, GA to those living in Phoenix, AZ [and the UK (us!)] to share their best beginner tips on how to create a vegan house. From pantry essentials to fabrics and cleaning products to avoid, these 21 tips will help you transition your home to one that’s more vegan-friendly in 2021.” Read on …
Bright and early on April 28, 2019, Amy Soranno and around 200 other activists stormed Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. They occupied the farm, sitting with the caged pregnant pigs, for approximately 7 hours. Eventually they successfully negotiated with the farm to allow the media inside and documented the realities farmed pigs are forced to endure. This was Canada’s first Meat The Victims action.
What the activists saw will haunt them forever. The distress, the sounds, the stench, and the suffering was unlike anything they had witnessed before. The pigs, who had never experienced fresh air, grass, or sunlight, were confined in a dark, dirty, concrete dungeon, unable to move or do anything that comes naturally to them. There were dead bodies scattered throughout the farm, and dumpsters full of dead pigs and piglets outside of the barns. The psychological distress the pigs exhibited was obvious, and the physical pain was overwhelmingly apparent. Blood, cuts and open wounds were seen everywhere.
As you might expect, the Abbotsford Police Department took action. But not against Excelsior Hog Farm. Despite documented criminal animal cruelty taking place there, including footage of workers kicking pigs, using electric prods on the faces of pigs, and tail-docking & castrating distressed piglets without anaesthetic, the Abbotsford PD were only interested in going after the activists who exposed the hidden cruelty.
On November 2, 2020 – The Excelsior 4 attended their second court hearing. Amy Soranno, Nick Schafer, Roy Sasano, and Geoff Regier are facing an outrageous 21 indictable offences of Break and Enter and Mischief. They pled not guilty to all charges. If convicted, they could face years in prison, with each Break and Enter carrying the potential of 10 years in jail.
“No legal repercussions could ever compare to what farmed animals endure – including the pigs who were repeatedly hit, kicked, brutally mutilated, and so much more at Excelsior,” said Amy Soranno.
The Excelsior 4 want to use their prosecution to raise awareness. They are taking every opportunity to challenge public perception, and the legal system, surrounding farmed animals. These activists are challenging the lack of transparency and accountability within the animal agriculture industry, and hope to generate much-needed positive change for exploited animals. This is a huge opportunity to bring these issues to the forefront and they urgently need our support.
Share their story far and wide, and click here to support the four activists’ legal defence.
I’m thrilled to tell you that issue 3 of the LUV4All (Love Unity Voice) magazine is out now and free to read here. It’s full of wonderful articles by wonderful people and I’ve been given permission to share it with you. First up is something by Dr Will Tuttle that’s right on the money!
“Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
The spinning fury at the core of our culture, animal agriculture, not only exploits and destroys the lives and purposes of animals, it does the same to humans as well, and we see this playing out now with this draconian lockdown of healthy people, eroding mental health, human rights, and economic independence, and destroying countless small and medium businesses (including vegan ones).
In my lectures over the years, I’ve described animal agriculture as a Trojan horse: on the surface it appears to be a helpful gift, but on closer examination, and with deeper understanding, we see clearly that it is an utterly harmful force in our individual and collective lives, incessantly damaging the health of our ecosystems and society, as well as our physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being.
Animal agriculture is also the hidden cause of the COVID pandemic, and of the dominant narrative that is imprisoning billions of people in fear and confusion in their homes, and eroding our capacity to speak up and defend our basic freedoms. We are reaping the harvest that we have been sowing for decades and centuries. This is our banquet of consequences. Our culture has created a vast system of animal enslavement that heartlessly condemns billions of sentient beings — whose interests are as significant to them as ours are to us — to lives of misery, terror, and pain. Their purposes are stolen and they are reduced to mere material units of production in a rapacious economic system that sells them by the pound. They are impregnated on rape racks, their offspring immediately stolen, exploited, and killed, and all are forcibly vaccinated and drugged, tracked, microchipped, mercilessly mutilated and oppressed, and brutally killed in an unnecessary, ugly, surreal prison-world devoid of meaning and respect. Animal agriculture defines our society.
Those of us who purchase the flesh and secretions of these unfortunate beings, which is most of humanity worldwide, are the causal forces propelling this system ever onward with the flood of money we spend — votes we cast — driving its ongoing and reckless devastation. Thus, as we persist in engineering and imposing a dystopian future on billions of beings, we now see the gaping maw of a dystopian future looming before our eyes. Mandatory confinement, separation of family members, loss of basic freedoms, forced vaccinations, routine microchipping, mass tracking and surveillance: all these standard factory-farm practices are now being openly discussed and planned by health officials, pharmaceutical representatives, and government agencies. What we relentlessly inflict on farmed animals we see manifesting in our human world, and, ironically, we seem powerless and strangely uninspired to stop it.
Why is this? Why are we so unable to see the obvious and respond with clarity, vitality, and solidarity to these insidious existential dangers to us and to our children? Why are we immobilized by fear and mesmerized by the voices of authority, unable to connect with either our intuitive wisdom or to think critically about our situation? Why the nearly-blind allegiance to mainstream media narratives and medical-pharmaceutical forces that we should by now have learned to question? Why do we find those relative few who dare to speak up and question the dominant COVID narrative to be so threatening?
It is because animal agriculture not only exploits animals, it exploits us. As we exploit and abuse, we will be exploited and abused. Each one of us, as we purchase meat, dairy, or egg products, becomes an invisible killer to the cows, pigs, hens, and fishes we are exploiting. We directly but invisibly cause terror, pain, and death, and we compound it further by eating it and feeding it to our vulnerable and innocent children, ritually indoctrinating them as we were. We are the invisible killers, but we repress this awareness, and project it outward, impulsively terrified of invisible killers, which seem to be everywhere.
We spend billions on military defense to protect ourselves from lurking terrorists, and now are even more frightened by microscopic enemies, the hordes of viruses, pathogens, and other unseen agents of death arising and projected from our unfaced violence.
This is our shadow: our repressed awareness, guilt, and shame, propelling us to give our power away to authorities in the vain hope they will protect us. At war with animals, nature, and each other, we make war on invisible viruses as well, completely failing to understand them in our fear-based materialist delusion. We see and suspect enemies and threats everywhere because we are the enemies and threats, and our fear sends us into the waiting arms of the merciless global conglomerates, who provide both the narrative and the toxic “solution.” They will profit from us more in power even than in dollars. They have purchased both media and government, and we find ourselves, the wounded and programmed dominators of animals, increasingly dominated by impersonal forces beyond our control.
There is but one way to human freedom, and to a world of health and harmony, and that is the way of ahimsa — non-harmfulness to other beings — a vegan world of respect for all. We will be worthy of understanding and appreciating ourselves and everyone on this beautiful and abundant planet when we dismantle the entrenched narrative of human superiority and entitlement. A new story is yearning to be born in our human culture. It has ancient roots, and this current emergency (emerge-and-see), if we respond appropriately, can put us on a higher path of liberation and healing.
Click here for the conclusion of this article and links to more of Dr Tuttle’s writing.
As you can imagine, Miranda went back and forth to their stall to buy vital sustenance for us …
and gifts for he who was not there 😉
If you live in London you might already know the joy of biting into a soft Marsha P Johnson chocolate & orange cookie, or a Melitta Bentz coffee and walnut cookie, but if you don’t you really should.
The Vegan Feminist Bakers, Alessia & Francesca, say TheFemale Glaze is not only a business that is kind to animals, but it also promotes women empowerment by sourcing from women-run and ethical suppliers. They further add –
“Remember, women belong in the kitchen, men belong in the kitchen, non-binary folks belong in the kitchen… Everybody get to the kitchen: there’s cake in there!”
Francesca and Alessia will personally deliver your cookies if you live in London (zones 1 to 6), or you can opt for tracked delivery if you live outside London. Don’t be put off if everything in the shop is marked ‘out of stock’, they had to put a cap on their weekly deliveries as everything is handmade by Francesca and she’s only one human! So if the shop page says all items are out of stock, it means they have reached capacity and their delivery slots are full, but they’ll re-stock on Tuesdays at 10am. Cut-off for orders is 5pm on Mondays for Wednesdays delivery and 5pm on Thursdays for Saturdays delivery.
Liberia faces many challenges after the terrible civil war that ended in 2003. It is considered one of the poorest countries in the world. The country recovering process is faced with high unemployment rate, poor infrastructure, low literacy rate, and the Ebola crisis in 2014/2015 that killed over 4,000 people nationwide and further affected every sector of the country. Amidst all of these enormous challenges to national stability, animal protection is not considered as a priority issue. The animal protection issue is seen as a new concept and as a result many animals suffer needlessly.
The UK government has unveiled plans to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening.
The proposals form part of an eight-week consultation, launched by Defra secretary George Eustice in England and Wales on Thursday (3 December 2020), seeking views on how to better protect animal welfare during transport.
“We are committed to improving the welfare of animals at all stages of life. Today marks a major step forward in delivering on our manifesto commitment to end live exports for slaughter,” said Mr Eustice. “Now that we have left the EU, we have an opportunity to end this unnecessary practice. We want to ensure that animals are spared stress prior to slaughter.”
This is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC NEWSbut we must remember that nothing is definite yet. This is just a consultation and the government is also consulting on alternative proposals to further improve welfare for all animals in transport. These include:
Reduced maximum journey times
Animals being given more space and headroom during transport
Stricter rules on transporting animals in extreme temperatures
Tighter rules for transporting live animals by sea.
That’s why it’s vital we act now!
We have to let the government know just how much support there is for an outright ban of live exports.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) are saying that live exports are an “important trade option for farmers” and wants Defra to consider its alternative plan for an assurance scheme to “ensure all animals travel in the best possible conditions and that they arrive at the approved and final destination in the best possible health”.
If we don’t shout louder and harder than those farmers, we could miss out on this amazing and unprecedented opportunity.
TELL THE GOVERNMENT THAT NOTHING SHORT OF AN OUTRIGHT BAN IS GOOD ENOUGH!
For the next three day you can get 30% off all our books at lulu.com
and there’s so many to choose from!
Don’t miss out on this great Christmas shopping opportunity – offer ends 1st of December at 11.59pm UTC!
Just enter the code BFCM30 at the checkout to claim your discount.
For easy browsing go to our little bookshop at little-chicken.net where you’ll find comics, storybooks, rhyming stories, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, funny short stories, colouring books and a couple of graphic novels!
Have a great weekend! 😀
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Trawling for prey at more than a thousand feet under the surface, scalloped hammerhead sharks rely on a special oil in their livers to survive the crushing pressures of the deep.
Shark liver oil, or squalene, is a fatty substance that provides vital buoyancy for this critically endangered species and many others. But it’s also used by humans as a boosting agent in vaccines, called an adjuvant, that improves the immune system and makes vaccines more effective.
As the world’s pharmaceutical companies scramble to create a vaccine for COVID-19, at least five of the 202 vaccine candidates rely on squalene sourced from wild-caught sharks.
One candidate is a vaccine developed in Australia by University of Queensland, in partnership with the Australian biopharmaceutical company CSL and its subsidiary Seqirus. The as yet unnamed vaccine contains the squalene adjuvant MF59, which is sourced from a variety of shark species. It entered human clinical trials earlier this year and, if successful, will result in an initial production of 51 million doses.
Tens of millions of sharks are caught and traded internationally each year—both legally and illegally—the majority for their meat and fins but roughly three million or more for their squalene. It takes the livers of between 2,500 and 3,000 sharks to extract about a ton of squalene.
Conservationists fear that increased demand for squalene for vaccines, among other uses, could further imperil shark species, a third of which are vulnerable to extinction.
“This is an unsustainable demand to place on a finite natural resource like sharks,” says Stefanie Brendl, founder and executive director of Shark Allies, a California-based conservation non-profit.
Only about one percent of squalene ends up in vaccines, and most goes into cosmetics such as sunscreen, skin creams, and moisturisers. Even so, as the global population booms, the need for vaccines will only increase in coming years, Brendl notes, adding that some medical experts suggest that people will require multiple doses of vaccines against COVID-19.
“We’re not saying that vaccine trials should stop, but if we keep viewing sharks as an easy solution and don’t consider the alternatives that exist, then we’ll just continue to use [squalene] as a template for vaccines,” Brendl says.
In light of declining shark populations, some biotech companies are looking for other sources of squalene. Plants such as sugarcane, olives, amaranth seeds, and rice bran, for instance, all contain the substance. While plant-based alternatives are being tested in studies and clinical trials, regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have yet to approve them as part of a final vaccine product.
Brendl says the onus is on pharmaceutical companies to begin developing viable alternatives to shark squalene to present to regulators. She points out that Novavax, an American vaccine-development company, is already using an alternative squalene adjuvant, Matrix-M, in clinical trials for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Matrix-M is made from the bark of the soapbark tree, which is abundant in Chile.
Though the company has deemed the soapbark adjuvant as safe, it has not yet been evaluated as part of a final product submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
However, the Infectious Disease Research Institute found that pharmaceutical-grade squalene produced by the American biotechnology company Amyris met, and in some cases exceeded, the safety and purity profiles of shark-based squalene, according to Chris Paddon, Amyris’s lead scientist.
Amyris is banking on sugarcane as a solution to shark-based squalene, he says. In southeastern Brazil, the company is growing thousands of acres of the bamboo-like sugarcane to be processed into squalene. Just 24 acres of sugarcane could, in theory, produce enough squalene to support one billion COVID-19 vaccines.
Because growers can control the way sugarcane is grown and harvested, it’s possible to ensure the quality of the squalene, Paddon says. “When you use animal products, there are impurities that come with them because of the environment they’re raised in and the places where they’re processed.” Furthermore, Paddon says, growing sugarcane is also cheaper than catching sharks and removing their livers.
Sign this Shark Allies petition demanding that the US/FDA (Food and Drug Administration of the United States of America), the UK/MHRA (The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency of the United Kingdom), the EU/EMA (The European Medicines Agency), the National Medical Products Administration of China, and all vaccine producing companies use non-animal squalene in all vaccines.
COVID-19 brought tourism to a halt in Thailand and put tourist elephants in danger of a fate worse than death! Many elephants and their handlers (mahouts) were forced to walk back to their villages but, at the camps on the route home, there was no food or work. It was heartbreaking to see and even harder to imagine that these gentle elephants would probably be forced back to work in the illegal logging industry once they reached the villages. While elephant rides involve tremendous cruelty, being forced into the logging trade is a ring even lower in the hellish inferno of animal abuse.
The Pandemic Is a Once in a Lifetime Chance to Save Pachyderms! CLICK HERE NOW!
Facing such urgency, Thailand’s elephant lovers put on their thinking caps, scrambling to come up with a way to keep these innocent elephants from being sold into the unimaginably harsh logging trade. The new non-profit Gentle Giants was born, in partnership with Save Elephant Foundation whose founder, Lek Saengduean Chailert, is a world-renowned conservationist and elephant expert.
On May 3rd, 2020, after walking for 3 days, a herd of 11 elephants reached their village. The tribe welcomed their elephants with open arms and so much love. For many of the elephants, like 7-month-old Lanna, it was their first time in the village. For others, like Mae Jaa who is the eldest elephant of the group, it was returning to a home she had left long ago.
The rescue group started with 11 elephants. In three short months, it was 38. They are trying to bring another 20 elephants in so they won’t be sold to the logging industry. There are hundreds of elephants in need. Many are being sold into the illegal logging business and to Chinese businesses. We must make sure that, when the tourism borders open, none of these elephants are sent to the circus or to beg on the streets. Gentle Giants is creating a beautiful ripple effect; a chain of love. They are not only helping the elephants, but their caretakers, the villages, local farmers, farm pickers, truck drivers, contractors, supply stores, etc.
For just $4 dollars a month, or 50.00 dollars a year, you can sponsor Baby Lanna or any other of the gentle giants. By sponsoring these gentle giants, you are supporting them to remain home and out of the tourist and/or logging industry. Your sponsorship will give these gentle giants the opportunity to stay within the forest roaming free among their own. Each elephant has their own story and personality. Your sponsorship will go towards food, care, medical treatment and their mahout’s wages.
Your sponsorship will include a Sponsorship Certificate, a photo of your sponsored elephant and a Gentle Giants personalized sponsorship badge, which you may use as your social media profile picture. Your sponsorship will keep these Gentle Giants in the forest and their natural habitat. They will be able to enjoy their lives as elephants; roaming free with their herd, their family. Their days of long hours walking under the scorching heat with tourists on their backs will have been left behind. Now, no chains will clank around their feet. You are saving these beautiful Gentle Giants and helping the community coexist and thrive with them. It also makes a great gift!