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Activists clash (peacefully) over animal testing at UCLA

Animal testing protest

On opposite corners of the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and Le Conte Avenue near UCLA, opponents and supporters of the university's experimentation on animals clashed today.  Our colleague Larry Gordon at the L.A. Now blog has the details:

About 400 people, including UCLA faculty, staff and students, have joined a pro-research rally on the northwest corner ... just south of the campus. The demonstrators are carrying signs with such slogans as "Animal research saves lives" and "Campus terrorism is not OK."

As numerous police officers stood by, the pro-research group briefly traded slogans across Westwood Boulevard with a smaller, rival rally of about 30 animal rights activists on the intersection’s northeast corner. Opponents of the research contend that UCLA scientists ignore the suffering of primates and other animals used in the experiments.

The anti-experimentation faction turned out in observation of World Week for Animals in Laboratories, an annual event organized by the group In Defense of Animals.  A website for World Week for Animals in Laboratories describes animal research as "cruel, unnecessary and outdated."  Among the studies it lists as unnecessary are "Nipple preference in nursing infant monkeys," "Effect of high-fat diets on mice sleep," and "Effect of exercise on rat health."  (Rats that exercised were healthier, the site notes.)

The rally in favor of the experiments was the first organized by a new group called UCLA Pro-Test and was scheduled to coincide with the planned animal-rights rally.  "With over 70% of Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine going to those who have used animals in their research, it is little wonder that scientists believe that such methods are still crucial in helping treat and cure modern diseases," reads a statement on Pro-Test's website. 

The Pro-Test group, an offshoot of an Oxford, England-based group founded in 2006, was organized by J. David Jentsch, a UCLA neuroscientist who was the target of a recent attack by anonymous animal-rights activists.  In the attack, Jentsch's car was set on fire while it was parked in front of his Westside home.  (The FBI recently announced that a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible has been increased to $75,000.)  Jentsch, who researches schizophrenia and drug addiction, conducts tests on monkeys.  While he acknowledges that some monkeys are killed as part of his research, he maintains that they do not suffer.  Jentsch was expected to speak at today's rally.

Pro-Test's hundreds-strong turnout at today's event no doubt received a boost from the Jentsch incident and other recent, violent incidents aimed at University of California researchers who participate in animal testing. 

On Monday, two activists, Linda Faith Greene and Kevin Richard Olliff, were charged with conspiracy, stalking and other felonies for incidents involving UCLA scientists and the POM Wonderful Juice Co.  Prosecutors allege that Greene and Olliff are part of the Animal Liberation Front, a group best known for sabotaging research facilities that conduct animal tests, often removing or setting loose the animals kept there.

Although the opposing demonstrations were described as peaceful, a substantial police presence was in place to monitor the event.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Tom Holder, a leader of the Pro-Test group, speaks to those gathered at the UCLA campus on April 22, 2009. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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well i think that animal testings are GOOD...
put it this way would you rather die or let an animal thats going to die any ways die of that.....
think about it people!!!!!!!
dont be dumb

It is assumed that those who are against animal research are hypocrites, are foolish to refuse medical services which have benefitted from animal research, or are terrorists. That is not necessarily the case, just as those who advocate and perform animal research are not scientific versions of nazis or sadistic torturers.

While there have been and may continue to be some research which can be seen as cruel or for which good alternatives may exist, (such as crash test dummies for safety devices instead of bashing heads of primates or humans), it may be the best practice at the current time for current regulated methods to be employed that utilize animals, even if it may turn one's stomach for various reasons.

A chemistry professor once told me that the ideal is to develop a drug like aspirin that has little side effect. Now let's suppose that there's a drug like aspirin out there which we have not discovered and perfected and like aspirin it can be fatal to some animals but quite beneficial to humans. We go through the animal testing phases, working our way up to more complicated species where it is proved lethal and thus research is terminated before it even got to reach the human testing phase. (Instead of this talk about drugs that work well in certain species but then are harmful to humans.) So for this kind of reason I think a couple humans tested in the early stages isn't a bad thing. If a country has the death penalty in place the condemned has exhausted all appeals, I see no harm in testing against their will, just as animals are tested against their will. Or experimenting on already sick animals instead of making them sick, if possible.

I don't know if I would question treatments if my life were on the line but I do know that I choose to abstain as much as possible from animal (bi-)products but also unrelatedly to such products as aspirin. I do not visit doctors because even though I work at UCLA and have good medical insurance, maintaining one's health is costly. It's costly enough to try to eat right and not fill my life up with chemicals but I can't stop what does creep in to my system and habitat. Plus, I have little faith in medicine thus far from personal experience. The medical advancements made are great and if you can access the internet then you have benefitted from them but that didn't prevent my dad dying at the hand's of a doctor who said treating him would be as simple as removing the sliver from my brother's foot, my grandparents' deaths, my uncle's insanity, etc. Some might say that if more research had been conducted, the above would have received better treatment. I can't raise an animal and slaughter it when they are other ways I can live in this country. Canine research will benefit my beloved pet? Do it but I can't afford it. The mice in this building might one day treat the cancer that killed my grandfather, that is afflicting my friend, or treat the various addictions afflicting modern man? Again, beneficial but it comes at a high price and that's something one has weigh and consider for themselves. But in the meantime it makes for funny jokes to outsiders about how UCLA buys heroin.

How can you humanely test use a monkey a rabbit a cat or a dog? Cruel confiment is torture and all test animals are cruelly confined.

this is so unnecessary and so barbaric. it has to stop.

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