Links for Keyword: Animal Rights

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By Eric Michael Johnson Americans take their rights seriously. But there is a lot of misunderstanding about what actually constitutes a ‘right.’ Religious believers are correct that they have a right to freely express their beliefs. This right is protected under the First Amendment to the US Constitution that prohibits Congress from making any “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” However, as a result, devout believers feel it is a violation of their rights when intelligent design creationism is forbidden in the classroom or when prayer during school sporting events is banned. After all, shouldn’t the First Amendment prohibit the government from interfering with this basic right? The answer is no and represents an important distinction when understanding what a right actually is. Because public schools are government-run institutions, allowing prayer during school activities or promoting religious doctrines in the classroom is a direct violation of the First Amendment. These activities infringe on the rights of those who do not share the same religious beliefs (or any at all). The key point is that rights are obligations that require governments to act in certain ways and refrain from acting in others. The First Amendment obligates the government to protect the rights of all citizens from an establishment of religion. You may have the right to freely exercise your beliefs, but that doesn’t give you the right to impose your views on others in public school. It was just this understanding of rights as obligations that governments must obey that formed the basis for a declaration of rights for cetaceans (whales and dolphins) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Vancouver, Canada last month. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 16500 - Posted: 03.12.2012

By JAMES GORMAN Once, animals at the university were the province of science. Rats ran through mazes in the psychology lab, cows mooed in the veterinary barns, the monkeys of neuroscience chattered in their cages. And on the dissecting tables of undergraduates, preserved frogs kept a deathly silence. On the other side of campus, in the seminar rooms and lecture halls of the liberal arts and social sciences, where monkey chow is never served and all the mazes are made of words, the attention of scholars was firmly fixed on humans. No longer. This spring, freshmen at Harvard can take “Human, Animals and Cyborgs.” Last year Dartmouth offered “Animals and Women in Western Literature: Nags, Bitches and Shrews.” New York University offers “Animals, People and Those in Between.” The courses are part of the growing, but still undefined, field of animal studies. So far, according to Marc Bekoff, an emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, the field includes “anything that has to do with the way humans and animals interact.” Art, literature, sociology, anthropology, film, theater, philosophy, religion — there are animals in all of them. The field builds partly on a long history of scientific research that has blurred the once-sharp distinction between humans and other animals. Other species have been shown to have aspects of language, tool use, even the roots of morality. It also grows out of a field called cultural studies, in which the academy has turned its attention over the years to ignored and marginalized humans. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 16201 - Posted: 01.03.2012

By Katherine Lymn As head of Experimental Surgical Services at the University of Minnesota, he’s been the focus of animal rights activists’ rage. Bianco estimated that up to 300 sheep are “sacrificed” each year as part of his experiments in heart valve research. Pathology staff members kill the sheep with an overdose injection of a drug similar to what a veterinarian would use to euthanize a pet. Bianco speaks out in support of animal experimentation and accepts his status as a public figure of the biomedical research industry. But he sees it differently when animal rights groups try to influence students. “My solution is to bring the students to us,” he said. He invites high school students to his lab for field trips to “counteract” PETA’s message that using animals for research is wrong. Bianco tests heart valves in animals before the valves go on to human trials. He proactively promotes research like this, which has drawn threats in the past. Activist Camille Marino, out of Florida, posted a threat against Bianco on her website negotioationisover.net in 2009. “We should not be surprised when the unconscionable violence inflicted upon animals is justifiably visited upon their tormentors,” she wrote. Animal rights organizations have demonstrated at the University in the past. In 1999, the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for vandalizing research facilities and stealing more than 100 animals. © 1900 - 2011 The Minnesota Daily

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 16063 - Posted: 11.22.2011

By JAMES GORMAN NEW IBERIA, La. — In a dome-shaped outdoor cage, a dozen chimpanzees are hooting. The hair on their shoulders sticks straight up. “That’s piloerection,” a sign of emotional arousal, says Dr. Dana Hasselschwert, head of veterinary sciences at the New Iberia Research Center. She tells a visitor to keep his distance. The chimps tend to throw pebbles — or worse — when they get excited. Chimps’ similarity to humans makes them valuable for research, and at the same time inspires intense sympathy. To research scientists, they may look like the best chance to cure terrible diseases. But to many other people, they look like relatives behind bars. Biomedical research on chimps helped produce a vaccine for hepatitis B, and is aimed at one for hepatitis C, which infects 170 million people worldwide, but there has long been an outcry against the research as cruel and unnecessary. Now, because of a major push by advocacy organizations, a decision to stop such research in the United States could come within a year. As it is, the United States is one of only two countries that conduct invasive research on chimpanzees. The other is the central African nation of Gabon. “This is a very different moment than ever before,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. “Now is the time to get these chimps out of invasive research and out of the labs.” © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 16038 - Posted: 11.15.2011

Paul Vallely A sad-eyed, mournful-mouthed beagle stares out from a poster on a bus shelter by the front door of the Ear Institute of University College London. Below the melancholy dog blares the legend 'Boycott Vivisection'. It is clearly intended to be a reprimand to the scientists passing through the door into one of the world's leading research centres on hearing and deafness. Not that there are any experiments on dogs going on in the Institute, but then facts are not always the first currency when it comes to the emotive subject of experiments on animals. The number of research procedures on animals carried out in the UK rose by 3 per cent last year. The figure has risen steadily over the past decade to just over 3.7 million in 2010. 'Procedures' is the term used by the Home Office, which is looking at ways to meet a commitment in the Government's coalition agreement to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. And it is a significant word, for behind it lies a major shift in animal experimentation. The headline figure disguises considerable changes. Experiments on many of the kind of animals which most inspire protest among animal rights activists were down: dogs by 2 per cent, rabbits by 10 per cent and cats by 32 per cent. Even the eponymous guinea pigs were down 29 per cent. There was also a fall of 11 per cent in the number of animals used in toxicity trials, as thanks to rule changes one test can now be used to satisfy several requirements. Where there was an increase was in mice and fish – the latter up a whopping 23 per cent. What that reveals is a switch to animals whose genes can be easily modified. An extraordinary 44 per cent of those 'procedures' turn out not to be what most members of the public imagine as an 'animal experiment' but merely the act of breeding transgenic creatures, mostly done by allowing mice to do what male and female mice do naturally anyway. But the nature of the experiments has undergone a notable change. ©independent.co.uk

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 15933 - Posted: 10.22.2011

By Laura Sanders Almost a minute after a rat’s head is severed from its body, an eerie shudder of activity ripples through the animal’s brain. Some researchers think this post-decapitation wave marks the border between life and death. But the phenomenon can be explained by electrical changes that, in some cases, are reversible, researchers report online July 13 in PLoS ONE. Whether a similar kind of brain wave happens in humans, and if so, whether it is inextricably tied to death could have important implications. An unambiguous marker could help doctors better decide when to diagnose brain death, knowledge that could give clarity to loved ones and boost earlier organ donation. In a PLoS ONE paper published in January, neuroscientist Anton Coenen and colleagues at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands described this wave of electrical activity in the rat brain occurring 50 seconds after decapitation. The Nijmegen team, which was exploring whether decapitation is a humane way to sacrifice lab animals, wrote that this brain activity seemed to be the ultimate border between life and death. They dubbed the phenomenon the “wave of death.” But neurologist Michel van Putten of the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands, wasn’t convinced. “We have no doubt the observation is real,” he says. “But the interpretation is completely speculative.” © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 15596 - Posted: 07.25.2011

Alison Abbott The increasingly sophisticated blending of different species to create chimaeras is pushing biology into a new ethical dimension. Last year, scientists used new stem-cell technologies to create a mouse with a functioning pancreas composed entirely of rat cells. So might it soon be possible to create a monkey with a brain composed entirely of human neurons? And would it think like a human? Such an animal might be useful to researchers studying human cognition or human-specific pathogens. But it would be ethically unacceptable and should be banned, argues a government-commissioned report from the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, a body that promotes medical research. The document, Animals Containing Human Material , says that genetic and stem-cell technologies are now so advanced that the creation of such animals is already on the horizon. But no country has yet devised a broad regulatory framework for the research. The report, released on 22 July, calls for the United Kingdom to take the lead in putting in place specific safeguards. "We are not proposing a new tier of regulation that will hold up important research," says Robin Lovell-Badge, a developmental biologist at the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research in London, and a member of the working group that drew up the report. At the same time, he says, "we don't want scientists to cause problems for the future by overstepping the mark of what is publicly acceptable". Unlike the hypothetical monkey with a human brain, many animals containing human material (ACHMs) are likely to advance basic biology and medicine without transgressing ethical boundaries, the report concludes. © 2011 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15593 - Posted: 07.25.2011

By JOHN TAGLIABUE AMSTERDAM — It has not been a good year for Ahmet Kilic. Sales are down in the store where for the last two and a half years he has sold groceries and meat, slaughtered according to halal conditions. The store, on the southern edge of this Dutch city, was started 22 years ago by his brother and uncle, natives of Turkey, who took it over from its former Dutch owners. But many of the Turks who are their clients have moved farther out of the city; moreover, customer access is blocked by work to lay tram tracks on the street in front. “Things are not good,” he said, tallying up sausage, an all-beef variety, and Turkish white cheese, which the Greeks call feta, for a shopper. Now he fears they could get worse. The Dutch Parliament will vote Tuesday on a bill that, if enacted, will effectively require even Jewish and Muslim butchers to stun animals — mechanically, electrically or with gas — before they are slaughtered, eliminating an exception in current law. A tiny animal rights party, which has two seats in Parliament, proposed the bill, arguing that failing to stun the animals before slaughter subjects them to unnecessary pain. The debate over the bill has divided the Dutch. Because the bill would mainly affect Muslims, of whom there are about 1.2 million in a Dutch population of about 16 million, compared with a Jewish population of 50,000, the debate has become a focus of Dutch animosity toward Muslims. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 15494 - Posted: 06.27.2011

By Oliver Wright, Whitehall Editor Britain's leading health charities last night warned that vital medical research into cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's could be set back by decades because of a high-profile boycott campaign being launched by animal rights campaigners. Animal Aid plans to take out a series of newspaper adverts urging the public to stop giving money to Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, the Alzheimer's Society and Parkinson's UK unless they end their support for animal testing. But the campaign has been condemned as irresponsible and damaging by the charities and scientists, who have warned that it could set back medical research and damage other important areas of the charities' work. "This is an illogical and ill-conceived campaign," said Lord Willis of Knaresborough, the chairman of the Association of Medical Research Charities. "It will have consequences for charities targeted as, during tight economic times, any small downturn in donations could really put back cures by decades." Colin Blakemore, a Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, added: "This is an utterly irresponsible attack by Animal Aid on some of the most important charitable contributors to medical research in this country. "These charities have a duty to use money given to them to support patients and to understand and treat disease. They support research on animals only when it's absolutely essential. If Animal Aid were successful in discouraging donation to medical charities, they would be guilty of delaying progress towards treatments and cures for devastating conditions." ©independent.co.uk

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 15474 - Posted: 06.21.2011

Meredith Wadman The unusual meeting was held in a conference room, but it might have been called a war room. Gathered inside a little-known research centre in southern Louisiana, the people who oversee chimpanzee research in the United States were preparing to battle for the survival of their enterprise. Although no other country besides Gabon carries out invasive experiments with chimpanzees, the United States continues such work at three major research facilities. Louisiana's New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) is the largest, with a population of 360 chimps, used by investigators from pharmaceutical companies and federal agencies to test new drugs and study diseases such as hepatitis. During the meeting, Thomas Rowell, director of the NIRC, stood up, surveyed the audience, and launched into a presentation about possible strategies to build public support for their work. Another slide went on to note that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends about US$12 million a year caring for the chimpanzees it supports (currently totalling 734), versus the billions in health-care costs for the human diseases that can be studied through experiments on chimpanzees. One of them, hepatitis C, currently affects at least 170 million people globally. If researchers don't have access to the chimp model, said Rowell, people afflicted with hepatitis C will suffer. "Their lifespans are going to be shortened. They will not have a proper quality of life." He called them a "silent voice". © 2011 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 15440 - Posted: 06.16.2011

Daniel Cressey In the past five years animal-rights activists have perpetrated a string of violent attacks. In February 2008, the husband of a breast-cancer biologist in Santa Cruz, California, was physically assaulted at the front door of their home. In the same month, the biomedical research institute at Hasselt University in Diepenbeek, Belgium, was set on fire. In the summer of 2009, activists desecrated graves belonging to the family of Daniel Vasella, then chief executive of the pharmaceutical company Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, and torched his holiday home. A poll of nearly 1,000 biomedical scientists, conducted by Nature, reveals the widespread impact of animal-rights activism. Extreme attacks are rare, and there does not seem to have been any increase in the rate of their incidence in the past few years, but almost one-quarter of respondents said that they or someone they know has been affected negatively by activism. More than 90% of respondents agreed that the use of animals in research is essential, but the poll also highlights mixed feelings on the issue. Nearly 16% of those conducting animal research said that they have had misgivings about it, and although researchers overwhelmingly feel free to discuss these concerns with colleagues, many seem less at ease with doing so in public. More than 70% said that the polarized nature of the debate makes it difficult to voice a nuanced opinion on the subject, and little more than one-quarter said that their institutions offer training and assistance in communicating broadly about the importance of animal research (see 'Assessing the threats'). © 2011 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 15040 - Posted: 02.24.2011

US researchers defended animal testing, telling a small group at one of the biggest science conferences in the United States that not doing animal research would be unethical and cost human lives. The researchers, who are or have been involved in animal research, told a symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that testing on animals has led to "dramatic developments in research that have improved and affected the quality of human life." "To not do animal testing would mean that we would not be able to bring treatments and interventions and cures in a timely way. And what that means is people would die," Stuart Zola of Emory University, which is home to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, told AFP after the symposium. Treatments for diseases such as diabetes and polio were made possible through animal research, the researchers said, and animals are currently being used in hepatitis-, HIV- and stem cell-related research, among others. But animal rights activists continue to bring pressure on laboratories that use animals to develop drugs and vaccines, urging them to stop the practice and use other means to develop the next wonder drug, treatment or cure. Animal rights activists also insist they will never use medications developed through animal testing, but the researchers said they probably already have done. © 2011 Discovery Communications, LLC.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 15037 - Posted: 02.22.2011

Alison Abbott Animal activists last summer set fire to the alpine holiday home of Daniel Vasella, then chief executive of pharmaceutical giant Novartis of Basel, Switzerland, in one of relatively few violent attacks on scientists working with animals in German-speaking countries. But in the past few years these scientists have been feeling the pressure in other ways — from animal activists who have attempted to publicly shame them or have sent threatening e-mails, and from legislation that increasingly restricts the use of animals in basic research. Now, in a bid to reverse that trend, more than 50 top scientists working in Germany and Switzerland have launched an education offensive. Meeting in Basel on 29 November, they drafted and signed a declaration pledging to be more open about their research, and to engage in more public dialogue. "The public tends to have false perceptions about animal research, such as thinking they can always be replaced by alternative methods like cell culture," says Stefan Treue, director of the German Primate Center in Göttingen. Treue co-chaired the Basel meeting, called 'Research at a Crossroads', with molecular biologist Michael Hengartner, dean of science at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Outreach activities, such as inviting the public into universities to talk to scientists about animal research, "will be helpful to both sides". © 2010 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 14753 - Posted: 12.07.2010

Last week, the scientific journal NeuroImage published an article arguing that ‘by and large animal models offer very limited insights into the complex clinical picture of pain’ (1). The authors claimed that new procedures with humans, especially functional neuroimaging, should be more broadly adopted instead of animal-based studies into the nature and causes of pain. BBC News, and several anti-vivisectionists who were invited to comment on the report on various radio stations, interpreted this as a call to end animal pain-research (2). The publication of the article came in a week (17 to 22 August) when the World Congress on Pain was taking place in Glasgow (3). I was there, along with several of the authors of the NeuroImage paper and hundreds of students, clinicians and academics who treat patients with pain or who research the causes and effects of pain. ‘Animal models’ try to recreate disease in an animal in order to study the progress and treatment of the disease in a highly controlled fashion. There are, without doubt, many problems with this approach to disease (4). Even the best animal models cannot hope to mimic all the facets of human disease. How, for example, can we model frustration at no longer being able to play football by using rats in a laboratory? We can’t, and the same is true for almost all psychological reactions to disease. © spiked 2000-2008

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook; Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 12012 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Adrian Morrison, DVM, PhD. Throughout history, humanity has associated with animals in ways that have benefited human beings. Animals have been hunted for food and clothing, accepted at our hearths for companionship, and brought into our fields to produce and provide food. Only during the latter two-thirds of the last century could most people – in the developed, wealthy West — begin to imagine living without animals as part of our daily lives. We were completely dependent on them. As the twentieth century progressed, though, technological advances rendered animals’ visible presence in our lives unnecessary. We can eat a steak without coming close to a living cow, or wear a wool sweater without having to shear any sheep. But now, according to some, we have no need, indeed no right, to interfere in animals’ lives, even to the extent of abandoning their use in life-saving medical research. This belief motivates the animal rights/liberation movement, which follows the thinking of a small group of vocal philosophers. But what does the term “animal rights” mean in a practical way to most in our society? All of us do use the word “rights” quite commonly: the right to decent, humane treatment when animals are in our charge. This is our obligation as humane human beings. Indeed, this duty is embodied in law, and we can be prosecuted and punished if we ignore it as lawyer/ethicist Jerry Tannenbaum from the University of California-Davis pointed out to me years ago when I was focused on the depredations of the “animal rights movement” against biomedical researchers and blinded to the obvious. Thus, the ongoing debate – and recent violence in some California universities for example – is about a more radical (and unworkable view) of rights. To clarify things in my own mind, I have come up with a ranking of views/behavior from the extreme to the reasonable as I see it. © Copyright Oxford University Press USA 2006-2008

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 12928 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Germany's constitution guarantees its citizens the freedom to conduct research — but local authorities in the northern city of Bremen are forcing a leading neuroscientist to halt his primate experiments. A court will probably now have to decide whether the controversial ruling violates federal law. Andreas Kreiter at the University of Bremen uses 24 macaques to study cognitive processes in the mammalian brain. Germany's largest animal-protection group, the Animal Welfare Association, has for years campaigned against the experiments, claiming that they are intolerably painful and have no short-term therapeutic use. Local politicians have become increasingly sympathetic to that view. Last year, in a move criticized by scientists as a grab for votes, Bremen's parliament called on the state government to ban Kreiter's primate research (see Nature 446, 955; 2007). After regional elections in May 2007, the newly formed Social Democrat–Green coalition government agreed not to reapprove his experiments when his current licence expires later this year. On 15 October, Kreiter was officially informed by the senate of health — the local authority in charge of approving animal experiments — that his licence will not be renewed. Referring to "changed societal values", the authority argued that the experiments were "ethically unjustified" because they address long-term scientific questions rather than help develop specific medical therapies. © 2008 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 12174 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Jonathan Amos The number of animals used in UK labs for scientific experiments is now more than three million - a level not seen since 1991. Home Office figures show that in 2007, all procedures in England, Wales and Scotland used 3.1 million animals. The year-on-year increase of 6% continues the recent upward trend driven mainly by the use of rodents in genetics experiments. Mice and rats constitute more than 80% of all animals used in laboratories. The remainder involve primarily fish, birds, and reptiles/amphibians. Dogs, cats, horses and non-human primates receive special protection under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. These were used in less than half of 1% of the procedures. Most procedures are for research and drug development; safety testing accounts for much of the rest. The number of animals used in lab experiments peaked in the 1970s with more than five million procedures carried out annually. The statistics then fell rapidly during the 90s and 80s before picking up again at the start of the century. Just over 3.2 million scientific procedures were started in 2007, a rise of about 189,500 (6%) on 2006. The latest rise is the sixth in succession and largely reflects the increasing role of genetically modified animals in research. The use of GM animals – mainly mice - has more than quadrupled since 1995. By adding or knocking out genes in mice, scientists believe they can gain an insight into the molecular flaws in humans that lead to illness. Animal welfare groups have long argued that the numbers – although smaller than they used to be – are still too high. They say that many experiments often give misleading or wholly useless information; and that scientists ought to make better use of alternatives. (C)BBC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 11840 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Emma Marris Many readers of The Guardian, a British newspaper, will have been surprised at a recent online article in which Sophie Petit-Zeman, a neuroscientist and journalist, explained how she could at the same time be a vivisectionist and a vegetarian1. But they will not all have been surprised in the same way. Some will have been surprised at the existence of such a complex position in an area where much of the discussion is depressingly black and white. Others will have been surprised not by the position itself, but by its being discussed in public. As a poll of Nature readers working in the biomedical sciences reveals, many scientists who work on animals have complex takes on the issue. But they are not often willing, or encouraged, to express these feelings. Some of this is directly due to fear of animal-rights extremists; some is an indirect effect of the polarized atmosphere that surrounds the issue. In some labs, at least, scientists feel pressured to keep quiet about the grey areas of debate, lest they undermine the official mantra And how do they square the ethics of it all? As well as polling our biomedical readers (for full results see http://www.nature.com/news/specials/animalresearch), Nature set out to get some voices from the front lines — and found a lot of ducked heads. It would be fair to say that the average researcher prefers not to talk to the press about his or her work. And yet, there are those who are not only willing to talk, but have plenty to say. It quickly becomes clear that each researcher has his or her own system of ethical equations in place, but that the simplified pro–con debate makes it very difficult to communicate this — or have any kind of calm conversation about animal research. ©2006 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 9753 - Posted: 06.24.2010

In 2006, concern over the welfare of his family caused Dario Ringach to stop using animals in his research. A neuroscientist at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), Ringach had been receiving threats from animal-rights extremists over his experiments involving primates. Then, an undetonated firebomb was left next door to the house of a colleague, apparently because the activists had the wrong address. After three years of keeping a low profile, Ringach is now trying to raise public support for the use of animals in research. This month, he published a commentary on the subject in the Journal of Neuroscience1 and a letter to the editor in the Journal of Neurophysiology2 in which he calls on scientists to publicly support such research. His coauthor on both was David Jentsch, a neuropsychopharmacologist at UCLA whose work involves primates and whose car was firebombed earlier this year. Nature spoke with Ringach about his concerns. You say that animal-rights extremists are winning. Why? You can see this in a recent Pew research survey on public opinion on science. Only 52% of the broad public supports biomedical research involving animals. And over the years, this has consistently declined. What is behind this trend? A lot of organizations at different levels have had a tremendous impact — from work that the Humane Society of the United States [based in Washington DC] has been doing in exposing failures in the food industry, to work that PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, based in London] is doing in trying to reach out to children very early. © 2009 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 13293 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Katherine Harmon From polite petitions to fierce fires, activists opposed to animal research have made their position clear in the U.S. and abroad for many years. But now, medical researchers are being encouraged to press on—and speak out. Two new commentaries, published online today in The Journal of Neuroscience, highlight recent threats that have befallen some researchers who perform research on animals. "We have seen our cars and homes firebombed or flooded, and we have received letters packed with poisoned razors and death threats via e-mail and voicemail," Dario Ringach of the David Geffen School of Medicine and J. David Jentsch of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) wrote in one of the papers. "These threats do not endanger just these individuals alone, but also the scientific community at large and the health and well-being of millions affected by their research," Thomas Carew, president of The Society of Neuroscience (SfN), said in a prepared statement responding to the commentaries. "Today, it is unacceptable that in the pursiut of better health and understanding of disease, researchers, their families, and their communities face violence and intimidation by extremists." "Responsible research has played a vital role in nearly every major medical advance of the last century, from heart disease to polio, and is essential to future advances," Carew continued. Animal rights groups, however, maintain that most drugs developed and tested on animals never pass human safety or efficacy trials and never make it to market. © 1996-2009 Scientific American Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 13272 - Posted: 06.24.2010