Los Angeles — Following discussions with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), three leading Japanese beverage companies have instituted new policies banning all experiments on animals unless required by law.
On August 14, Sapporo—the oldest beer brand in Japan, founded in 1876, and the top-selling Asian beer brand in the U.S., with revenues of $4.8 billion—wrote the following to PETA’s science adviser: “Sapporo Holdings decided to stop funding, conducting and commissioning any tests on animals that are not required by law or instruction or guidance of governmental agencies.” Since 2016, the company had funded at least two experiments on mice and hamsters, including one in which experimenters starved mice, took their blood, repeatedly forced them to perform confusing memory tasks, and fed them alcohol until they died.
On August 9, Asahi Group Holdings wrote to PETA to say that it would no longer “conduct or commission animal tests that are not explicitly required by law.” This news came after PETA contacted the company’s management to object to 11 published studies conducted since 2015 that were funded by Asahi and used 1,198 mice and rats. In several of these studies, experimenters starved rats, force-fed them alcohol or ingredients used in Asahi’s alcoholic drinks, and killed and dissected them. In one of the studies, experimenters force-fed mice fermented milk, injected them with a drug that induces memory impairment, and forced them to perform a confusing maze memory task.
On June 29, Suntory Holdings Limited (whose brands include Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark) responded to PETA to say that it, too, “will no longer fund, conduct, or commission new projects that use animal testing to establish health claims.” In five different experiments since 2015 using more than 190 mice and rats, experimenters funded by Suntory forced mice to swim, jump from hot plates, run on treadmills—electrocuting them to keep them running until exhausted—and fight with other mice. Then, they killed and dissected them.
“These major drinks companies did the right thing in ditching cruel and wasteful animal experiments,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on other industry leaders to join this growing trend and switch to modern, non-animal research methods that provide human-relevant results and don’t cause animals to suffer.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide. The group’s correspondence with the three companies is available upon request.