There will be representatives from HARVARD, MIT and PRINCETOWN discussing
their animal experiments at the conference. All of these institutions currently
hold the worst records for animal welfare violations and receive huge grants
from the NIH and the NEI for their gross work. It's important to show them we
want ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS so please attend this important protest.
Please post and cross post:
PROTEST ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS
DATE: Saturday November 13t
TIME: 10:00am – 1:00pm
LOCATION: Neuroscience Convention, San Diego Convention Center (outside
Convention Center/in front of Hall E sign), 111 W. Harbor Drive, Ca 92101
Please join Stop Animal Exploitation Now
www.saenonline.org and San Diego Animal Advocates
www.animaladvocates.org at a
protest to end the use of live animals in cruel neurological experiments. (Alex
Pacheco will also be attending.)
Actress GLENN CLOSE (Fatal Attraction/Damages) is scheduled to speak at the
conference. Let Glen know that we want humane research for diseases. Research
using live animals is cruel, unproductive and motivated by money.
Primate vivisector, Robert H. Wurtz is speaking at the conference on brain
circuits in non-humanprimates. Wurtz implants eye coils in monkeys, restrains
them, cements recording cylinders to their heads with titanium screws and uses
water/food deprivation to force the monkeys to react. He experimented on one
monkey a total of 18 times before discarding 6 out of 24 experiments he did.
Scheduled speaker, J.K Rowlett, addicts squirrel and rhesus monkeys to
barbiturate drugs such as zolpidem and psychoactive drugs such as benzodiazepene.
He uses food/water deprivation and electric shocks to monkey's feet to train
them during experiments.
If you can car pool/offer to drive or need a ride please contact:
For more info please email:
Conference website: www.sfn.org
For directions and maps please visit
November 7, 2010
Animal Research: Groupthink in Both Camps
Thomas Peter, Reuters
A primate station in Sukhumi, capital of the Georgian breakaway region of
Abkhazia, was in Soviet times a leading institute for the study of diseases by
way of experimenting with primates. But the station has been struggling to keep
its scientific work running since Abkhazia broke away in the early 1990s. Its
former population of about 6,000 monkeys has been reduced to some 300 primates,
and money from the unrecognized Abkhaz government is meager.
By Lawrence A. Hansen
Professors like me, with established research credentials at
animal-research-intensive universities who are also members of People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals, are rare. But a dual identity as a research
faculty member and an animal advocate affords a unique perspective on both
A striking similarity between the two is that animal researchers and defenders
of animals both employ groupthink, a mode of thought that people engage in when
they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, where members striving for
unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative
courses of action.
We faculty members with deep concerns for animal welfare are often viewed by our
groupthink scientific colleagues as untrustworthy or even treasonous agents
provocateurs, since we are inclined to raise both ethical and scientific
objections to invasive and lethal animal experimentation, especially when it
involves primates and companion animals—that is, dogs and cats.
Meanwhile, our animal-rights associates suspect us of insufficient ardor for
animal welfare, since we acknowledge that not all research involving animals is
torture, and many of us do not object when transgenic mice are painlessly
euthanized after being well cared for during their short lives.
Animal Research- Why We Need Alternatives
Research- Activists' Wishful Thinking, Primitive Reasoning
Kevin J. Miyazaki, Redux
A male Rhesus monkey at the National Primate Research Center watches Scott Baum
as he feeds a treat to another monkey.
Groupthink among animal advocates, unless it leads to violence, is harmless
enough, but it's self-defeating when the goal is to rally public opposition to
vivisection (a term that encompasses both the dissection of living animals for
teaching, and performing invasive, intentionally mutilating or maiming surgeries
on living animals as a way to do research). A huge reservoir of empathy for our
fellow primates and for companion animals goes untapped when PETA demonstrators
protest biomedical research on mice or trivia like presidential fly swatting. It
may well be that a Gandhi-like respect for all animal life represents the
ultimate in human ethical evolution, but until that "consummation devoutly to be
wished" is realized, apes and monkeys and dogs and cats are being confined,
vivisected, and killed while animal advocates are ignored as a lunatic fringe.
Groupthink at universities that perform experiments on animals has far more dire
consequences for the animals involved. Researchers view animals as a means to an
end rather than as ends in their own right, as we consider ourselves. That
perspective has led some researchers to subject animals to what the public
construes as excessive suffering in the quest for scientific advancement.
The Laboratory Animal Welfare Act was passed by Congress in 1966 in response to
public outrage over abuse of dogs in research laboratories exposed in a Life
magazine photo essay titled "Concentration Camps for Lost and Stolen Pets." A
later amendment to that law required the establishment of Institutional Animal
Care and Use Committees to oversee all use of primates, dogs, and cats in
research and teaching. Animal-research universities complied, but the
overwhelming majority of committee members are the researchers themselves. Their
groupthink routinely countenances such ethically disquieting treatment of animal
subjects that it is difficult to avoid the cynical conclusion that the intention
of the Animal Welfare Act is routinely circumvented by researchers who strictly
adhere to its letter only in order to avoid accomplishing its goal. Even
defenders of the committee system acknowledge that the committees do not reject
animal protocols that involve inflicting suffering, although that was the role
animal protectionists had expected them to assume.
One especially disturbing example of primate vivisection repeatedly approved by
many university animal-care-and-use committees is a decades-long series of
highly invasive experiments performed on rhesus monkeys to learn more about the
neuronal circuitry of visual tracking in the brain. The luckless monkeys undergo
multiple surgeries to have coils implanted in both eyes; holes drilled in their
skulls to allow researchers to selectively destroy some parts of their brains
and put recording electrodes in others; and head-immobilization surgeries in
which screws, bolts, and plates are directly attached to their skulls. The
monkeys are anesthetized during these surgeries. After a recovery period, they
are intentionally dehydrated to produce a water-deprivation "work ethic" so that
they will visually track moving objects for the reward of a sip of water.
First impressions are usually correct in questions of cruelty to animals, and
most of us cannot bear to even look at pictures of these monkeys, with their
electrode-implanted brains and bolted heads, being put through their paces in a
desperate attempt to get a life-sustaining sip of water. Such treatment is
justified in the corresponding grant application by invoking the possibility
that the resulting data may allow us to find the cause and cure for human
diseases such as Alzheimer's.
But those of us who have spent decades in research on Alzheimer's disease
recognize that such a justification is an ethical bait and switch, since the
neural pathway being investigated in these experiments is not even involved in
Alzheimer's disease. These experiments in the basic neuroscience of visual
tracking are so thoroughly unrelated to the neuropathology of Alzheimer's
disease that in more than 28 years of research in the neuroscience of the
disease, I have never come across a single reference to them in any scientific
literature on neurodegenerative disease.
When neuroscience researchers concoct connections between their vivisection
of primates and far-fetched, entirely theoretical potential future benefit for
human welfare, they are tacitly admitting that the general public, which
ultimately pays for their research, would recoil in horror from their more
grotesque monkey experiments and would overwhelmingly condemn the work if they
knew that those experiments were not directly related to human welfare. Such
experiments are always carried out far away from public scrutiny, and the
researchers performing them will never submit photographs of their research
subjects for the cover of Science or Nature.
Since most invasive monkey research is not directly linked to alleviating human
suffering, what is the real motivation of scientists doing such things to our
cousin primates? The investigators are not sadists, although they may seem to be
from the monkey's point of view. Researchers simply see themselves as doing
neuroscience, reasoning that if you want to learn about how brains are wired,
the easiest and most direct way is to selectively damage a living brain and see
Science is an intrinsically amoral (not to be confused with immoral) enterprise,
and good science, by which we mean valid as opposed to invalid science, can be
pursued either ethically or unethically. The infamous Tuskegee and, more
recently brought to light, Guatemalan syphilis experiments performed on
unwitting and unwilling human subjects were not bad science as long as they
produced valid results about the natural history of syphilis infection. But they
are very good examples of scientists behaving badly. And so it is when
neuroscientists pursue neuroscience without regard to the suffering they inflict
while doing so.
Companion animals—dogs and cats—fare no better than primates when they, too,
are forced to rely on the tender mercies of university animal-care-and-use
committees. The committee at the University of California at San Diego, for
example, continued to approve dog-vivisection labs in the institution's
pharmacology course for first-year medical students, killing dozens of dogs
every year, long after such lethal demonstrations had been discontinued at 95
percent of American medical schools.
Hundreds of San Diego physicians, including UCSD medical-school faculty members,
signed a petition in 1999 urging an end to the dog labs. After that was ignored,
a formal complaint was lodged with the animal-care-and-use committee in 2002,
accusing it of ignoring federal guidelines that require a good-faith effort to
replace animal labs in education when alternatives become available. It seemed
incontestable to the petitioning physicians that dog vivisection and euthanasia
in first-year pharmacology could be replaced by alternative educational methods,
given that 95 percent of medical schools in the United States killed no
animals—let along dogs—in their pharmacology courses.
The response of the animal-care-and-use committee to this complaint was that the
vivisection and euthanasia of dogs in the pharmacology course raised "no
animal-welfare issues." Such a dismissal seemed like Orwellian newspeak to the
doctors arguing against the dog labs, and public protests followed. Eventually,
after years of internal faculty dissent, newspaper articles, editorials, e-mail
campaigns, and adverse publicity in general, the UCSD Faculty Council and School
of Medicine department chairs reviewed the issue and recommended in 2003 that
the dog labs not be a part of the core curriculum, finally accomplishing what
the animal-care-and-use committee should have done decades before.
These examples of animal abuse happen to come from the University of California
and concern monkeys and dogs, but other research universities behave similarly,
and cats suffer the same fate. The rubber-stamp approval of anything any
researcher with a grant wants to inflict upon these animals is all the more
infuriating to animal advocates in light of the fact that the Animal Welfare Act
is very narrowly tailored to apply to just these creatures and a very few
others, while excluding from its presumed protections the overwhelming majority
of animals used in research.
In defending themselves against accusations of animal cruelty, research
universities like to emphasize that 97.5 percent of animals used in research are
rats or mice, and less than 0.1 percent are the monkeys, dogs, and cats more
likely to inspire empathy and sympathy. Much to the chagrin of more-radical
advocates for kindness to animals, defenders of primates and companion animals
are asking for an end to vivisection of only that 0.1 percent.
Oddly enough, animal advocates and animal researchers share a paradoxical
consensus, arrived at with antithetical ethical reasoning, that primates and
companion animals deserve no special ethical status or protections not afforded
to other animals. Animal-rights advocates like those at PETA believe that all
sentient beings are worthy of respect and deserve protection from the willful
infliction of pain or suffering. They fear that rescuing only monkeys, dogs, and
cats from the vivisection will dissipate any growing public pressure to abolish
vivisection altogether, leaving the vast majority of experimental animals beyond
the pale of public compassion. They consequently refuse to designate any
particular species as special, but in so doing they risk allowing the perfect to
become the enemy of the good.
Enthusiastic vivisectors agree with the animal-rights advocates that there is
nothing special about primates or companion animals. But in their ethical
universe, only humans warrant ethical consideration, and all nonhuman animals
should be fair game for vivisection. Ironically, it is at just this point of
their agreement—about monkeys and companion animals not being special—where both
groups' values differ most from those of the general population.
People have a natural empathy for their fellow primates because we recognize
ourselves in them. Most of us also recognize a special bond with dogs and cats,
after 10,000 years of selective breeding have produced companion animals
hard-wired to love humans. One animal-laboratory technician at UCSD quit his job
because a dog he was transporting to her fate on the vivisection table tried to
shake hands with him.
It seems to many that treating dogs and cats the same as rodents or as animals
killed for food would constitute a deep betrayal of an ancient bond between
species. In short, primates warrant special status because they are so much like
us, while dogs and cats deserve special protections because they like us so
You might think that in a dispute when one party asks the other to meet it 0.1
percent of the way, a mutually agreeable resolution could be readily reached.
But no, researchers will not renounce vivisection of monkeys, dogs, or cats.
Research universities' animal-care-and-use committees dominated by animal
experimenters routinely approve such vivisections because it is simply human
nature to become hardened, if not indifferent, to pain we routinely inflict on
others. As George Bernard Shaw put it, "Custom will reconcile people to any
Just as we would not assign wolves the task of enforcing safeguards for sheep,
independent agencies outside research-intensive universities are necessary to
rein in scientists. Recall that the enactment of the Animal Welfare Act was
instigated not by scientists but by an outraged public.
Other precedents have been established for societal constraint of animal
researchers. The European Union has effectively banned vivisection of great
apes, although some European scientists are attempting to get the ban repealed
so that they can infect chimpanzees with hepatitis C. A similar Great Ape
Protection Act is working its way through Congress. In 2009 the Swiss Supreme
Court denied the Polytechnic School of the University of Zurich a license for a
monkey-research project about learning processes that involved maximal suffering
for the animals on the Swiss scale of severity. The court concluded that the
costs of pain and suffering to the animals were not counterbalanced by benefit
Even within the research university, some extra-academic constraints have been
applied to animal use. In 2009, Oklahoma State University rejected a federally
financed project to inject baboons with anthrax bacillus to test vaccines and
treatments. "The administration," it stated, "had simply decided that OSU will
not have primates euthanized on its campus." And in Dane County, in Wisconsin, a
resolution is pending before the city council supporting the creation of a
citizens' advisory panel to study whether experimenting with monkeys is humane
and ethical. The results will no doubt affect the thousands of monkeys
experimented on at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
All these efforts reflect a growing awareness that neuroscientists wedded to
primate vivisection as a way to conduct research are simply too biased by their
own training, research agendas, and career considerations to objectively perform
the kind of ethical cost-benefit analysis required before permitting primate
vivisection. The trend toward outside supervision of animal vivisection
parallels the point made by Georges Clemenceau, a French statesman and
physician, who said, "War is too important to be left to the generals."
Ethically aware citizens are increasingly concluding that primate vivisection is
too important to be left to the researchers who dominate their university
Lawrence A. Hansen, M.D., is a professor of neuroscience and pathology at the
University of California at San Diego, where he also leads the neuropathology
core of the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
As the world falls into recession we have an amazing opportunity to call into
question the billions of dollars spent on futile animal experiments. It is time
for each and every one of us to do what we can to bring this controversial issue
back into the public eye.