Terra Sigillata

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.

The rally and the petition drive is a joint effort of Americans for Medical Progress, Pro-Test for Science, and Speaking of 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.

Comments

  1. #1 Paul Browne
    April 8, 2010

    Thanks for the support Abel, it means lot to the scientists, students and their friends and families who are now marching across the UCLA campus.

    Your post is a great reminder that most of the bioscientists who support animal research don’t themselves undertake animal research, but fully appreciate the contribution made by animal researchers to progress in their fields of study.

  2. #2 andrew
    April 8, 2010

    “the work of my laboratory can only advance because of my collaborators who are better qualified to conduct in vivo testing”

    “there are some questions that can only be answered by using the complex physiological systems of the vertebrate animal”

    i don’t doubt that there are moral positives, imperatives even, to animal testing – there certainly are, and you listed many of them. but these two statements (among others) belie another prominent factor, which is the self-interest of the scientist. we want to do research, we want to collect data, we want to generate models that make sense and can be tied to the real world, and to actual biological systems.

    so, a lot of the reason animals are used as test subjects is simply that the animals have something that the humans want. denying that human rapaciousness plays a part in science may help in public debates, e.g. drawing support away from the animal rights activists (with whom i do not agree), but denial doesn’t make the whole case a moral one.

    i’m a psychologist doing human vision science – my field would be theoretically empty if not for the lives of thousands of cats and monkeys, in particular – without them, we would have virtually no idea how the visual cortex works, for example. so, i recognize the value of animal testing. i just don’t think all of that value can be couched in moral goodness, as you’re trying to do here.

  3. #3 Corvus
    April 8, 2010

    # Animal research is a vital component in filling the pockets of researchers and covering the asses of pharmaceutical companies and other companies that benefit from the exploitation and torture of other animals

    # Animal research is morally bankrupt and is a complete joke since humans die every day from the faulty and misleading results of nonhuman animal testing, among the millions of animals that lose their lives every year.

    # Violence, intimidation, and harassment of humans and other caged animals by scientists and corporations is neither a legitimate means of practicing research, nor is it morally justifiable.

    FIXD

  4. #4 Abel Pharmboy
    April 8, 2010

    I am Pro-Test so that even people like Corvus do not have to suffer from a lack of innovative pharmaceuticals, prosthetics, and other medical devices.

  5. #5 speedwell
    April 8, 2010

    Yeah, Corvus. Evil animal researchers torture animals because they’re mean and nasty and they love to see animals suffer. And they’re evil. Rather than use their college educations to do work furthering health in the most effective and compassionate way, they… wait, furthering health in the most effective and compassionate way does involve informed, responsible testing with animals. As soon as you come up with a more effective and compassionate way to get the reliable preliminary results we need (or as soon as they themselves come up with a viable alternative to animal testing), I’m sure the researchers would gladly adopt it. Or not, because they’re nothing but a bunch of evil hell-spawned bastards who love to torture and kill animals for fun, and you’re just a party pooper who wants to spoil the joy they get whenever they vivisect something without anesthesia for no good reason. Right?

    My god, I am SO SICK of hearing people like Corvus screech that animal researchers are torturing little Fluffy.

  6. #6 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 8, 2010

    Corvus:
    You are free to boycott all drugs, therapies, surgeries and other applications of animal-based research. I would expect no less from such a principled fellow as you.

  7. #7 silphion
    April 9, 2010

    Hi PharmBoy,
    I understand and respect your position, although I differ both in the evaluation of the importance of animal research and in the ethical position to have in front of the problem of animal moral status. However, I do not inted to discuss this now, only to suggest that conflating all the diversity of moral standings vis-a-vis animal experimenting in one, and then identifying that with the violent, vandalistic, intolerant one is, IMHO, a bit of a rethorical gambit. Not all those who have a different opinion on this issue are like that; in fact, where I come from, it is generally the opposite, people arrive at a certain moral position because of a tolerant, non violent, human rights aware attitude. I suspect that as usual those who are more visible are seen as the most numerous.
    Take care

  8. #8 Cleveland
    April 9, 2010

    silphion,

    When you supposedly nonviolent types consistently and effectively put down the violent fringes and when you believably reject, oppose and *prevent* lab break ins, researcher harassment, etc..well perhaps then you have an argument. None of this “I can see why they feel that way” nonsense. None of this talking point crap about researchers being “violent”. No conflation of research with animal testing for cosmetics. And above all else, stop with the lying about the efficacy of animal research in improving human health and well being.

    In short, stop acting like the violent fringe and you’ll stop being conflated with them.

    Take care. Of yourself. You know..with all those animal based medical advances and health protections that you take for granted in modern civilized life.

  9. #9 silphion
    April 9, 2010

    @Cleveland
    Mmmm, I see that you make many unwarranted inferences about me, and about some sort of group I should be part of. I did not know I was part of some group, thak you for pointing this out to me :-) The rest of your post is totally unintelligble, so maybe you should rephrase it? Or maybe it’s jut me being dense. It doesn’t matter really, I really don’t have much time to waste. Take care and keep on thinking that all of those who don’t share exactly your worldview talk “crap”, if that makes your life easier.

  10. #10 Cleveland
    April 9, 2010

    Fortunately for you silphion, you have a lot more time to waste thanks to medical and health advances that depended on animal research.

  11. #11 jimj
    April 9, 2010

    I wondered about the disclaimer from the Anderson Center at UT concerning Evolv water. The disclaimer is unclear as to the results of the anti-inflamitory testing. Was there a conclusion? I am investigating this company and wondered if there is any evidence that it does anything more than hydrate you. Jim

  12. #12 silphion
    April 9, 2010

    :-) No, I really have no time to waste, but I’ll share this 5 mins with you if that makes your day. However I suggest you read the comments before replying to them, that usually makes the trick and avoids annoying non sequiturs.
    More to the point, in this as in many other discussions, there aren’t just two polarized positions. One can recognise the debt to animal research for drug development and still hold a different moral position; one can also differ in the evaluation of the weight of this debt. I happen to think that not all the reconstructions made of the importance of animal research in drug development are of sufficient historical and epistemological depth; at the same time, I have no qualms with the claim that there has been and there is a role for animal research. And I also hold the view that assessing the relevance of the research isn’t the only morally relevant point, and that in fact we all the time make moral decisions not completely based upon consequentialism. I hate making obvious statements, but it seems you need elementary ones: yes, I know lab researchers are not monsters, I work with them, they are part of my family, but even if this wasn’t the case I would knew it, because I am a grown up; only nutcases or integralists would think otherwise. Now if you could drop the stereotypic and banal blah blah relating to others as minus habens, perhaps that would help you not to fall victim of the same fallacy. That is, if communicating is of any interets to you.
    Take care

  13. #13 silphion
    April 9, 2010

    Ooops, my previous comment lacked the heading “@Cleveland”, sorry

  14. #14 Christian Burgess
    April 9, 2010

    How ever you justify it to me pro testers are Apathetic & the researchers are just downright evil little animal killers.
    The type of people if they where really intelligent would find more humane methods, i don’t know maybe test on peadophiles as they are a human model .. let me guess thats unethical … say no more evil doers.

    Animal Testing?? NOT In My Name!!

  15. #15 Eric Mills
    April 10, 2010

    As George Bernard Shaw famously wrote, “Anyone who doesn’t hesitate to vivisect wouldn’t hesitate to lie about it.”

    The outdated Animal Welfare Act has nothing to do with the research itself, focusing rather on housing, feeding, veterinary care, etc. Outrageously, more than 90% of the animals used in research are NOT covered by the Act: rats and mice, birds, farm animals, fish, invertebrates, etc. Most research animals never see the light of day or set foot to earth. “Humane” research, by definition, is an oxymoron. Most of our cancers are self-inflicted (tobacco, booze, pesticides, lousy eating habits, etc.) So please show me the “ethics” of this misuse of other living, sentient creatures. The animals have no choice in the matter.

    How is it that in a taxpayer-supported state institution like UC that the meetings of the Animal Care & Use
    Committees are closed to the public? That’s downright un-democratic, no? I understand that in Florida these committees ARE open to the public. Indeed, we have a right, nay DUTY to be there, to see how our monies are being spent, and that the animals are at least treated properly. It would also be nice to have a few non-researchers on these committees. It’s now a case of the fox guarding the henhouse. Again, not democratic.

    There’s only one over-populated animal on the planet: Homo sapiens. Wouldn’t these monies be better spent on birth control, family planning, women’s rights, environmental protection, etc.? We’re currently losing a reported 40,000 plant and animal species annually due to human impacts, and we’re about to run out of water, not only in California, but globally.

    But, hey! All this may prove moot if James Lovelock is right (author of the Gaia theory). Dr. Lovelock posits that global warming is irreversible, and that by the end of this century there’ll be five BILLION people dead from flooding, starvation, wars and disease. And most of L.A. will likely be underwater. I can hardly wait….

    x
    Eric Mills, coordinator
    ACTION FOR ANIMALS
    Oakland

  16. #16 deadatheists
    April 10, 2010

    abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaceOff/

    THE REAL QUESTION:

    DOES ATHEISM HAVE A FUTURE?

    AND THE ANSWER – NO!

    Atheists

    GET OUT OF MY UNIVERSE…

    you little liars do nothing but antagonize…

    and you try to eliminate all the dreams and hopes of humanity…

    but you LOST…

    THE DEATH OF ATH*ISM – SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF GOD

    engforum.pravda.ru/showthread.php?t=280780

    Einstein puts the final nail in the coffin of atheism…

    youtube.com/watch?v=V7vpw4AH8QQ

    atheists deny their own life element…

    LIGHT OR DEATH, ATHEISTS?

    ********LIGHT**

  17. #17 Doug
    June 26, 2010

    “Given substances are not necessarily carcinogenic to all species. Studies show that 46% of chemicals found to be carcinogenic in rats were not carcinogenic in mice. [23] If species as closely related as mice to rats do not even contract cancer similarly, it’s not surprising that 19 out of 20 compounds that are safe for humans caused cancer in animals. [24]

    The US National Cancer Institute treated mice growing 48 different “human” cancers with a dozen different drugs proven successful in humans, and in 30 of the cases, the drugs were useless in mice. Almost two-thirds of the mouse models were wrong. Animal experimentation is not scientific because it is not predictive.

    It does not improve humans life/health, in fact it is the main cause of human illness, ANY substance will pass an animal ‘test’, strychnine, cyanide, arsenic, DDT, hemlock, asbestos, botulin, HIV infected blood, cigarettes to name a few. This ‘testing’ provides legal protection to big business but no physical protection to us. Then one we have the resulting diseases the animal based ‘research’ cures none of the 30,000 diseases humans now have (largely from the animal ‘tested’ products,pollutants, carcinogens etc.

    “The US National Cancer Institute also undertook a 25 year screening programme, testing 40,000 plant species on animals for anti-tumour activity. Out of the outrageously expensive research, many positive results surfaced in animal models, but not a single benefit emerged for humans. As a result, the NCI now uses human cancer cells for cytotoxic screening.[25]
    refs 23# DiCarlo DrugMet Rev,15; p409-131984.
    24# Mutagenesis1987;2:73-78.
    25# Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science, Volume II Animal Models Svendensen and Hau (Eds.) CRC Press 1994 p4.”