Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A bit late, but I felt the point worthy of being made


I didn't mention it at the time, but a couple weeks back some animal-rights terrorists flooded a scientist's home because she did research on animals, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. They threatened her further by saying that she should feel lucky because their first choice was to use fire, not water.

This naturally led to wide-spread condemnation among sciencebloggers. However, most of the bloggers responded by pointing out that animal research is exceptionally useful for creating cures for humans, and is absolutely irreplaceable. We could not, for instance, use computer models to do the studies we need. They also pointed out that it animal researchers are not, in fact, sadists who get their jollies torturing cute and fluffy animals, and no, they didn't spend their childhood plucking the wings off of flies. Researchers are very concerned with the care of animals and there are strict rules in place to prevent unnecessary animal testing, and to make it as humane as possible.

I agree with all this, and I in no way mean to detract from any of these points. It's very important to point out that these despicable stereotypes of scientists who work with animals is completely fanciful. However, many of the animal rights groups have a reasonable concern: they don't think it's appropriate to study animals to benefit humans. So when Shelley Batts at Retrospectacle writes
Biomedical scientists do not live a wicked life, as the ALF [Animal Liberation Front] seems to believe. They are involved in research due to a passion for knowledge and a reduction of human suffering,

she's partly talking past these people. They don't care about any reduction in human misery (except maybe their own) that comes at the expense of misery in animals. And this may be a valid complaint.

Except, as you've already concluded by reading the banner at the right of this post, it's not entirely true. Researching animals helps humans, sure, and that's a perfectly valid reason to do it. But for those concerned about the animals, this research also helps animals. I'm surprised that in all of the blog posts or comments that I read on this subject, apparently no-one thought to bring up this simple fact--animals benefit from our research, as well.

For instance: antibiotics were, and are, tested in animals. Antibiotics clearly are used to help humans, but they're also used to help animals. My parents have an antibiotic salve for the purpose of treating animals--horses, dogs, cats--which came in handy recently when one of our cats was injured. This page points out numerous benefits to animals that have resulted from animal research, which include vaccines against numerous diseases and improved treatment of other ailments. HorseFacts.org, where I got the banner, point out other wonderful developments in equine treatment that resulted from animal research.

If animal rights activists really want to help animals, the best way is to let scientists study them so that we can help keep them healthy, and cure them when they're ailing.

2 comments:

Christine said...

Your point was made beautifully. I just hope anti animal rights people will someday realize that there is a real and huge difference between testing scientifically to help animals and humans, and poring Draino down the throats of dogs or dripping chemicals into rabbits eyes and forcing primates to inhale cigarette smoke in order for major corporations to cover their asses with their ridiculous warning labels and "new and improved" claims. Can we all at least agree that animals should not be caged for life, scared daily, inflicted with pain continuously and treated as lifeless trash. And if you can't agree to that, then do you really care about human suffering at all, unless of course it is your own? One more thing, if you are naive enough to believe that the regulations in place to police the suffering of lab animals are really followed, then you are the dream come true to these corporations looking for the next idiot to believe their so called "new and improved" ads. Sadly it is all about money, the more tests they run the more claims they can make, the more the products fly off the shelves.

Skemono said...

Your point was made beautifully.
Reading the rest of your comment, I am thinking this was sarcastic, but thank you anyways.

I just hope anti animal rights people will someday realize that there is a real and huge difference between testing scientifically to help animals and humans, and poring Draino down the throats of dogs or dripping chemicals into rabbits eyes and forcing primates to inhale cigarette smoke in order for major corporations to cover their asses with their ridiculous warning labels and "new and improved" claims.
Because all scientists are really just shills for evil tobacco industries who insist that these scientists torture animals in order to maximize the company's profits, right? Is that the logic, such as it is?

Can we all at least agree that animals should not be caged for life, scared daily, inflicted with pain continuously and treated as lifeless trash.
What scientists do treat their test subjects as "lifeless trash"? Have you ever actually spoken with a scientist who does work with animals?

And if you can't agree to that, then do you really care about human suffering at all, unless of course it is your own?
Yes. Yes I do.

One more thing, if you are naive enough to believe that the regulations in place to police the suffering of lab animals are really followed, then you are the dream come true to these corporations looking for the next idiot to believe their so called "new and improved" ads.
I'm sure that there are going to be cases where the regulations are not followed to the letter, sure. There are bound to be exceptions. Do you have any evidence that these abuses of the system are widespread, though?

Sadly it is all about money, the more tests they run the more claims they can make, the more the products fly off the shelves.
Um, no. It's about making products safe for consumption. Companies would love it if they didn't have to test their products for safety--they'd get so much more money if that were the case. Your claim is a complete inversion of reality.