International briefs

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1998:

McDonald’s restaurants, stung by
the 1997 High Court “McLibel trail” verdict
that the chain is “culpably resonsible” for cruelty
to factory-farmed animals, reportedly
held talks with the Royal SPCA in London
during February about the possibility of winning
the endorsement of the RSPCA’s
“Freedom Food” campaign. Previous talks
along similar lines, held in 1994, apparently
brought no agreement. Now, however, vegetarian
opposition to a deal may be muted by a
warning from the RSPCA counsel that the
organization may jeopardize its charitable status
if it actively promotes a meatless diet.

Eight of the 23 RSPCA board members reportedly
are vegetarians. The advice followed rulings
from the British Charities Commission
in 1996 and 1997 that the RSPCA cannot
exclude hunters from membership, may not
oppose animal use in biomedical research, and
must drop a policy statement on animal rights
that it had maintained since 1977. The 1998
RSPCA policy pamphlet explains that under
“current charity law,” animal welfare charities
“cannot pursue policies which, while benefiting
animals, would have a detrimental effect
on humankind. Further, they cannot oppose
uses of animals for which there are no alternatives
but which may cause pain, suffering or
distress, and where there is an overriding benefit
to humans.” The RSPCA is meanwhile
battling an attempted hostile takeover––for the
second year in a row––led by members of the
British Field Sports Society and C o u n t r y
Sports Animal Welfare Group.
The Sydney Morning Herald o f
March 9, 1998 reported that a 30-member
police detail had interviewed 70 members of
the Queensland Cat Protection Society about
the murder of QCPS president K a t h l e e n
Marshall, 52, slashed multiple times across
her face and stabbed to death on March 1 in
the garage of her home in Wilston, Australia.
“The murder occurred amid reports of fierce
factional fighting within the Cat Protection
Society,” the H e r a l d said. “The society’s
membership consists mainly of middleaged
and older women.”
Police on March 6 destroyed a
bomb at the BioChem Pharma plant in
Laval, Quebec, adjacent to the company
headquarters where two bombs exploded on
November 26, 1997. Police found two more
bombs on that occasion, while two others detonated
the same day at another BioChem plant
in nearby Montreal. An anonymous caller to
Le Journal du Quebec claimed the earlier
bombings were the work of the previously
unknown Quebec cell of the A n i m a l
Liberation Front. BioChem Pharma teamed
with the British pharmaceutical giant G l a x o
Wellcome in developing the anti-AIDS drug
3TC. Although Glaxo Wellcome has not been
a primary target of the British ALF, reputed
ALF member Neil Hansen was sentenced to
three years in prison in February 1995 for
alleged property damage and conspiracy to
send a hoax bomb to Glaxo Wellcome public
relations officer Karen Gardner.

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