Tag Archives: animals in labs

As the Netherlands phases out animal experimentation, will other countries follow?

By Paula Moore

In a groundbreaking move, the Dutch government recently announced that it is working to end all experiments on animals. The Netherlands had already passed a motion in Parliament to phase out experiments on nonhuman primates, and now its goal is to be using only human-relevant, non-animal testing methods by 2025. PETA UK scientists have met with government officials and provided a 70-page document outlining areas of experimentation that can be ended immediately and a strategy for moving forward. Now the United States and other nations should follow suit.

The Dutch government’s bold decision promises great progress not only for the millions of animals who are intentionally infected with diseases, force-fed chemicals, blinded, burned, mutilated and left to suffer without veterinary care inside laboratories every year but also for human patients desperately waiting for therapies and cures for their illnesses. We’ve long known that mice are not just tiny human beings and that experimenters who cling to the archaic animal “model” as the gold standard of research are wasting precious time, resources and lives—both human and animal.

Although animals have the same capacity to feel fear and pain that we humans have, our physiology is vastly different, and results from animal studies are rarely relevant to human health. Multiple systematic reviews have documented the overwhelming failure of experiments on animals to benefit humans in the areas of neurodegenerative disease, neuropsychiatric disorders, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, inflammatory disease and more.

Nine out of 10 experimental drugs that pass animal studies fail in humans, and the few that are approved often need to be relabeled or pulled from the market after they sicken or kill human patients. Decades of HIV/AIDS experiments have failed to produce effective vaccines for humans, even though at least 85 were successful in primate studies. And while “[w]e have cured mice of cancer for decades”—according to former National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Richard Klausner—”it simply didn’t work in humans.”

No wonder John Ioannidis, professor of medicine and of health research and policy at Stanford University School of Medicine, says it is “nearly impossible to rely on most animal data to predict whether or not an intervention will have a favorable clinical benefit-risk ratio in human subjects.”

There are better ways to conduct research than intentionally sickening and injuring animals.

For example, scientists can replicate human organs on microchips to test the impact of potential drugs. Sophisticated computer models can simulate the progression of developing diseases and accurately predict drugs’ reactions in the human body. Advanced brain-imaging techniques—which allow the human brain to be safely studied down to the level of a single neuron—can replace crude experiments in which animals are intentionally brain-damaged.

In the field of toxicity testing, non-animal methods harnessing scientific advances in molecular and cell biology, genetics, computational power and robotic testing systems can test more chemicals in a single day than have been tested in the past 20 years using animals. These methods allow scientists to test mixtures of chemicals, assess chemical effects on vulnerable populations or life stages, and detect sensitive effects that animal tests cannot.

But setting aside the fact that experimenting on animals is bad science and that there are more relevant and efficient methods, it is morally wrong to poison, infect, burn and cut up animals in a laboratory. Just as our science has advanced, so has our understanding of the other beings with whom we share the planet. Other animals, like us, are conscious beings who develop friendships, have complex social structures, use language and make tools, are capable of understanding cause-and-effect relationships, solve problems, form abstract thoughts and show empathy.

Fortunately, this is not a case of “us” vs. “them.” By embracing bold policy initiatives as the Netherlands has done and investing in exciting and progressive non-animal methods, we will have far more promising treatments and cures for humans and more effective and reliable methods for toxicity assessment, while also sparing tens of millions of animals unimaginable suffering.

Animal experiments are morally ‘unthinkable’

By Justin Goodman

Last month, Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and more than 150 other leading thinkers endorsed a comprehensive report on animal experimentation by the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics that concludes that the practice is “unthinkable” and that “[i]n terms of harm, pain, suffering, and death, this constitutes one of the major moral issues of our time.”

This report should be required reading for the entire scientific community. With a growing majority of the public now opposed to experimentation on animals, mounting evidence that the results from animal experiments rarely help humans, the existence of superior new technologies such as human-organs-on-chips and, perhaps most importantly, our undeniable awareness of other animals’ striking intelligence and emotional capacity, experimenters must stop viewing animals as mere tools for humans’ use and embrace non-animal research methods.

Even though we now know that animals from mice to monkeys experience not just pain but also fear, distress, loneliness, love and joy—in other words, the same wide range of emotions that humans do—more than 100 million animals continue to be locked alone inside barren laboratory cages, burned in painful tests, force-fed toxic chemicals, subjected to crippling surgeries, infected with viruses, traumatized in psychological experiments and deprived of nearly everything that makes life worth living..

For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continues to breed baby monkeys to suffer from mental illness, tear them away from their distraught mothers at birth, lock them inside tiny cages all alone and subject them to cruel experiments in which they’re tormented with fake snakes, blasted with loud noises and terrified by masked humans.

Extremely social and intelligent beings, the traumatized monkeys—like human victims of torture—suffer from severe anxiety, depression, hair loss and other physical and mental illnesses and engage in self-destructive behavior such as biting themselves and pulling out their own hair. Not surprisingly, Dr. Jane Goodall and countless other experts in primate behavior and human psychology have joined PETA in calling for this to end.

The Department of Defense (DOD) still stabs, shoots and blows up thousands of pigs in archaic medical training exercises, even though its own studies show that modern simulators teach lifesaving battlefield medical skills better than mutilating animals does. The DOD banned the use of dogs for these violent training drills more than 30 years ago yet continues to maim pigs even though they suffer just as much and are just as smart, friendly and playful. Cambridge University’s Dr. Donald Broom has stated that “[pigs] have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly [more so than human] three-year-olds.”

And countless rats and mice are still being burned and poisoned in unreliable and archaic chemical and personal-product tests, even though modern non-animal testing methods are more accurate, fast and economical. A big part of the problem is that the interests of these diminutive beings are unfairly written off because of their size, but—like humans—they wince when they’re hurt, giggle when they’re tickled, care deeply for their young and don’t hesitate to rescue their friends, and even strangers, when they’re in distress.

According to the Oxford Centre report, “The deliberate and routine abuse of innocent, sentient animals involving harm, pain, suffering, stressful confinement, manipulation, trade, and death should be unthinkable. Yet animal experimentation is just that: the ‘normalisation of the unthinkable.'” Indeed, treating other thinking, feeling animals like disposable laboratory equipment is unscientific, ignorant and inexcusable.

We can all help science move away from morally “unthinkable” experimentation on animals by refusing to buy cosmetics and household products that were tested on animals, boycotting health charities that fund experiments on animals and  urging our lawmakers to redirect the billions of dollars they devote to cruel and ineffective animal studies each year to ethical, cutting-edge non-animal research.

Valentine’s gifts that do ZERO HARM to animals!

Not one silkworm perished! Not one bunny’s eyes burned and burned as it sat crammed in its little cage! Not one animal suffered or died to make these skivvies, candles, etc! It’s easy to buy CRUELTY FREE Valentine’s Day gifts! Some of these goodies are available at the Auburn Mall, etc. Which means animal rights has gone LOCAL and MAINSTREAM.

– R. Tirella

From PETA.ORG:

Nothing can get you in the mood for love like dressing the part. Although it can be difficult to find alternatives to silk(approximately 3,000 silkworms are killed to make every pound of it) for special-occasion lingerie, you may agree that this 100 percent lacy number fromFor Love and Lemons could not be more perfect. We’re confident your SO would agree.

for love and lemons

 We say what we mean, and we mean what we say: lace over silk any day! But if single pieces are more up your alley, this animal-friendly Audrina Print Chemise by Frederick’s of Hollywood is sure not to disappoint:

fredericks of hollywood

There will be those who prefer more ample get-ups—we get it! If neither of the above is quite your style, take it easy in this sweet organic cotton camisole from Organic by John Patrick. As the name suggests, this pretty piece is 100 percent certified organic and biodegradable. Score for you, animals,and the environment!

Organic by John Patrick

patchouli sweetgrass candle

 Make a Toast to Love (for All!)

The Vegan Vine makes a delicious cabernet sauvignon that will no doubt get you in the mood for love. This company is committed to abstaining from the use of animal products, so drink away any worries of consuming those little-known buzz kills found in wine: isinglass (fish bladder), gelatin (pig hooves), casein (milk protein), and egg whites. Cheers!

the vegan vine

CLICK HERE to read more! 

Were animals the Colorado theater killer’s first victims?

By Alka Chandna

As our nation grieves the massacre at Aurora, Colorado’s Century 16 multiplex, the recurring question in many of our minds is, “How?” How could anyone be so cruel, so violent, so numb to the suffering of others that he could blast away unsuspecting victims in cold blood and not display a hint of remorse?

There is no easy explanation for such senseless violence, and there is never an excuse or justification for it. But a look into alleged shooter James E. Holmes’ history reveals that he was immersed in a field of study—neuroscience—in which violence against helpless sentient beings is deeply ingrained.

Neuroscience departments at universities across the country subject animals to painful, terrifying experiments. In a decades-long series of highly invasive experiments to study visual tracking, monkeys have coils implanted in both eyes; the tops of their skulls cut off so that electrodes can be inserted into their brains; and screws, bolts and plates attached directly to their skulls so that their heads can be bolted into place. The monkeys are then kept constantly thirsty so that they will cooperate for a sip of water. Experimenters call this “developing a work ethic.”

In other experiments, the tops of cats’ skulls are lopped off; solitary squirrel monkeys are locked inside steel cages, addicted to methamphetamines and cocaine, and strapped into restraint chairs and shocked; and baby monkeys are snatched from their mothers so that experimenters can measure the impact that this early-life trauma has on addiction in the monkeys.

In addition to likely being exposed to torturous experiments such as these, according to his résumé, Holmes participated in brain-mapping experiments on songbirds, in which it is likely that holes were drilled into the birds’ heads and electrodes implanted in their brains. Holmes also participated in the dissection of hummingbirds and mice—which desensitizes students to the sanctity of life and which, as research suggests, can foster callousness toward animals and nature.

How can being exposed to such routine cruelty and violence and being told that it’s “normal” do anything but erode a person’s ethics? Most people who cut into the brains of monkeys don’t go on shooting sprees at their local movie theater, but the violence of experiments on animals is so egregious and the suffering that they cause is so extreme, couldn’t exposing an emotionally disturbed person—as Holmes apparently is—to such violence be enough to destroy his or her last ounce of empathy for others? Every person who is forced to dissect, imprison, harm and kill animals in a laboratory must set aside normal feelings of empathy and compassion, which is its own kind of tragedy.

There is no reason to continue subjecting animals—and science students—to this obscene violence. Human clinical and epidemiological studies, human tissue- and cell-based research methods, cadavers, sophisticated high-fidelity human-patient simulators and computational models are more reliable, more precise, less expensive and far more humane than animal experiments.

We may not be able to stop all violent tragedies, but the tools to end senseless violence in laboratories are already at our disposal. We can—and should—use them instead of causing more innocent victims to suffer.

Animals in Labs, Part 2

Tax dollars thrown away on pointless animal experiments

By Alisa Mullins

A report issued a couple years ago by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., blasted 100 “questionable,” “mismanaged” and “poorly planned” stimulus-funded projects, including an especially pointless and cruel experiment that the report aptly called “Monkeys Getting High for Science.” The study in question was being conducted at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, a Winston Salem, N.C.–based facility that was awarded $71,623 in stimulus funds to feed cocaine to monkeys.

“I think all of [the projects] are waste,” McCain told ABC News. “[S]ome are more egregious than others but all of them are terrible.”

Hooking monkeys on coke definitely falls into the “more egregious” category. Unfortunately, this study is just a drop in the proverbial crack pipe. Wasteful and cruel addiction studies on animals are currently being conducted all over the country—and most are simply slight variations on experiments that have been conducted for years. Often the “results” have been known for years as well. For example, it has already been well established that smoking harms developing human fetuses. But that hasn’t stopped the federal government from funneling more than $10 million to Eliot Spindel of the Oregon National Primate Research Center. Spindel impregnates monkeys and then continuously injects them with nicotine to cause damage to their unborn babies’ lungs. The preterm babies are then cut from their mothers’ bodies and killed so that their organs can be cut out and dissected.

Other experiments on animals could easily be conducted on willing human volunteers.

At Yale University, experimenter Marina Picciotto has squandered nearly $10 million in taxpayer money from the National Institutes of Health for nicotine, amphetamine and cocaine addiction experiments on monkeys, mice and rats. The stated goal of one such experiment was to determine how long one should wait after ingesting nicotine before brain imaging is done.

But rather than using actual human smokers who were enrolled in a clinical study, Picciotto isolated monkeys in cages and fed them nicotine-laced Kool-Aid for eight weeks. One monkey received a dose of nicotine each day that was equal to the amount of nicotine found in 17 packs of cigarettes (far more than even chain-smoking humans consume), and the monkeys had to suffer through the distress and discomfort of nicotine withdrawal.

Some addiction experiments appear to be almost sadistically pointless. At Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital, Jack Bergman has conducted federally funded experiments on squirrel monkeys in which they were isolated in steel cages, addicted to methamphetamines and cocaine, strapped in restraint chairs and given electric shocks.

Bergman also wanted to spend another $1.75 million of public money from NASA to blast squirrel monkeys with radiation and then cage them for the rest of their lives to see how it damages their brains and bodies—even though four decades of government-funded radiation experiments on primates have not produced any results that are relevant to humans. A NASA space station engineer who resigned in protest over the experiment says she believes that the agency’s resources would be better spent devising ways to prevent radiation from entering spaceships rather than trying to figure out what to do after it does.

While it is always unethical to confine, poison, mutilate and kill animals for experimentation, it is especially egregious that experimenters are trying to use animals to model addiction, which is in large part caused by social, psychological and even economic factors. Studies on animals can’t resolve these issues.

Furthermore, vast fundamental biological differences between humans and other animals make the results of such experiments difficult if not impossible to extrapolate to humans. Data from mice, rats and monkeys who are trapped in a laboratory and forced into an unnatural and involuntary addiction are of no relevance to humans suffering from drug addictions. Federal tax dollars would be much better spent funding cash-strapped addiction treatment centers and studying drug addictions in humans in a clinical setting rather than torturing animals.

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When ethics and science must not be divided

By Kathy Guillermo

The federal government’s decision late last year to suspend funding for new experiments on chimpanzees, and to re-evaluate all current studies, knocked out a big chunk of the wall that is the species barrier.

Chimpanzees used to be considered “others”—creatures who, despite their human-like qualities, were different enough for experimenters to use in violent and deadly crash tests, to infect with debilitating diseases, and, in a twisted attempt to make them more like us, teach them human sign language. Now the others are us.

The National Institutes of Health based its decision to halt funding for chimpanzee experiments on the conclusions of an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine whose express purpose was to examine the scientific validity of using chimpanzees. The committee was comprised primarily of scientists, including some animal experimenters, and determined that “most current biomedical research use of chimpanzees is not necessary.”

But make no mistake: The report and subsequent take-down of the chimpanzee grant gravy train has its roots in compassion.

The question of scientific validity was raised only after the massive outcry over NIH’s decision to return more than 200 retired chimpanzees, many of them elderly, from quasi-retirement in a facility in Alamogordo, N.M., back into prison-like conditions in laboratories for use in infectious disease studies. NIH said they weren’t really retired; they just hadn’t been used for more than 10 years. The contract for their care was nearing its end. Why not just stick them back in isolation cages, infect them with painful, debilitating conditions, stab them with needles, watch their demise and, essentially, use them up until they die?

Because it’s wrong, was the response from the public, animal groups, many scientists and some legislators. Why must these wonderful, sensitive individuals, who have already been subjected to more physical pain and emotional deprivation than any being of any species should have to endure, be returned to the hell they had already miraculously survived? Why must the United States be the only nation on the entire globe, with the exception of tiny Gabon, still to use chimpanzees as though nothing about them mattered but their perceived usefulness as tools?

Last New Year’s Eve, in the face of this outcry, NIH announced that it was suspending the transfer of the chimpanzees (though tragically, at least 14 had already been sent to a laboratory) and had asked the Institute of Medicine to investigate the importance or lack thereof of chimpanzees to research. The committee stated that it would not deal with the ethics of the issue.

But here’s the elephant in the living room: The question was only asked because so many people, indeed so many nations, believe it is unethical to experiment on chimpanzees.

While the committee found that nearly every use of chimpanzees in laboratories today is scientifically unjustifiable, the immorality of the practice was the subtext. At the briefing during which the Institute of Medicine announced its findings, the committee chair bioethicist Jeffrey Kahn of Johns Hopkins University, even stated, “We understand and feel compelled by the moral cost of using chimpanzees in research.”

Chimpanzees are so like us that most people cannot ignore their desire to be free from subjugation.

Like the Berlin Wall, the barriers that separate humans from all the other species, including those who don’t look like us at all, will crumble. Perhaps one day, and I hope not too far from now, the cages and other implements of animal experimentation will, like the Wall that once separated one group of nations from another, be found only in the Smithsonian and other museums.

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University laboratories failing the ‘3 R’s’

By Dr. Alka Chandna

Most of us find it uncomfortable to think about a defenseless animal imprisoned inside a laboratory cage and used in invasive and ultimately lethal experiments. We hope that laws will protect the animal and that the experimenters will take all measures to minimize the animal’s pain and distress.

But here’s the truth: There is only one law in the U.S.—the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)—that provides protection for animals in laboratories. According to multiple federal audits, even this law, which deals mainly with caging and husbandry issues, is not being adequately enforced. Worse, the animals’ last line of defense—oversight committees at laboratories, called “Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees” (IACUCs)—are failing at their jobs as well.

The creation of IACUCs was Congress’ response to massive public outcry over abuse and neglect in laboratories exposed by PETA in the early ’80s. In 1985, Congress amended the AWA to require that every animal facility set up a committee to be responsible for ensuring that experimenters search for alternatives to the use of animals and consider alternatives to painful procedures; that discomfort, distress and pain to animals are avoided or minimized; and that experiments are not being unnecessarily duplicated. In essence, IACUCs must ensure that the “3 R’s” of animal experimentation—reduction of numbers of animals used, refinement of procedures to minimize or avoid pain, and replacement of animals with non-animal models—have been considered.

Animals in laboratories endure lives of deprivation, isolation, stress, trauma and depression even before they are used in any experiment. Implementing the 3 R’s is a minimal provision extended to animals, and IACUCs are legally mandated to ensure that this modicum of humane treatment is applied. But 49 years after the 3 R’s were first articulated in 1959 and 23 years after the implementation of IACUCs, animal experimenters and IACUCs are still failing to take the 3 R’s seriously. Consequently, countless animals have been subjected to unnecessary suffering.

In September 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published a scathing audit report describing a climate in which laboratories view fines for AWA violations as a “cost of conducting business.” The report notes that at almost one-third of facilities, IACUCs failed to ensure that experimenters considered alternatives to painful procedures. The report cites this failure on the part of IACUCs as being the most frequent AWA violation. The report further documents the failure of IACUCs to ensure that animals receive adequate veterinary care and to ensure that unnecessary or repetitive experiments are not performed on animals.

Inspection reports filed by USDA veterinarians and evidence gathered by PETA through whistleblowers and undercover investigations corroborate these concerns. At Columbia University, the IACUC’s failure to adequately review animal experimentation protocols meant that monkeys and dogs in scientifically questionable studies died slowly in their cages without veterinary care.

At Ohio State University, the failure of the IACUC to question the necessity of using dogs to test the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids means that dogs are forced to run on treadmills until they collapse. They are killed and dissected—even though the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for humans are already well documented.

At the University of Connecticut, the University of California at San Francisco, the University of Washington and dozens of other universities, experimenters implant coils in monkeys’ eyes and put metal cylinders into holes drilled into the monkeys’ skulls to determine which parts of the brain control eye movement—even though non-invasive techniques can be used on people to obtain human-relevant data.

Each time an IACUC allows a painful procedure when a less painful alternative is available or allows a redundant or useless experiment to proceed, it is not merely an administrative failure but a violation of federal law. Most importantly, these failings mean that animals suffer. There is no excuse for this.

Members of IACUCs should be carefully selected and properly trained to understand their responsibilities under the law and to understand all facets of the 3 R’s. If they don’t perform their responsibilities as they are mandated, they should be held accountable by government agencies and compliance officers at their universities and removed from their positions. Laziness and ignorance have been tolerated for far too long.

Animals in Labs Week, Part 1

Sunday, April 22, marked the beginning of Animals in Labs Week. For more than 10 years InCity Times has tried to enlighten folks about the needless torture of animals, courtesy of the many labs, research institutes and universities throughout the US and the world. So many of these horrific experiments (see below) are unnecessary! So many of the animals (ie chimps) lead deprived, horrific lives for decades – all in the name of industry/science. The cosmetic industry has subjected millions of rabbbits to toxic levels of makeup – pointless “overkill.” Monkeys have been given the AIDS virus and then … at the end of their lives … not even mercifully retired to gentler habitats. Cramped cages, hardened handlers, blood curdling deaths, animals in labs live a kind of hell that we can never imagine. From Harvard University where recently five chimps have died in their research labs, to high school “experiments,” animals in labs suffer … and need your help. Read on to learn more! – Rosalie Tirella

Some animals can use tools? Who cares?

By Kathy Guillermo

Years ago, I had a wonderful companion animal named Angus. He was a remarkable little fellow who loved to greet visitors to my house and snuggle next to me on the sofa. His favorite food was Chinese carry-out, and he went bonkers when he saw the white cardboard containers come out of the plastic bag on the kitchen table. He was loyal and sweet-tempered—probably not so different from your own dog or cat.

Except that Angus wasn’t a dog or cat. He was a rat.

A brown rat with shiny black eyes and a long pink tail. He lived on a table-top in my home, where he never had to be shut in his cage. He liked to cruise around the house perched on my shoulder.

So it was with particular interest that I read a study on rats, which found that rats can be trained to use tools, to understand the tools’ functions and to choose the most appropriate tool when presented with more than one. Before this, the study says, it was thought that only primates and some birds, in addition to humans, were capable of figuring this out.

So here’s my response, and I hope it’s yours too: Who cares?

Should we change the way we view rats because some of them can be taught how to use a little rake to draw food toward themselves? Of course not. We should change our attitude toward rats because they are thinking, feeling, living beings with a sense of humor, an affectionate nature and a capacity for suffering that the human race should stop ignoring.

This study is just the latest in a long line of experiments that should have convinced us of this long ago. Researchers at the University of Berne, Switzerland, announced that rats are influenced by the kindness of strangers. If rats have been assisted by rats they’ve never met before, they are more likely to help other rats in the future. A sort of rodent version of “Pay It Forward.”

Other studies have shown that rats become distressed when they see other rats being electrically shocked. We shouldn’t be surprised—though apparently the experimenters were—that the rats become even more agitated if they know or are related to the rat being shocked.

Scientists with special recording equipment have shown that rats laugh out loud in frequencies that can’t be heard by the human ear. Young rats who are being tickled are the most likely to giggle. Rats have been shown to be altruistic and have risked their own lives to save other rats, especially when the rats in peril are babies.

All of these studies, including the one on tool use, are published in journals, and news releases are sent out, and science bloggers chat online about them, but in the end, what difference does it make to rats? Rats and mice, that other unfairly maligned species, are still used and killed by the tens of millions in U.S. laboratories every year. They are denied even the minimal coverage of the Animal Welfare Act, the only federal law offering any sort of protection to animals in laboratories.

So while it may pique the curiosity of some that rats can be taught to use tools, the more interesting result of this and all the studies that came before it is that experimenters apparently can’t be taught to put the results of studies to good use. If experimenters had this ability—the sort of reasoning that should get one from A to B in a logical way—they’d read the evidence that rats can think, learn, feel, laugh, act altruistically and risk their lives for others, and they’d stop caging and hurting them in laboratories. When a person knows that another being can suffer, and yet deliberately sets about causing that suffering, shouldn’t we worry less about which species can use tools, and more about the callousness of some people?

Kathy Guillermo is vice president of Laboratory Investigations for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the author of Monkey Business, The Disturbing Case That Launched the Animal Rights Movement. Readers may write to her at: PETA, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org.

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States should give bunnies a break

By Kathy Guillermo

Not so long ago, every pregnancy test performed in a laboratory involved killing a rabbit. Happily, better methods were developed and the old rabbit tests, along with the euphemism, “Did the rabbit die?”—meaning, “Are you pregnant?”—faded into history. The new tests were quicker and easier and represented a big leap forward for lab technicians, as well as for rabbits.

New Jersey and California have embraced a similar kind of progress by passing laws that prohibit product tests on animals when a federally approved alternative exists. Every state should follow suit and mandate the use of available non-animal tests instead of live animals. Every manufacturer—not just those in New Jersey and California—should use the non-animal methods available, whether or not such a law is in place.

Here’s one reason why: Companies have tested chemicals for corrosivity by locking rabbits into full-body restraints and smearing a chemical onto the shaved skin on their backs. A chemical is considered to be “corrosive” if it eats through the skin, burning away several layers of tissue. No painkillers or anesthetics are used. At the end of the test, the rabbit is killed or “recycled” into other tests.

Chemical corrosivity can now be evaluated using a “human skin equivalent” test called Corrositex, approved by federal officials, which uses a protein membrane designed to function like skin. The results are accurate, it’s quick and no one gets hurts.

There are a surprising number of sophisticated non-animal tests now in use and in development. Unlike Corrositex, not all of them have been given the thumbs up by government officials, but that hasn’t stopped scientists here and around the world from recognizing that these new methods are faster, cheaper and a whole lot kinder. PETA has contributed more than $760,000 so far to the development of these superior test methods.

Many researchers also understand that humans differ from animals in their metabolism, biochemistry, physiology, genetic makeup and gene expression and that this means that studies on animals can mislead us. This is most obvious in the pharmaceutical arena. Nine out of 10 drugs that test safe and effective on animals fail in human trials. Adverse reactions to prescription drugs that do make it to market—drugs successfully tested on animals—kill 100,000 people in the U.S. every year, making it one of our country’s leading causes of death.

We don’t have to choose between animals and people. It is really a choice between effective and ineffective science.

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A terrible waste of money and lives

By Kathy Guillermo

Are worms gay? If they are, what does that mean for humans? Such questions may sound entirely irrelevant to anything in our lives, but some scientists, including Erik Jorgensen at the University of Utah, have apparently received money to study these questions. The worms—nematodes, really—are tiny, 1-millimeter-long creatures who live in soil. Most are hermaphrodites, which means that each worm produces both sperm and eggs. The Times of London reported that Jorgensen activated a gene in the hermaphrodite worms’ brains, which apparently convinced them to try to mate with other hermaphrodites rather than just with the male worms.

The conclusion, according to Jorgensen’s quote in the Times: “We cannot say what this means for human sexual orientation, but it raises the possibility that sexual preference is wired in the brain.”

Hey, there’s something no one ever thought of before.

This study serves as a reminder that there are only so many research dollars available, and most of it comes from your taxes. Do you want to foot the bill for experiments that don’t have anything to do with preventing or curing illness? Or for studies that are obviously redundant or pointless? Or for experiments that are so cruel that whatever is learned from them simply isn’t worth the cost?

I’m opposed to using animals for experimentation on ethical grounds, and I also believe—as science frequently shows—that most studies on animals aren’t particularly relevant to humans. But even those who support research on animals should be careful about accepting the experimentation industry’s claim that the use of animals in laboratories will help find cures for Alzheimer’s, AIDS, Parkinson’s, cancer and other diseases that are frightening just to contemplate. Consider first what some experimenters get paid big money to do.

Johns Hopkins University announced that it was attempting to create a “schizophrenic” mouse by inserting a gene from the DNA of a human family with schizophrenic members into a mouse. Yet a diagnosis of schizophrenia hinges on the patient hearing voices that aren’t there and seeing things others don’t see. How exactly does an experimenter know if this is true of mice, even if a gene has been inserted?

At Oregon Health & Science University, experimenter Eliot Spindel injects the fetuses of pregnant monkeys with nicotine and then gives the mothers vitamin supplements to see if that makes it “safer” to smoke while pregnant. Yet we’ve known since 1972 that smoking is harmful to human fetuses. Spindel’s money would have been better spent convincing pregnant women not to smoke.

Under the guise of studying fetal alcohol syndrome, David J. Earnest at Texas A&M Health Science Center examined sleep problems in baby rats who were force-fed alcohol. Perhaps Earnest is unaware that human infants don’t binge-drink after birth.

At universities and primate centers across the country, experimenters are still tearing infant monkeys from their mothers to observe the detachment and psychosis that result from this trauma. These are variations on the dreadful experiments conducted by Harry Harlow more than 40 years ago. How often do we need to prove that taking love and comfort from a baby monkey will destroy the animal’s happiness and ability to cope with life?

I could go on and on—monkeys who have the tops of their skulls removed, electrodes stuck in their brains and wire coils implanted in their eyes to look at the connection between eye movement and the brain; birds whose testicles are sucked out so that experimenters can examine what happens to their songs; cats who have their backs cut open and weights attached to their spinal tissue and are then killed, supposedly to study lower back problems in people. The list seems endless.

These animals are caged for their entire lives, traumatized, physically and emotionally damaged, killed and cut up for experiments that don’t even pretend to be about saving humans. Whether or not you agree with me that it’s unethical to do this to animals for any reason, surely it’s obvious that much experimentation on animals is a terrible waste of money and lives.

Kathy Guillermo is vice president of Laboratory Investigations for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the author of Monkey Business, The Disturbing Case That Launched the Animal Rights Movement.