UCLA's new Pro-Test leader, David Jentsch (pronounced 'yench' nearly rhymes
with Grinch, and they have the same eyebrows), had been targeted in March 2009.
His Volvo was parked next to his house when a firebomb destroyed it very early
in the morning.
Have you heard of the advocacy group NAMBLA? The North American Man/Boy Love Association advocates (or advocated, they seem to be more or less defunct) the lowering of the age of consent in sexual relationships. As their name makes clear, they want to change the law to make it legal for adult men to have sex with young boys. They claim to believe that an eight-or nine-year-old boy is old enough to give his informed consent to be buggered. And like the American Civil Liberties Union, I too believe that they have the right to advocate this change to the law. But I don't think such a change should be enacted, and I suspect most of the ACLU attorneys who make arguments in favor of free speech, no matter how outrageous, don't either.
NAMBLA reminds me of the relatively new group advocating for their right to torture animals. Pro-Test is the monsters' response to the mob's demand that they stop their dark and evil experiments. Like all mobs that have marched to monsters' lairs, torches and pitchforks in hand, the mob yelling for them to leave the animals alone isn't above setting fire to their cars and homes. This has been particularly true in Los Angeles where monsters at the University of California Los Angeles have been harried by their critics.
As a consequence, vivisectors at UCLA banded together and started a chapter of Pro-Test, a group that was founded in 2006, in Oxford, England, by a sixteen-year-old boy named Laurie Pycroft. Vivisectors at Oxford were ecstatic that (finally!) a teenager was supporting them and lifted him to their shoulders and marched through town shouting 'Hurrah!' The boy was quickly sanctified by the monsters and anointed the industry's moral compass.
UCLA's new Pro-Test leader, David Jentsch (pronounced 'yench' nearly rhymes with Grinch, and they have the same eyebrows), had been targeted in March 2009. His Volvo was parked next to his house when a firebomb destroyed it very early in the morning.
According to the LA Times, Jentsch claims that UCLA's Pro-Test, was started to support research that uses animals 'in what he calls a humane, carefully regulated way.'
At a UCLA lab, he administers methamphetamine to about two dozen monkeys and then withdraws them from it; about half a dozen are killed each year for postmortems. He contended that the animals suffer no pain from the work.
'The pain in addiction is when you lose your relationships, lose your children, lose your job, when your health goes down. Animals don't suffer those things,' [Jentsch] said. 'They suffer none of the psychosocial pain that is what addiction is all about.' [Animals don't suffer loss of children or decline of health?] Larry Gordon. 'UCLA professor stands up to violent animal rights activists.' Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2009.
Nowhere in the many articles covering Pro-Test's first rally, held on April 22, 2009, is there much detail about what this grinch actually does to animals. The blurb about methamphetamine is odd given that he has apparently never published a paper on that particular drug. (A colleague of mine has pointed out that he has a current NIH grant (through 2010) titled NEUROCHEMICAL DETERMINANTS OF MA-INDUCED COGNITIVE DEFICITS, And that at least one report mentions Jentsch and methamphetamine.) He has published occasional papers describing his injections of nicotine, cocaine, THC (the active compound in marijuana), and a couple esoteric chemicals into rats and monkeys, but so far, not one scientific paper mentioning methamphetamine. Of his approximately 55 published papers, about one third describe his use of phencyclidine, or PCP, to induce schizophrenia-like mental duress in these animals.
He has been injecting PCP into monkeys and rats almost continuously since about 1997. In one 1997 paper, he cited others' research from 1962, and wrote that: 'PCP and the PCP analog ketamine induce schizophreniform symptoms in normal humans and cause profound worsening of symptoms in schizophrenics.' Jentsch JD, Elsworth JD, Redmond DE Jr, Roth RH. Phencyclidine increases forebrain monoamine metabolism in rats and monkeys: modulation by the isomers of HA966. Journal of Neuroscience. 1997.
In a paper
from 2008, Jentsch explains:
Let's try to put Jentsch's PCP injections into context and imagine the situation from the monkeys' perspective.
First, PCP is almost never injected. It is almost always smoked ' sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana, and only very occasionally, snorted like cocaine. But it is almost never injected.
Second, nearly everyone who uses PCP knows they're using PCP.
Third, the commonly reported recreational dose of PCP is 0.01-0.02 mg/kg.
Jentsch is injecting 15 to 30 times (0.3 mg/kg) the normal recreational dose of PCP into animals, ripped from their families, trapped in cages and being manhandled, who then start having unending nightmarish hallucinations for reasons they can't imagine. And this goes on for two weeks, prior to them being killed.
And this grinch does this, he claims, because the biochemical actions of a drug (clozapine) that has been used since the mid 1970s to treat schizophrenia aren't well understood.
And then, he has the audacity to claim that people who see him for what he is ' a monster of the worst sort ' should stop trying to make him and his ilk stop their monstrous behavior.
Pro-Test is interesting because it is so very unusual for monsters to stand up
in public and declare that the general public should countenance their monstrous
behavior. This is what makes Vice President Dick Chaney's public defense of
torture such an oddity.
Dario Ringach may be one of only two vivisectors in the
world to have even temporarily capitulated to anti-cruelty activists due to
harassment. (The other was Michael Podell*) From the LA Times:
[Then acting Chancellor] Abrams said the Bel-Air incident, [in which an 'incendiary device' that did not ignite was left at Lynn Fairbanks' front door] along with the decision this month by neurobiology professor Dario Ringach to stop his primate research after several years of harassment and threats to his family, led to the announcement [of a $60,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who left the device.] Abrams said he was deeply saddened by Ringach's decision, describing him as a promising young professor, doing significant ' and the chancellor emphasized, legal ' research.
Ringach, whose work involved studies of the brain and the ways it receives information from the retina, sent an e-mail Aug. 4  to the Animal Liberation Press Office.
Posted on the website, the e-mail reads, in part: 'You win. Effective immediately, I am no longer doing animal research.'
'Studies of the brain and the ways it receives information from the retina.' That's not much detail. How can one form a thoughtful opinion without the details of what he's doing? I guess you could simply say that no matter what he's doing, since he's doing it only to animals, that you support it, because you support anything scientific. I don't think humans could hold such a position. That's the position of a monster; a human would want to have at least some knowledge of the specifics before taking sides.
Ringach uses monkeys and cats. Once they are prepared by him, they are used for at least a few days before they are killed or die. It isn't clear from his papers whether they are always killed or just die. His experiments would look quite gruesome if we could watch them, but the monkeys and cats are reportedly anesthetized throughout the experiments. He puts electrodes in their brains, puts the animals in a metal frame, and then puts simple images (usually groups of dots or gratings) in front of their eyes, and then records the output from the electrodes in their brain. If the monkeys and cats are genuinely unconscious, then at least he isn't causing them much discomfort aside from being raised in an environmentally and socially deprived laboratory setting. So, as far as Ringach's current experiments are concerned, the moral question is whether he should be killing monkeys and cats in order to generate a mathematical approximation of the neuronal response to visual stimuli. He isn't working on finding a cure for some widespread and hideous disease, his research is among the most arcane, much like the Little Angel of St. Louis.
Lynn Fairbanks, another of the
Pro-test founders, says that:
[S]trong similarities to humans make [monkeys] particularly valuable for understanding complex behavioral traits and brain structure and function' Like humans, NHPs [nonhuman primates] experience a prolonged period of postnatal development, together with strong family ties and complex social relationships. Furthermore, most features of human behavior have recognizable counterparts in NHPs, enabling the examination of traits such as anxiety and impulsivity, which are central components of human behavioral disorders. Freimer NB, Service SK, Ophoff RA, Jasinska AJ, McKee K, Villeneuve A, Belisle A, Bailey JN, Breidenthal SE, Jorgensen MJ, Mann JJ, Cantor RM, Dewar K, Fairbanks LA. A quantitative trait locus for variation in dopamine metabolism mapped in a primate model using reference sequences from related species. Proceeding of the National Academy of Science USA. 2007.
And this makes hers and her cohorts' experiments all the more monstrous. We can see ourselves in the monkeys. When people who are upset with this cruelty point this out, the vivisectors laugh and say their critics are being inappropriately anthropomorphic; but then they say to each other, 'look, these animals are just like us, let's hurt them in sundry ways'.
Here, she explains a few of the ways she does
For this study, METH [methamphetamine] was administered to adult male vervet monkeys living in social groups containing a full range of different age/sex animals. The social housing was considered a critical component of the study design because it allowed for behavioral assessments of drug-related changes in affiliative and agonistic behaviors. Such measurements are highly relevant for behavioral models of the human condition, but are not possible to obtain in individually housed animals'.
Study 1: METH Pharmacokinetics Study
Subjects METH-naive male
animals (age range: 5'7 years; n=4) that were not included in the long-term
METH study were transferred to UCLA and housed in individual cages for the
duration of the study. The animals were habituated to sitting in a
customized primate chair for 2 weeks before the pharmacokinetics study.
Pharmacokinetic parameters for the human METH exposure were obtained from prior human METH studies (Cook et al, 1993.)
Study 2: Escalating Dose-METH Exposure
The social groups were formed and allowed to habituate for approximately 3 months before study initiation. After focal subjects were randomly assigned to a group, they were randomly designated as either METH or Control subjects'[There were] two METH and two Control focal subjects in each of three social groups concurrently. Each group also consisted of 3'4 adult females, 2'7 juveniles, and 0'3 infants, with no other adult males present throughout the study. One METH subject died of an unknown illness during the study. There was no evidence that experimental manipulation caused this death. Subjects were always housed within their social groups except during experimental manipulations'.
The study took place over
a 1-year period. An initial 3-month habituation was followed by a 4-week
pretest period, 8 Dose periods of 4'5 weeks each, and a 3-week abstinence
Anxiety Composite Score
Increases in the anxiety scores were observed in the METH subjects for most Dose-Analysis periods during 'no injection' days when AMPH but not METH was present in pharmacologically active concentrations' Tests of simple main effects indicated METH subjects showed significantly lower levels of anxiety-related behavior during 'no injection' days compared to 'injection' days for Dose 1, 2, but showed significantly higher levels of anxiety during 'no injection' days compared to 'injection' days for Dose 3, 4; Dose 5, 6; and Dose 7, 8. In addition, METH subjects during 'no injection' days showed significantly higher levels of anxiety-related behavior during Dose 5, 6 and Dose 7, 8 compared to Dose 1, 2. Control subjects also showed higher levels of anxiety-related behavior during Dose 7, 8 compared to Dose 1, 2 during 'no injection' days.
Social Behavior Composite Score
And then she killed them and cut up their brains.
The aim of this study was to establish in socially housed vervet monkeys a profile of behavioral and brain alterations resulting from modeling an ED-METH exposure extending over 8 months. The principal observations were dose-dependent increases in abnormal and anxiety-related behaviors, activity levels, and decreases in aggression'.
In conclusion, this METH administration protocol in the monkey modeled some aspects of a human daily multiple dose exposure and caused significant behavioral alterations in categories relevant to the human METH condition, eg anxiety, abnormal behavior, that were likely the result of alterations in both dopaminergic and nondopaminergic systems. Melega WP, Jorgensen MJ, Laćan G, Way BM, Pham J, Morton G, Cho AK, Fairbanks LA. Long-term methamphetamine administration in the vervet monkey models aspects of a human exposure: brain neurotoxicity and behavioral profiles. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008.
William Melega, one
of Fairbanks' coauthors has been injecting monkeys with methamphetamine
since at least 1995. (Kuczenski R, Segal DS, Cho AK, Melega W. Hippocampus
norepinephrine, caudate dopamine and serotonin, and behavioral responses to
the stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine. Journal of
Neuroscience. 1995.) Vivisectors have been injecting monkeys with
methamphetamine since at least 1971 (Ellinwood EH Jr. Effect of chronic
methamphetamine intoxication in Rhesus monkeys. Biological Psychiatry.
1971), but have been injecting other animals, namely, mice, rats, dogs,
cats, and pigeons since the early 1950s. (Harrisson JW, Ambrus CM, Ambrus
JL. Tolerance of rats toward amphetamine and methamphetamine. Journal of the
American Pharmacists Association (Baltimore). 1952.)
Tom Holder (a friend of St. Pycroft) seems to be involved simply to call attention to himself. Although he occasionally speaks in public and presents slides, his information is nonsense taken from industry front groups' websites and regurgitated without hesitation or critical evaluation.
The two graduate students named as founding members of
Pro-Test seem to be children, na've and enamored with tenured scientists
taking notice of them. I wrote to Megan Wyeth and asked her about an article
in the school newspaper, The Daily Bruin, that showcased her:
Wyeth said the public generally doesn't realize how much training researchers undergo before they are even allowed to touch an animal.
'It seems like they think we're sadistic or get pleasure out of using animals for research,' she said. 'We minimize the numbers we have to use. It's not my favorite part, but we have to do it.
'In the three years of her main epilepsy research, Wyeth has been working with the same six mice'.
'All of my animals are anesthetized when I work on them. I make sure they're out ' extra double sure.' ' Audrey Kuo. 'Scientists seek to research in peace.' The Daily Bruin. April 23, 2009.
'Hum,' I wondered to
myself, 'if she's been anesthetizing and 'work[ing] on' the same six mice
for the past three years, are their small brains still functioning
normally?' So I wrote to her and asked. I also asked whether she knew what
Jentsch actually does.