‘Politically-motivated’ campaign against Green Hill in Italy condemned by EARA

London, 25 March 2015

  • Green Hill facility in Montichiari (Italy) persecuted for breeding dogs for scientific research
  • Case re-opened without new evidence despite not-guilty verdict in 2013
  • Italian legislators threaten biomedical progress in Europe by backing animal rights groups in a politically-motivated campaign against Green Hill

In an appalling politically-motivated campaign, with collateral implications for the UK and the rest of Europe, an Italian judge announced yesterday the reasoning behind his verdict against Green Hill managers, found guilty of the mistreatment and killing of dogs in January 2015.

He cited standard procedures as tattoo-identification and selective administration of anaesthesia depending on the procedure as some of the reasons behind his judgement. He regarded 67 reports of the local regulatory authority Azienda Sanitaria Locale as ‘unreliable’ and criticised the low euthanasia figure of 44 dogs in 3 years according to the report of Dr. Moriconi, who is an honorary member of Lega AntiVivisezione, the animal right group behind this boycott.

“Green Hill is a licensed establishment as required by national and international law, which has received repeated positive evaluations since its conception. Discrediting dozens of vets’ reports from local authorities confirms the politically-motivated campaign Green Hill is enduring. This ridiculous judgement should be thrown out of court in the appeal,” says EARA Executive Director Kirk Leech.

In May 2013, the case against Green Hill was thrown out by a court in Brescia. Shortly afterwards, the same charges were brought again against the Green Hill management team. The charges were based on flawed technical data from previous reports. The public prosecutor based his verdict on the high incidence of canine mortality at Green Hill during a five-year period. However, internal investigations found that this figure represented total deaths including normal losses from natural causes such as disease and stillbirth, which would be expected at any breeding facility. The clear intention was to create the false impression that poor management was responsible for the deaths of all dogs at the facility.

The orchestrated campaign against Green Hill has involved many players. In Italy it received powerful backing from a number of politicians looking to make an impression at election time. In the UK, animal rights groups have sought to link the Green Hill case to their opposition to Bantin & Kingman Ltd (B&K) and their planning application for a beagle breeding facility in Yorkshire on premises that B&K shares the same parent company as Green Hill.

Scott Marshall, CEO Marshall BioResources, Green Hill Holding Company, said:

”This judgment is wrong because it is not based on the legislation concerning the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. We will appeal this injustice and seek to have a fair hearing based on laws governing the use of animals for scientific purposes.”

EARA calls on Italian citizens and authorities to resist siding with this reckless campaign against animal breeders and scientific research and to reaffirm their support for biomedical progress. The scientific community must step forward to defend scientific research if we are to continue pursue healthcare and medical development.

Note to Editors

Dogs and cats represent less than 0.25% of the total number of animals used for scientific purposes in 2011 in the EU. For a new drug to reach clinical trials in humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) request toxicity tests in both a rodent and a non-rodent mammal. The rodent will often be a rat; the other mammal will usually be a dog. With the provision of animals that have been purpose-bred, with high welfare and professional standards, breeders play a crucial role in biomedical research that helps develop safe and efficient medicines, Testing of cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients on animals has been banned in the UK since 1998 and in the EU since 2013.

The European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, which replaces the 1986 Directive 86/609/ECC, came into force on 1 January 2013. It is regarded as the world’s most progressive and stringent framework for ensuring high animal welfare standards while encouraging the development of non-animal alternatives, where animals can only be used if there is no viable alternative method. The Directive states that breeders should meet accommodation and welfare requirements of the species concerned and operate only if they are authorised by the competent authority.

Further information about Green Hill, Marshall Bioresources and the role of dogs in biomedical research can be found here.

EARA – The European Animal Research Association (EARA) is a communications and advocacy organisation whose mission is to uphold the interests of biomedical research and healthcare development across Europe. The creation of EARA was prompted by the recognition by the scientific community that Europe needs a public information platform where citizens and journalists can learn the facts and benefits of animal research. www.eara.eu

Media Inquiries

Dr. Emma Martinez Sanchez, EARA Press and Communications Officer, +4479 5501 5386, esanchez@eara.eu