Abkarian: The confiscation of thousands of abused beagles raises troubling questions about animal research

Abkarian: The confiscation of thousands of abused beagles raises troubling questions about animal research

The Release 4,000 beagles from dire conditions last month at the Envigo breeding and research facility in Virginia have raised uncomfortable questions about the use of animals in scientific research. It turns out that beagles are searchable because they are sweet, docile and small. Ugh.

After writing about Nancy, a Beagle Invigo now in foster care in Sherman Oaks, I’ve received emails from two groups that have a keen interest in the issue.

The first came from PETA, the animal rights group that evolved over decades from Ingrid Newkirk’s crusade against cruelty to a complex process with scientists and lawyers dedicated to ending animal cruelty and stopping the use of animals – all animals In scientific research.

opinion writer

Robin Abkarian

“Even zebrafish?” asked Cathy Guillermo, PETA’s senior vice president of laboratory investigations, in a phone conversation last week. (Fish is useful for scientists who study embryology Because it is transparentwhich is cheaper than mice.) “Whether one wants to realize it or not,” she replied, “a fish is a sentient being.”

beta Secret investigations Conditions at the Envigo facility helped shut it down, a fact that has been overlooked in much news coverage, including our own.

The second email was from a London-based group working to educate the public about the benefits of using animals in scientific research.

“I don’t usually contact US journalists because we are based in the UK,” wrote Chris Magee, the company’s head of policy and media. Understanding animal research“But dog use is something that happens all over the world for the very simple reason that they are excellent at predicting human safety.”

Delving into the controversial animal world of scientific research is – pardon the expression – diving into a rabbit hole you will experience everything you think of yourself as an empathetic, animal-loving human being who renounces suffering. There is no doubt about it Many advances in medicine Thanks to the sacrifice and suffering of animals. By far, the largest number of animals used in laboratories are rats and mice. But thousands of cats, dogs, monkeys, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and other creatures undergo experiments every year. Some trials test efficacy, while others test toxicity. There is great controversy as to whether High failure rate In all experiments, animals should not be used.

One step in the right direction: A bill was introduced to Congress last year It will end the federal requirement that drug and cosmetic companies test their products on animals to demonstrate safety and efficacy because alternatives exist.

How can we say we love animals and support attaching electrodes to monkeys’ brains in research designed to determine whether gender or strength is more persuasive in brand advertising? I certainly can’t.

And many scientists, who worked in animal laboratories, could not change their attitude about the suffering they caused.

in a short film Test subjectsFor documentary Alex Lockwood, a researcher said her thesis advisor refused to accompany her to her graduation ceremony because she had dedicated her message of ‘to all the animals she killed: I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

“If you stand with the flag, you wear the mantle of the scientist,” primatologist Lisa Jones-Engle Once a reporter for the Guardian newspaper. “If you stand with the animal rights movement, you wear the mantle of a defender, a moral and ethical person. I have one foot on both sides because I understand both sides. It is a terrible place to be.”

I can imagine.

Jones-Engle left the world of academic research after 35 years and is now the chief science advisor on primate experiments with PETA’s Department of Laboratory Investigations.

After a vigorous campaign by PETA and other animal activists, the European Union banned the sale of cosmetics tested on animals. The use of the infamous Draize Eye Irritation Test, in which rabbits’ eyes are opened to test the toxicity of cosmetics and household cleaning products, is fortunate was in decline.

But what about Animal experiments aim to reduce the spread of human suffering Pain from arthritis, injuries, cancer or headaches? For most of us, I think this is a much more complex ethical dilemma.

The researchers justify their experiments “by the scale of the problem the experiments are designed to solve,” he said The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in a 1991 paper. “Without research on a relatively small number of laboratory animals, there is little hope that continued progress can be made in alleviating this widespread human suffering.”

Maggie told me that the UK has a strict central system where researchers have to justify using animals in laboratories, down to the minute details: “You can’t use an animal if there is an alternative,” he said.

This is also supposed to be the case in the US, but the oversight is much less strict.

Feet PETAhas New lawsuit against the National Institutes of Health, claiming that the $10 million the agency spends each year to fund sepsis research in mice is a waste of taxpayer money. Sepsis, a catastrophic reaction to infection, kills about 270,000 Americans each year.

Using mice in sepsis studies is misleading, PETA claims, because sepsis in mice does not accurately replicate the disease in humans. The lawsuit also claims that “no new drug treatments for sepsis have been developed despite decades of extensive study.”

The solution to the predicament of animal experiments may come from scientific and technological breakthroughs such as sophisticated computer modeling, tissue engineering, and other approaches based on human biology. At Harvard, the Wyss Institute was developed “Members on chips” It has been described as “microfluidic devices lined with living human cells for drug development, disease modeling and personalized medicine”.

“To be fair, the National Institutes of Health funds some of that as well,” Guillermo said.

I look forward to the day we stop using living organisms in laboratory experiments. We must find ways to improve human health without harming or killing other organisms.

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