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Animal Testing Lab Whistle-blowing

Several weeks ago, members of Animal Rights on the Farm held a demonstration outside the Animal Research Facility to protest animal experimentation on campus. Since then, the protest has sparked a debate on the Daily's opinions page.

As pointed out in Prof. Linda Cork's op-ed ("Stanford protects animal rights," Feb. 17), there is a complex system of checks and balances at various levels to prevent inhumane treatment of experimental animals. However, the current system fails to address one critical flaw: The status quo relies too heavily on self-policing. The reality is that many violations of these policies can easily go unnoticed without a robust policy of whistle-blowing in place. For instance, a laboratory rat can be sacrificed in an inhumane manner without any of the varied committees and subcommittees ever finding out.

But is the current system conducive to whistle-blowing? After all, scientists working in a laboratory setting face unique pressures that make it difficult to disclose incriminating evidence against their errant colleagues.
Experimental animals cannot merely be seen as collateral damage in the quest for knowledge. Questions from animal rights activists should not be instinctively regarded as attacks on science; rather, scientists need to step up to the challenge and hold themselves to a higher level of scrutiny and accountability.

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