Speaking about animal research

May 05 2015 Published by under Academia, science

As DrugMonkey already talked about: a well-known neuroscientist doing non-human primate research has announced that he will stop using monkeys but will switch to rodents instead. DrugMonkey ends his post with this:

This is the point where I am supposed to be telling you to call your Congress Critter.

But I can't.

Logothetis is not the first and he will not be the last.

We have had ample opportunity for biological scientists to see and be motivated to do something about this situation.

They have not done so.

So I would be wasting my breath.

I understand DrugMonkey's frustration with people not speaking up about this, and looking at the political climate in my homecountry, we even have a so-called "Party for the animals" who are very vocal against animal research. In addition, new legislation in the homecountry requires every IACUC-equivalent protocol to be published in non-technical terms and anyone in the EU is allowed to request this information. I have noticed that this makes researchers afraid that their personal information will come out in the open; it is not that difficult to figure out who wrote a specific protocol in such a small country with a limited pool of researchers. I can understand what drove Logothetis to quit his line of research. I have also noticed that I have stopped explaining my animal experiments to the people around me. I have stopped talking about it and I need to reconsider this.

So what can we do? For starters, check out Speaking of Research, who not only share stories of research that has been done using animals, but -more importantly - many facts about animal research. If we, as scientists, have convinced ourselves that the experiments we do on animals are necessary, designed in a way that as sophisticated and least harmful to the animals as possible, with the lowest number of animals possible and because as yet there is no alternative, then we should be able to explain this to our neighbors, our friends and our politicians. And if politicians think it is so incredibly important to understand how the brain works through the Brain initiative in the US and the Human Brain Project in the EU they cannot close their eyes for the fact that we cannot learn everything about the brain from humans but that we need to study some aspects in animals, including non-human primates.

Picture from here http://www.glogster.com/hunterstallard/pro-animal-testing-is-pro-life/g-6mefajvl6s3iskdtuidgia0?old_view=True

4 responses so far

  • I understand how people can be hesitant about public protocols.
    We have a system like that here in Switzerland: after a proposal gets approved by the cantonal veterinary office ethics committee, there is a 30 day waiting period during which the public can object. And after the protocol is finished, we need to publish a report for the public explaining what we did with the animals we used, what we found, and what's next. O, and the dignity of the animal has to be protected (as per the Swiss constitution).
    I am not sure exactly how anonymous these reports are, but as you said, it's not difficult to figure out the identity of the researcher in a small country (or in our case, a single university).
    The funny (not funny) thing is that many people still seem to think that everything we do is secret and not bound to many rules. And if you try to explain how things work, you're not a reliable source because you're one of those people... It gets really tiring.

    By the way, there is an EU initiative to ban animal experiments coming your way:
    http://www.insight.mrc.ac.uk/2015/05/01/citizens-initiative-could-endanger-animal-research/

  • Tom Holder says:

    Thanks for the mention!

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