With all the talk about the theory regarding animal rights, AR activism, animal research and terroristic attacks on scientists, this bit of news in the aftermath of the recent California firebombing may have been missed:

Law enforcement officers Thursday raided the same Riverside Avenue house that was searched after a UC Santa Cruz researcher’s home was targeted by animal-rights activists in February.

Police … wouldn’t say what the federal search warrant sought, what was taken from the house …

At least four agencies were involved in the search, including Santa Cruz and UCSC police and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Police earlier this week said the students who lived at 724 Riverside Ave. were not a focus of this investigation.

When asked if the FBI had any suspects, Schadler said “We can’t tell you even if we had somebody” though he said they are “covering every possible lead.”


Meanwhile, on the blogosphere, a few items of interest regarding this matter.


As someone striving to forge a career in biomedical/-physical research, I want to find a way to reconcile my personal ethics with the way animals are used to further science. … [but] ….
I refuse to be pigeonholed into some caricature of The Clueless Activist Undergrad Who Don’t Know Teh Skyentz. I am well aware that nothing is more annoying or less deserving of oxygen than an animal rights kid with no respect for science. If I seem defensive here, it’s only because I don’t like being associated with animal rights terrorists in any way, shape or form, and that’s what I feel has happened.

Neurotic Physiology

You know, I was thinking of possible titles for this post: “Animal Research: why all the firebombing?”, “Animal Research: I can haz mice?”, but really, there’s no cute/clever way to say this stuff, and this is a pretty serious topic,…

… two most recent incidents targeted a mouse researcher, and someone who does research in drosophila. Those would be fruit flies. You know, the little things that get on your nectarines when you leave them out too long. And my colleagues are worried. It doesn’t help that many people (including fellow scientists) say things like “well, if you’re worried, don’t do animal research”.

So I figured I’d take a minute and explain WHY it is that we do what we do…

Why, even though ART is unconscionable, the regulatory process is serious business:

SPARKS, Nev. – Thirty-two research monkeys at a Nevada laboratory died because human errors made the room too hot, officials for the drug company that runs the lab said Thursday. Animal rights activists complain the company took too long to report the deaths.

Charles River Laboratories Inc. issued a statement saying the monkeys died in Sparks on May 28. The company, based in Wilmington, Mass., attributed the deaths to incorrect climate-control operation.

The company said that it reported the problem immediately to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that it didn’t notify the public out of concern for the safety of its 515 employees who work at its labs in Sparks and neighboring Reno.

Maybe the ART’s should go after the churches: Catholics and Satanists United against Black Cats in Italy

Sandra has a Book review: “The Animal Research War”

Animal “rights” terrorism, revisited

I’ve written before about how animal rights cranks have started resorting to terroristic tactics in order to intimidate or frighten researchers … I have little but contempt for the Animal Liberation Front … and their ilk, who routinely use lies such as the claim that no good has ever come of animal research or the utterly risible claim that we can now somehow replace the use of animals with computer or cell culture models, coupled with vandalism and intimidation tactics, to push their pseudoscientific agenda. Unfortunately, … these pinheads are at it again…


  1. #1 Caveat
    August 10, 2008

    You have to understand that these groups are NOT animal welfare groups. They don’t work for more humane treatment of animals.

    Their goal is animal liberation – the elimination of all animal husbandry from pet ownership to farming to research.

    They are well-funded by an unwitting public who is fooled into thinking they are animal welfare advocates. They are all interconnected and are all on the same page.

    Some AR/AL/AP groups disguised as animal welfare agencies:

    The Humane Society of the United States
    Farm Sanctuary

    and there are many, many more of them.

    For some interesting reading, visit http://www.activistcash.com

    Some good research there.

  2. #2 marcia
    August 10, 2008

    caveat’s link in above post is to the Center for Consumer Freedom web site.

    And what is the Center for Consumer Freedom?


  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    August 10, 2008

    DrugMonkey has put up another post in the series that Samia linked to. They’re well worth reading on their own, and people are posting more information in the comments.

  4. #4 greg laden
    August 10, 2008

    Hmmm… This center for consumer freedom thing is rather interesting!!!! A pseudonymous organization… Hmmm.

    But who is behind Source Watch!?!??

    I read Drug Monkey’s posts. I agree with Samia that


    OMG, did I say that out loud?

    Anyway, other than his unavoidable tendency to trip over the obnoxious personality he has created for whatever reason, he does provides some useful and interesting information. But blog policy prohibits me from linking to him. So if you want to find him you’ve got to go the google route.

  5. #5 Caveat
    August 10, 2008

    The ‘CCF is a front group meme’ is really, really stale.

    There’s nothing anonymous about the group or its lead researcher, who is an attorney. They were the only ones who covered the Peta trial in N Carolina, for example.

    Unlike the AR groups, they make no secret of the fact that they represent food producers, tobacco producers and others such as sporting dog groups blah blah blah in order to protect the constitutional rights of citizens.

    They also make no secret of their agenda, do not collect money under false pretences, etc, again like the AR crowd.

    I love them – and I’m not a gun owner, fast food eater, tobacco farmer or anything else. I don’t agree with them on everything, either.

    Somebody has to call bullshit on the AR/AL/AP crowd and nobody does it in such a well researched, credible fashion at CCF.

  6. #6 Stephanie Z
    August 10, 2008

    That would be why I mentioned his posts, Greg. I don’t have any such policy. Of course, I did fail to mention that Samia’s blog is 49%, which makes them easier to find for anyone who’s interested.

    And as long as we’re going for full disclosure, I do have an ex-boyfriend whose lab was targeted by the ALF.

  7. #7 MARCIA
    August 10, 2008

    Berman (Dr. Evil) and the CCF were given the smackdown on 60 minutes.


    He’s been so thoroughly discredited, I’m surprised someone linked to the guy. If there’s any org. that deserves a week’s worth of skepticism, it’s the CCF.

    Being born a Jew, I have to tell you that the industry shill Berman has been on top of my bad Jew list for some time now. (Ben Stein and Lieberman are tied for first place right now.) šŸ˜‰

  8. #8 peter
    August 10, 2008

    I know I may seem like a sympathizer to destruction of private property, but I sort of have a warm place in my heart for the animal rights activists who risk their own freedom for the helpless beasts of the world. I understand the need for research, but WTF! How many cosmetics does the world need? Okay, find the cure for diseases. Sacrifices need to be made. In any case, I think knocking off labs is a waste of time. Hey, get some guys together and attack a factory farm or slaughterhouse. Raise some dust!

  9. #9 Stephanie Z
    August 10, 2008

    Peter, with public funding being what it is, the cosmetic-type labs are much better guarded than the basic research labs. Your heroes aren’t differentiating. They’re going for the easy targets. You know, the cures for diseases.

    And the reason they don’t go after factory farms or food operations is that most people have a much higher opinion of “meat” than “experimentation.”

  10. #10 David
    August 11, 2008

    Peter, I agree with Stephanie Z here, the point is that the scientists who are being targeted are those who are working on cures for diseases, not those working on cosmetics. Only a very small proportion of animal use is for cosmetics (it’s actually banned in the UK).

    I’m a supporter of groups such as AMP and Speaking of Research that campaign for the use of animals in research and against AR extremism, and believe that the research community needs to do more to stand up for colleagues who are under threat.

    Having said that I do think that there needs to be some consideration given to how animal research is done and how it is regulate. There have been several recent reviews that indicate that a large part of the apparent differences observed between preclinical animal studies designed to assess the effectiveness and safety of treatments (basic research is another matter) and human clinical trials are due to poor experimental design (Scott S. et al 2008, Perel P. et al 2007). Problems include general issues such as study and control groups too small, lack of (formal) randomization, no blinding (although staffing limits might make blinding difficult), and more specific issues such as unrealistic timing of treatments and in the case of virology an over reliance on challange with homologous strains. It seems likely that a large proportion of the observed discordance between human and animal data is due to errors in the way the experiments are done rather than deficiencies in the animal models themselves (which rather ironically both scientists and AR activists usually rush to blame when a drug fails).

    I’m also slightly concerned that in the US there is too much variability between IACUCs. While most allegations by AR organizations about “pointless research” turn out on examination to be nonsense there have been a couple of examples on Science blogs in the past few months of projects that should never have got approval, for example a study of Reiki that involved placing electrodes in the brains of rats http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/07/reiki_for_rats.php.
    Now I know that this is a procedure that causes much less suffering than might be expected, it’s used quite regularly to treat humans with diseases such as Parkinson’s, but it’s still a highly invasive procedure being used to test a load of unscientific nonsense.

    I know that there is now more discussion going on about these issues, at least within particular areas of research such as HIV vaccine development and stroke where the problems with experimental design have been most obvious. I still wonder to what extent such discussion has been hampered by an unwillingness on the part of scientists to appear to break ranks and express concerns for fear that they might be viewed as aiding the anti-vivisectionists, or even because of worries that their actions might lead to attacks by extremists on their colleagues.

    Perhaps we need to do more to explain why animal research is valuable and support colleagues who are threatened , but I do think that the animal research community does need to do more to ensure that when experiments are done they meet the highest standards possible in both design and welfare.

  11. #11 David
    August 11, 2008

    I have to agree with Marcia about CCF/Activist cash. While CCF have occasionally dug up some interesting facts about animal rights groups such as PeTA and PCRM they are little better themselves and their claims ought to be treated with the utmost caution.

  12. #12 Blaidd Drwg
    August 11, 2008

    I used to live in Santa Cruz, and as I recall, the address listed in the police report is in the middle of one of the least desirable neighborhoods in the county, second only to the “Beach Flats”. Riverside Avenue was well known to police, ambulance drivers and cab drivers as an area you did not want to be in after dark, unless you had ‘business’ there (most of the ‘business’ conducted was of the illegal variety).
    Drunk in public, assault, vandalism, even rape and armed robbery are what pass for hobbies among many of the denizens of that area.
    Admittedly, my experience is 15 years old, and the area may have been cleaned up considerably in that time, but…