Stop Killing Unborn Calves for Science

Target: Robert M. Califf M.D., FDA Commissioner

Goal: Enforce stricter regulations on fetal bovine serum to encourage laboratories to transition towards more ethical, equally promising alternatives to in vitro cell growth.

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million unborn calves are killed for fetal bovine serum (FBS), a mixture of hormones, growth factors, and proteins which is used in laboratories to help grow cells in vitro. FBS is derived from the blood of fetal calves, and is harvested once the calves’ pregnant mothers are slaughtered for meat. The harvesting is typically done without any anaesthesia, and the fetuses are likely exposed to extreme pain and discomfort in their final moments.

FBS, in addition to ethical concerns, presents many other problems to the scientific community. Among these are variations in experimental outcomes due to differences in the composition between FBS batches and high costs. Dedicated scientists have, in recent years, started developing alternative methods to FBS, including human serum (huS) and platelet lysate (hPL), which typically yield similar or even superior results for in vitro cell growth.

Sign this petition to urge the USDA to enforce non-animal derived supplements for cell culture growth.


Dear Commissioner Califf,

Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is commonly used in labs throughout the U.S. as a method by which researchers are able to grow cells in vitro cultures. In addition to problems with the high costs and low reliability of this method–different FBS batches have different compositions and, therefore, affect the outcomes of experiments differently–the wide scale use of FBS in labs raises ethical concerns, as well.

FBS is derived from the blood of unborn calves, which are killed shortly after their mothers are slaughtered for food. The harvesting process is likely extremely painful and uncomfortable for the fetuses, as they are given no anaesthesia to numb them. Each year, nearly 1.8 million unborn calves are killed in the name of FBS production.

And the worst part is, there is no need for all this bloodshed. Scientists have uncovered several alternative methods for cell culture growth–including human serum (huS) and platelet lysate (hPL)–which yield similar and, oftentimes, superior results to FBS.

We are asking you, Dr. Califf, to implement stricter regulations on FBS usage in laboratories throughout the U.S. and encourage researchers to transition towards non-animal derived alternatives to FBS.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Julia Volk


  1. Humans haven’t done enough harm already? There are alternatives to this Horrible insult to animals. Humans are the worst animal as they will do anything for money. I’m sure there are big corporations behind this yet I appeal for higher standards. These people and scientists run home to their computers everyday but pull out knives to take a baby thus killing both cow and calf. These people know there are better ways. It most likely has to do with this being cheaper but it is extremely shameful.

  2. Défense et protection animale

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