Practical Issues > "To Do" Index > Activism

Why Animal Rights Conferences Fail
Robert Cohen

Let me tell you about the last time I was invited to an animal rights conference. The year was 2003, and one week before the conference was to begin, the organizer told me that I could not bring my book to sell, despite the fact that I had agreed to be one of the financial underwriters of that same conference. My book was banned, and I was crushed. I did not attend the conference, and withdrew my financial support, and have never been forgiven by the clueless organizer.

I expect my books might be burned or banned at dairy industry conferences, not animal rights conferences. Just who is the enemy?

I wrote "MILK: The Deadly Poison" during 1996 and 1997. The book was published in 1998. Nine years ago, I revealed that I have given up almost all milk and dairy products, but that I still used Parmesan cheese as a "spice" on baked potatoes. Of course, I no longer use Parmesan cheese. For me, Notmilk has been a learning experience. Even after giving up Parmesan cheese, I occasionally ate a piece of milk chocolate. Now, that is gone from my diet as well, but the process of learning involves many levels of cluelessness until one reaches enlightenment. The conference organizer determined that my book was not "vegan," so it would be banned. I have not appeared at an AR conference since that incident.

In 2005, there have been two scheduled animal rights conferences. The first, in Florida, was cancelled due to a lack of interest. I had attended and spoken at that same conference a few years earlier to a crowd of about 500 very passionate activists. This year, few people cared to attend.

The second conference has held in April of 2005 Manhattan. I understand that the attendance was quite poor, and that is a shame.

Those who once regularly attended such conferences are put off by the number of "egos" who parade their own agendas before attendees. It was once possible to get representatives from most of the major organizations to attend each conference, but such cooperation no longer exists. One needs a scorecard to keep track of who hates who, and what groups no longer talk to each other. What political group has outed what speaker? Who do the gay lesbians now despise, or who is on the Vegetarian Christian group's to-be-crucified list? The absurdity of the infighting between AR groups continues to grow, while most or all "players" lose sight of the fact that such conferences were once held for the benefit of the animals.

One thing is for certain, though. There will be plenty of books and tapes sold at the summer conferences, because without such cash flow, few authors would show up to speak.

The great irony of it all is that one such new book, already made very popular by activists within the movement, contains information and theory which is the antithesis of those morals and principles once held dear by animal rights advocates. The author has received much praise for his work. You will see his book highlighted on various vegetarian and animal rights websites. Sorry. I am not naming names today, but I will provide excerpts from the author's book so that you can decide whether the animal rights movement in 2005 is the same as it was in 1995.

When you understand how the book and man are cheered, and his written words are conveniently ignored or not considered, you might then grasp what has happened to the animal rights movement.

It was once principles and ethics that fueled the movement. Today, it is political correctness and cash flow. This year, there are still a few conferences scheduled, and one book that you are sure to see contains these quotations:

On page 48, the author shocked me by writing the following regarding America's animal rights movement:

"One obvious question regarding this issue is whether there was an alternative way to get the same information without using experimental animals. To date, I have found none, even after seeking advice from my 'animal rights' colleagues. These experimental animal studies elaborated some very important principles of cancer causation not obtainable in human-based studies. These principles now have enormous potential to benefit all our fellow creatures, our environment and ourselves."

I consider myself to be one of those "animal rights colleagues" mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Perhaps the author forgets the conversation we had when we were both invited speakers at Jeff Nelson's VegSource conference. At that time, I urged him to give up his support of animal research. As an ex- researcher who operated on laboratory animals, I pointed out that lab rats do not have the same digestive enzymes as humans. Furthermore, they lack gall bladders. Half of the cancers that rats get, mice do not get. Half of the cancers mice get, rats do not get. How can any scientist in good conscience apply data from nutritional studies on rodents to humans, when such data cannot be reasonably applied from one furry four-legged long tailed creature to another?

The book begins on page eleven. On page 23, the author wrote:

"In my own laboratory we have shown in experimental animals that cancer growth can be turned on and off by nutrition, despite very strong genetic predisposition...these findings are nothing short of spectacular."

After reading that, I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. On the next page (24), he begins to describe his work:

"In the laboratory we fed experimental rats a diet similar to the usual American fare--rich in animal-based protein-- and compared them with other rats fed a diet low in animal- based protein. Guess what happened when both sets of rats had an opportunity to voluntarily use exercise wheels?"

Frankly, Charlotte, I don't give a damn.

On page 44, the author makes a bit of a joke at the expense of rats. He writes:

"I spent many years researching and publishing on aflatoxin, one of the most carcinogenic chemicals ever discovered--at least for rats."

That is the point of this all. With laboratory experiments we learn about rat physiology, which cannot be applied to humans. Researchers pretend that animal research is legitimate, but it is not, and they know it to be a fraud. Mankind suffers by relying upon these rat data, while researchers gain funding to continue their work. Laboratory rats, cats, and chimpanzees suffer the indignity of pain, torture, confinement, and death...for no damned good reason. This cannot be defended, even by as wonderful man as the author. My disappointment was enormous.

On page 35, in a subchapter highlighted by these words: "A REVELATION TO DIE FOR"

the author writes:

"We wanted to study this question (liver cancer) at the molecular level using laboratory rats. I succeeded in getting a second NIH grant for this in-depth biochemical research... In doing so, we could better understand not only the biochemical foundation of food and health, but also how it might relate to people in everyday life."

He writes on page 45:

"But while these chemicals are significantly different in their properties, they all have a similar story in regard to cancer. In each and every case, research has demonstrated that these chemicals may increase cancer rates in experimental animals."

The author concludes on page 46:

"Why are these scary nitrosamines anticipated to be human carcinogens?"

He responds to his own question:

"The short answer: animal experiments have shown that as chemical exposure increases, incidence of cancer also increases."

Had the author read Dr. Ray and Dr. Jean Greek's book, "Sacred Cows/Golden Geese," he would have found thousands of examples of just how misinformed he is regarding animal research.

This man goes on and on and on in what seems to be an endless attempt to convince the reader that animal research is justified. There is so much, it gets repetitive and boring. See pages 54, 56, 59, 63, 65, 67, etc.

By the time I got to page 65 and checked the actual reference date to one cited study, 1997, I realized that I had lectured along with this same individual at animal rights conferences at the very same time his laboratory was performing animal research. He disguised his feelings and beliefs well. Through to page 325, the man's support of animal research betrays truth.

When shoeless Joe Jackson was indicted for throwing a World Series baseball game during the Black Sox scandal, a young boy approached the superstar ballplayer and asked,
"Say it ain't so, Joe."

In that manner, I felt completely betrayed and disappointed by this heroic figure's support of animal research. His own feelings are symbolically summed up on page 62 and 63. My own copy of the book has "NO, no, no" written in the columns.

On page 62, the author writes:

"Okay, so here's the central question: How does this research apply to human health and human liver cancer in particular? One way to investigate this question is to research other species..."

On page 63:

"We needed a colony of these transgenic mice...We eventually obtained funding, did the study on both strains of mice and got essentially the same result as we did with the rats."

It is not the author I have trouble with. He is a good man, and can defend his support of animal research, although I would love the opportunity to debate and teach this great teacher the fallacy of such support. Those charlatans who would ignore the support of animal abuse are the ones who trouble me. They would turn a blind eye to the support of animal research in order to be politically correct. To criticize a hero for his flaws, would make the critic a leper within his own community. Those lacking such moral fiber are the ones who most betray the animals. I for one, will be cursed by those insiders who know the details of what I now share, and continue to live the lie that they have chosen. I am prepared to lose every one of man's popularity contests to the unbiased support of the rights of all animals, and that includes laboratory animals who suffer needlessly.

Those who do not expose such suffering at every opportunity are a part of the problem, not part of the solution.


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