Why did the USDA have experiments with "cat cannibalism"?

A new surveillance report indicates that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is buying cats and dogs from overseas meat markets for use in horrible experiments here in the United States.

According to the report, the experiments involved feeding parts of their bodies to healthy cats and injecting them into mice.

The report was published online yesterday (March 20) by a non-profit organization called The White Coat Waste Project. He says the experiments were conducted by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service on behalf of research that had a very limited impact on improving public health.

So why has the USDA spent more than a decade leading these strange experiments? [7 Strange Facts about the ‘Mind-Control’ Parasite Toxoplasma Gondii]

The goal was to look for toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by the common parasite Toxoplasma gondiisaid Justin Goodman, vice president of the White Coat Waste Project, who helped draft the report.

Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic infections in the world, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also a leading cause of death from food-borne illness in the United States.

People can be infected in different ways, for example by eating undercooked meat or shellfish contaminated with T. gondii cysts and consumption of contaminated unpasteurized goat's milk, or by exposure to cat poop. In fact, cats play an important role in the life cycle of the parasite: they infect by eating rodents, birds or other small mammals infected, then can release millions of oocysts in their stool for three months. weeks.

By feeding lab cats from the languages, hearts and brains of dogs and cats from overseas, the USDA hoped to understand the prevalence of toxoplasmosis in animals worldwide, Goodman told Live. Science.

But "these cannibalistic experiences in kittens have absolutely nothing to do with human or animal health and, frankly, they more closely resemble an entry in the diary of a thriving serial killer than anybody else." something else, "he said.

The White Coat Waste project says they think these "cat-cannibalism" experiments began in 2003 and continued until at least 2015, Goodman said. (We do not know if they are still going on, he added.) The report lists several cases of experiences: for example, more than 300 Colombian refuge dogs were killed and their brains, languages and hearts were fed at the USDA. laboratory cats; in another country, nearly 50 stray cats from Ethiopia were killed and their hearts fed in the laboratory.

These and other experiments conducted on kittens in the Animal Parasitic Research Laboratory (APDL) of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Maryland, all fall under "toxoplasmosis research". Goodman.

Last year, the same group released a report on another lab project in which researchers were breeding up to 100 kittens each year. Once the kittens reached the age of 2 months, the researchers gave them raw meat contaminated with the parasite, according to this report. Next, the researchers collected parasite eggs from kittens' excrement for use in food safety experiments.

But after that, the researchers euthanized the kittens that had become useless, but in perfect health, said Goodman, kittens that could have been adopted. The USDA reportedly killed nearly 4,000 kittens in this way, according to The White Coat Waste Project. The project was still ongoing a few months ago, but lawmakers recently re – introduced a bill called "The Kittens Act", first introduced last year, which, s he was adopted, could put a definitive end to the USDA's practice of killing kittens.

The White Coat Waste Project report revealed that research that had a major impact on the field of toxoplasmosis had occurred primarily prior to the start of these strange experiments on cats in the early 2000s. In fact, out of the top 13 Articles published by the USDA that detail this infection since 1982, three were published after 2000 and only five were articles about cats or kittens, they wrote.

"This is not the experiment that is quoted [or] it improves public health and certainly does not deserve the support of US taxpayers, "said Mr. Goodman. They do not need to touch a single cat to continue studying toxoplasmosis research.

In addition, Goodman stated that he thought that "the fact that the USDA did not even try to defend what had been exposed yesterday is evidence that it does not exist. really has no good reason to do it. "

Live Science solicited comments from the ARS, but had no response at the time of publication.

Originally published on Science live.

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