In research relating to molecular biology, it is common for animal models of disease to be used, especially in projects directed towards making biomedical discoveries and breakthroughs. So I find it very important to occasionally read about and blog against animal rights’ terrorists.
As per the reading part, I lately got around to reading Michael Conn and James Parker’s book, The Animal Research War.
In this book, Conn, with an analyst of animal rights (Parker), give a personal account of what it is like to be a medical researcher targeted by such a powerful movement.
It gives the reader a historical overview of animal rights activism, analyses their strategies via case studies, profiles leaders of the animal rights’ movement, corrects the “facts” of many activist’ accusations, and portrays the societal cost of intimidation by violence to animal researchers.
And, most importantly, it exposes the animal rights’ movement as lead by domestic terrorists and their supporters.
What Conn does not do is describe in detail the regulations and lengths to which animal researchers go to in order to conduct their research as humanely as possible (he does mention it however, and indicates where readers should go to learn more about this).
For this reason, I don’t think that this is a book meant to educate the general public of the value of animal research nor the actual way in which it is conducted.
It is, however, a wake-up call to the scientific community. Conn writes:
I had read a little bit about animal rights activities when I was in high school in the late 1960s. These activities were not front-page news. Mostly they were grumblings from “antivivisection” groups in the UK, distant and abstract… [page 5]
Over more than a decade I learned two important lessons. First is the fact that some animal rightists misrepresent animal research and do so with impunity… Second, institutions that don’t respond to misrepresentations and half-truths, attempting to hide legitimate and humane research as if it were a dirty little secret, play directly into the hands of animal rightists and extremists.
Were my harrassers terrorists? It’s your call, but remember that their actions were designed to coerce me by the threat of violence…[page 8]
Conn’s message is clear: institutions and communities must confront animal activism, not shrink away from it. They must stand up and communicate with the public.
In that interest, the call from the scientific community for authorities to confront animal activism is rising. One very good example is an editorial in a recent issue of the journal Nature.
Seven activists convicted of carrying out a campaign of intimidation against the animal-testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences in Huntingdon, UK, were last month sentenced to between 4 and 11 years in prison. Hopefully, these sentences will stop future UK activists from using similar tactics, which included threats, hoax bombs, character assassination and property destruction.
Unfortunately, such tactics are increasingly being used by activists attacking scientists in California, where researchers who use animals are facing threats that include doorstep firebombs. The authorities trying to deal with this problem can find much in the UK authorities’ approach to emulate.
I couldn’t agree more.
Note1: Interesting Quotes from PETA Officials:
1. “Our ultimate goal is total animal liberation”
-Ingrid Newkirk (President and co-founder)
That means NO meat, milk, zoos, wool, pets…
2. “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” is “a great way to bring about animal liberation.”
-Bruce Friedrich (vegetarian campaign coordinator)
3.”even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we would be against it.”
-Ingrid Newkirk (President and co-founder)
4.”Until [your mommy stops wearing fur], keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy-she’s an animal killer!”
-PETA comic book geared towards kids
5.”Arson, property destruction, burglary and theft are ‘acceptable crimes’ when used for the animal cause.”
-Alex Pacheco, Director, PETA
6.”Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.” -Ingrid Newkirk (Washington Post, November, 13, 1983)
7. “There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They’re all mammals.”
– Ingrid Newkirk (Vogue, September 1989; where she also said “Even if animals research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.”)
Note2: There is a difference between supporting animal welfare and animal rights.
One of my favorite things about being a biochemist is to imagine everything at the molecular level—sometimes, in very corny ways. I envision the proteins I pipet and mix as dynamic characters in a molecular soap opera that intermingle with each other in complex ways. The biomolecular characters in my soap opera interact and react, […]
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