I was filling out postcards on behalf of lab animals through In Defense of Animals or IDA organization. The postcards included responses from researchers in major organizations like the NIH and National Cancer Institute. The NIH or National Institute of Health funded a survey and “found that thousands of NIH-funded researchers agreed the grant funding system is an unfair ‘old boys network’ that caters to those who know how to ‘work the system.’ A past NIH Director has said that this system is an obstacle to ‘truly transformative’ research, while the former head of the National Cancer Institute has stated that it is a ‘terrible wasted opportunity.'”
The first postcard was addressed to Dr. Francis Collins, the current Director of NIH. It urges Dr. Collins to re-examine NIH’s methods of grant funding and to please fund “innovative, cutting-edge non-animal methods of research.”
What’s wrong with this picture that as taxpayers our money goes to stupid, repetitive, wasteful and cruel experiments on animals that I’ve vividly described in a previous blog and yet we still have to IMPLORE the Director of NIH to change? We’re not advancing into 21st Century research meant for our own well being because we continue to use archaic methods of research FOR THE MONEY. As I said in my previous blog, anyone who has worked under grants or knows anything about the grant process knows that if an organization doesn’t use all the grant money, it will not receive as much next time and grant writers know how to work the system. I know how to write for grants, and that is why I’m really protesting what continues to happen in the U.S. relative to the suffering of lab animals and the detrimental effect it has on the overall advances in medicine and healthcare for humans!
The next postcard was addressed to Steven Chu, our current Energy Secretary who oversees all Dept. of Energy facilities like the Brookhaven National Lab. NASA has proposed that this lab do a study on the “Long-term Effects of Space Radiation in Nonhuman Primates.” This is to be funded with $1.75 million dollars of taxpayer’s money. The lab will “inundate tiny squirrel money with one concentrated dose of radiation.” What for? “Since the 50’s, thousands of primates have been exposed to various types of radiation with results ranging from vomiting to eye damage to hemorrhaging.” What new result could NASA possibly be looking for the past 60 years hasn’t already covered? “Decades of radiation experiments have proven that animals react differently from other animals of the same species or other species.” So how could one big dose of radiation on these little monkeys possibly “mimic 3 years worth of space radiation exposure to astronauts” for a future trip to Mars?
We can say the same about reactions to drugs. How many drugs have been pulled from the shelves when humans suffered side effects that were obviously different from those of lab animals? Plenty. It demonstrates animal tests cannot validate a safe product for humans. In essence, research that uses animals is a waste of time and our money and is waylaying progress for better products for humans. We have better alternatives that just aren’t being used.
The final postcard concerns passing the Great Ape Protection Act (HR 1326) and addresses our reps in the House, which is John Dingell for our area of Michigan. HR 1326 is currently in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce of which Rep. Dingell is Chairman Emeritus. I wrote to him earlier about passage of this bill and he agrees and responded, “great apes are highly intelligent and social animals and research lab environments involving invasive research cannot meet their complex social and psychological needs.” But he still needs urging to cosponsor this bill.
One of the original sponsors of the Great Ape Protection Act, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland is also a scientist who formerly worked with chimpanzees on research projects. He stated: “I believe the time has come to limit invasive research on these animals and rigorously apply EXISTING alternatives.”
If that isn’t from the horse’s mouth. There are many other researchers that have spoken out against use of primates. I remember a segment on TV about a researcher who just refused to work with great apes any longer the day he actually saw one cry. It was too much for him, the icing on the cookie so to speak. He did the televised segment to enlighten people that this practice should be stopped as it has in many European countries.
Stopping research on all animals is not a far out proposition. Physicians, researchers, and scientists have all stated there are better alternatives now. Staying the status quo by continuing animal experiments is detrimental to advancements for our health. And IDA is right. Stop funding animal experiments and increase funding for the alternatives. It’s our money. We should be calling the shots here. After 60+ years we still don’t have a cure for cancer. It’s a good example of why we need to change the way we go about doing things in the health industry.
More info from IDA’s website. Donate if you can for animal and human welfare:
Contact Rep. Dingell to cosponsor this bill in the committee he chairs: