I recently gave a speech at the International Conference for Animal Research Policy, in it I laid out three challenges for the upcoming months. We’ve all heard of the 3R’s, so this is the 3ES’s:
We must enable scientists by providing them with an outlet to talk about their work. In Britain animals used in medical breakthroughs are prominently mentioned in news articles (indeed a frontpage headline “The Mouse than Sniffled” in The Independent (UK National Newspaper) shows how far the UK has come in talking openly about animal research, and its contribution to medical progress). A quick search on the BBC Health or science web pages will often bring up recent medical research, with the animals used mentioned openly in the 3rd or 4th paragraph. However the same is not true in the US, with scientists and institutions often hesitant to mention the use of animals in any press releases. The SR blog is just one small area where scientists can talk about the animals behind the medicine. Any scientists interested in writing a guest entry (or two) on their own research, or the research of others, should e-mail tom [at] speakingofresearch.org.
We must encourage students to speak up about animal research. Students today are the scientists of tomorrow – they are also in an environment which is condusive to academic debate on controversial issues. Students across the UK debated the issue of animal research when it stood in the public eye in 2006, and with students talking among themselves, blogging across the internet, preparing themselevs for careers in medicine, science, journalism and politics, they have the power to change public opinion. With the raw facts so convincingly on the side of animal research we must simply encourage students to talk about it in order to bring them onside.
Finally, we must educate schoolchildren. PeTA are in schools across the length and breadth of the country indoctrinating children into believing that animal testing is unnecessary, or cruel. They give presentations to classes of all ages, and offer teachers with one-stop lesson plans on the use of animals in medicine. Thus we too must be getting into schools, giving talks on the contribution of animals in medical research. If you are a scientist willing to give a talk at a local school then go and offer your services, most teachers would be glad to have a lesson off while someone else educates the kids. Alternatively contact us and we will contact you at a later date if we are invited to speak at a school but are unable to make it. For you teachers out there, contact us to see if we can provide a speaker at your school, or check out these resources for teachers of elementary, middle and high school kids provided by Massachusetts Society for Medical Research.
So with these challenges in mind SR continues to press on.