Animal rights group protests U’s primate testing

Elizabeth Putnam

Four members of the Student Organization for Animal Rights displayed photos of laboratory monkeys outside Moos Tower on Monday to inform others about primate experimentation at the University.

The demonstration corresponds with bi-weekly protests this month urging students to call animal researchers at the University.

According to the Primate Freedom Project, there are 100 to 200 non-human primates used for research in University laboratories.

SOAR claims these animals are “subjected to treatment ranging from mutilation to water deprivation to cocaine addiction.”

Moira Keane, director of the Research Subjects Protection Program, says experimentation is justified if scientifically trained people determine whether animal research ultimately benefits humans.

“There is an abundance of scientific proof that this research benefits humans,” said Keane.

“There is a myth that science is unchecked. There is always extensive review and justification for these experiments. It’s a myth to dispel,” Keane said.

Joe Janzen, a three-year SOAR member, said the group has received photos through the Minnesota Data Practices Act that prove mistreatment.

Professor Timothy Ebner, head of the neuroscience department, said he uses primates because they can advance treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The primates help him understand brain activity and its correlation to limb movement, he said.

“This research can lead to dramatic changes in how we treat certain diseases,” Ebner said. “While studying these animals, we work hard to keep these animals happy. Keeping these animals healthy is part of the process.”

Associate professor Linda McLoon of the ophthalmology department has worked with primates in the past.

“Using primates in research does help humans,” McLoon said. “The results in research does help in treating diseases found in animals too. I do it because I care. I care about humankind.

“My daughter was ill during elementary school. When you or someone you know are suffering, it puts things differently,” McLoon said. “You see the importance of the research.”

In a recent researcher profile published in the SOAR newsletter, the group discounts claims that primate research helps humans, asserting one of the researchers “abuses and kills monkeys for money.”

Demonstrator Lori Korell said animal research hinders medical advancement.

“As a taxpayer, they’re wasting money on experiments. I want the money to go to experiments that can help people. These do not,” said Korell.

Korell said she has written several legislators and has received thoughtful responses. She said the lawmakers are looking for answers.

“With public opinion, this will change,” Korell said.

On Oct. 12, SOAR members will call University President Mark Yudof to voice concerns.


Elizabeth Putnam welcomes comments at [email protected]