More Monkey Business
My hat's off to Westword for allowing the public to take a peek into the secret and sardonic world of animal experimentation in Tony Perez-Giese's September 26 article, "Going Ape."
I fail to see how a bunch of monkeys in a CU lab can provide scientific information about the stress a child goes through when absent from its mother. The truth is probably just as Dr. Cohen describes when he says that the "good old boy" network at the NIH allows people like Laudenslager to hoard tax money for their own selfish purposes. Besides, hasn't anyone ever wondered why, after one hundred years of animal experiments, we have not cured one disease? Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of chemistry and biology knows that the data from other species cannot be transferred to humans. For example, aspirin can kill a cat; arsenic kills humans but is harmless to guinea pigs, chickens and monkeys; chloroform, used successfully for decades in human surgery, is poisonous to dogs; digitalis raises blood pressure in dogs but lowers it in humans. The list goes on and on.
When will the American people finally wake up and realize that the biomedical community has no interest in curing disease? But why would they, since there's so much money in "treating" it?
I applaud Westword for having the guts to write about the controversial subject of animal experimentation. Ten years ago I read a book on this subject and was shocked to learn what I did. It's amazing how millions are spent to do the most hideous things to animals behind closed doors, things that if done by a private citizen would be labeled "cruelty."
This subject needs to be brought out into the open and become the focus of robust and healthy debate. The "scientists" should not have so much power to be able to perform such atrocities with impunity.
If it is wrong to leave a dog tied up in a backyard all day, it is also wrong to take an infant monkey from its mother. There are alternatives to these barbaric practices, and in many cases the experiments are so ludicrous that they don't require an alternative, they just simply need to be abandoned. This is clearly the case with Laudenslager's maternal-deprivation studies. Animals and humans suffer because of this gross misuse of public funds.
Thank you for the article on Laudenslager's macaques. Studies on orphans in Romania and elsewhere tell us enough about maternally and socially deprived orphans. I would like to see the NIH take the generous funding it allocates to this useless primate research and put it where it would do the most good--to care for the human orphans of the world.
If medical researchers really want to "reduce, refine and replace," they will pioneer in the area of non-animal research. Researchers probably don't care about the means to the end so long as the funding is there; they have to make a living, too. I can't imagine all of them are sadistic enough to enjoy damaging the minds and bodies of the animals they deal with every day. What I don't understand is why they don't confront the NIH and insist that things change. I can't believe that as technologically advanced as we are, a substitute for animal testing can't be found.
What can be a more horrible line of work to be involved in than animal research? Slaughtering in a meatpacking plant, maybe.
Also, thank you for Robin Chotzinoff's August 29 article, "Shaft's Big Score," with Ted Nugent's theory that shooting arrows into animals can somehow keep us off drugs. It's important for us to be reminded from time to time that dinosaur brains are still among us. The likes of Nugent make it clear that as a species, we are still in a state of spiritual poverty.
It is perhaps overkill to call Mark Laudenslager a Himmler running an Auschwitz for monkeys in his lab at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. After all, he doesn't kill the baby monkeys. They may go crazy or die of heartbreak, but that's just the animal-research business. Shit happens.
On the other hand, Mark is guilty of a little overkill himself. Wouldn't you think that after twelve years of watching and taking notes as the little monkeys go through the ordeal of "mother deprivation," he might know everything there is to know about the mechanisms of grief and despair and other symptoms of a broken heart? At first there is the "protest" phase with its "increased vocalization" and "active searching behaviors." You and I might use different words to describe what happens when a four-month-old discovers its mother has suddenly and mysteriously vanished. We might say it cries a lot and looks everywhere for her. Then, when the protests and the searching are over, the infant enters the "despair" phase, retiring to the corner of the cage to sit whimpering and staring at nothing. Sometimes it mutilates itself.