ACTION ALERT Fetal Bovine Serum production.

Susan Jane Hogarth sjhogart at
Mon Jul 8 09:13:01 EST 1996

Carlo Jochems wrote:
> I, Carlo Jochems, am a Dutch student of the Wageningen Agricultural
> University investigating the mondial production of animal sera, like
> fetal bovine serum and newborn calf serum.... Interestingly, the Dutch
> Law on Animal
> Experimentation (1977, 1985, 1996) defines animals used for the
> production of their sera to be experimental animals.
> ...
>(hardly any investigator seems
> to be aware of the fact that fetal cows are - at least in part -
> specially bred for the purpose of fetal bovine serum production
> [Mexico]),... These recommendations shall be based mainly on an
> ethical discussion of the use and production of animal sera.

This sounds very interesting - although I'm afraid I can't help with your 
survey (I don't use serum). I do have a question, though. 
At the risk of starting an ethics war, I wonder what the difference is
in having cows "specially bred for the purpose of fetal bovine serum 
production" and breeding cows for meat or milk. In either case, the cows
are killed for the product. Is the extraction of the fetus unusually 
painful/traumatic to the animal? I mean, of course, worse than the "normal"
slaughter methods. For example, I _do_ eat beef, but I shun veal because 
veal are (in my opinion) gratuitously tortured before slaughter. However,
I realise that for many people, the "normal" methods of beef production 
are gratuitous torture. Where does the production of FBS stand in this
scale of neccesary/unneccesary evils?

> For
> example, do I buy fetal bovine serum from cheap sources whilst being
> produced from deliberately bred fetuses?
> Shall I use fetal bovine
> serum or a serum from an adult animal?

This is what I don't understand - how does killing a fetus differ from
killing a cow? Can the serum be "milked" (bled, I guess...) from a 
cow without killing it? 

> Do in vitro techniques
> requiring serum for cell-growth still occupy the niche of 'animal
> experiment alternative'?

Interesting question. I think in many cases, yes. Killing a cow (a "meat"
animal) to get serum to do toxicity/disease studies on cultured dog cells 
(for instance) beats infecting/exposing live dogs BY A MILE (same goes for 
cats, apes, even COWS...). My opinion, of course...
Sorry I couldn't be of more help with your survey, but I'd be interested
in your results. Good luck!

Susan Jane Hogarth

Man: What is my purpose?
Universe: Define purpose.

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