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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.