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Q&A with 2013 winners: PETA

We caught up with Justin Goodman of PETA US (People for the Ethical treatment of Animals) back in 2014 - one year after the organisation won the 2013 Lush Lobbying Prize.  

Could you describe who you are and what you do?

I am the Director of Laboratory Investigations at PETA US and am based in Washington, DC. I have been at PETA since 2007 and currently oversee research and campaigns to expose and end cruelty to all animals in laboratories. The Laboratory Investigations Department’s team of researchers and scientists ends experiments on animals by uncovering abuse and violations of federal animal welfare laws in laboratories, modernising government, university and corporate testing policies, leading grassroots protest campaigns and promoting the use of modern, humane scientific tools that replace animals in experimentation, education, and medical training.

Why were you nominated for the prize?

PETA US’s Laboratory Investigations Department was nominated for the 2013 Lush Prize for its multifaceted international work to raise public awareness about and end the abuse of mice, rats, monkeys, pigs and other animals in laboratories.

Why did you win the prize?

There were many great nominees, but I think that PETA won the Lush Prize for Public Awareness because of our effective use of a really diverse range of tools to shine light on the dark corners of laboratories, empowering the public to push for change.  We use a combination of undercover investigations, whistle-blower exposés, colourful media campaigns, celebrity actions, innovative online advocacy tools, and thought-provoking advertisements to turn millions of eyes to the suffering of animals in laboratories and get millions of people each year to take action to end this cruelty.

These efforts are translating into substantial rises in public opposition to experiments on animals—more than 40 percent of U.S. adults and more than half of women and young adults now oppose “medical testing on animals”—that we’re harnessing to keep laboratory cages empty by successfully pushing the government, private industry, and academia into modernising their research practices and policies. For example, through some of our most high-profile international campaigns, we’ve convinced dozens of major airlines to ban the shipment of primates to laboratories, and international militaries to replace and substantially reduce their deadly use of animals in training drills.

What difference has winning the prize made to your contribution to the goal of the ‘three R’s' (Reduction, Refinement, Replacement)?

Winning the Lush Prize has helped raise the profile of our work and provided valuable resources that have allowed us to expand our efforts to get animals out of laboratories.

Could you outline how your work overlaps with current governmental policy?

PETA’s public outreach and grassroots activism are critical because, unfortunately, government policies designed to reduce and replace animal use aren’t enforced or taken seriously. We regularly encounter situations in the US and abroad where animals are being subjected to painful and deadly experiments despite the existence of superior non-animal methods.

For example, six out of 28 NATO nations continue to shoot, stab, burn and blow up pigs and other animals for military medical training drills, even though the overwhelming majority of their allies use only modern simulators and other non-animal training methods that studies show are more effective. In all six of these countries (US, Canada, Denmark, Norway, UK and Netherlands) there are regulations requiring the use of non-animal methods when available, but these rules aren’t being enforced and thousands of animals continue to suffer violent deaths because of it. The most effective tool we’ve had in our campaign to end this cruelty is creating public outrage about the practice, which has forced officials to take notice and take action. 

What did winning the Lush Prize mean to you?

It was an honour to be recognised by Lush for our work to get animals out of laboratories. 

How will you continue in your field, to fight against animal testing?

With the support of Lush and our millions of dedicated members and supporters, we are continuing to wage campaigns to modernise science and medicine and spread the message that animals are not disposable laboratory equipment.

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