Friday, April 9, 2010

This monkey died for you?

The Willamette Week recently ran a story about OHSU's primate research center ("This Monkey Died for You - OHSU Animal Researchers Fire Back at Their Critics"). We'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Here's our response:
As attorneys and professors working in the field of animal law, we know the issues relating to animal testing are more complex than the interviewees in This Monkey Died for You would have readers believe. For the past few years, we have visited the Primate Center with our students who have benefited from thoughtful discussions with Dr. Doane. Although we appreciate her openness, it is our personal view that the article fails to address several important points.

For instance, there are a number of respected science-based organizations, such as the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at Johns Hopkins, that reject animal testing on scientific and ethical grounds.

Second, for every purported advancement there is a countervailing setback that shows animal testing is not an accurate predictor of outcomes in humans.

Third, if the ability to feel pain is one of the factors that triggers ethical consideration, then there should be no distinction in the protections available to an animal regardless of whether he or she is bred for research.

Fourth, Mr. Newman incorrectly portrays most animal rights activists as “extremists.” It should not be considered extreme to hope for and work toward solutions that address both advancements for human health and protections for animals.

To clarify one quote attributed to Dr. Doane, the law does not require the reduction of animals in experiments, although there is a government policy statement that encourages this outcome.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues further with WW or with OHSU representatives.

Signed,

Pamela Frasch, J.D. Assistant Dean, Animal Law Program and Executive Director, Center for Animal Law Studies

Professor Kathy Hessler, J.D., LL.M. Director, Animal Law Clinic Center for Animal Law Studies

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