Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trading Sufferings in the Name of Science

While working out on the treadmill recently, I was stunned to see a television advertisement blatantly in support of animal research. The ad showed a laboratory researcher firmly gripping a mouse in her hand while she lauded the use of animals in research. As disgusted as I was with the spot, I soon realized that the group responsible for this paid advertisement is obviously on the defensive if it sees the need to convince others that animal research is good and necessary, which it is neither.

My biological mother, who loved animals so much that she left all her money to animal welfare organizations when she died, succumbed to breast cancer when I was fifteen years old. Even though I never had the chance to meet her, I don't believe she would have supported trading one kind of suffering for another- human suffering for animal suffering. Yes this is what groups like the American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation do when they agree to torture animals in return for government grants to sustain their wasteful "research."

A recent front page article in the Sunday New York Times shed light on this tax payer-funded cancer research system that is in desperate need of an overhaul. Much of the public is unaware of the fact that their charitable donations go to organizations which hold fast to archaic animal research merely to ensure that they retain their funding. Plain and simple- if they don't test on animals, they don't get their federal money. This Catch-22 results in the same-old, ineffective and inhumane research that amounts to the same-old results- No Cure!

For example, money that could have been more effectively spent on human clinical trials for tumors were spent, instead, on implanting human tumors in mice, despite the researchers admitting that mouse cancers are not the same as human cancers, and that drugs used to treat mice are ineffective in people. This same scenario has also played out with AIDS vaccines tested on Chimpanzees. One vaccine, which had been proven safe and effective in non-human primates, actually appeared to increase vulnerability to HIV infection in human clinical trial participants. In addition, many animals are so negatively affected by their forced isolation and the experiments performed on them in the name of science, that they exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as banging their heads on their cell walls or rocking back and forth.

The fact of the matter is that there are more effective, cost-efficient, and humane methods of research that do not require torturing animals. However, until the National Institutes of Health (NIH) fund new-fangled ideas instead of requiring the antiquated and ineffective ones from years past, we will continue to run in circles, coming no closer to finding a cure for cancer than we did twenty or thirty years ago.

This leads me back to that ad I saw on television. We should no longer accept- or blindly contribute to- those organizations who receive federal money to harm animals in the name of research and curing cancer. As we evolve as a people, ideas change and superior methods become apparent. It’s time to change the way to we view animals, as well as the ways in which we view health and science. We have since spent the last 50 years with little to show towards a cure and only more pain to be shared among all animals- human and non-human alike.

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