People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced last week that two major carriers in the United States, FedEx and UPS, confirmed that they will not ship mammals for laboratory use, and restrict the shipment of some non-mammalian organisms. Neither UPS nor FedEx are major players the lab-animal shipping business, but the move does restrict the options for researchers and could limit the operations of small companies, such as Florida-based Xenopus Express, which relies on UPS to ship its laboratory-grade frogs.
The carreirs’ decision adds to the growing difficulty of shipping research animals. A number of airlines have already refused to carry live animals for research in response to pressure from PETA. “Although the FedEx and UPS declarations may be largely symbolic, they suggest that research advocates are failing to make the case for the use of lab animals, and they mark another success for groups such as PETA,” Nature reported.
Charles Hewett, the executive vice-president and chief operating officer at the Jackson Laboratory, voiced his concern that such decisions are short-sighted. “[It’s] troubling that the corporate leaderships of UPS, FedEx, and others yield to the pressure of a small minority who overlook the importance of what [animal research does] for preventing, curing and treating human disease,” he told Nature.