May 4, 2011
Two rhesus monkeys at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center have
been part of a study on nutrition and aging for 20 years.
By Lee Bowman, Scripps Howard News Service
WASHINGTON - Every year, at more than 1,500 labs across the nation, tens of millions of animals are used for biomedical research, chemical testing and training.
No one knows exactly how many animals are utilized by research because federal animal welfare law doesn't cover the species that are used most often -- rats and mice. Nor is work with birds, fish, reptiles or lower life forms monitored.
Federal reports show that nearly 1 million "regulated" animals -- dogs, cats, monkeys and apes, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, sheep, pigs and other farm animals -- were used or awaiting use in experiments during the fiscal year that ended in September 2009. Published estimates are that 80 million to 100 million unregulated animals are also used in research each year.
"I don't think most people have any idea of the vastness of the animal research field in this country,'' said Sue Leary, president of the American Anti-Vivisection Society. "Many don't realize what's going on right down the street from them."
Lab animals rarely retire. Although not every test is "terminal" -- some are used for multiple tests and some are studied through old age -- most die either because that's the only way for scientists to study the disease or injury in the animal or because it's deemed inhumane to have it suffer.
Animal protectionists generally denounce the experiments as cruel and unjustified by the results.
'Acceptance of animal suffering is ingrained in how animals are thought of in the research field,'' said Kathleen Conlee, director of animal research issues for the Humane Society of the United States. 'While there are laws and guidelines for how some lab animals are sheltered and cared for, there is really nothing prohibited in what can be done in an experiment.'
Proponents counter animals have aided almost every major advance in biology and medicine of the past century, and will for the foreseeable future.
"If you've ever had a vaccine, antibiotics, chemotherapy, joint replacement or bypass surgery, among many other therapies, you've been a beneficiary of animal research,'' said Liz Hodge, communications director for the Foundation for Biomedical Research, a Washington nonprofit sponsored by research institutions and companies.
Researchers feel they need advocates to promote their work since testing opponents 'are incredibly effective in getting their message out there -- with emotionally-charged material," Hodge said, often using graphic videos shot by undercover volunteers of animals and lab workers in their worst moments.
The battle for public support is reflected in national polling reported by the foundation. After showing support for animal studies around 70 percent for decades, polls showed that acceptance falling to 64 percent in 2004 and 54 percent in 2008. It was at 60 percent in January.
Many researchers feel American attitudes toward lab animals reflect a society where 63 percent of households own pets, but only 2 percent of the population lives on working farms, or even in rural areas. Others cite the 'Disney effect' of films and television shows.
Research advocates say scientists want and need animals to get proper care and be healthy to get the best results from them.
'People don't understand the amount of personnel (in labs) that are devoted to making sure animals are well cared for,'' said Bill Yates, a researcher-administrator at the University of Pittsburgh . "Even small to moderate sized institutions have a large veterinary staff. Most have enrichment specialists who try to make the daily lives of the animals more pleasant with toys and exercise equipment."
Kathy Guillermo, director of research lab investigations for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, counters: 'There aren't many laws that protect animals in labs and the few that there are, are routinely violated at facilities across the country. Most labs have some degree of abuse and neglect.'
Scientists who work with dogs, cats or monkeys are most likely
to be confronted by protests, hate mail, web pages decrying
their work, even vandalism of their cars and homes.
wouldn't do it if we didn't have to" - is probably true, but not for the
reasons they present us. I've heard that lab's have to carry out research in
order to be granted funding, and the quickest and easiest way of churning
out research papers is to study animals, seeing as they are more or less
disposal to labs.
the vivisectors are criminals with men and animals; a lot of people die for medicine and they make animals experimentazions for cover up the real experiment on men and children in Asia and Africa and in western world too.
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who harms God's beautiful, wonderful animals should be put in
CRUEL CRUEL CRUEL. These animals have NO choice in the matter and are subjected to painful treatments and lives. I don't care what it is for it is not right to essentially torture another living thing for our benefit. I think there are plenty of people that have life sentences or given the death penalty ... they should pay a debt to society and be used for testing. What better to test on humans for human products. Don't want to be used for testing... don't kill someone. Choice
Why am I
not surprised that the most liberal state has the most labs for animal