WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Nonprofit The White Coat Waste Project reported that the USDA had killed cats and dogs for their bizarre experiments on a common parasite called toxoplasmosis.
- Although toxoplasmosis can lead to death from foodborne illnesses, its research doesn’t contribute an important role in improving public health.
- Among these experiments is cat cannibalism where USDA researchers feed cat and dog body parts to lab cats.
A watchdog report published on March 20 claimed that cats and dogs that have been bought from meat markets abroad were used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for their grisly cannibalism experiments in the United States. The experiments involved feeding the body parts to healthy cats and also injecting them into mice.
According to a report from a nonprofit organization called The White Coat Waste Project, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service experiments were on toxoplasmosis — an infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii which is a common parasite, says the organization’s vice president, Justin Goodman who helped write the report.
He told Live Science that the USDA hoped that in feeding the tongues, hearts and brains of dogs and cats from abroad to the lab cats, the prevalence of toxoplasmosis in animals across the globe will be better understood.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic infections in the world and the U.S. and the leading cause of death resulting from a foodborne illness. Infection comes from eating contaminated and uncooked meat or shellfish, drinking contaminated unpasteurized goat’s milk or exposure to infected cat poop.
However, Goodman claimed that “these kitten cannibalism experiments have absolutely no relevance to human or animal health.”
The nonprofit wrote that “cat cannibalism” experiments have started in 2003 and went on until 2015. The report includes a list of multiple experiments such as: feeding the brains, tongues and hearts of over 300 killed Colombian shelter dogs to USDA lab cats and hearts of 50 stray cats from Ethiopia fed to lab mice.
Goodman said that these together with the experiments conducted on kittens at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s Animal Parasitic Disease Laboratory (APDL) in Maryland belong to the “toxoplasmosis research”.
They also released a report last year about researchers breeding 100 kittens yearly to be fed contaminated raw meat when they turned 2 months. The parasite’s eggs are then harvested from the kitten’s feces to be used for experiments on food safety.
However, the perfectly healthy kittens are euthanized afterwards when they could have been adopted. The USDA allegedly have already killed 4,000 kittens.
It seems the USDA practice of killing kittens may permanently end due to a bill called “KITTEN ACT” that was recently reintroduced last year.
Source: Live Science