Speakers attempt to justify animal research

by Craig Gustafson

Animal research is worthwhile.
At least that’s what eight prominent University professors attempted to convince peers and animal-rights activists of Thursday afternoon in Moos Tower.
Expecting a disruption, more than a dozen uniformed police officers were omnipresent, assembled outside the auditorium entrance and situated throughout its interior.
For two hours, the speakers, one after another, detailed, extolled and did their best to justify animal research. It was a chance to clear up the false or distorted information that activist groups use to win public favor, organizers said.
But the message was empty for those meant to be changed by it.
Activists in the audience listened with visible skepticism, saying afterward that they didn’t believe the arguments meant to soften their resolve against the University’s use of animals.
Arguments in favor of current research connected University testing to the lives it saves.
“It’s easy when you don’t have a disease or haven’t been affected by it … maybe you wouldn’t know why anyone would support animal research,” said Kristin Schreiber, a graduate student and animal-research advocate. “We have an obligation to explain when animals are necessary.”
Cures and treatments for illnesses ranging from tuberculosis and smallpox to drug and alcohol addictions have been discovered through the use of animal testing, researchers said.
Bob Miller, a neuroscience professor, pointed to the U.S. Congress’ doubling of the National Institutes of Health research budget as a sign of widespread approval.
Other speakers brought up the University’s strict rules and regulations that protect every animal’s welfare.
But some in attendance, including Matt Bullard, the man arrested Sept. 12 for trespassing on the outside of Moos Tower, believe animal rights supersede rules and regulations.
By showing up, Bullard broke a 90-day court order preventing him from entering Moos Tower and was arrested by several officers.
Bullard said he realized he could be arrested for attending the event, but thought the event was too important to pass up.
Ami Voeltz, a member of the Student Organization for Animal Rights, said she is frustrated that researchers continue to defend themselves but don’t look seriously at different research methods.
“No one is involved in funding alternatives (to animals), yet they’ll research things and don’t even know what will happen,” she said.
University professor Peter Santi, husband of much-maligned University researcher Marilyn Carroll, said he is saddened that young people waste their potential on something so pointless.

Craig Gustafson welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3233.