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Expert Witness : Animal & Farming

Opposition grows to GM patents on chimpanzees

Photo of Jane Goodall with chimpanzee for Your Expert Witness storyA coalition of organisations has launched opposition to the granting of patents on genetically modified chimpanzees on the grounds that the apes require a special level of protection.

Since 1992, the European Patent Office has granted more than patents on genetically engineered animals. The patents grant the holders a monopoly on marketing the modified animals for 20 years or more. Some genetically engineered animals have been patented with a view to selling for food production in the future, but these have yet to reach the market. Others, often mice, have their DNA altered for use in medical experiments – for example to make them prone to cancer or obesity. The monopoly rights granted to the patent holder guarantee an income from marketing these animals to other companies to conduct animal experiments.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 March 2013 18:24

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MPs criticise Government’s “inadequate” response on dangerous dogs

Picture of a dog of a banned breed for Your Expert Witness storyThe cross-party Commons Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has accused the Government of failing to respond adequately to public concern over dog attacks and poor dog welfare. The Committee said that more must be done to ensure that dog breeders do more to stop poor breeding practices, including of pedigree dogs, and legislation must be amended urgently to protect the public from dangerous dogs.

The criticism came as the Committee launched a report of its inquiry into Dog Control and Welfare on 15 February. It followed the announcement by the Government of changes to the law to introduce, among other measures, the compulsory microchipping of all dogs in England from April 2016 – a measure already in force in Northern Ireland.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 February 2013 17:59

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Video footage of animal abuse leads to FSA investigation

A frame from the footage of horses being mistreated for Your Expert Witness storyUndercover footage, aired on television and the internet and appearing to show abuse and neglect of horses at an abattoir in Cheshire has led to an investigation by the Food Standards Agency and two slaughtermen having their licences withdrawn. The video was shot by the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norwich, which has a record of campaigning against ill-treatment of farm animals.

The Food Standards Agency identified the most serious concerns in the footage as:
• Several occasions of more than one horse in the stun box at the same time
• Excessive use of a stick on a horse
• Hitting a horse with a rope

Under the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, it is against the law to slaughter horses within sight of one another.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 14:40

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Law students charged with Guinea fowl decapitation

Picture of helmeted guinea fowl for your Expert witness storyTwo American law students have been charged with decapitating a Guinea fowl at a wildlife sanctuary in Las Vegas, according to reports in the local press and in the US legal blog Above the Law. The alleged crime took place in October, although charges were only brought on 2 January.

A press release from the District Attorney's office in Clark County, Nevada, states: "District Attorney Steven Wolfson filed criminal charges today against the law students who allegedly participated in the harassment and eventual killing of an exotic bird at a Las Vegas Strip resort in October.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 17:11

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Automatic cod quota reductions scrapped

Picture of a cod for Your Expert Witness storyThe UK Government has prevented an automatic cut in quotas for North Sea cod and the number of days that fishermen are allowed to spend at sea, following the latest round of negotiations in Brussels.

On 18 December DEFRA announced: "Fishermen were facing severe reductions to the amount of time they could spend at sea catching their quota as part of the Cod Recovery Plan. Additionally, they were also facing automatic reductions in the amount of cod they could catch in the North Sea. The planned reductions would have threatened the livelihoods of UK fishermen and led to increased discards."

According to DEFRA, the UK joined other member states in agreeing to remove the 'unscientific' automatic cuts and instead use the best available evidence to set quota levels and the amount of time fishermen can spend at sea.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 14:47

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