Following a discussion with a concerned customer, we wanted to make very clear that our citing of any studies using animal testing should not be taken as support for their often crude and cruel methods.

Animal testing is not only an issue of animal welfare but also of scientific ethics in their broadest sense and of human applicability. One approach we admire is that of the cosmetics company Lush, whose Lush prize is giving financial incentives to promote scientific studies that will make it possible to replace animal toxicology studies by higher quality models with more relevance to human applications.

Gourmet Spirulina only supports highly ethical research

Just to make it clear: we do not, have, and will not, test on animals. We believe that research should be subject to the most stringent ethical standards, ranging from the systematic use of informed consent in human subjects to methods that carry no expected risk and an unquestionably neutral or positive impact for all subjects, including non-human animals.

This is known to happen and we believe it to be entirely possible to have science progress in a humane and ethically responsible way. One example of virtuous animal experimentation we have chanced upon in the field of spirulina studies is a Brazilian study of a spirulina intervention on dogs affected by a parasitic skin disease called canine demodicosis. [[1]] The dogs were clinical cases recruited in a veterinary hospital and treated for recovery, with a follow-up after a year – half the subjects were treated with a combination of a state-of-art treatment (the control group) and another half benefited from the same treatment but with the addition of spirulina to their diet (the spirulina group). The dogs were much better off after the experiment than before as all dogs from the spirulina group were fully cured, as well as most of the control group. I do of course hope the researchers went beyond the call of duty and that the remaning uncured dogs from the spirulina were given access to spirulina once the study was over and spirulina proved an ideal addition to their medical treatment. In any case, the advancement of science on the matter did not entail any suffering and had an unambiguously positive impact. There were many ways this study could have gone wrong but no shortcuts seem to have been used. Kudos for that!

Why cite unethical studies?

Sadly the immense majority of animal studies are not of the same caliber as the Brazilian canine demodicosis study. So why cite them? How can putting a disclaimer be enough of a refusal to endorse the practice?

We tend to avoid citing studies using methods we do not condone but at the end of the day, we do resort to citing quite a number of unethical studies. We have two main reasons to this:

  • we believe that our position in favour of ethical research is better supported by showing skeptics that we are not “anti-science” and well capable of deconstructing and analyzing studies for their scientific worth, occasionally even taking some time to show how the experimental design could have been improved in ethical terms and animal experimentation could have been avoided altogether
  • we genuinely need to mobilize as much firepower as possible to face the immensly powerful skepticism that spirulina faces in the medical community.

I hate having to quote studies that consciously poisoned animals with heavy metals to prove the detox effect of spirulina but the human studies on the subject are sparse and now these studies have been carried out, we are focusing on improving lives and I feel the moral imperative is therefore to use the immoral for the greater good.

If you feel strongly about this important issue and believe to held the key to an improved approach, please let us know.

In pratical terms, no approach is perfect. We strive to do our very best to act as a responsible company and, as an organization, we tend to abide by the values of the most concerned among us. Our fair trade approach is spirulina’s most developed, with a strong humanitarian component, our packaging and most of our logistics are managed in a sheltered institution by disabled people, etc. Regarding animal issues, spirulina is of course vegan, and our full range is certified by both the Vegan Society and the Vegetarian Society. Furthermore, our company has given itself as a rule never to manufacture any products including animal products or derivatives. A few steps in a positive direction…

1 – [Uso da cianobactéria spirulina associado ao amitraz no tratamento da demodiciose canina generalizada juvenil] in Acta Scientiae Veterinariae 2013 Vol. 41 pp. 1124.

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