Are Taxpayers Getting Their Money’s Worth from Animal Testing?
My friend Liz Sheld had a big hand in this report on The Blaze asking whether a lot of federal government-funded animal testing amounts to a waste. (I must warn that if you’re squeamish or uncomfortable with footage of animal testing, you’re not going to want to watch the report.)
One of the organizations featured in the report, White Coat Waste Project, argues that a lot of the research grants distributed by the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal programs go to research that offers little or no useful knowledge or results. Some of the experimentation programs have gone on for 20 to 30 years.
One of their featured examples: The taxpayer-funded Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) isolates frightened monkeys in tiny cages while feeding them fatty foods and sugary drinks.
In its own words: “we are trying to induce the couch-potato style” (New York Times, 2/19/11). After this taxpayer-funded study is completed, ONPRC kills the monkeys to examine their brains.
A particularly vivid example from a few years ago, mentioned in the report: The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), has spent $3,634,807 over the past decade funding research that involves getting monkeys to smoke and drink drugs such as PCP, methamphetamine (METH), heroin, and cocaine and then studying their behavior, including during different phases of the female monkeys’ menstrual cycles.
This is a refreshing consensus-building argument beyond the “Do you think animal testing is cruel or necessary?” debate. I suspect most people hate the thought of dead animals in the abstract, but would be willing to see a lot of dead monkeys or rabbits if the research led to a cure for cancer or AIDS. But when a scientist is inducing heart attacks in dogs to research how “omega-3 fatty acids provide protection for heart muscle tissue”. . . it’s a grayer area.
For what it’s worth, NIH is moving away from using chimpanzees in research.
Matthew Scully, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, has made the most comprehensive attempt to make the case for animal rights — or at least staunch opposition to animal abuse — to conservatives in his book Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy.