Written by Jim Newman
For several decades, public and private research organizations adopted a “less is more” attitude when it came to communicating about animal research. And for a long time, the approach made sense.
Many universities and research institutions assumed the majority of Americans understood and supported scientific progress via animal studies. After all, health advancements continued at an astounding pace, so surely the public understood the basic process of moving from lab bench to animal studies to bedside. Also, it was assumed that there was broad acceptance of the fact that cutting edge therapies and medications must first be safety tested in living systems before being offered to living patients—including children. Read more.
Written by Jim Newman
Recently, nearly 600 American scientists, including four Nobel Prize winners, took a stand. They issued an open letter to the rest of the country’s science community on the need to communicate more openly about the critical role of animal studies in developing new treatments and cures. Serious and real security concerns have prevented many universities and other research centers from doing this in the past. However, decades of experience show the old approach does not work. It’s obviously time for a change in tactics.
But America’s scientists and research organizations aren’t the only ones who need to rethink their approach. Animal activists should also do a bit of soul searching. Read more.
Ryan Moore’s guest column, “Stop animal testing. Do your part with a single scan,” on OrlandoSentinel.com has misleading statements that could convince readers to reject critical research that would save lives and end suffering.
For example, he conflates cosmetic testing with cutting-edge disease research as if they are one and the same. Developing a new kind of toothpaste is not the same as unearthing new cancer therapies. Furthermore, animals currently play a critical and irreplaceable role in helping us understand, treat and hopefully defeat this large family of diseases and countless others.
We are surrounded by the evidence that research in animals generates critical health treatments for humans and animals alike. The tangible proof includes vaccines, new surgical advancements and countless medications. These are all developed through animal studies that reduce suffering and extend lives. Read more.
Written by Bob Tedeschi
In 1995, when Anthony Bellotti was 17 and slogging through a summer internship in an animal research lab, he was struck not by how the work could help the millions of people suffering from heart disease, but by the plight of the pigs being hoisted by their hind legs onto tables.
“They were always screaming,” he said. “I thought, ‘Something’s wrong with this picture.’”
He still hoped to one day join his father in the medical field, but the experience triggered a more lasting ambition: rolling back animal testing, which helped refine vaccines that saved millions from polio and smallpox, among others, as well as treatments for many other diseases. Read more.
Written by David Grimm
BEAVERTON, OREGON—As soon as the big yellow school bus pulls into the parking lot of the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) here, it’s clear that many of the high school students on board don’t know what they’ve signed up for. They know that science happens somewhere on this wooded, 70-hectare campus west of Portland—and that they may get to see monkeys—but everything else is a mystery. “Are we going to go into some giant underground lair?” asks a lanky sophomore in a hoodie, imagining that the center is set up like a video game or Jurassic Park.
Diana Gordon is here to disabuse him of both notions. As the education and outreach coordinator of the country’s largest primate research center, she spends her days guiding students, Rotary clubs, and even wedding parties through the facility. Here, visitors see monkeys in their habitats and meet scientists—all while learning, Gordon hopes, that the animals are well-treated and the research is critical for human health. “If we don’t speak up, there’s only one side being heard,” she says. “The side that wants to shut us down.” Read more.
Written by The Washington Times
Derek Hunter’s op-ed on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research involving cats contained misinformation and hyperbole that deserve a response (“Ending taxpayer-funded kitty cruelty,” Web, May 22).
Washington Times readers deserve to know why the research is being conducted in the first place. The studies are aimed at combating a dangerous parasite called toxoplasma, which can infect humans. Those at greatest risk are pregnant women who, if exposed, can transmit the disease to their unborn children, causing serious brain and eye damage. Read more.
Written by IndyStar
Any mistake involving research animals is regrettable. No scientist or animal care technician takes one lightly. In fact, those who provide day-to-day care of research animals often choose the occupation because they are animal-lovers themselves. Therefore, we must reject efforts by groups like Stop Animal Exploitation Now to exploit unfortunate errors as part of their strategy to halt vital health research.
Federal animal care regulations are extensive. They are part of a comprehensive system that ensures mistakes are reported and fully investigated so that further problems can be prevented. Read more.
Written by Jim Newman
The University of Iowa has shown a commitment to abiding by animal-welfare laws when performing research.
The animal-rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now is working overtime to generate headlines about the University of Iowa. But before rushing to judgment, consider two things.
First, a full examination of the already publicly available documents distributed by the group do not support its claims of abuse. Instead, they illustrate an intense, ongoing commitment by the university to provide good animal care. Take for instance the most significant document, which accounts for 82 percent of the animals that the group raises concerns about. It explains the reasons behind the unfortunate loss of a school of fish being used for health studies. In this case, an animal-care technician proactively sought to reduce high pH levels in the tank in which the animals were living and made a mistake in doing so. Most readers will likely agree that an error by a well-meaning employee who spots and attempts to fix an issue is regrettable … but not abuse. Read more.
Letter to the editor by Paula Clifford
The University of Iowa is the latest victim in a dangerous campaign aimed at smearing scientists and derailing health research.
The UI website provides a clear picture of the important work taking place with animals in university labs. Researchers are combating Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, mental health issues, obesity, cystic fibrosis, diabetes — the list goes on and on.
Groups like Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! want to cast a dark shadow over all scientists who study animals. Here are the facts: All major institutions that conduct health research require the use of animals. In many cases, there are simply no alternatives. Another fact: The University of Iowa’s animal studies are highly regulated. SAEN’s complaint itself — based on publicly available documents — is proof that our country’s animal welfare laws are extensive and provide transparency. Read more.
Written by Michael Schulson
If there’s any activist who can thrive in Donald Trump’s Washington, it’s Anthony Bellotti, a conservative political consultant who is adept at social media campaigns, at ease with the press, and fluent in the language of small-government politics. Bellotti worked on campaigns to defund Planned Parenthood, the women’s reproductive rights nonprofit, and to end Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.
But his current effort, called the White Coat Waste Project, has what many might consider an unusual crossover appeal. The group aims to stop government-funded animal research, using a mix of Tea Party-ready rhetoric about government waste and heart-tugging appeals to animal-lovers of all political persuasions. Toward that end, Bellotti makes a straightforward pitch: Animal research, he argues, is cruel, unnecessary, inefficient, and expensive. Plus, much of it is funded by taxpayers, whether they like it or not. The solution, according to White Coat Waste’s website, is to “drain the swamp” and “cut federal spending that hurts animals and Americans.” Read more.