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Feds probe top antibody supplier's secret goat herd

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One of the world's top suppliers of research antibodies is in hot water with the feds. Nature reported that USDA officials who have repeatedly inspected its animals have cited Santa Cruz Biotechnology for keeping mum about a herd of 841 goats it keeps on hand. And they are not amused that a dozen of the animals suffered from a variety of maladies when given a USDA checkup.

"The existence of the site was denied even when directly asked," charged the USDA in a December report, according to Nature. The feds' unwelcome spotlight swung to a facility Santa Cruz Biotechnology keeps about 10 miles from its main complex. It's been in use for more than two years, but the officials never caught wind of it until someone tipped them off. And an animal-rights activist called the mystery site "virtually unheard of."

Two of the sick goats were put down following the inspection, with the rest being treated.

The recent citation comes after a number of reports of poor health among the company's animals, which are used to generate antibodies for researchers. Records indicate that the company has more than 6,000 rabbits, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, which followed up Nature's story. And the animal-welfare citations raise the prospect of Santa Cruz Biotechnology's commercial license being suspended.       

- here's the story from Nature
- read the report from the Santa Cruz Sentinel

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