Speaker decries animal research as unscientific

Nicole Vulcan

Dr. Ray Greek set out to prove Thursday night that animal rights activism and the advancement of science can coexist.
Speaking to a group of more than 100 people in the Coffman Union theater, the former anesthesiologist invited both sides of the animal testing debate to voice their opinions. The event was dually sponsored by the Student Organization for Animal Rights and Coffman Union’s Program Council.
The event was originally planned as a debate, but became a speech when members of the organization failed to find anyone to debate against.
“We contacted the general research center here, and it offered us a debate against medical students,” said a SOAR member and recent University graduate who asked only to be identified as “Julie.”
But since organization members didn’t have the background that medical students have, they declined the offer. The group then offered to have Greek debate against the medical students, but the offer never produced results.
In the end, Greek stood alone.
“I don’t like to lecture, I like to debate,” Greek said.
Greek argued that though animals like rabbits, chimpanzees and mice have been pegged as the main target for medical research, their physiologies are too different from humans’ to produce advantageous results.
He noted several examples of animal testing that failed to make the mark: Testing for the AIDS virus in chimps only focused on one receptor cell instead of the two that affect humans, and lung cancer tests that showed no signs of the disease in dogs; even when forced to inhale large doses of smoke.
“This is not an animal rights issue,” said Greek, “it is a scientific issue.”
Greek, originally from Alabama, deliberately used only evidence from established medical journals to argue his point: Medical researchers continue animal testing because it is profitable, not because it is scientifically valuable. Using human subjects would produce more accurate results.
“If someone in the tobacco industry stands up for 50 years and says that tobacco doesn’t cause cancer, you have to question his authority,” he said. “But if someone in the tobacco industry stands up and says, cigarettes cause cancer … to me that’s a lot more believable.”