In an effort to establish a dialogue between those holding different opinions on the role of animals in research, Bruins for Animals and Pro-Test for Science held what, in our judgement and that of many of our colleagues, was an extremely positive and informative discussion on the science and ethics of biomedical research using animals.
In the weeks leading to the event, a handful of animal rights activists, with the only goal of preventing this dialogue from happening, harassed UCLA investigators at their homes and ran a campaign of intimidation through websites. Organizers and panelists on both sides of the event forcefully condemned these attempts at derailing our meeting. We prevailed. Dialogue prevailed.
Unfortunately, this outcome has not been universally well received. Some appear determined to continue with their attempts at interfering with this fresh direction the debate is taking. In a move that defies logic, these activists are now suggesting children are legitimate targets of their protests.
Nobody should tolerate these renewed attempts at silencing our voices. Scientists and animal rights activists who are committed to an open dialogue that will allow the public to become better educated on these important issues should now stand up together, publicly condemn such actions and defend the right of everyone to express freely their opinions.
Anyone willing to participate in an honest, rational and open dialogue is welcome at the table.
Jill Ryther, Kristy Anderson, David Jentsch and Dario Ringach