March 4, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 80  

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Out with the animals: no research for PETA

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

According to one lobby organization, universities are as culpable as corporations when it comes to conducting research on animals in Canada and the United States.

In an interview with The Gazette, Karin Robertson, youth outreach manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, chastised schools across the continent for the exploitation of animals on campus for the sake of making a profit from research.

“Every year, there are millions of taxpayer dollars spent torturing, isolating, mutilating and addicting animals,” Robertson claims, referring to government research grants which fund research on animals. “Universities are a place where professors find prestige and make a lot of money testing on animals.

“Scientists regularly say they’re not finding solutions — but making money along the way,” she notes. “Animal research is not only preventing us from learning relevant information, but is continuing to kill animals — and people — every year.

“You’re going to find animal testing at most schools which have a big science department. It’s a sad fact that you’ll find professors that are making money off of hurting animals, and it’s something universities hide from their students.”

Robertson singles out two ongoing studies at Columbia University in New York as indicative of the types of tests involving animals; the first features baboon fetuses pumped full of nicotine to study the way babies react to nicotine addiction, and the second consists of the removal of the baboon’s eyes and insertion of a clamp in the socket to induce a stroke.

So how can students investigate their own campuses? “The No. 1 thing,” Robertson says, “is to check out, which has all kinds of information about a big range of animal rights issues you’ll find on campus.

“It shows alternatives to dissection,” Robertson notes of the site, adding her own take on that particular research procedure: “Taking out organs to prove things we’ve known for centuries? I would challenge everyone to find alternatives to dissection.

“[There are] studies where we can find the same types of solutions in humans in clinical tests, and move forward and help people,” she says, remarking that computer and mathematical models and simulations, or cell culture research, would be a more humane alternative in laboratories.

In the case of lung cancer, Robertson says nearly everything scientists have discovered was learned through clinical and epidemiological studies which looked at people with lung cancer and groups of people who smoke. “We don’t need to continue to force dogs to inhale smoke, as tobacco companies have done,” she adds.

She also encourages students to ask stores on campus about cruelty-free products, which she calls an important consumer step to take in the battle against animal research. “There’s less reason to test shampoo or eyeliner than cancer [on animals],” she says.



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