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People have been discussing the story of Fauci funding experiments on dogs, which can be rather disturbing. Dogs are wonderful animals, and people do not like to see them suffer. Cruelty toward animals always is undeserved, since animals are not moral agents like we are.
However, this is not sheer cruelty; this is animal experimentation. A massive amount of medical research relies on animal experiments because studies on cells do not capture the whole picture. I honestly do not know if we could safely test new drugs on people without animal studies — it would be much riskier. Animal models behind nearly every medical advance you hear announced in the media.
So what does this have to do with the White Coat Waste Project? I looked on their site, and they never acknowledge animal research could have benefits or could be conducted ethically. I decided to look into their listed backers, and what I found was not entirely surprising.
- The Greenbaum Foundation – run by a vegan, promotes meatless diets, opposes raising of livestock.
- Lush USA – a cosmetics company that opposes animal testing.
- Nessel Inc – a real estate company run by a green vegan. Also runs the Pollination Project
- The Pollination Project – a microgrant program run out of Berkeley that supports social justice causes.
- The Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Foundation – a foundation that promotes animal advocacy and supports PETA.
In short, if you like burgers, these people probably hate your guts.
I look at animal experimentation differently. I regularly work with people in the middle of dissecting mice, and also work with Animal Center veterinarians. I’ve read their policies and seen some of their review process for animal work. You can’t just stuff puppies full of chemicals or pathogens for kicks.
The principles of animal research are the three Rs:
- Reduction – use fewer animals to accomplish the same goal.
- Refinement – improve techniques to eliminate suffering that does not directly promote research goals.
- Replacement – use cell-based or other non-animal methods whenever possible.
These are enforced by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) that reviews all animal use at the given university/institute/etc. It’s not a rubber stamp, and there are animal welfare hotlines maintained in case someone wants to blow the whistle on bad conduct. Animal welfare gets a higher priority than researcher welfare in some cases – if researchers are cooking because the AC went out, that’s bad. If lab animals are overheating, that’s a serious crisis that must be fixed immediately. Animal research facilities have to get accredited like medical facilities do in order to be funded, with regular inspections. The policy on housing dogs for use in laboratory research specifically includes exercise and play time with animal care techs. Even rodents need to get enrichment squares that they can use to make a nest. The standards required are exacting, and researchers can lose funding for violating them.
So if you want to kick Fauci to the curb over puppies, be my guest. I have made my disgust for the man known. He’s a disgrace to the profession, and his tendency to exploit loopholes in research rules is just asking for trouble. Just keep in mind that animal research is a massive component of medical research, so beware throwing out the baby with the bathwater.Published in