Antibody Maker Headed to Court

The USDA claims that Santa Cruz Biotechnology, one of the biggest suppliers of antibodies for laboratory research, repeatedly violated the Animal Welfare Act.

By | February 17, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, GEORGE CHERNILEVSKYSanta Cruz Biotechnology maintains a sprawling central California ranch that houses thousands of goats and rabbits from which it harvests antibodies for use in life-science laboratories around the world. But the company has run afoul of federal laws governing animal safety for the past decade, and in 2012, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) filed an enforcement action against the corporation. Now, a tentative date has been set for the hearing at which Santa Cruz Biotech will attempt to defend itself against the allegations.

Since 2003, Santa Cruz Biotech has paid thousands of dollars in fines for dozens of citations levied by the USDA for violating the Animal Welfare Act, according to The New Yorker. Violations have mainly involved poor veterinary care of the facility’s goats. During a 2010 inspection, USDA officials say they found a goat that had been bitten by a coyote but was not receiving any treatment for pain, a lame goat that was unable to reach its food, and a sick goat lying in the sun on a 90 degree day. And in January 2013, the USDA reported that the company was hiding a barn that housed more than 800 goats for more than two years.

Though the federal agency gave Santa Cruz Biotech the opportunity to settle the matter out of court, the company refused, and a court date has now been set for mid-July. Stanford University biologist Matt Scott told The New Yorker that he’s asked his lab to avoid buying products from Santa Cruz Biotech. “I don’t think what’s going on is widely known in the scientific community,” he said. “If it was more widely known, it would have an impact. Biologists care about animals and the land, and don’t want to take part in something where either of those is hurt.”

According to a 2012 survey conducted by The Scientist, Santa Cruz Biotech was the second largest supplier of antibodies on a global scale. At that time, 53 percent of labs responding to the survey were using the company’s products.

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Avatar of: JC Nelson

JC Nelson

Posts: 8

February 17, 2014

"sick goat laying in the sun"

Goats don't lay eggs. Sure that wasn't a hen?

February 17, 2014

The editors should be ashamed of his type of reporting. It basically paints this company as being guilty prior to trial and presents evidence with no context. If I am reading correctly, it also suggests that the author got alot of his "report" from (1) The New Yorker (2) a Stanford Scientist who is not abstaining from using their products but is quoted as if he has special insight into their operations, and (3) a 2012 Survey by The Scientist that thinks Santa Cruz is a great place to get product from. I encourage the Scientist to move to a system that allows individuals to evaluate it's reporters on the veracity of their columns. Pieces like this are better meant for gossip magazines.

For the record, I don't use Santa Cruz, my lab gets all of our antibodies from AbCam and Phosphosolutions.  

Avatar of: Mary Finelli

Mary Finelli

Posts: 26

February 17, 2014

“I don’t think what’s going on is widely known in the scientific community”

Thank you for helping to inform the community of this very serious matter by publishing this article.

Avatar of: Paul Stein

Paul Stein

Posts: 236

February 17, 2014

In opposition to what some above have insinuated, Bob Grant has provided a very nice coverage of the issues, and people should then also focus on the two items he provided for a more complete understanding of the picture. 

The cited New Yorker article should be read in its entirety.  While it seems at first to be written by an animal rightist, focusing on the plight of a single animal, it rolls into a detailed description of things out-of-control, written by someone who knows exactly what she's talking about.  Besides the coyotes, rattlesnakes, and environmental issues, there is poor record-keeping and over-worked personnel.  Worst of all is the owners of Santa Cruz Biotech challenging of the USDA, which is simply rank arrogance and highly questionable intelligence.

The USDA enforcement action should also be read in its entriety.  It paints a raw picture of people in charge who haven't spent the time to read, understand, and comply with the Animal Welfare Act on what are basic, basic issues.  They've had years of warnings to get their act together, which they have refused to do.

Replied to a comment from Paul Stein made on February 17, 2014

February 18, 2014

Paul, this company may be guilty of a lot of things, but painting them as guilty before their trial is wrong. Why isn't there anything from the company? Haven't they responded to the charges? Maybe they have some bad employees and someone in their head office is cursing in the board room about them this very minute or maybe they are responding to gross generalizations by a poorly done USDA review? We don't know. Jumping to conclusions before you have all of the information is bad science and bad reporting. Neither of the replies have added any substantive data to evaluate. Most large companies and universities have some sort of warnings from the USDA, CDC, etc. etc. In the end, if they have done something wrong, they will be found guilty and fined. 

Avatar of: MBackus


Posts: 1

February 19, 2014

In 2013 the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Stop Animal Exploitation Now to protect the animals housed at Santa Cruz Biotech, who have been neglected and mistreated, as evidenced by USDA inspections.

ALDF is confident that they will be able to hold Santa Cruz Biotech accountable for its illegal neglect and mistreatment of sick and injured animals.

Read more about the support ALDF's lawsuit received last month here:

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