Jill M. Tall, PhD
On this first Saturday of September, 2007, Youngstown State's college football team will open their season against highly favored (31 points) Ohio State University.
Frenzied students will yell, cheerleaders cheer, the band will play on, mascots will act silly, beer will be consumed in pre-game tailgating parties, athletes will run and pass and kick and score. All the while, few members of Youngstown's academic community will be aware of the dirty hush-hush secret horror being conducted within the university's guarded animal research laboratory. There is no reason to stand up and cheer for Youngstown U. today.
More than five years ago, I came across a horribly torturous rat study which added nothing to human advancement other than advancing the career of one zealous graduate student. I discussed that flawed study with the scientist in question, hoping that my effort would result in something good. I related that conversation in a Notmilk column (April 18, 2002).
This week, I came across a similarly ridiculous study published in the August 9, 2007 issue of the Journal of Pain. One of the authors was the same young woman with whom I had spoken to five years earlier.
In this 2007 study, rats were surgically invaded and nerves in their spinal
column were cut so that signals to various limbs and internal organs were
eliminated. This procedure is called a sympathectomy. Rats were then pricked in
the paws and pain thresholds were determined for each laboratory
The April 18, 2002 column, revisited
TORTURING ANIMALS FOR SCIENCE
The headline read:
"A Diet Rich in Soy Products May Help Soothe Pain From Inflammation"
As I eagerly read the good-news article, my anticipated joy turned to extreme sadness and frustration:
Scientists took male Sprague-Dawley rats and hurt them by injecting them with a chemical substance called Freund's Adjuvant.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) calls the use of Freund's Complete Adjuvant (FCA) a "painful procedure."
USDA defines "painful procedure" as:
"...any procedure that would reasonably be expected to cause more than slight or momentary pain and/or distress in a human being to which the procedure is being applied."
USDA allows the use of FCA to:
"To insure the most humane treatment of the lab animals while obtaining necessary scientific data."
Jill Tall, the senior author, and colleagues induced pain in laboratory rats, and then (incorrectly) concluded that soy helped to reduce pain. How sad.
What is even sadder is that I called Jill Tall and had a lovely talk with her. Jill is a post-doctoral graduate, and she has enormous passion for her work.
I find her study to be extremely flawed, and told her why.
I cannot help but like her. I just hate the pain that she causes animals while performing futile research in the name of science.
Early on in our conversation, I asked Jill how she could perform a digestive study on rats, and apply her data to humans, when rats have completely different enzymes, and do not even have gall bladders. When I told her that rats lack this hepatic organ, her response was:
"I did not know that."
Jill compared rats eating soy protein to rats eating milk protein (casein), and concluded that soy helped to reduce pain. What she did not consider was that milk protein helps to induce pain. I explained to her that casein is extremely allergenic, and that after humans eat casein they produce histamines, then mucous. Swelling and pain results. Her response:
"I did not know that."
Jill will one day have her paper published in the prestigious Journal of Pain. I kid you not. There is such a journal. (Tel: 319-335-7941) .
Had the Marquis de Sade been a scientist, his publication of choice would have been the Journal of Pain. Dr. Mengele (of Nazi fame) and Jeffrey Hahmer most certainly would have been subscribers.
Jill and I discussed animal rights issues. She told me that she does not enjoy giving animals pain, and does so in the name of science. I understand her. I once said the same thing when I held innocent lives in my hand and causes similar pain and death. Jill said:
"I am quite the animal advocate myself. I am convinced that researchers make the best pet owners."
She may be right. Nietzche once said:
"You can never understand life until you hold death in your hands."
Jill understands that life is precious. She just does not understand the futility of animal research.
We had a friendly conversation, and Jill brought up the issue of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She surprised me by saying:
"I have to draw my line in the sand. If I had those PETA people in front of me, I would ask them to justify what they do in light of the millions of people saved by the polio vaccine, which was developed by using animal research."
I told Jill that the polio vaccine would have been approved 20 years earlier had it not been for the chimpanzees. I explained that chimpanzees died horrible deaths when injected with the polio vaccine. Rely upon animal studies and one betrays humans. Her response:
"I did not know that."
Fact is, the polio vaccine was not approved for human use until the completion of human trials. Like all new pharmaceuticals, one never learns anything by animal experimentation. Rat studies are just crap shoots. Sometimes they work and sometimes they do not. It is not until human studies are performed that mankind learns the true effects of a new pharmaceutical.
Jill wants to do amazing things. She wants to cure cancers. She wants to help people. She does not want to give pain to animals, yet that is the system that exists, and therein is both the problem and solution.
To Jill: We betray both the animals and the humans by producing pain.
A rat cannot say:
"I have a headache. My stomach aches. I feel dizzy. Something is wrong."
A human can do all of the above, and human tissue samples now exist representing every form of disease known to science.
Do rats do better by drinking soymilk? Who gives a damn? Does soymilk help soothe pain in rats? This is something that I do not want to know.
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