Via Tom Holder of Speaking of Research comes news that embattled UCLA scientists have formed their own chapter of the pro-research organization Pro-Test. And, they’re already planning their first event:
Following in the footsteps of the Pro-Test group in Oxford, UK, students and scientists at UCLA have pledged to stand up against the lies and misinformation of animal rights groups, and the violence of extremist organizations. They have formed the new group UCLA Pro-Test, which stands for science, reasoned debate and the belief that life-saving medical research must continue without violence and harassment from misguided activists.
On Wednesday, 22nd April 2009, at 11:30 we call for all students, scientists and members of the public to make their way to the UCLA campus and meet at the junction of Westwood Blvd and Le Conte Ave. Stand up for Science, Research and the Medicines of Tomorrow – Stand up and have your voice heard at the UCLA Pro-Test rally!!
This rally will coincide with an anti-research demonstration at UCLA planned during the World Week for Animals in Laboratories (Week of Mon April 20th).
UCLA Pro-Test was founded by David Jentsch, and he has been joined by a number of other scientists who have also been the victims of animal rights extremism in California. With the support of Speaking of Research, and Pro-Test UK, they aim to challenge this climate of fear that has descended upon researchers in California and beyond!
Will you play your part? Not only are we looking for the silent majority to find their voice and march with us, but also for a few motivated individuals to get involved and help us get the word out. Anyone interested should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We especially need students and scientists on campus to join us in advertising, publicizing and organizing the demonstration! Get involved in this once-in-a-lifetime movement.
Unfortunately, researchers at UCLA have become a major target of animal rights extremists over the last few years. This has included various incidents of destruction of property aimed at specific scientists, and this has coincided with a general rise in animal rights extremist activity in the US.
In fact, the current climate at UCLA is very similar to that at the University in Oxford leading up to 2006. After successfully shutting down a new research facility at Cambridge, animal rights activists had turned their sights on Oxford, launching an intense campaign of intimidation that included large demonstrations, verbal and written threats, publicizing names and photos of anyone involved with Oxford’s new research facility, and–most notably–arson.
A major turning point came with the formation of Pro-Test by Oxford students and scientists who were tired–like so many others–of being intimidated into silence on the issue of animal research. After a series of well-attended rallies and other public events beginning in early 2006, the climate in Oxford had changed discernibly. Since then, the animal rights movement in Oxford in particular, and in the UK in general, has lost a great deal of momentum over the last few years, and Pro-Test surely deserves significant amount of credit for this. You can read a detailed history of Pro-Test at Speaking of Research, and you can read more in my archives (old and new).
Indeed, Pro-Test was so successful that I remarked back then that this was an excellent example of the potential of scientific activism to effect real change, and such a model should be exported to the US to counter the major anti-scientific challenges being faced there, specifically attacks on evolution and (at the time) embryonic stem cell research. At the time, though, I never thought that animal rights extremism would become such an issue in the US that it would require concerted action from the scientific community there.
I was wrong, of course, and now it’s clear that we need to heed Pro-Test’s example and take our pro-research message to the streets in the US as well, giving a voice to the silent majority that opposes the actions of these fringe extremists. That’s why these UCLA scientists and their nascent Pro-Test chapter deserve our full support. So, if you’re in the LA area, plan on attending their April 22nd rally, and if you’re able to help out in any other way, please get in touch with them.