[from UCLA Daily Bruin]

Recent actions by animal rights activists have prompted discussion of UCLA's research practices
The balancing act between ethics and necessity has proven itself to be a touchy subject in the world of animal research at UCLA over the past few months.

While the university consistently points to many positive medical advances that have developed from the use of animal research on campus, and university spokesmen say it follows stringent regulations,
protests and activity by animal rights activist groups have risen in intensity beginning this last summer.

Research coordinator Emmanuel Masongsong, a vegan, faced a quandary involving these two standpoints on animal research earlier this year at his job at UCLA.

Masongsong, a UCLA alumnus, disagrees with the use of animals in research on ethical grounds, personally abstaining as much as possible from eating or using animal products.
As a vegan, his involvement in the research has been limited at his own request to aspects outside the lab, such as sample processing and DNA extraction, Masongsong said.

Those who disagree with animal research should understand that "not all animal researchers are doing it just because it's easy or just because they're not trying hard enough," Masongsong said.
Rodents are used for approximately 95 percent of animal research projects at UCLA, said Phil Hampton, spokesman for UCLA.

Aside from rodents, rabbits are commonly used, particularly in studies involving antibiotic probes, said William McBride. McBride is chairman of the UCLA Animal Research Committee, the body regulating animal research at the university

"Rabbits are very useful because they are obviously a lot larger than a ... rat," McBride said, noting that zebra fish are also used in animal research at UCLA.

Less than 1 percent of animal research at UCLA is conducted on primates, Hampton said.

McBride said the research that is conducted at UCLA involving primates is mostly behavioral.

"It's certainly a misconception that people have that these animals are used for bizarre experiments," he said.
The home of Lynn Fairbanks, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences who has published multiple articles on the social interactions of vervet monkeys, was the target of an attempted
firebombing in June by the Animal Liberation Front.

The FBI classified the incident as a terrorist attack.

The Animal Liberation Front accused Fairbanks of conducting painful addiction experiments on monkeys in a posting to the Web site North American Animal Liberation Press Office.

ALF accusations saying Fairbanks abused primates are "rubbish, absolute rubbish," McBride said.

Another North American Animal Liberation Press Office release accused Dario Ringach, associate professor of neuroscience, of paralyzing macaque monkeys before gluing coils to their eyes.

The release said Ringach sent an e-mail in August to the press office saying, "You win. Effective immediately, I am no longer doing animal research."

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