Speaking Up: Confronting Misrepresentation

Animal activist groups often depend upon sensationalized and misrepresentative stories about laboratory animals to achieve media coverage.  The response to these stories illustrates great public interest in how and why animal research is conducted. Unfortunately, these stories frequently perpetuate distorted views about the goals and conduct of the vast majority of animal research. As such, they are a disservice to the public, undermining well-informed, serious consideration and discussion about an issue that is important to all of us.

Activists take great advantage of the expectation that scientists are now understandably reluctant to offer themselves as public targets for harassment on highly politicized issues. As a result, media portrayals often fail to reflect the reality of the vast majority of animal research:  that is conducted humanely by compassionate individuals engaged in ethical studies designed to advance scientific and medical progress and working under many forms of local, state, and federal regulation.  Like the broader public, members of the scientific and animal research community believe that animal research is essential to scientific and medical advances, but also that ethical studies must be conducted humanely. They actively engage in work to develop continued improvements in animal welfare, identify alternatives where possible, and monitor the conduct of research.  Thus, the vast majority of this community ensures that studies with animals are conducted with excellent care that minimizes any potential for suffering. They also stand against those rare cases of improper conduct.

One recent example of highly misleading coverage of animal research is found in a story about “leaked photos” <warning: AR extremist site> of monkeys in a Florida facility, Primate Products, Inc. The facility is one that is highly regarded for its commitment to laboratory animal welfare and conservation.  Animal activists used these photographs to solicit attention <warning: PeTA site> for wild and poorly educated speculation about animal treatment. At the same time, the story was used to fuel a hostile campaign <warning: AR extremist site> that includes home demonstrations against the company’s personnel.

The photographs show monkeys that are sedated in order to safely and humanely receive veterinary treatment for serious injuries that are in the process of healing.  In news reports the company president explained that the monkeys had been socially-housed, had engaged in fighting with each other, and had been injured.  According to NBC Miami:

Company President Don Bradford said his vet staff was trying to care for the monkeys and that they were injured by other monkeys, not by experimentation or transportation.

The pictures are those our veterinary staff took to document the medical treatment to animals that were injured by other animals,” Bradford said in a statement. “They are completely healed, healthy, beautiful animals.”

In other words, the animals engaged in aggressive behavior that has been widely documented for this species, and that also occurs when they live naturally in the wild (1,2). Such fights usually occur when individuals within the group assert their rank dominance, or during overthrows where previously subordinate members of a troop challenge the dominance of others. Furthermore, the laboratory monkeys had been able to do this because they were housed socially, rather than individually.

Although not always possible in all settings and with all animals, social housing is clearly preferable from an animal welfare perspective. While housing primates socially is a preferred condition, it is also one that carries risk. In both the laboratory and the wild, primate social groups—even those that demonstrate long-term stability—can experience conflict that results in animals causing each other serious injury, or even death.  Sometimes the aggression is predictable, but often it is not.  What this means is that those charged with the actual care of laboratory primates must not only carefully manage and monitor the animals, but also know that both social and individual housing produce risks and benefits that must be balanced to produce the best outcomes for the animals and for the research.

Those canines are not just for show!

What this also means is that on some occasions animals may be injured and that this can occur despite excellent, humane care and without any wrongdoing on the part of those responsible for the animals. Information like this is seldom presented in a balanced way by animal activists.  What happens instead is that inflammatory and misrepresentative stories are pumped to the public in a way that is carefully designed to give them the impression that all animals in research are treated badly by people with little concern for animal welfare. Missing from these stories is consideration of all of the behavioral expertise, compassion, consideration and balance of risk and benefit by the teams of scientists, veterinarians, and staff who care for the animals.

Examples of misleading coverage of animal research presented publicly without essential background, context, or explanation from sources within the animal research community abound. More often than not, these stories are shaped primarily by animal activists who are unconstrained by desire to provide accurate information or a balanced view.  Also notable in these stories is that not only do they rarely receive full consideration of all of the facts, but they also are rarely matched by widespread coverage when the results are in from the federal agency investigations that activists typically call <warning: AR extremist site> for in their press releases.

In the case of the Florida facility, the federal agency charged with oversight, the United States Department of Agriculture, has performed an investigation in response to the photographs made public by activists.  The results of the USDA focused inspection regarding the allegations were “No non-compliant items identified during this inspection.”  In addition, the National Institutes of Health Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare wrote a letter of agreement saying it “finds the institution to operating in accordance with the provisions of the PHS Policy on Humane Care and use of Laboratory Animals”.  When the reports are made publicly available SR will post them here.

Although company officials have not yet commented publicly, the USDA report makes it clear that many of the allegations and speculation about the Florida company that were offered to the media and via extremist websites by various activist groups are untrue.

Speaking of Research does not expect that the activist groups that have promoted this story will provide coverage of the USDA report that shows their claims have no basis. Nor do we expect that they will discuss the real conclusion, which is that socially-housed monkeys engaged in behavior that is not uncommon for primates and hurt each other. In truth, many activists are not interested in the USDA’s conclusions, or in whether laboratory animals are socially or individually housed.  Their objective is to end laboratory animal research.  What they are interested in from stories like this one is their value for generating headlines, media coverage, and public support from those unlikely to otherwise support the agenda to end animal research.

A growing number of activists are very open about their goals and openly advocate for use of any tactics <warning: AR extremist site>   – including fear, intimidation, and violence—to achieve an end to all use of animals.  Others are less clear, particularly when seeking mainstream media coverage. One of the latter is an activist involved in this story, Michael Budkie, leader of Stop Animal Exploitation Now. Budkie is also known for previous misrepresentation of animal research and its rebuttal by federal agencies.

Budkie’s group is funded primarily by the Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Foundation <warning: AR extremist site>. According to its website, the Hoffman foundation is a “Biblically based organization” that believes “our call to mission is to restore God’s original creation intent of a plant based diet (Genesis 1:29-30).”  In contrast to Budkie’s press releases, the mission of the Hoffman Foundation <warning: AR extremist site> is quite clear:

To promote through education the elimination of the use of animals in biomedical research and testing, their use as food, or their use for any and all commercial purposes…”

Budkie does not appear to have any expertise or first-hand knowledge <warning: AR extremist site> of either nonhuman primates or experimental research, which may have contributed to his misunderstanding of the Florida photographs. In his view <warning: AR extremist site>:

What these photographs depict is very crude, Frankenstein-type procedures masked as research. This looks nothing like science, and most Americans would agree this is wrong,”

“These photos clearly depict highly invasive and barbaric experiments which would cause extreme pain and suffering to the animals involved in them, as well as eventually taking their lives. The apparent crudeness of the procedures argues against any level of scientific applicability as well as compliance with federal regulations.”

Budkie also points to the animals’ red hindquarters as evidence of maltreatment. He says <warning: AR extremist site>: “some of the animals may have been kept in restraints too long, leaving their hindquarters red and irritated, as evidenced by the photos.”  In fact, this pattern of coloration is typical of the species, something anyone with real knowledge of rhesus macaques would have recognized immediately.

To be clear, the photographs do reveal serious wounds.  Without question, any of us with compassion feels sorrow that an animal experienced such injury. What is also clear to those who work closely with nonhuman primates is that the photographs illustrate the result of fighting between macaques, and do not reflect outcomes of any scientific procedures or experiments.  And the USDA report provides further confirmation of this fact.

Episodes such as this serve as a warning that the claims of animal rights groups should be treated with extreme caution, and highlight just how important it is for scientists to respond swiftly and vigorously to such inaccurate and malicious allegations.

Addendum October 15 2010 : The USDA inspection report has now been published and confirms that no non-compliant items were identified during the inspection at Primate Products Inc. on September 20 2010.  This was the inspection carried out in response to the allegations made by PeTA and other animal rights groups.

In addition Ed Silverman of the Pharmalot blog quotes USDA Spokesman Dave Sacks as saying:

It was a clean inspection report…there was nothing found that was against animal welfare regulations…Group housing of primates is allowed in the animal welfare regulations…with the mindset that’s more closely adapted to how they live in the wild. These animals do various fighting among themselves for hierarchy…so that will carry through to how they are housed…But if in those housing situations, if there is a monkey that gets injured, we require the facility to provide adequate care.”

So it’s clear that the USDA understands rhesus macaque behavior, unlike the animal rights activists who have made unfounded allegations against PPI.

Allyson J. Bennett, Ph.D.

1)      S.L. Washburn  & D.A. Hamburg. Aggressive behavior in Old World monkeys and apes, pp 276-296. In Primate Patterns, Edited by Phyllis Dolhinow, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc. (1972)  ISBN: 0-03-085485-7.

2)      Macaque Societies: A Model for the Study of Social Organization Edited by Bernard Thierry, Mewa Singh, and Werner Kaumanns, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2004) ISBN-13: 978-0521818476

The views expressed on this blog post are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

77 responses to “Speaking Up: Confronting Misrepresentation

  1. Anyone that looks at those photos can clearly see that a section of the animals skulls were removed. You mean to tell me that these animals typically remove a section of each others skulls in the wild? This was obviously done through surgical means.

    I’m not doubting that they do attach each other in captivity, but what would you expect to happen when you cram a bunch of animals in a small cage? In the wild they have the freedom to navigate through vast regions of space. When confined to a cage of course they are going to attach one another. How could you possibly compare an artificial, captive environment to that of their natural setting?

    I love how the author puts a warning disclaimer every time they reference an animal activist website. It’s like viewing the website might cause harm to the viewer or something.

    I also wouldn’t refer to the USDA since they are openly known to have close ties to not only the vivisection industry but also the food industry.
    They consistently fail to properly respond to not only animal rights issues, but health issues that directly affect humans as well.

    This whole post is obviously an attempt to paint human beings that are concerned with the well being of our fellow animals as violent extremists.

    You are the ones with blood on your hands. You are the ones supporting a slave trade that promotes torturing and violence in the name of “science”.

    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”
    – Mahatma Gandhi

    • PROVERBS 12:10
      “A Godly man always cares for animals, the wicked are always cruel.”

      • Blue Sky Science

        And what the photos show is that Primate Products care for their animals, that’s what they were doing when the photos were taken.

    • Those photos show injuries to the skin on the head. And yes, monkeys can cause injuries to skin on the head, just as they could to any other area. Where is the evidence that a “section of the animals skulls were removed”? The skull is the bony structure underlying a thick layer of muscle and skin.

      The post doesn’t label all people who are concerned with animal welfare as violent extremists. Some of them are and they not only say so, but also condemn other activists who disagree with their approach. Others don’t publicly endorse violence but give it implicit support. And still others are outspoken in condemning violence and calls to violence by those in the animal rights community. It is pretty clear that there are many factions.

      http://speakingofresearch.com/2009/09/02/violence-vs-non-violence-the-ar-debate/

  2. We compassionate folks at Smash HLS look forward to our continued campaign against the cruel primate slave trade in general and Primate Products in particular. We vow to do everything within our right to shut this abhorrent facility down. As we’ve said before, we won’t stop until the imprisoned primates are rehomed in safe sanctuaries. And we don’t hesitate to proclaim our goal is the complete abolition of vivisection, an end to its reign of terror, which has mutilated, maimed, and murdered countless human and non-human animal lives. For science not psuedoscientific sadism.

  3. the vivisectors continue to torture, maim and kill sentient animal beings but have the audacity to call those of us who would save the animals “extremists”. the vivisectors are not only cruel but they are ignorant. they are murderers, sadists and torturers. and they don’t seem to understand that we will see an end to their reign of terror and soon. we will shut them down. we will not relent, we will not turn aside, we will not stop, until every last one of their stinking, sadistic facilities are gone.

    • I can’t say whether the practices used by the vivisectors are cruel or not but I CAN say that your explosive language is a good example of how extreme people with your beliefs can be. You are talking like a military power. If there is cruelty in that research then, by all means, it should be stopped, but, the research itself may not need to be.

  4. “We cannot solve the problems we have created with the same thinking that created them.”
    — Albert Einstein, PhD

    This about sums it up. The US government admits that over 70% of diseases are a direct cause of poor diet. Going vegan, raw and organic is the answer. Not coming up with new drugs that cause side effects worse than the disease they’re meant for. But there’s no money for big businesses in prevention, only treatment, so websites like this will continue to proclaim that vivisection is necessary for human wellness.

    • Please don’t tell me this organization you represent actually believes that cancer is caused primarily due to a lack of leafy vegetables or similar dietary nonsense.

      • Cancer is a result of a poor immune system. We all have cancer cells in our body, but our immune system prevents it from spreading.

        If you eat nothing but processed foods packed with GMOs, antibiotics and hormones, then you are going to have a weak immune system.

        There are other variables that factor in (pollution, smoking, etc) but maintaining a strong immune system through a healthy diet is the best way to fight cancer.

        Let’s not go on a tangent though, the topic of this discussion is Primate Products and vivisection in general.

      • But don’t take my word for it, here what the National Cancer Institute as to say about it:

        http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/entertainment/tipsheet/diet-related-diseases

        “Leading causes of death, which include heart disease, high blood pressure, many cancers, diabetes and stroke, are largely preventable through lifestyle choices such as eating more fruits and vegetables. Eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is one of the easiest things everyone can do to lower their chances for all of the diet-related diseases.”

      • Ah, we meet again mute. Someday we’ll actually meet in the same century. Dietary nonsense? What does your doctor tell you to eat to prevent disease? C’mon, you can tell us. Because we already know. Don’t tell me he says to eat a murdered animal!??? Boy howdy! All that fat and whatever garbage is tossed in so the cow millers & butchers pockets don’t go flat … antibiotics that will someday take it’s toll on you one way or the other … pieces of murdered animal parts that fall on the floor, get walked on, then mashed up for your dining delight. yum. Please, don’t act stupid, it’s very unflattering. Our bodies work their best when the proper food is eaten. Ask the next Vegan you meet how their cholesteral levels are.

    • You have several valid points here. Yes, most health problems are caused by poor nutrition. Yes, there is no money for the pharmaceuticals in producing cures (does anyone wonder why, after years of research, we still do not have a cure for breast cancer?) only drugs.
      Yes, organic and raw foods are MUCH better for you than cooked non-organic foods.
      These are all true; however, it is NOT true that a vegan diet is the answer. Vegans have to eat much more food per day than non-vegans, they have to take supplements in order to get vital nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids (brain food). Not only that but raw plant foods are difficult for humans to digest because of the cellulose in them. We humans are omnivores, we were designed to eat plants AND meat. If you eat lean meat (beef is an excellent choice) and vegetables you can be very healthy indeed. If you are interested in some of the other nutritional benefits of beef go to http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.

  5. How could you possibly compare an artificial, captive environment to that of their natural setting?

    Because this is how macaque monkeys behave in the “natural setting” as well. You can read this in field science reports. How can you make predictions about what is going to happen in any kind of setting if you don’t actually know anything about the species and how it behaves individually as well as socially? Is it perhaps because the natural ecology of various animal species are irrelevant to you?

    USDA since they are openly known to have close ties to not only the vivisection industry but also the food industry

    Of course, seeing how this is the federal agency that is tasked to oversee animal research and food production. It is unclear how oversight could be accomplished save by “ties”. Unless you mean that if the federal agency doesn’t see things exactly as the animal rights extremists do that they are therefore corrupt, of course. Sorry, but the mere fact that your extremist position, unshared by the US meat eating and health care seeking public, is not the rule of the day at federal agencies is not credible evidence that they are corrupt.

    a slave trade

    So this is equivalent to the enslavement of African origin humans now is it? Interesting viewpoint. Funny, I don’t see many African-Americans making this charge. I wonder how they feel about your highly offensive suggestion that they are just like monkeys?

    Going vegan, raw and organic is the answer.
    Glad to see your true position on the table. Obviously this has nothing to do with anything about the particulars of this case. It is all rooted in your extremist philosophical position.

    • going vegan, raw and organic…what exactly is extremist about doing something that is perfectly within our means to limit the suffering we inflict on others? when you’re looking for a good parking spot, do you set fire to the car that has the spot you want, or do you just find another spot?

      this of course isn’t even comparable to what primate products & friends do, where most of the people involved are perfectly capable of earning a living without profiting from animal torture.

      and don’t split hair over what they do. even if primate products miraculously isn’t responsible for those photographed monkeys, the nature of their business is that they sell these monkeys to people who are going to experiment on them. i’ll do you one better than the slavery comparison… (btw there are plenty of slaves that exist today, YES any living thing stripped of its right to live free are, by the nature of their capitivity, equal, and most of them are not african american,)

      ….primate products is the rough equivalent of the train industry that damned millions to the Holocaust.

      • Blue Sky Science

        You seem to have missed the point, Primate Products isn’t responsible for the injuries seen, only for caring for the monkeys afterwards, something that certainly would not have happened in the wild.

        So why does the animal rights movement resort to such transparent lies to support their cause? Perhaps it’s because they know that the public wouldn’t buy their anti-human agenda unless they protray their victims as some kind of monsters.

        Unfortunately by staying silent too often scientists allow such lies to go unchallenged, we want to end that so that the public learns the truth about how important animal research is to medical progress and how well cared for the animals used are.

        Splendiferous, your holocaust comparison just shows the world how warped your thought processes have become, and how little you must actually know about the holocaust.

    • “Because this is how macaque monkeys behave in the “natural setting” as well.”

      You assume that the conditions in a lab are 100% equatable to that of their natural habitat. The fact of the matter is that in the wild animals have the means to form social hierarchies. So while confrontation and aggression does take place in the wild, the animals are able to resolve it given they are in their natural setting which allows them the freedom to move about and avoid confrontation.

      Cram a bunch of animals together in a small cage and all of that goes out the window. What you get is social chaos. Unable to establish a stable social hierarchy, the animals literally go crazy and attack one another. A lot of the times they even inflict injury on themselves.

      The same would happen if you took a bunch of humans and stuffed them in a tiny cage. Eventually they are going to go crazy and attack one another.

      Using humans as an example, aggression can be found in our natural habitats as well as in our prisons. Does that mean that both environments are the same? Of course not!

    • Also, I do not appreciate you misinterpreting my words and your childish attempts at labeling me as a racist and an extremist.

      Africans were captured from their homes and forced into horrible conditions at their expense.

      These animals are captured from their homes and forced into horrible conditions at their expense.

      Both of these examples can be summed up as slavery. That does not mean I am equating an African human to a monkey as you suggested. I am comparing the conditions themselves, not the ones being subjected to them.

      I think you already knew this, but you were obviously just pulling at straws to add any semblance of relevancy to your argument.

      Also, there is nothing “extreme” about promoting a healthy, vegan, organic and raw diet (as someone else also kindly pointed out).

      Name call all your want, I’ll stick with the facts.

      • YES YOU ARE CORRECT! Give yourself a pat on the back! Good. Now, read this: Africans were crowded into ships in extremely poor conditions. In fact, if you do your research on how terribly the Africans were treated you will see that the conditions were worse than I would guess the conditions are for the monkeys. The key point here, however, is this animals are NOT humans. You CANNOT compare the slave trade to how these monkeys are treated. Man was put on this earth to have dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26). Does this mean we can be cruel to animals ABSOLUTELY NOT! If it were possible to get the same results by other methods of research, we wouldn’t use animals. Unfortunately, there is no other way and animal research has saved thousands, if not millions, of lives.

    • a slave trade

      So this is equivalent to the enslavement of African origin humans now is it? Interesting viewpoint. Funny, I don’t see many African-Americans making this charge. I wonder how they feel about your highly offensive suggestion that they are just like monkeys?

      Oh, come on. Please don’t play the “oh so rational card,” while you engage in this sort of silly fallacious reasoning. Think for a few moments how analogies work, study some logic, and then maybe try again.

      • Oh come on, he said:

        “That does not mean I am equating an African human to a monkey as you suggested. I am comparing the conditions themselves, not the ones being subjected to them”

        You seem to be implying there is racism in his statement, where there clearly is none.

  6. Stop Primate Products- can you provide a source for your idea that the US govt says 70% of human illness is caused by diet?

    Splendiferous, Lumping animal-based research aimed at scientific and medical advances together with use of animals for food misses several points.

    First off, some people in the world have reasonable and safe choices for diets that are not animal-based. Scientists use animals in research when there are no alternative models or methods. Like others, scientists would prefer to use non-animal methods. They are working towards developing alternatives wherever it is possible. The fact is, alternatives that can be used to address major health research questions simply do not yet exist.

    Second, the tactics used by some in the animal activist community are extreme and they are selected precisely because of that. The groups using them, and the groups assisting and cheering those efforts, are trying to end research. That research benefits the public. Whether it should be changed is a question that should be addressed by public discussion based in factual information and the democratic process.

    • “Serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year. These diseases include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer, and diabetes. Eating a diet that contains 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy, active lifestyle lowers the risk for all of these diseases.”

      http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/entertainment/tipsheet/diet-related-diseases

      Vivisection is directly related to food since most of these diseases can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices, rather than torturing animals to find a cure.

      Prevention is the way to go. But there’s no money to be made in prevention, only treatment. If people started eating right, think about all the money Big Pharma would lose in treatment drugs. This would have a direct impact on vivisection and its industry.

      Less need for drugs = less animals being tortured

  7. “You seem to have missed the point, Primate Products isn’t responsible for the injuries seen, only for caring for the monkeys afterwards, something that certainly would not have happened in the wild.”
    I think ethical responsibility depends a few factors.
    First, not *inflicting* the injuries does not necessarily mean you are not responsible for them. You sometimes see injuries not all that different in certain types of dogs after dogfights. Are no humans ever responsible for that, just because they did not inflict the injuries?
    Second, responsibility relates at least somewhat to how *likely* these kinds of things are. There’s a reason we keep dogs as pets but not hyenas. Some species are more aggressive than others (that’s why most dogs have to be bred and then trained to fight like that). If Primate Products did everything they could to minimize this kind of thing (and indeed, given the cost of veterinary care, they have every incentive to), maybe we shouldn’t be using such a violent species. Bonobos are closer to humans- what would macaques be a scientifically better model for? Or is there just demand for them because they are the traditional scientific model?
    I’m not an ARA. I wouldn’t be suggesting we use bonobos if I was. But those photos make me creeped out by macaques (a news story making the rounds about another type of macaque killing a baby did not help).

    I don’t want to dismiss the work of rhesus macaque researchers. I want to stop this from happening again though.
    If when ‘scary’ photos get out scientists spend 15/16 paragraphs defending themselves, and 1/16 paragraphs noting the awfulness of the injuries and 0/16 paragraphs discussing ways to decrease odds of the awful situation happening again… I can almost (but never quite) feel some sympathy for the whackaloons. “Nature is red tooth and claw” is never sufficient as an excuse for suffering. Animals in labs *should* have it better than animals in the wild.

  8. One of my research assistantship duties as a grad student was maintaining the fish room in the high security animal research area underneath the university’s life science building. A geneticist would routinely come down to the room, remove zebrafish embryos from the culture cabinet, examine them under the microscope then flip them onto the floor. This disrespect for life was typical of researchers at the university.

    Rhesus macaques were also kept in this underground area that few students or the general public even knew existed. Many had the tops of their heads removed and were fitted with a metal skullcap from which electrodes & microcatheters protruded. These monkeys were kept individually in small cages in a room with bright florescent lights on continuously. Perhaps important neurological research was being conducted on these monkeys. I don’t know. But it seemed to me that however important the research may have been, it didn’t justify the inhumane treatment of those poor animals. Yes, there was a veterinarian that oversaw the procedures and I’m sure that research was conducted according to current “ethical” standards. Still, I was simply disgusted by the treatment research animals received at the university. I am a biologist and by no means some sort of animal rights extremist but the animal abuse I witnessed under the banner of research simply turned my stomach.

  9. Francescaroo

    As a graduate student that works with zebrafish through NIH-funded grants, I can assure all of you out there that laboratory animals are, without question, the best taken care of animals I have ever encountered. Additionally, I don’t know a single scientist who takes lightly the animals’ lives he or she affects by using them in research. We are not callous, cold-hearted, animal-haters, but people, just like you, who are using our skills to try and make the world better through greater understanding and knowledge.

    I wonder if any of you animal rights activists have ever toured animal housing facilities, spoken to an institutional care and use committee, or taken time to find out what actually goes into getting an animal care protocol approved so that scientists can use animals for our research, which, if it is biomedically driven and almost all animal research is, will someday benefit YOU.

    • It’s not that these researchers are cold-hearted. It’s that they’ve been taught to view these animals as test subjects, as numbers in a computer. This does require some degree of disconnect from your conscience, as anyone that is completely in tune with their conscience would and could not partake in vivisection.

      “Vivisection is a social evil because if it advances human knowledge, it does so at the expense of human character.” – George Bernard Shaw, Nobel Peace Prize winner 1925

  10. [“Nature is red tooth and claw” is never sufficient as an excuse for suffering. Animals in labs *should* have it better than animals in the wild.]

    Agreed. It’s important to note, however, that the argument is much more complex than this. The argument is that fighting is a natural consequence of a larger environmental context that clearly is more advantageous – in a big picture sense – to the animals. Living in a social group with peers is a natural aspect of primate life. But, family life for monkeys can also be difficult. The supportive environment of the social group certainly aids the individual, but it does not come without a substantial dose of competition and aggravation. Social dominance hierarchies are regularly in flux, and these shifts are almost always associated with inter-subject aggression. Put differently, fighting is part of monkeys just being monkeys.

    Beyond this, it’s important to point out that the lives of monkeys in laboratories are more secure than those of wild monkeys in several ways.

    1) In many Old World monkey species, males are forcibly (if necessary) ejected from the natal group when adolescence looms. A substantial proportion of these males die during the period of time where they are trying, in turn, to make it on their own and/or integrate into a new family group. This does not happen in the lab.

    2) Infectious disease and parasitism are rampant in the natural world – leading to substantial morbidity and mortality – but are uncommon in the laboratory.

    3) Many wild monkeys eat seasonal foods and go through “lean” periods where little if any useful food items are available. Not so in the lab.

    4) The final example goes back to the point under discussion. In the wild, there would be no pictures after a fight like this. There’s a good chance the “loser” in this battle would have suffered substantially – possibly dying as a result of these wounds. What you saw in those photos was an animal being clinically treated by an experienced veterinarian. It would most likely receive analgesics and antibiotics after the incident, limiting the pain and chance of infection. This is a stark difference with the “real world”.

    • Using your logic, one could argue that putting humans in cages is for the better since a human runs the risk of getting hit by a car, getting mugged, or being struck by lightning while free in their natural environment.

      The dangers faced in nature are normal. It’s called survival of the fittest. It’s part of life and serves a purpose to strengthen and evolve species.

      It most certainly does not give you the right to capture someone from their home, put them in a cage, and run horrible experiments on them.

      • If it is truly survival of the fittest, why are you so mad about how monkeys are treated? We are at the top of the food chain and research on monkeys is saving the lives of many members of our species. Therefore, WE are the fittest and are one more danger monkeys must face. Sarcasm aside, you are right in saying we have no right to be cruel to animals since we have one thing they do not have; a sense of right and wrong (aka morals). But, if you define cruelty it means “unnecessary suffering”. IF these animals really suffer (and I’m not saying they do) it may very well be necessary in order to save human lives. The problem comes when the suffering can be avoided and is not; that is cruelty.

    • But don’t you get it? They BELONG in their real world! They were born “Wild Animals” before humans stepped in. Perhaps they fight to the end and the winner has no aspirin for it’s aches and pains. IT’S NATURE. They are Wild Animals. They belong in the WILD.

    • SPP and Ginger:

      I am afraid that it is the two of you that “don’t get it”. No amount of lies and subterfuge will change the facts that:

      1) The study of biology in animal models is crucial to the betterment of the health and welfare of humans and animal alike. Virtually every improvement in human health (which have, collectively, extended our lifespan, substantially eradicated devastating diseases like smallpox and polio and led to happier and healthier families) have depended upon animal research. There was and remain few alternatives to in vivo experimental studies using animal models. To do without this research would be devastating for health.

      2) Animal research is conducted using approaches and methods that are Refined, meaning that their impact on animal welfare is continuously being improved. They involved Reduced numbers of subjects; because of technological advances, the number of animals involved in any given research project is decreasing. And they involve Replacement of animals with a non-animal system whenever those alternatives become available (we certainly need MORE such alternatives).

      3) Animal welfare is an important consideration in any project; regulations and oversight ensure that society’s expectations about animal care and use are tended to. But human welfare matters too, and it would be irresponsible to brush aside live-saving research.

      • PTfS, if animal research was completely banned tomorrow, do you think biomedical would stop ? Of course not. Scientists would simply have to focus on developing alternatives, which they would do much faster than at present where there is no overriding need to as long as animals can be used.

        Sure, there may be some delay in the short term development of new treatments, but in the long term it would probably be more efficient than the current system where most drugs that work in animals don’t actually work in people, and could shorten the time it takes to get new treatments on the market as there wouldn’t be years of animal testing.

        Or, we could do some of the pre-clinical research work on various humans that are ethically virtually identical to animals, and would be scientifically more relevant.

      • You sound like a sales person for the vivisection industry.

        Regulation? What regulation? The USDA? The same USDA that said bovine growth hormones are safe? The same USDA that allows GMO foods to enter our market without thorough and extensive testing? To trust the word of the USDA is nothing short of naive.

        I love how every pro-vivisectionist claims that we owe our lives to their torturous experimentation.

        Why not bring up how many human lives have been lost from taking drugs that were tested through vivisection and deemed safe for human use?

        Food for thought:

        http://www.navs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ain_sci_medicalresearch

      • I’m not a sales person for animal research. I am a truth teller who speaks to expose the ridiculous, recycled and ignorant “facts” that you raise.

        There are multiple levels of regulatory oversight that apply to animal welfare. They include (but are not limited to) the Animal Welfare Act, Public Health Service Policy and protocols of the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care. That is not to say that the regulatory oversight could not be enhanced. Indeed, I fully support increased investment in the USDA so that they can increase the number of inspectors and inspections conducted at animal research facilities. In that way, the public can have increased certainty that their expectations about animal research are upheld.

        As for your rants and conspiracy theories, the truth of the matter is that humane animal use (whether for food or for biomedical research) is appropriate, justifiable and ethical and the vast majority of our educated public understands and embraces this perspective. That does not mean that all actions taken by the food industry or researchers comports with ethical practices, which is why we need regulation and oversight.

        As for the benefits of animal research, the proof is out there. It’s in every home on every corner in every community in this country. You just have to open your eyes and stop being a science denialist. We had enough of that in the last administration.

      • “As for your rants and conspiracy theories, the truth of the matter is that humane animal use (whether for food or for biomedical research) is appropriate, justifiable and ethical and the vast majority of our educated public understands and embraces this perspective. ”

        The fact that lots of people hold that position is not actually that relevant, as most people do not have the scientific or philosophical knowledge to fully understand the consequences of embracing that perspective.

        In fact, based on your statements on here, I would question your philosophical knowledge since you seem to think normative values can be true or false.

        It’s perfectly right for you to correct any factually incorrect scientific statements, but please don’t attempt to claim that a statement such as “animals should not be used for food or biomedical research” can be a lie.

        As I explained on my long post at the bottom, I would like someone to explain why they feel it’s ok to eat or use animals for biomedical research, but not particular humans, especially given the biomedical benefits could be greater if done on humans.

      • PTfS, giving more money to and expanding the USDA would just aid the vivisection and food industries since they practically ARE the USDA.

        Do some research on how Monsanto employees and lawyers were employed by the USDA and appointed by both Bush and Obama administrations.

        Government agencies such as the USDA, FDA and EPA have been compromised and corrupted by the industries they are supposed to regulate.

        Laws that are put in place to protect animals serve no purpose if they are not enforced. If the USDA says that it’s okay for animals to receive the type of injuries shown in the leaked photos (plus tons of other leaked photos and videos from other labs), then that in itself is proof enough that we cannot trust the USDA to do what is moral and just.

        What I present to you are not “conspiracy theories” as you put. Here’s one clear example:

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/youre-appointing-who-plea_b_243810.html

        The fact of the matter is that most people are either A) against vivisection or B) indifferent to vivisection. The only “die-hard” supporters are those that make money from the industry. When presented with the facts, those that are indifferent quickly and easily become opposed to it.

        Tell me, do you disagree with Einstein and Carl Jung, both whom were opposed to vivisection and said that it serves no purpose? Do you think you no better than these historical figures that have forever changed the face of science and psychology?

        Given these men as two examples, I am with much better company in my stance.

      • Right on!

  11. Natural world

    darwin’s dog, two points.

    Continuous lighting without a dark cycle is inconsistent with regulation, unless this is the purposed of the study, i.e., to study circadian stuff. So that’s likely nonsense. Unless, of course, you were regularly in the facility at all hours of the day and night to verify your claim?

    Removing the entire top of the head makes very little surgical, structural or experimental sense, if you would just think about it for a moment. These procedures (which you can review in methods sections of relevant literature) generally involve smaller holes in the skill, covered by a larger supporting implant made of dental cement or similar material. So while the implant may appear large, this does not mean the entire top of the head was “removed”. Now, perhaps this makes little difference to you but you certainly paint an inaccurate picture, much like the stock in trade of the AR extremist groups.

    • So it’s okay to drill a hole in someones head, as long as its not too big of a hole. Is that what your suggesting?

      The bottom line is that these animals are taken from their homes, caged, and disfigured/tortured through experimentation.

      Simply saying “it’s not that bad” doesn’t change the fact that it’s immoral, cruel and unnecessary.

    • I was never in the facility for a 24 hour stretch, Natural world, but because my schedule was hectic & erratic I would be down there working in the fish room at all hours of the day & night and I never saw the lights off in the monkey lab.

      I am probably mistaken about the skullcaps being metal. Now that you mention it, they did appear to be composed of some composite material, perhaps dental cement. However, it covered the entire top of the monkeys’ head and was flat rather than rounded as the natural contour of the cranium should have been, indicating that the dome of the skull had been flattened or removed. My descriptions are accurate. I could also mention the many Xenopus frogs I found dead & dessicated on the floor, after they had escaped from their tubs, and the mistreatment of mice intentionally infected with the Lyme’s disease bacterium & other pathogens.

      Is this your standard rhetorical tactic, Nw: to attack the veracity of someone you disagree with? If so, I would say that your approach has more in common with that of AR extremist groups than does anything I’ve posted in this forum.

      • None of your observations are consistent with the practices of any primate research facility I have ever seen (and I have seen many). Animals maintained in research in the US, including invertebrates, are provided a normal diurnal light cycle that approximates the one appropriate for their species (12:12 for equatorial species, deviating as necessary). For vertebrates, the law and/or Public Health Service mandates require it, and a lab found to deviate from this protocol would be cited and sanctioned; this is not a minor infraction.

        You are also incorrect about the nature of the modifications made for primates involved in single unit recordings. The cranial opening is very small and is secured with surgical cement. Though I do not use these types of experimental approaches in my own research, I have participated in the inspections of many facilities that had monkeys with head mounts. I have observed these animals up close and personal. In no case have I ever seen an animal that appeared to experience distress from the head mount.

        I don’t argue that the size of the implant matters. What matters is the impact on the welfare of the monkey, and I know it to be small. It certainly is not torture, immoral or cruel. To say otherwise is to show a lack of information and understanding and to engage in an attempt to misinform and lie (which is, as is becoming increasingly clear here, par for the course with anti-vivisection zealots).

      • PTfS: The monkeys were in a large room, confined individually in small padlocked stainless steel cages. The cages were so small that the monkeys could barely turn around in them. They were thus confined for at least the two year period of my RA assignment. The distress the monkeys exhibited may not have been due to the head mounts. It may have been due to confinement. I was in the facility during the day, late at night, and all hours in between. I never once observed the bright florescent lights turned off.

        I did, and still do, consider such treatment to be torture, immoral and cruel. You are free to consider my observations as “an attempt to misinform and lie” if you so wish, but I saw what I saw and my descriptions of what I saw are accurate. That you would stoop to calling me a liar reflects poorly on you personally and by extension, on the position you attempt to defend.

      • “It certainly is not torture, immoral or cruel.”

        PTfS, though of course I can’t comment on the particular procedure that you’re talking about, researchers in the EU will now have to classify the pain or suffering that they believe animals will endure as mild, moderate, severe, or non-recovery, demonstrating that many procedure are clearly far from benign.

        http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/2010/09/09/europe-apes/

      • There is nothing close to an ad hominem attack against you in my post.

        I noted that none of your observations are consistent with what I have seen. That is true. The cages you describe would seem grossly inconsistent with the USDA regulations. The same is true with the light cycle. If these conditions were present, they should have been reported by someone who saw them (including you) so that they could have been investigated and addressed.

        Furthermore, I indicated that claims that animal research is “torture, immoral or cruel” are lies and misinformation. Lest I am mistaken, you did not say that (at least not directly). That does not, however, weaken my resolve that such claims are lies, simply put.

      • The veterinarian routinely visited the underground animal research facility I worked in. In fact, I had her confirm that lesions on some of the fish under my care were due to mycobacteriosis (piscine tuberculosis) and to suggest treatment. If the conditions under which the monkeys, and other animals were kept, were in violation of standards then the vet herself, not to mention the primary investigators, should have taken note and addressed the deficiencies.

      • “Furthermore, I indicated that claims that animal research is “torture, immoral or cruel” are lies and misinformation. Lest I am mistaken, you did not say that (at least not directly). That does not, however, weaken my resolve that such claims are lies, simply put”

        PTfs, how can a claim that something is immoral be a lie ? Sure, the claim could be based on invalid or inaccurate statements, but unless one particular system of ethics (e.g utilitarianism or deontology) is ‘the truth’, then stating that “the use of animals in research is immoral” cannot be a lie.

      • “I don’t argue that the size of the implant matters. What matters is the impact on the welfare of the monkey, and I know it to be small.”

        PTfS, if monkeys don’t mind having a hole drilled in their head (like you stated), then why don’t you volunteer yourself for the same experiments? It’s not so bad right? It won’t affect your state of welfare (as you also said) so you shouldn’t mind, right?

  12. @PtFS- good point, I can see some *very* poor conclusions being made about the best way to house animals if you apply simple seemingly benevolent rules. For example, I could imagine a situation where a seemingly reasonable rule is set- “minimize cortisol levels”. That *sounds* good, until you remember that *sex* raises cortisol levels- lots of ‘stressful’ things are not so bad ;-)
    I know a fair amount of scuffling for position is natural, and the outcomes in the wild can be horrible- hyenas regularly eat their sibs at birth. That still doesn’t mean there is NO possible way to decrease the odds of something like this happening. And even if there is no way with this species, that may just mean it is better to work with a species that works things out… in other ways.

    • You raise an excellent point that I should have addressed earlier. There are ways to lessen aggression (for example, housing animals in non-breeding groups and/or providing complex environments that allow for subordinate animals to hide when they want or need to). These things are done, when possible, in research settings where animals are socially housed.

      But lessening aggression does not mean eliminating it. And that is what makes it so disingenuous and appalling that AR elements claim that these are signs that researchers are failing in their obligations to provide for animal welfare and care.

      • “These things are done, when possible, in research settings where animals are socially housed.”

        By “when possible” you mean when it doesn’t cost too much money. The truth is that the industry cares about making money, and making money means saving money by cutting costs at the expense of the animals.

      • Cost has nothing to do with it. For example, the USDA requires non-human primates to be socially housed unless there is a scientific justification (need) precluding it. Cost is not a factor that is allowed to enter into the equation.

        Indeed, for those of us that house our monkeys socially, the expense is tremendous, but it’s money well spent.

  13. The moral argument used to justify animal research is that any suffering/pain inflicted on the animals is outweighed by the biomedical benefits to humans.

    However, animal research, although it has undoubtedly resulted in many breakthroughs and treatments, is not scientifically the most accurate or useful method of biomedical research. The only way to determine whether a drug, technique or treatment is suitable for humans is to test it on humans.

    So, why isn’t forced, invasive research done on humans ? Because it would infringe on their human rights. What gives humans rights ? Well, this article states that it is ” the power for entirely autonomous thought and action which grants rights to human, uniquely among all animals”:

    http://speakingofresearch.com/extremism-undone/ar-beliefs/

    What the above article fails to point out, is that not even all humans have that ability. Babies, for example, are no more self-aware or capable of autonomous thought than many adult animals. Or, as described in the link, “a person who, due to severely diminished mental capacity, does not know right from wrong”. Yet they still have the rights to life and to not be experimented on. But animals do not have these rights. Why the inconsistency ?

    Well, with the case of babies, we could argue that they have the *potential* to develop autonomous thought. Yet in the rest of society we do not grant rights or privileges based on *potential*. For example, a first year medical student is *potentially* a doctor. That does not grant him the full rights of a doctor. A child is *potentially* an adult voter. That does not mean the child has the right to vote. I am *potentially* an astronaut. That does not mean NASA would be willing to send me into space tomorrow, without any training.
    (additionally, since human embryos and zygotes have the same potential for self-awareness and autonomous thought as babies do, then anyone who uses this potentiality argument to justify giving babies rights may wish to consider their position on abortion, though of course that also involves the rights of women)

    Furthermore, even if having the *potential* for self-awareness and autonomous thought IS sufficient to grant the right to life and right not to be used in experiments, not all babies or humans even have this potential. Terminally ill babies/young children, for example. Or those with severe neurodevelopmental disorders. So is it ok to experiment on these humans ? If so, then we should do so because of the medical benefits that will be achieved. If not, then why not, and how can we justify using animals ? What differences are there between these humans and animals ?

    • That it’s “okay” to experiment on non-human animals but not on human beings can’t be justified logically, Matt. It is a case of blatant anthropocentrism. I would contend that this anthropocentrism, at least in the developed West, is an artifact of the biblical admonish to “have dominion” over the beasts of the field and fowls of the air, etc. I find it ironic that many of the defenders of animal experimentation would object to many another agenda predicated upon the Judeo-christian episteme, yet defend their own research which is equally so predicated. In fact, this double standard goes beyond irony all the way to hypocrisy.

      • Darwinsdog, your point about anthropocentrism being an artifact of Biblical thinking is interesting. There’s a film (part of the ‘Genius of Darwin’ series, uncut version) of a conversation between Peter Singer and Richard Dawkins where at one point Singer asks Dawkins to justify why he eats animals, and suggests that Dawkins does so (ironically) only because of this very Biblical meme that suggests it’s ok to do what we please with animals.

        (ok, he didn’t actually say ‘meme’, but it would have been funny if he had done)

    • You talk as if the rights we give to humans are based totally on individual cognitive ability or potential. It isn’t, these rights draw on a combination of these attributes, and of course on relationships between individuals within our human society.

      That is why society allows the abortion of human embryos and fetuses before a certain point in gestation (and after it in cases of severe developmental defects or threat to the mother’s health) despite their potential. In making these decisions we balance the rights or value of the fetus against the rights and needs of the mother. Of course not everyone in society agrees with the legal lines that have been drawn, and campaign for changes, but that is no justification for illegal or violent action.

      Your point on terminally ill babies or those with severe developmental disoorders misses the importance of the relationships between these individuals and their parents and carers, such relationships matter (and what are rights if not a way to codify the relationships between people) deeply. Indeed, the status of pets in society underlines the point, these are animals that are given a higher status precisely because of their relationships with their owners.

      Again ifyou look at human embryonic stem cell research you have a case where one factor contributing to making such research ethical is the absense of a parent-child relationship between the embryo and individual humans.

      • “Your point on terminally ill babies or those with severe developmental disoorders misses the importance of the relationships between these individuals and their parents and carers, such relationships matter (and what are rights if not a way to codify the relationships between people) deeply. ”

        I agree to an extent, and this news story demonstrates one case of how we do not always extend the same protective rights to babies merely because they are human or have a certain potential. If she had killed an adult or an older child, no doubt the girl would have been more severely punished :
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-11526492

        However, the problem with attributing rights based on relationships is that it is so subjective. How strong must a feeling be for it to matter from a legal perspective ? How can you prove such a feeling ? Why should the feeling between parents and their newborn child be automatically assumed to be stronger or more important than the feeling that an animal rights activist may feel towards the protection of animals, given that they may have demonstrated strong feelings towards the rights of animals for many years, and be willing to go to jail as evidence of strength of these feelings ?

    • Good point. The reason animals do not have rights and human babies and “vegetables” is that humans were created superior to animals. They are still humans. We have no right to be cruel to animals (ie. causing them pain for our entertainment). Animal research saves lives pure and simple.

      • What does ‘superior’ mean? Do you think a human skin cell is ‘superior’ to a chimpanzee? After all, it is human.

        And don’t bother quoting the Bible.

  14. laura di carlantonio

    NO VIVISEZIONE.

  15. The pictures speak for themselves. These animals are not being treated “humanely”…If they were, they would have never been put together to attack each other in the first place, if that’s really what happened. I believe that it’s a lie. There are laws against cruelty to animals, and I think that the person responsable for puttiing these animals together in a cage, unsupervised, knowing that these creatures could do serious harm to each other, should have criminal charges put against them. It’s as simple as that. You break the law, you pay the price.

    • And if you had actually read Allyson’s piece you would have seen that these fights are a normal, though infrequent (years can go by without major incident), fact of life among Rhesus macaque groups, whether those groups are in the wild or in captivity.

      PPI did not break any laws.

      • Paul, stop being so naive. Just because animals fight in the wild does not give you the right to capture, imprison and subject them to torturous experimentation. Get it? It’s not that hard to comprehend!

        The laws are put in place to protect the corporations making billions of dollars through vivisection. Any laws put in place to “protect” animals are just smokes and mirrors.

        “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
        – Thomas Jefferson

  16. So where did I ever say that because macaques fight in the wild research on them is justified?

    Really, you should try to think a little beyond your lame anti-corporatism and sub-tea party rhetoric. It’s rather ironis that at those crying “Liberty” the loudest are usually those attempting to use undemocratic methods, harassment, intimidation and violence, to impose their will on other citizens. Whatever happened to “the equal rights of others”?

  17. People who are against animal testing should ask themselves one single question: to stop animal testing would they offer themselves to science for these tests?

    If people actually did that with enough number, don’t you think the large corporations would actually consider just doing tests on humans? In most cases, it is a lot cheaper than animal testing, why? You don’t have to build special habitats for those test subjects, you don’t have to feed them and if they die, you don’t have to pay them! It is a win-win.

    Though sadly no animal right activist or the compassionate goes that far, because their own safety still trumps over that of those animals.

    Animal testing is a sad reality and a necessity. Computer models will not work since those are made by the very people who have interests in the success of a certain research. A dead animal will always be a dead animal proving chance of lethality of a certain drug.

    For more views of myself on this matter: http://letsbecontroversial.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/animal-testing-yay-or/

    • “People who are against animal testing should ask themselves one single question: to stop animal testing would they offer themselves to science for these tests?”

      Why does that question only apply to those against animal testing ? Those in favour of animal testing are so because they believe it will help people. Yet the fastest way to help people would be for people to volunteer for such research.

      Though sadly no animal research proponent goes that far, because their own safety still trumps over that of other people.

      “Animal testing is a sad reality and a necessity.”

      Define necessity.

      • “Why does that question only apply to those against animal testing ? Those in favour of animal testing are so because they believe it will help people. Yet the fastest way to help people would be for people to volunteer for such research.”

        Those who are in favour of animal testing are so because of the advantages and the lack of danger for human life. Therefore animal testing is a necessity. Because before we can begin testing a certain procedure or drug on humans, we like to know whether it is reasonably safe to do so.

        When is it reasonably safe to do so? When batch A of the rats didn’t die due to the drug or procedure.

        It is a safety check for us humans.

      • “Those who are in favour of animal testing are so because of the advantages and the lack of danger for human life. Therefore animal testing is a necessity. Because before we can begin testing a certain procedure or drug on humans, we like to know whether it is reasonably safe to do so.”

        Except, as I already stated, by NOT volunteering, they are allowing more harm to come to people than would otherwise occur, as they are not allowing the maximum possible biomedical research to occur.

        Again, define necessity.

        “When is it reasonably safe to do so? When batch A of the rats didn’t die due to the drug or procedure.

        It is a safety check for us humans.”

        Ok, but it’s not actually a particularly good one, is it ? Bearing in mind that the majority of drugs that enter Phase I trials do not make it to Phase IV on grounds of failed safety or failed efficacy, you do have to wonder if any drugs that failed animal studies would be perfectly fine for human use.

      • Necessity. Animal research, when done humanely, saves lives. Scientists conducting such research, as long as they do it humanely, are heroes. Thank you every to one of you.

  18. There seems to be a misconception that drugs destined for human use go directly from animal models to the consumer. Human clinical trials are conducted before any medication can be approved for general use. So it’s not an either/or situation. Now, either the animal rights people know this and ignore it because it doesn’t fit their agenda, or they don’t know it and should look into it. My personal belief is that it’s the former.

    There is also a purposely misrepresentation of animal model based research by animal rights groups. Not all animal research is pharmaceutical based. That said, I have no doubt that those opposed to animal research are still willing to take advantage of the developments. Would you turn down an MRI to find a brain anuerism a doctor thinks you might have? If found would you turn down the surgery required to fix the condition? If you had to face the family that just found out their child has leukemia and tell them you’re sorry but you can’t treat the child because the treatment was developed through animal model testing and you are opposed to that? Whether you like it or not, in the end those are the types of questions you’re faced with.

    Now, all that said, I have no allusions that I’m going to change anybody’s mind who is against animal research. Just like they won’t change mine. I guess the difference is I won’t call them in the middle of the night and threaten them or their family and I won’t torch their property.

    • David, clearly there are many animal rights groups who either do not have a good understanding of science, or deliberately misrepresent it. But some do have a good knowledge of science, and oppose it on valid philosophical grounds. Some people, like me, are definitely opposed to certain animals being used (e.g great apes, which haven’t been used in the UK for a while anyway, so I believe), are ok with others (e.g insects, worms) but it’s the ones in between, cognitively speaking, where it gets hazy.

      There are also many scientists, and pro-animal research groups who do not have a very good understanding of ethics, or deliberately mispresent aspects of it, including articles on this website.

      “That said, I have no doubt that those opposed to animal research are still willing to take advantage of the developments.”

      Sure, because current use of a technology/treatment does nothing to change history, and allowing more harm to occur will do nothing to reverse that. The Nazis did quite a lot of medical research on humans. Some information obtained from them is still relevant, as similar experiments have not been done since. Does that mean that patients and doctors who use this information support Nazism and (forced) human experimentation and that it’s therefore immoral to use it?

      Of course, one could argue that by using such animal-based treatments one is encouraging development of future products, but if ALL medical treatments MUST go through animals, then where is the real choice ? Just because the majority of new medical treatments have been tested on animals does not mean they would never have come to be, if animals had not been used.

      “I guess the difference is I won’t call them in the middle of the night and threaten them or their family and I won’t torch their property.”

      Just like all muslims are terrorists too, right ?

      • Matt,

        I appreciate the reasoned argument. It should be noted that not all research conducted using animal models is designed to find medicinal cures for humans. In fact, there is a large amount of research that is involved with understanding various functions of receptors, genes, protiens, etc.. A researcher may be looking at how one particular protein receptor works. A better understanding of how the body functions may lead to better cures later, or lead to alternatives to animal models in the future. Right now there are serious limitations with computer models in that they are limited to the information already known.

        Many of the above researchers are actually doing cell biology but they need the animal models to obtain the cells. Most normal cells have a finite life span and so a continued source of cells are needed.

        I have often heard your argument about the Nazi experiments and, I’m afraid, I don’t buy it. You have a choice not to use things like Tylenol, cold remedies, and other over the counter pharmaceuticals. I wonder how many animal rights activists do? Products that are listed as not having been tested on animals are using formulas where the patent has expired. They didn’t do the research to develop it. You also have the choice to forgo something like chemotherapy or an MRI on the basis of your convictions. But again, I’m guessing not many animal rights activists would. So to me, it’s hypocritical to argue against animal research while willing taking advantage of the benefits. You can turn down the advances, but you choose not to.

        Again, I appreciate the well reasoned response but respectfully disagree with some of your positions. Now if you want to talk about animal welfare I’m sure we would have some common views.

      • No not all muslims are terrorists. However, the koran says to kill infidels (us). Not all animal rights activists will torch people’s property or try to force people to stop eating meat or using animals for research, but, many do. And, Matt, you might want to read posts by animal rights activists on websites like this and their own (especially the latter). Their rhetoric and language sound as if they are trying to kill “infidels” aka. pro-animal research thinking individuals. I am not opposed to debating whether or not eating meat and using animals for research is cruel but it would be nice if your side would come to the table WITHOUT their guns locked and loaded (figuratively speaking).