Today at the University of California at Los Angeles, a rally is planned to raise awareness about the value of responsible animal research and to denounce acts of terrorism toward animal researchers and their families. The highlight of the Pro-Test rally will be the presentation to legislators and the media a petition with nearly 12,000 signatures of scientists who support the use of animals in research.
I stand together with my colleagues who conduct animal research in honor of their application of knowledge to advance biology and relieve human suffering, all while a growing movement of animal rights activists up the ante from protests to attacks on researchers, destruction of homes by arson, and even the vandalism of graves of researchers’ loved ones.
We stand together in our belief that:
- Animal research is a vital component in our understanding of biological systems and is necessary for the continuation of medical progress;
- Animal research is morally justifiable provided animal welfare remains a high priority and alternatives are used when available;
- Violence, intimidation and harassment of scientists and others involved in animal research is neither a legitimate means of protest, nor morally justifiable.
While I do not directly conduct animal research right now, the work of my laboratory can only advance because of my collaborators who are better qualified to conduct in vivo testing of anticancer drugs. However, our laboratory uses reagents for our work, antibodies in particular, that require the use of animals by manufacturers.
But since I cannulated my first rat bile duct back in 1983, researchers have increasingly sought to find as many alternatives to animal research as possible and funding agencies and research institutions have very stringent criteria for justification of animal use, minimization of animal distress or suffering, and the requirement that the absolute minimum number of animals are used to answer a research question.
I am one of the vast majority of researchers who wish we never had to use an animal for research purposes. But there are some questions that can only be answered by using the complex physiological systems of the vertebrate animal.
Bear in mind also that virtually every single prescription drug sold across the world has required animal research and testing for their development. Every single drug.
Animal testing was required for me to receive the antibiotics, anti-inflammatory steroids, and bronchodilators needed for me to recover from my long bout of pneumonia this year.
Animal testing was required for the vaccines and drugs needed by our beloved family dog.
Animal testing was required for the organ transplant that has allowed my wife to have her mother and my daughter to have her grandmother for the last eight years.
Animal testing is the reason that my mother is a 25-year breast cancer survivor.
Get the idea? You can add your own in the comments thread below.
So I stand today with my colleagues at UCLA. I thank each of you for your responsible use of animal research models and not being intimidated by the terrorist actions of those who would rather see you dead or maimed.
And I thank all readers who are not researchers but who I hope understand that animal research is a necessary part of advancing our body of knowledge and creating products that improve lives of humans and other animals as well.