The company already has a history of Animal Welfare Act violations, having paid out several thousand dollars in fines over the last decade. But now the antibodies producers are going to have to answer for their misdeeds in court. The company could have responded to the allegations in writing, but refused, and now a court date has been set for July.
Santa Cruz Biotech operates a ranch in Central California where it houses the hundreds of goats and rabbits it uses to harvest antibodies, a large protein vital to the functioning of the body's immune system. Antibodies have a variety of uses in medical and biology research and are sold to labs around the world.
According to a series of USDA inspections, animals at the ranch were consistently neglected. Officials reported that, among other violations, sick or hurt animals were left uncared for and that food was substandard.
The advocacy group Stop Animal Exploitation Now! first brought attention to the company's pattern of abuse in 2011 after reading over a number of the USDA inspection reports. “We look at all the inspection reports as they become available online,” Michael Budkie, the groups executive director, told Nature. “And Santa Cruz Biotechnology has a history of serious animal welfare violations.”
“I don’t think what’s going on is widely known in the scientific community,” Stanford University biologist Matt Scott told The New Yorker. “If it was more widely known, it would have an impact. Biologists care about animals and the land, and don’t want to take part in something where either of those is hurt.”