CHICAGO, October 11, 2018 – The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to conduct an investigation into what it deems potentially dangerous home animal experimentation kits being offered for sale to the public by a California-based company.
The company, The Odin, began selling “Frog Genetic Engineering Kits,” which allow the public to purchase live animals for the purpose of conducting gene therapy experiments, earlier this summer. Each kit includes six live tree frogs, syringes pre-filled with growth-enhancing DNA and other chemicals, live crickets with which to feed to the frogs, and other supplies. The kits currently retail for $299 each.
In a letter submitted to the USDA and the FDA, NAVS expressed its concern that although “this kit—and many others sold by the company—purport to follow guidelines established by the NIH Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, it does not have the oversight or approval of any federal agency, and certainly not on an individual basis.” As a result, NAVS says, there is “no oversight to ensure that they are treating the frogs humanely and properly caring for them when the experiment is over.”
Frogs, along with many other animals—including mice, rats and birds—are not currently protected under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act.
NAVS additionally notes that the sale of these kits not only threatens the lives of the frogs being subjected to the experiments, but that it also poses risks to other animals, humans, and the environment.
In its letter, NAVS observes that the unregulated nature of the kits’ sale means that “there is nothing to stop individuals, especially children, from injecting themselves or others with DNA,” nor is there any way to prevent people “from injecting other animals, including companion animals, with genetic material.” There is also, NAVS notes, “no oversight or control over disposal of materials during and after the experiment is done.”
According to NAVS Executive Director Kenneth Kandaras, the sale of such kits sends a troubling message about the value of animals in society.
“Selling live animals to the general public for the explicit purpose of experimenting on them encourages people to think of these intelligent, complex creatures as nothing more than research tools,” Kandaras says.
Kandaras points to language on the Frog Genetic Engineering Protocol on The Odin’s website, which notes that “severely injured” frogs can be kept submerged in the provided anesthetizing compound, after which they “will not recover consciousness” and “can then be buried or flushed down the toilet.”
Further, he observes that the project’s Protocol admits that the provided tree frogs “can survive for up to 10 years with proper care.”
“How many people,” he asks, “who are interested in conducting what is essentially a home science experiment are committed to feeding, housing and caring for these animals for up to decade?”
Finally, Kandaras notes that, there is little to no value or knowledge to be gained through The Odin’s frog experiment kits.
“The purported goal of the experiments—to measure the effect of an insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) gene on the animals—has long been established,” Kandaras notes. “We already know what IGF-1 does. This DIY kit is not encouraging the advancement of science—it is perpetuating cruelty toward animals.”
The full text of NAVS’ letter can be found on the NAVS website.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ANTI-VIVISECTION SOCIETY
Founded in 1929, the National Anti-Vivisection Society promotes greater compassion, respect and justice for animals through educational and advocacy programs based on respected ethical, scientific and legal theory. NAVS works to increase public awareness about animal experimentation, to promote positive solutions that advance science, to support the development of alternatives to the use of animals, and to effect changes that will help end the unnecessary suffering of animals. For more information, visit https://www.navs.org/.
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