Sunday, January 17, 2016

Animal Experiments at Rutgers University Must End

The Vegan Vine
For some twenty years I have been a proud Rutgers University alumna, but having recently discovered that the State University of New Jersey has been clandestinely participating in animal experiments for many years, I can no longer stand behind my alma mater.

In a Buzzfeed article, "The Silent Monkey Victims of the War on Terror," Peter Aldhous revealed that since 2002, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense has been funneling taxpayer monies to major universities in support of often painful and unethical experiments on nonhuman primates and other animals. After a little research, I learned that Rutgers University is one of those universities.

Since 9/11, taxpayer monies have been doled out to universities to test new drugs and vaccines in the name of biodefense to combat potential biological, chemical, and radiological warfare. Defense programs are big business and universities recognize this, benefiting from government subsidies that fund innocuous sounding "research programs," which Rutgers has been fond of touting lately in its quest to obtain ever more donations from alumni.

The United States Department of Agriculture operates a database called the Animal Care Information System which provides an annual list of the types and numbers of nonhuman animals experimented on by a research facility.  I encourage every Rutgers University student and alumnus to visit the database here:

Simply type "Rutgers" into the search box and then select the "Research Animal Report Information" tab. In 2014, at least 6 nonhuman primates, 12 guinea pigs, and 14 rabbits were exploited for research. In 2010, 9 nonhuman primates, 12 cats, 3 pigs, 114 guinea pigs, 86 rabbits, and 445 "other" sentient beings (deer, gerbils, voles, and mice) were left to languish in laboratory cages, experimented on, and/or subjected to pain, and killed at Rutgers. (Click on the link to export the data into a spreadsheet and you will see the number of nonhuman animals experimented on at Rutgers as far back as 1999.)

Click on the "Details" tab for a further breakdown into these categories:
  • Column B (animals held by a facility but not used in any research that year)
  • Column C (animals used in research; no pain involved; no pain drugs administered)
  • Column D (animals used in research; pain involved; pain drugs administered)
  • Column E (animals used in research; pain involved; no pain drugs administered)
After a little more research, I discovered a dizzying number of Rutgers offices and departments with varying acronyms that claim to be involved in the manipulation of some 10,000 nonhuman animals for daily research and teaching. For one, the Office of Research Advancement (ORAd) is expressly involved in animal research, but some information on their websitehow much they charge to conduct testing, what vendors they use to order and ship animals fromis password protected and hidden from the public. Rutgers is a public university so there is no reason why any of this information should be concealed from taxpayers, alumni and students. Furthermore, there is no information provided under the headers "Reporting Animal Concerns" and "Standard Operating Procedures" for those interested in the well-being of these animals.

Some of the ways in which ORAd uses nonhuman primates and other animals is to test the effects of drugs on their bodies and the various ways to administer drugs into their bodies, including the injection of drugs directly into the organs of animals. Rutgers subjects nonhuman animals to surgical procedures and also manipulates their bodies, creating genetically modified beings under the Rutgers Genome Editing Core Facility.

It comes as no surprise that ORAd is headed by a "Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutics" in view of the fact that NJ is widely considered the pharmaceutical and medical capital of the world and that Big Pharma accounts for one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of the state and federal economies. As university scientists have allied themselves with corporate interests, they have become less transparent in their research practices.

Animals in labs lead miserable lives. Kept in confinement, they are restricted from engaging in natural behaviors often leading to abnormal, neurotic, and even self-destructive behavior, such as incessant pacing, swaying, head-bobbing, bar-biting, and self-mutilation. In addition to confinement, they are deprived of love and kindness and are treated as mere tools, subjugated to constant pain, anxiety and loneliness.

According to the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), the Food and Drug Administration reports that 92 percent of drugs approved for animal testing fail to receive approval for human use. In addition, more than half of new drugs approved are later withdrawn or relabeled due to serious or lethal adverse effects in humans. Rats, mice, and birds comprise over 90 percent of all research animalsnot because they are effective modelsbut because they are relatively inexpensive to buy, easy to manage and maintain, and are considered disposable without much public clamor or concern.

Animal research is an inherently cruel, archaic, and ugly business, and Rutgers University should no longer be allowed to utilize public monies and private donations to fund it. Newer, sophisticated, non-animal technologies are already available that are more efficient, more accurate, and less costly. If Rutgers wants to be cutting-edge, they should be investing in such technologies.

No matter what the University says in its Animal Welfare Policy, animals held in laboratories and subjected to experimentation and research are notby their very usetreated humanely.

Animals confined in Rutgers laboratories should be released immediately to a sanctuary and all such research involving nonhuman animals should terminate at once. I hope students will exercise courage and pressure the university by standing up for those with little voice and no power, who are suffering in silence.

Note: The USDA animal abuse database mentioned above was shut down by the government in early 2017. The deleted information is still public, but harder to retrieve. Please go here for more information.

1 comment:

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