After a Firebombing, "Pro-Test" Rallies in Support of Animal Research

By Eliza Strickland | April 16, 2009 2:30 pm

Pro-TestA neuroscientist whose car was firebombed by violent animal rights activists has decided to fight back, at least in the court of public opinion. The UCLA professor, David Jentsch, has formed a group called UCLA Pro-Test, and is organizing a rally in support of animal testing. “People always say: ‘Don’t respond. If you respond, that will give [the attackers] credibility,’” Jentsch, 37, said in a recent interview in his UCLA office. “But being silent wasn’t making us feel safer. And it’s a moot point if they are coming to burn your car anyway, whether you give them credibility or not” [Los Angeles Times].

UCLA Pro-Test, named after a similar group in the United Kingdom, wants to show its support for animal research that is conducted in a humane and regulated way. Jentsch studies schizophrenia and drug addiction, and works on both rodents and vervet monkeys.

The Animal Liberation Brigade took credit for bombing Jentsch’s Volvo as it sat in his driveway in the early morning hours of March 7. The activist group wrote in an Internet posting: “The things you and others like you do to feeling, sentient monkeys is so cruel and disgusting we can’t believe anyone would be able to live with themselves…. David, here’s a message just for you, we will come for you when you least expect it and do a lot more damage than to your property” [Los Angeles Times]. 

Jentsch’s schizophrenia work focuses on the genetic component of the disease. As part of this work, he gives the monkeys non-invasive memory tests and brain scans, and euthanizes fewer than 10 monkeys a year for postmortem exams. In his drug addition research, he addicts monkeys to methamphetamine and then withdraws the drug in an effort to find better treatments for human drug addicts. About six monkeys are killed each year for the addiction research, Jentsch says.

Jentsch explains that he doesn’t expect to win over the extremists. “We can have an open and honest discussion with them to explain the place for animal research in society. But they won’t change our mind anymore than we can change theirs” [Nature News], he says. However, he hopes the upcoming rally on April 22nd will help the general public understand why most scientists believe that animal testing holds enormous value to society, and will also give his colleagues a dose of confidence. “The people now traumatized are the ones who know they are next. Those people need support” [Nature News], he says.

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Image: Wikimedia. The UK group protested in Oxford in 2006.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World
  • http://clubneko.net Nick

    Killing never stops killing.

  • http://discovermagazine.com John Cassady

    Only 16 deaths a year? I’m not involved one way or another on animal testing but acting as if killing 16 animals a year is a low number is somewhat disturbing. Is there no other way to do testing without causing suffering? Personally I try to ignore these things but I usually hear about it from those defending it and I have to say it is upsetting.

  • Grant H

    Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a very good short story about a utopian society. A beautiful city filled with beautiful people, every one of them truly happy and sympathetic to each other. In a dark room was one small child that nobody ever talked about, nobody ever cared about and nobody ever interacted with. A miserable child in desperate need of love, but destined to nothing but a lonely and miserable existence.

    We live in no utopia, but in western society we can reasonably expect to live longer than 25 years, along with our loved ones. At least now we can, thanks to medical science.

    What about the continuation of this? Well, who over the age of about 15 hasn’t lost someone to cancer? An aunty, a grand parent? A spouse?

    “About six monkeys are killed each year for the addiction research, Jentsch says.” – Many people may not like this, but “violent animal rights activists” severely over-simplify the issue and are in fact acting intellectually blind and ignorant of humanities situational circumstance in the extreme.

    I won’t give up the possibility of the eradication of disease and those who use terrorism to attack that endeavour are enemies of the rest of humanity.

  • Upton

    Peta sucks bec

  • johnson

    If anyone who has children well knows they would kill a thousand monkeys to prevent from losing them. Sometimes the ends justify the means. These extremists values seem to imply that we are no better than monkeys, or rats. Don’t want to sound cold but you don’t get to the top of the food chain that way, and you certainly wouldn’t stay at the top.

  • Fat kid

    I like my pork chops! I also know that pigs are sentient creatures- smart enough to know when they are being led to slaughter. They squeal and cry in the chute. You can actually smell their fear- it’s sour and metalic. Pig s__ makes feedlots into toxic dumps, leaches into the water table, and can be smelled by low flying aircraft!

    Don’t cry about the treatment of animals serving us in a lab, while you are eating one served on your plate.

  • cecil

    didya see how ants gorge aphids, and harvest their excrement cause its nectar? I bet if we could do that ourselves with woodchucks, we’d all have one in the frige.

  • James

    For people that say that non-invasive, invasive tests and authorization of feeling, sentient monkeys is cruel and morally wrong, they don’t seem to have much regard for some feeling, sentient human life. When did monkeys’ well being become of higher concern than that of the human population, or even the same level as humans? I agree that our treatment of other forms of life on this earth says something about our own character, but we have to have some perspective. We are the dominant and most intelligent species on this planet. Just as in the rest of the animal kingdom, the animal at the top of the food chain uses the animals lower then it for recourses. Most of the time it is for food, we just have the capability to not just use them for food, but for other benefits to our species. Again, I agree that our treatment of other forms of life on this earth says something about our own character, so we need to find the balance between using them for a useful purpose and just abusing them.

  • Jo

    I’m not opposed to (humane) animal research, but I don’t see our position at the top of the food chain as the justification for it. It is really no different than breeding and killing animals for food (which fewer people have objections to, at least in practise! if not in principle).

    But our position as the dominant species is irrelevant. Of course we’re no ‘better’ than monkeys or rats — the reason other people are more worthy of our consideration than other species is entirely based in self interest. It has nothing to do with intrinsic worth, and it’s an empty argument. Be honest.

  • James

    Jo,
    I was never claming that my argument of top of the food chain or dominant species implied intrinsic worth, it is completely based in self interest. We can say that we are better (or not better) than monkeys because we control the concept and define which types of life we consider better than other types because we are the dominant species. In general, we place ourselves above all other life, dogs and cats above rats, dolphins above tuna, plants above bacteria, etc… If we as the human race decide that monkeys are on an equal level of consideration as humans that that will be true because again we define our own concept of morality and social structure (with the consensus of the monkeys of course :-)

  • steve bickford

    we want human advances so use humans. there are millions of murderers and rapists sitting in jails with their full medical, gyms, internet and yes drugs and sex as well. how about using them as test subjects since you’re only going to kill 10 a year? You find child abusers in places where there are children. Don’t you brain dead idiots think you get animal abusers where they are free to abuse animals? Do you think they don’t get off on seeing some poor rabbit thrash till it breaks its restrained neck when they put oven cleaner in its eyes to make sure us human gods don’t go blind if we get exposure? USE HUMANS FOR RESEARCH!!!!!!!!!!

  • cecil

    steve,
    its not nice to yell and call people names. I don’t want to hurt inocent rabbits, maybe we could use ferrets. They are sneaky and I am scared of them

  • http://arphilosophy.blogspot.com ARPhilo

    There is not only a lack of ethical justification for animal research. There is a lack of scientific justification. Nonhuman animal results tend to predict human response 5-40% of the time. This means that if you flipped a coin, you would have a better (and less costly) scientific method. Alternatives to animal research like computer modeling tend to predict response 80% of the time or more. Anyone with a brain can see that the alternatives using humans, human cells, and technology are a better choice if you want to save human lives.

    Furthermore, Pro-Test on their own site claims “the jury is still out” on Vioxx which killed loads of people (even though it was “safe) in animals and claims that Thalidomide could have been stopped with more animal testing even though animal testing allowed it to make the market AND kept it on the market for years while babies were continuously born without limbs… all because animal research showed the drugs safe and effective and pharm companies and researchers sought to keep making money from it. There are thousands of examples like this. Yet, groups like pro-test who claim to care about human life, would rather have humans die so they can keep doing animal research.

    To defend animal research ethically means that nonhuman animals would have to be unlike us enough that it would undermine the findings in this research and their applicability to humans. To defend animal research scientifically would mean that other animals are so like us that there is no ethical defense for testing on them.

    Animal research is not only unethical, it is criminal. It is our tax dollars going to killing animals and killing us.

  • Justin

    ARPhilo, I would oh so much love to see your factual sources where you got all this statistical information you are flaunting about. It’s easy to put a bunch of numbers in your post to make it seem more creditable…but I’m not so easily persuaded, as I’m sure a lot of other people aren’t, as well.

    To the poster who said we should use humans for research…well, why don’t you volunteer yourself, then? No, instead you volunteer people in prison, many of whom are there because of things beyond their control or bad mistakes from their past that continue to haunt them. Or, they were framed. You forget that there are people who go to prison and come out reformed; I’m not saying all, but I’m saying some take it as an opportunity to get better. So, who is omniscient enough to draw the line between those suitable to be experimented upon and those who get a second chance at life? You? I highly doubt it.

    Back to ARPhilo…tax dollars go toward paying for this research because Americans have elected leaders who represent them and vouch on their behalf to the NIH that research in the fields of schizophrenia, depression, and drug addiction are necessary and applicable to American society. If you have a problem with it, go to your elected official and voice your opinion, rally support if you want to, but don’t be grumpy if the majority out-votes you, and definitely don’t feel you should firebomb someone’s car because you didn’t get your way.

    If you are unwilling to go the political route, then should you yourself ever become addicted to drugs or develop a mental disorder, I’d advise you to never seek treatment because the vast majority of it has come from animal research. You’ll just have to deal with your disease on your own and live out a very short, unfulfilling, and emotionally damaging life to you and those around you. Good luck.

  • http://arphilosophy.blogspot.com ARPhilo

    First of, Justin, it’s “credible” not “creditable”. Secondly, check out the books “Sacred cows and Golden Geese: The Human Cost of Experiments on Animals” by Ray Greek MD and Jean Swingle Greek DVM and “Brute Science: Dilemmas of Animal Experimentation” by Hugh Lafolette PhD and Niall Shanks PhD for some more info on the statistics.

    Secondly, what makes you think I don’t go the political route as well? Just because I seek to educate and post on here I am not doing anything else?

    For the record, I and most anti-vivisectionists are completely opposed to the idea of testing on prisoners or whatever as if they “deserve” it. That is as wrong as nonhuman animal research. But, there are alternatives that are far more effective.

    Third I have dealt with my share of illness, I have a cancer surviving mother, and I fully understand the need for medical research. The difference is, I want medical research that saves lives, not that which kills people and other animals to fill pockets of pharm companies and such. The stuff that saves human lives is because of human research. The law requires “validation” in animals and as a result, cures that would work are often thrown out and treatments that kill people make it to the market.

    So, read the books and then we’ll talk. Thanks for playing.

  • Justin

    ARPhilo,

    Thank you for your sources and openness about your experience with cancer. I will certainly give these a read through in order to understand your side of the argument.

    In the meantime please see below…

    cred·it·a·ble (krěd’ĭ-tə-bəl)
    adj.

    1. Deserving of often limited praise or commendation: The student made a creditable effort on the essay.
    2. Worthy of belief: a creditable story.
    3. Deserving of commercial credit; creditworthy: a creditable customer.
    4. That can be assigned.

  • Justin

    ARPhilo and anyone else interested…

    Below is an informative write-up from the University of Virginia outlining some of their ethical guidelines in terms of animal research pertaining to cancer in particular. Also included are the UCLA policies on tumor development in rodents. The last link is to the UCLA Chancellor’s Animal Research Committee for full information on the policies, development in alternative research, inspections, and veterinary care to name a few.

    http://www.virginia.edu/vpr/iacuc/docs/Tumor_Production_Cancer_Research_in_Animals.pdf

    UCLA
    http://oprs.ucla.edu/animal/help/manual/PoliciesAndGuidelines/PoliciesGuidelines_MaintainingTumors.asp

    http://oprs.ucla.edu/animal/#

  • inverse_agonist

    For a thorough debunking of the Ray Greek book cited by ARPhilo, see:

    http://www.worldcongress.net/2002/proceedings/PCP%20Festing.pdf

    Ray Greek is a former PETA member who, to his credit, broke with the organization over their refusal to condemn violence. He has moved on to create a front group, Americans for Medical Advancement, that dishonestly claims to oppose animal research on “purely scientific” grounds.

    From a philosophical standpoint, of course it’s easy to reject animal research if it hurts animals and has no benefits. The problem is that it does, in fact, produce a great deal benefits. Thalidomide wasn’t tested in pregnant animals before going to market, so the problem there was NOT ENOUGH animal testing. The case of thalidomide is often used misleadingly by animal rights activists. The other reasons their empirical case against animal research is flawed are well-explained in the paper linked above. If you need to falsely claim that animal research is invalid in order to oppose it, it shows that you aren’t comfortable with the implications of your position, yourself, either.

    ARPhilo’s “double edged sword” argument is also a double edged sword. If animals are so different from humans that we can learn nothing from animal research, we can’t have any confidence in claims that they suffer like we do. On the other hand, if we can confidently believe that they suffer, they’re similar enough to us that the research has validity.

    Nowadays, scientists hold that
    1. animals models are valid
    2. animals feel distress during some forms of animal research
    3. this distress is outweighed by the benefits of the research

    The scientists’ position is internally consistent, unlike the animal rights activists’.

    If we take the numbers on Wikipedia to be correct, 20 million animals are used in the US annually. If the population is around 300 million, and people live 60-75 years, that means that only 4-5 animals are used for each person, across their entire lifetime.

  • http://arphilosophy.blogspot.com ARPhilo

    Justin, if I did anything to my dogs and cats in my house that the scientists do to these animals in labs, I would go to jail on felony charges of animal cruelty for multiple years. Why are they exempt? Just because something occurs behind closed doors, it does not make it in any way more ethical. Why are these things hidden from the public if they are so ethical?

    inverse_agonist, why is it that so many animal research supporters act as if a person having ethics in favor of nonhuman animals, that all of their scientific arguments must be incorrect? Ray Greek MD has plenty of experience and knowledge on the issues which is why most animal researchers won’t dare enter into a public debate with him (or many other anti-animal research doctors). AFMA also has several other doctors and veterinarians on their team, are all of them just altering data for some (somehow meaningless) ethical cause?

    Also, are you going to address the fact that thalidomide was testing on multiple species of pregnant animals for a long time and the effects in humans could not be replicated, leading to it remaining on the market even longer due to lack of validation in nonhuman animals? Thank god they finally were able to torture a couple of monkeys from one species out of all of the animals they tried it on, enough with high enough doses of the drug to produce the birth defects. Otherwise, we might still have it on the market today due to people like you defending such research.

    Scientists’ positions are internally consistent? Do you know how many of them have told me to my face “that doesn’t hurt them” about intensive surgeries, tumors, and so forth? Yes, I work in science- on humans. The only consistency in animal researchers’ positions is their want to keep their jobs and their willingness to be dishonest or unethical in order to do it.

    As for your numbers, they are short. Wikipedia is also a horrid source of info. Many times, mice and rats- who make up the majority of animal research subjects- are not reported. They are also not covered under the already minimal protections offered by the animal welfare act, despite the fact that they suffer like dogs or cats or other animals used in smaller numbers that are covered under the act. Nonetheless, the fact that “only 4-5 animals” die per person, even if that were at all true, is your statement, it shows how little you value the lives and suffering of those 4-5 animals. You also neglect to include also of the third world kids and adults that die in hidden drug testing trials because of greed and faulty animal research prediction. How many humans should die for each American life? Would 4-5 be ok with you? Imagine how many lives we could save if the money went into prevention studies rather than this bull.

    Advances in medicine are result of human research. The fact that most funding goes to animal research is criminal at best.

  • Ashley

    Animal testing is very unatural.
    I personally believe with everything that I am, in Evolution by means of Natural Selection.
    Humans want to live forever, these scientists are trying to save the weaker people in our species, not only causing people to be extraordinarly overpopulated, but these people who should of died from uncurable dieseases, poor eye sight or people who CHOOSE to get invloved with drugs, are reproducing, creating even more of a problem. Doing research on innocent monkeys to try and understand addiction is insulting, why should those monkeys suffer because humans invented crack and people CHOOSE to smoke it? They’re obvioulsy the weak links in our species and if they CHOOSE to do drugs in the first place why should we save them? Humans have this horrible habbit of trying to save other humans, some may not even want to be saved.
    Its sad, yes, however, people die, death is 100% natural.
    Evolution is PERFECT, and only the strong survive. Science should be used to help repair the damage we’ve caused to our natural world, not going directly against nature trying to fullfill the vain and unrealistic goal of living forever.
    We should stop thinking about the $$ and the lives HUMAN lives saved and focus on fixing the Earth, or else in the end….we won’t have a plante to live on anymore.
    These animals did nothing wrong, they didn’t smoke crack, smoke ciggarettes or cause war. WE DID THAT.
    We shouldn’t punish the animals for our mistakes, why the hell are their lives not as important as ours? Just because they seem insiginificant to you, doesn’t mean they are.
    So, in a nut shell, humans should get over themselves, and accept that you cannot cheat death. Perhaps people should accept that life IS precious, reguardless of the species and enjoy it as you only have one. People die, its just the way it is. We are by far the most selfish, self centered, horrible and murderous animal to EVER inhabbit this planet, one day when we are extinct, as we will be, life will continue on, without us. We are not the be all end all, we are simply naked apes walking around trying to play god by deciding which animals we can expolit, which ones can die and which ones we want to live. We are so smart, and in the end that brilliance will be our demise. It’s pathetic.

  • Patrick

    It is absolutely mind-boggling how arrogant and self-aggrandizing much of the human population is. In what long-term, large-scale way are we as a species important enough to warrant literally torturing and murdering other species in the (supposed) pursuit of our own well-being?

    Those who engage in such behavior are dangerously off-balance, willing to torture and kill others to follow through on their own mis-perceptions about the relevance and acceptability of their beliefs, irrespective of the blatant and inescapable harm it causes others. “I’m not a psychopath, really, I’m doing this for the good of mankind!” Yes, humanity is probably better off with most of these people occupied and focused during the day, but unfortunately that focus is simply evil.

    Alternatively, we could hope that those who torture and murder other beings as a “profession” are simply the delusional pawns of the multi-billion dollar industry that thrives on the cooperation of people like them, willing to turn a blind eye to the crimes against nature that make up their day-to-day lives. Though, the net effect, whether they’re psychopathic or merely “ethically challenged”, is still on-going terror and death for innocent beings. Those who torture and kill such innocents make a compelling case against the existence of a compassionate and engaged deity, but that’s it’s own discussion.

    The argument that there is no other way to gain related information is a self-fulfilling prophecy, which only serves to delay and derail investigation into more relevant and more productive alternatives. That perspective is a self-perpetuating mental state that reveals both a shameful callousness towards other species and a lack of any genuine interest in seeking honorable solutions to HUMAN problems. The advice “seek, and ye shall find” comes immediately to mind; the concept is sound, regardless of how it’s phrased. Until such monsters adopt the mind-set that they can find non-murderous alternatives to helping humanity… they won’t. And as long as they can draw a paycheck to engage in their barbaric behavior, lacking a sufficiently strong conscience, they have no incentive.

    Decades ago I lost a parent to cancer. Since then, lots of people have made lots of money harming lots of innocents in the pseudo-pursuit of a cure. I earnestly hope that such people will come to their senses and move on to ethical approaches to improving the human condition instead. Harming an innocent (or an innocent group) to benefit yourself (or your own group) is wrong.

  • Andrew

    The level of anthropocentricism in these comments is staggering. Open your minds people. Free yourself from your cultural prejudices and you might begin to see things more clearly.

  • stop testing on innocent animals

    People that believe in testing on animals are probably the same people that don’t believe in stem cell research….go f*ck yourselves! Why don’t we experiment on sex offenders or criminals, STOP TESTING ON ANIMALS! There are PLENTY of human testing groups and poor college kids who are willing to get paid to be tested on, leave the animals alone. Also, the “I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for animal research” is not a strong argument, considering Michael J Fox and others have been struggling with Parkinson’s for YEARS waiting and hoping that something (soon) can be done, (15 plus fucking years almost!!) while all the while they are waiting on the multitudes of Idiots out there who refuse to sponsor or fund stem cell research…(GEORGE BUSH AND EVERYONE THAT VOTED FOR HIM)..because they’d be testing on human embryos….so again, GO F*CK YOURSELF and STOP KILLING and TORTURING THE ANIMALS, and groups like researchsaves.org can go f*ck yourselves too….you save lives? ??? Unfortunately for the animals, it’s not THIER lives. That doesn’t make sense. The only reason you run your commercials it seems like is to make yourselves feel better. WE are ALL SENTIENT BEINGS, we are all LIVING creatures, we ALL have the same rights to breathe and walk this earth as anyone else. If you want to torture and torment something against its will, why don’t you torture and torment those that committed such crimes against others against THIER will. I am a voice of the voiceless,,,just because we think and talk doesn’t mean we are the only ones with souls and that fear and that hurt and that deserve life. The only difference between me and an animal is that I can tell you out loud that you’re hurting me, that you’re torturing me, and tormenting me against my will, violating me like a criminal. Animals can’t express that to you, and you exploit them for it. I’m wondering if animals COULD speak and communicate that fear, if you would still continue to torture them.

  • Richard

    “stop testing on innocent animals” it’s “their”, not “thier”. And why do you assume stem-cell research and animal vivisection are mutually exclusive avenues of medical testing? You will probably find that many who recognise the necessity of animal testing support stem-cell research (I know I do). And you’re not a “voice for the voiceless” – you have no idea what animals “think”, so don’t pretend you do.

    If “Ashley” isn’t joking, he is seriously confused. The Theory of Evolution is scientific fact, not a moral position; you are confusing observation of empirical reality (“in the natural world, without medicine X, sufferers of disease Y would die”) with a moral imperative (“therefore, sufferers of disease Y should not be given medicine X”). The gap between these two statements is called the “naturalistic fallacy”. This is a flaw shared by everyone who understands the term “natural” to mean “good”, and unfortunately is particularly prevalent in today’s world where Westerners are not exposed to the grinding misery of the pre-technological lifestyle. Also, by referring to “uncurable diseases” you further undermine yourself; every disease is uncurable, until somebody finds a cure. I find it hard to believe you have never suffered illness in your life, nor ever taken medicine. Does this make you unfit to live? I doubt it.

    Patrick, you are quite right in saying “Those who engage in such behavior are dangerously off-balance, willing to torture and kill others to follow through on their own mis-perceptions about the relevance and acceptability of their beliefs, irrespective of the blatant and inescapable harm it causes others.” Unfortunately, this accurately describes the “animal rights” terrorists who think it acceptable to kill, maim and harrass other humans, not the men and women who have made it their career to improve human life by producing life-saving medical treatments. I have no idea what your professional background is, but don’t you think if there were credible alternatives to animal vivisection, that were as accurate and resource-efficient, they would be used? The simple fact is vivisection is already a huge investment, even discounting psychos trying to kill your employees or firebomb your labs, and if there was a better way, “big pharma” (to use the in term) would go for it.

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