ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Some twenty animal rights activists from around the country, in town for an anti-vivisection conference, demonstrated outside Washington University to accuse the school of “inhumane” and “unnecessarily ” animal experiments on everything from cats to primates.
Mare Florentino with the St. Louis Animal Rights Team says Washington University medical students are using sedated cats to practice the medical procedure of inserting a breathing tube down a throat.
“They actually have state-of-the art infant simulators over at Children’s Hospital that they could use that would be so much better,” Florentino said, “It wouldn’t involve animals. It would train people to intubated infants.”
Protestor Michael Budkie with Stop Animal Exploitation Now says Washington University is doing brain mapping experiments on live primates that offers no benefit for human patients.
“The reality is that the sensory centers of the non-human primate, especially Recess Monkeys and some of the other species they use here, are not similar to the human brain. So, you end up obtaining information that does no generalize across species lines.”
Budkie also alleges that much of the animal research at Washington University is motivated by the quest for federal grant money, not medical knowledge.
“The real reason most animal research happens isn’t about science or human health,” Budkie said, “It’s being done because it brings federal grant money into universities like Washington University.”
Florentino was asked about similar protests being held outside abortion clinics by those opposed to abortion, and whether her group has similar concerns about abortion.
“I personally think it’s wrong,” Florentino said, “I think it falls in the same category. I mean, life is life, we should not be taking life for any reason. I think that embryos have as much right as humans breathing on their own.”
Meanwhile, Washington University released a statement on the protest:
Research at Washington University is conducted using a wide range of state of the art techniques and models, but eventually new drugs and medical treatments need to be tested on whole living systems before becoming available to the general population. This is where animal research is critical. All research animals at Washington University are cared for under the supervision of staff veterinarians, and no research is conducted on an animal without first going through a rigorous approval process that involves scientists and lay people whose charge is to make sure the use of animals is justified and that animal welfare is a top concern.
Scientists are continually developing ways to answer scientific questions without the need for studying animals and these procedures are readily adopted by Washington University, but for now, careful and judicial use of animals must continue to be part of the biomedical research process in order to save and improve the lives of both people and animals.
If there had never been animal research:
Polio would kill or cripple thousands of unvaccinated children and adults each year.
There would be no insulin therapy, and people with diabetes would not survive.
If animal research were halted today:
A cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Cystic Fibrosis would be beyond reach.