Carlota Saorsa’s is, like that of many other people who decide to side with the animals, a fictitious name. A shield to maintain anonymity and, thus, protect yourself from the possible legal and personal consequences of your actions. And yet, that will be the name that appears today in many media: she is the new winner of the Lush Award, the best endowed in the world in the fight against animal exploitation, with 50,000 pounds sterling (just over 57,000 euros). The jury thus recognizes his courage and determination in bringing to light the images of the laboratory where he worked, Vivotecnia, and which he brought to the attention of the organization Cruelty Free International, with whose lawyer, Carlos Contreras, he shares the award.
The case dates back to April 2021, when the NGO published in The Guardian newspaper (and a day later, in Spain, in El Caballo de Nietzche) the images recorded by Saorsa for more than a year in the Tres laboratory. Songs, in Madrid. In them you could see acts of deliberate cruelty towards animals, as well as all kinds of malpractice. Rabbits, dogs, pigs or monkeys subjected to authentic torture, screaming in pure terror and agony at the indifference, hostility or mockery of the center staff. Some phrases were especially bloody: “Drop dead, son of a bitch! I’m fed up with rabbits and rabbits!”; “I shit on the fucking dog!”; “Son of a bitch the monkey!”; “Let him break his spine. Nothing happens”; “Psycho pig!” or “Like Hitler: Passengers on the train!”.
The inferno spread by Carlota Saorsa had a huge echo in the media, provoked the unanimous fear of public opinion and unleashed a wave of protests outside the laboratory that have continued to this day. In fact, the last manifestation of the 5N Antispecista had precisely Vivotecnia among its main demands. But nothing has changed, and the laboratory continues to operate at full capacity and continues to sign contracts with public bodies. After the scandal, the Community of Madrid decreed a temporary suspension of its activities, which it lifted shortly after, on June 1, 2021, considering that the company had implemented the requested preventive and corrective measures.
As of today, the Vivotecnia case is still in the investigation phase and could be archived, although sources of the investigation have confirmed to El Caballo de Nietzsche the existence of reports issued by specialists that show that in this case there are indications of practices compatible with the crime of animal abuse included in article 337 of the Penal Code, so it is to be expected that there will be a trial, at least against some of the Vivotecnia workers.
victims in vain
The Vivotecnia scandal has once again put the always controversial animal experimentation on the table. A practice that arouses wide rejection in a large part of society but which, nevertheless, continues to be justified by many based on the supposed benefits it brings to human beings. Beyond the fact that there are those who believe that some ends justify any means, the reality is that the data points in the opposite direction. Various scientific studies claim that 96% of experiments on animals fail, or that their conclusions are not applicable to humans. Despite this, it is estimated that 115 million animals a year are currently used in experiments of all kinds.
Faced with the increasing rejection of animal experimentation by an important part of society, awards such as the Lush Prize are an incentive for those who oppose it head-on. Starting with the cosmetic company Lush itself. On her website, Lush recalls that most animal safety tests “are carried out without anesthesia or pain relievers, and the toxic substances can cause immense suffering over long periods of time. Even when regulations require minimum housing and husbandry standards, these cannot eliminate the fear and distress that laboratory animals experience on a daily basis,” she explains.
Similarly, the company, based in Poole (United Kingdom), denounces the ineffectiveness of these experiments. “The biochemistry, physiology, size, and lifespan of animals vary across species (and even breeds) and affect the toxicity of test substances. Substances that are safe for mice or rats may not be safe for humans, and vice versa. Some chemicals, approved as safe in animal tests, have proven to be harmful to humans and have had to be withdrawn,” they recall from Lush.
In legislative matters, the last two decades have brought advances and setbacks. On the one hand, the European Union, along the lines of countries such as Brazil, New Zealand, India or Israel, has prohibited animal testing for the cosmetics industry, although there is evidence that these prohibitions are not complied with, as is the case with the European Union. On the other hand, giants like China continue to demand that these types of products be tested on animals before being marketed.
The battle is expected to be a long one, and to win it many brave and anonymous people like Carlota Saorsa will be needed. For the moment, the mere recognition of her with awards like the one that Lush gives her today represents a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. And, at the same time, they serve to put in the media and social focus some of the cruelest and unnecessary practices that have animals as victims.