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September 27, New York Times
Two stories which reveal the biomedical research community's dirty secrets.
The American public still sees animal testing as a necessary evil. Stories such as "Study in Primates Shows Brain Damage From Doses of Ecstasy" (page 26) should make readers ask, "How necessary and how evil?". Ecstasy is illegal, and few think its use is healthful. Do we need to destroy members of other species for details of the damage it causes?
Donald G. McNeil Jr's article describes a study in which two out of ten monkeys and baboons given ecstasy died. Human deaths from ecstasy are very rare. Our tax dollars are killing fellow primates for results that obviously are not applicable to humans. One of the authors of the study said that the doses were "actually slightly less" than a human might take and she "can't explain" why two animals died. She says "it's not appropriate to draw conclusions like one out of five will die."
She has just told us that she doesn't understand the results of her tests - they are useless. (This usually means the test will be labeled "inconclusive" and additional funding for further tests will be requested.)
Also in this article we learn that the same researchers conducted human based research on ecstasy: "In 1998, Dr. Ricaurte's review of brain scans of 14 humans who had taken Ecstasy up to 400 times found that they had fewer serotonin-absorbing brain cells than nonusers."
Yet still, they felt compelled to do tests on other primates, the results of which they "can't explain."
You will find the whole distressing article at:
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In the same paper, in the Business Section, (page C6) we find an article, by Nat Ives, headed "An anti-tobacco campaign aims not at smoking but at the use of animals in tests."
We learn that "The advertising agency that helped create the "Truth" antismoking campaign has taken aim at tobacco companies again, but for this effort it has found a most unexpected partner - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
"The agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami, donated its creative services to the advocacy group, fashioning a campaign against experimentation on animals by the tobacco companies."
PETA has printed and started handing out stickers that spoof cigarette advertising campaigns. The description of the Salem spoof will give you the general idea:
"The Slay'Em sticker, for example, portrays a crying rabbit in restraints inhaling cigarette smoke over the legend 'Spilled Blood, Uncool Tests.' The rear of the stickers has photographs of lab animals being forced to breathe cigarette smoke."
Ives tells us that cigarette companies are complaining that the stickers depict monkeys, dogs and rabbits, when the companies cited experiment "only" on rodents. However, they admit that "The companies finance research outside their own laboratories that could involve other animals."
I suspect most Americans are unaware that the tobacco industry is still one of the fields in which animals are sacrificed for human good. My heartfelt thanks go to PETA and to the New York Times for this wake-up call.
You can read the whole article about the campaign at:
The articles described in this alert provide a great opening for letters to the editor questioning the ethics of the billion dollar animal testing industry.
The New York Times takes letters at:
Always include your full name, address and telephone when writing a letter to the editor. Make sure you never borrow phrasing from this or any other alert; A letter which shares even a few words in common with others received will not be published.