In the year 2021, images obtained undercover from inside a laboratory were published for the first time in Spain. An activist had documented during the years 2018 and 2020 in a complete and continuous way the reality of the animal experimentation laboratory Vivotecnia in Madrid, generating great commotion in society due to the harshness of the images about the extreme suffering caused to the animals. Carlota Saorsa thus became the first investigator in Spain to document animal experimentation in a private laboratory.

Vivotecnia is today a relevant institution dedicated to research in the areas of Toxicology and Pharmacological Safety. It offers services in the field of preclinical development to pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies, as well as safety studies for products of the cosmetic, chemical, agrochemical, biocides, and medical devices industries.

Toxicity testing involves dosing a chemical under test to find out how much of it is needed to cause serious harm, to measure what might be a safe dose for humans. Animals are injected or forced to ingest or inhale increasing amounts of the substance to measure its toxic effects, which include vomiting, internal bleeding, respiratory distress, fever, weight loss, lethargy, skin problems, organ failure and even death. No anesthetics or pain relievers are provided.

Despite this, Vivotecnia states the following on its website: "Our experiments on animals comply with legal standards and are reviewed by an ethical committee on animal experimentation that promotes the use of alternative methods, the reduction of the number of animals used and the refinement of experimental procedures".

VIVOTECNIA, CarlotaSaorsa

The animal testing industry is one of the most inaccessible. A large mayority of citizens are unaware of its existence, its magnitude and all that it entails for the animals that are used on it. The only way for the reality of animal experimentation and many other forms of animal exploitation to come to light is thanks to the undercover work of people like Carlota Saorsa, who have had the opportunity to access these places and have decided not to look the other way.

Helena Rivera (AV editorial team)

The Vivotecnia case

On April 8, 2021, images from inside Vivotecnia, a laboratory dedicated to toxicological and pharmaceutical research based in Madrid, came to light.  The video released by the organization Cruelty Free International with images recorded by Carlota Saorsa between 2018 and 2020 is part of an undercover investigation where dogs, pigs, rats, rabbits, and monkeys were vexed and mistreated by the laboratory staff during the cruel practices to which they subject animals for experimentation. Kickkings, abrupt movements, insults, laughter, and scorn are added to the implicit cruelty of experimenting with animals. 

A legal process is currently underway against the laboratory, which has slowly diluted after the big scandal, controversy and the media spotlight of the first publication of images. Meanwhile, Vivotecnia continues operating normally and signing contracts with institutions such as the CSIC, the Parc Científic de la Universitat de Barcelona or the CNIO.

The animals are still inside

Almost two years have gone since the publication of this investigation, and it seems that nothing has changed. Although at the beginning it was announced that the company's activity was suspended by the Community of Madrid, the reality is that the ongoing experiments continued and the only thing that Vivotecnia could not do during that time was to accept new orders. The animals never left the laboratory and, finally, the precautionary injunction was lifted, allowing Vivotecnia to access new tenders.  

On their side, the defenders of animal experimentation once again sed ranks to shield the laboratory and try to whitewash the animal experimentation business. They do not want the opacity of their business to be undermined by investigations such as this one, which demonstrates the contempt for life and freedom of animals that live day by day in the laboratories. After the publication of the images and according to the goverment of Madrid, when the controversy came to light there were more than 880 animals inside Vivotecnia. 130 dogs, 700 rats and mice and 54 rabbits. However, in the videos we could also see how primates and pigs were treated as mere instruments, but they feel pain and fear and have an interest in living their lives in peace, far from those who make them suffer.

Let's close Vivotecnia for the animals

In view of this situation, the Madrid Antispeciesist Assembly launched the campaign “Cerremos Vivotecnia, por los animales” (Let's close Vivotecnia, for the animals), which aims to reactivate and join the fight against Vivotecnia. Since the investigation was made public, we have been participating to a greater or lesser extent in the initiatives that have been developed against the company. Now we are launching this specific campaign, to make a more enriching contribution to this conflict.

Our objectives are to reactivate the controversy that arose after the publication of the images and to stir up and incite the mobilization of the antispeciesist and animalist communities and as many people as we can reach. 

The scope and effectiveness of the proposals of struggle that we launch depend largely on the participation and support they get. That is why we will also try to promote a culture of participation and mobilization, because we understand that they are fundamental to achieve concrete objectives.

For more information: Cerremosvivotecnia

Antispeciesist Assembly of Madrid.

Investigation by Carlota Saorsa.

Published in November 2022

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