Animal Testing Advocate Gets "AIDS-Tainted Razor Blades" in the Mail

By Jennifer Welsh | November 24, 2010 12:01 pm

razor-bladesA neuroscientist who has spoken out in support of animal testing is in the news again after a militant animal rights group sent razor blades and a threatening note to his house. The group claims that the razor blades were contaminated with HIV-infected blood.

The researcher, J. David Jentsch, who studies addiction and schizophrenia at UCLA, explains the incident:

“About a week ago I was going through my mail in my kitchen and I opened a letter and razor blades spilled out on the floor. It was the first sign something was nefarious,” he said. “The letter inside contained quite specific and heinous acts of violence to kill me.” [CNN]

Jentsch made headlines last year when he staged a pro-test rally in support of (humane) animal research after an animal rights group fire-bombed his car in his driveway. The threats and harassment of Jentsch and other department employees have continued, but Jentsch seems undaunted and undeterred.

“Responsible use of animals in research aimed at improving the health and welfare of the mentally ill is the right thing to do,” Jentsch said in  a statement. “We will continue to do so because we have a moral responsibility to society to use our skills for the betterment of the world.” [LA Times]

The Animal Liberation Front released information from an activist group calling itself the “Justice Department at UCLA”; that group claims responsibility for the package, which they say was contaminated by HIV-infected blood. From the press release (emphasis and bad grammar is all theirs):

The Justice Department at UCLA sent bloody AIDS tainted razor blades to David Jentsch at [xxxxx] Valley Vista boulevard in the town of Sherman Oaks, California; instead he should be living in hell which is where he will eventually end up desirably sooner rather than later. He has no business addicting primates to phencyclidine known on the streets as PCP and other street drugs using grant money from the federal government. Confining primates to puny filthy cages then removing them to give them their fix of PCP when primates would not get addicted if it weren’t for Frankenstein’s like Jentsch. How would Jentsch like the same thing he does to primates to be done to him? That would be justice. STOP YOUR SICK EXPERIMENTS OR HELL AWAITS YOU.  –UCLA JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

The group also claims to have sent a similar package to Jentsch’s graduate student, Stephanie Groman, though there is no evidence the package was received. While the Animal Liberation Front doesn’t officially back violent acts such as these, the conclusion of the ALF press release warns that such acts will continue:

Refusal to discontinue their futile and torturous animal research can be expected to yield additional consequences for vivisectors at the hands of activists who are willing to risk their own lives and freedom to help these enslaved and tormented animals.

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Image: Flickr/HighTechDad

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World
  • http://www.facebook.com/ban.animal.testing Christian Burgess

    However this criminal against Gods children justifies his sick infatuation with torturing innocent animals it does not change the fact that it is immoral, without honour and unethical to do the things he and other nazi mirrors do to these innocents.

    Sticking electrodes in trusting animals brains or cutting them up sometimes without anaesthesia,feeding them pesticides etc just goes against every grain in my being.

    I was taking anti-depressants due to acute depression but now I know the truth I have ceased, so from one of this grogans end consumers -YOU DON’T SPEAK FOR ME

    While I do not personally agree with what they sent to him I do agree he is a perverted criminal and must be treated as such.

    Peadophiles, rapists protected in jail, whats wrong with this world

    They will tell you activists lie, well check this out: http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Philosophy/Animal%20Testing/JentschHarmsPeople.htm

    The truth Hurts

  • Bigby

    Christian, no offense, and I mean that sincerely, but you should rethink coming off the meds. Virtually every medication in common use was at some time tested on animals. No one likes needless animal testing but some is absolutely necessary. What would you do? Take any interesting plant from the Amazon and give it directly to your children? There needs to be some steps in between and those require test animals.

  • http://www.telescope.com Patrick

    We have had people firebomb the houses and vehicles of professors and researchers up here at UC Santa Cruz.

    It really is disturbing that people can be so vehemently against animal testing, when we owe so much to the fact we can take lesser life form, and learn so much about what will save what really matters, us, and our children, and our children’s children.

  • Darius2025

    People are so stupid. They are against tests on animals but display their ignorance by acting out violently. What a bunch of tards. I don’t like testing on animals… but being a realist, it is the right thing to do and is necessary. Some people really choose strange battles when there are so many more important ones at hand.

  • Dave

    I sincerely hope they catch these savages and put them in jail.

  • Jumblepudding

    There’s a weird irony in the fact that this man studies schizophrenia, which is the type of disorder you would expect to find in somebody who mails aids-infected razor blades or writes a missive like that from the Liberation Front

  • Chris

    Typical of wacko animal rights groups…

  • Matt B.

    “but Jentsch seems undaunted and undeterred.”

    That’s because blowing up someone’s car and sending them razor blades doesn’t prove them wrong. Actions speak louder than, but not as clearly as, words. That’s why terrorists don’t get what they want.

    P.S. What’s the html code to indent?

  • WaryWatcher

    Honestly, as the animal with the highest population [excepting rodents, obviously :) ] I don’t see why we can’t have more human volunteers for the needed research. Of course, the non-human critters don’t get to sue you if you err. I’m for advancement of medical sciences but it’s been about a decade since I’ve seen a med released that didn’t make you 10x sicker (or kill you) in the process of clearing up that pesky nose-bleed. :P

    On another note.. how can any of you possibly bring God into this. The bible can’t make it any clearer that ‘animals do not have souls’ and ‘the beasts of the earth belong to man’ … so… they don’t have souls so god doesn’t care about them and they were given to man for whatever reason man wants to use them for. ^_^ nyah nyah

  • JJ

    When you consider the alternatives: testing on humans vs. animals, I think the answer is clear. I’d hate to see animals suffer, however I’d much rather not see another human suffer, unless it’s a convict on death row or life without parole – then test away. I’d actually prefer testing on convicts…

  • Katharine

    Christian Burgess -

    F*ck off. You have no clue about what actually goes on in a research lab.

    What are you, some numbnuts hipster-y idiot?

  • Katharine

    To add to the chorus of REASONABLE voices in this discussion, here’s my take on it:

    You cannot imbue animals with more than they have cognitively, first off. They ain’t toddlers. Some of them may have the intelligence of toddlers, perhaps.

    A jellyfish? Does not have a brain.

    Many others are quite capable of feeling a conscious sense of pain, of course.

    Almost all of the time these days, there are no incidents where an animal is operated on unanesthetized. Those incidents that do happen are accidents, and it takes a special sort of sociopath to operate on an aware, pain-feeling animal. There’s a reason they take animals into another room to operate on them, unconsciously, or to euthanize them with an overdose of barbiturate or other substance (which is the method used for euthanasia of pets, too): it spreads to the animals. We respect our subjects.

    And if idiots such as Burgess think we DELIGHT in killing an experimental animal when the study calls for it, they have absolutely no understanding of the situation in general.

    Get back on the meds, crazy manchild, and your whole AIDS-ridden bunch too. I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone, having had it myself, but if you advocate outright VIOLENCE against another human being for animal testing that takes place under the most stringent of constraints and oversight with the utmost consideration for the subjects and has benefited both humans and animals so much that it more than makes up for the undeniable pang of sorrow that usually occurs when killing an experimental animal (I look at it like the Indians probably looked at the critters they killed for food: I regard these animals with complete and utter respect, and odds are I will have to do it many times in my career; I hope I can afford to make my animal subjects’ days as nice as possible while they are alive because that is the smallest price I can pay for being the bringer of their death by painless means, if I must kill them at all – and I will do my best to minimize the need to, and I could not kill an animal if its death were in vain – only kill it if it’s got a purpose that serves adequate benefit for humanity) then I hope your unmedicated depression takes you down a road of immeasurable pain.

  • mike

    Lets say hypothetically testing these cruial methods on other humans were legal, and you are or someone close to you was choosen to be the test subject. Would any of who be happy knowing that, even tho the argument presented here its for the better good.
    So next time when any of you say its for the better good, put yourself in the shoes of the sufferer, and see how long you would keep that mentality.
    People in general are ignorant, if it doesnt personally effect them then why should they care.
    On a side note alot of these test results from animals cant be used as evidence that it would work in simaliar ways on humans. Hence deeming the test useless. There are other ways to test products with same results if not better. Testing on animals is just the cheap way of doing it. Therefore its wrong. Its not hard to pick on weaker creatures.

  • Anton

    First, AIDS is a syndrome, one of the possible manifestations of uncontrolled HIV infection. It’s impossible to “taint” any razor with a syndrome, like it’s impossible to taint it with headache or vomiting or something.

    Second, even if so-called animal right activists get the hold on live HIV culture at all, HIV virus is so fragile that is lives only a few minutes outside the host body. The razors would be safe by the time of packaging (if stupidity isn’t transmitted via bodily fluids, that is).

    I think the guys should donate themselves for the biomedical research, they’re not very much different from the animals, intellectually at least and it’s the only thing they can do any good, given their apparent amount of forethought and intelligence.

  • Crazy Joe Malloy

    Personally, I’ve always felt that if animal rights activists are willing to:

    “…risk their own lives and freedom to help these enslaved and tormented animals.”

    Then they should step up and take the place of a mouse. Sign away your life and freedom to take the place of the animal you supposedly cherish so much – somehow, I doubt there’d be many takers.

    I just figure they should be held to such bold statements – put your money where your mouth is and all that. It’d win them more sympathy (or at least a Darwin award) than, literally, behaving like terrorists.

    mike mentioned that animal testing is only done because it’s cheaper – that there are other methods that would yield the same results or maybe even better…really. Well mike I’d love to hear what those are, care to share? Some supporting documentation that hasn’t been thoroughly discredited would be nice as well. If it’s out there I’d, sincerely, love to see it.

    Animal testing is far from perfect (all human endevours are), but it provides a good model for finding possible solutions, narrowing down what could work from what absolutely won’t. Programs like World Community Grid, Rosetta and many others do alot to help simulate what we can, but there are limits to what can be accomplished in a virtual world – at some point along the way medicine and procedures need to be tested on a living thing to see what the actual results are, it’s as simple as that.

    I take no joy in that knowledge but you know what? Given the choice of being the guinea pig or letting the mouse take one for the team…send in the mice. I want a solid body of evidence built up before you start testing things on people – how monstrous.

    Testing on primates is always a hot button issue and I feel it should be reserved unless it’s absolutely necessary and their population isn’t endangered. I guess that’s where I draw the line, human/non-human – primates come close, and as a result they get special consideration, but at the end of the day they’re not human, no matter how much we might want them to be.

  • Calv

    To be brief, 3 things
    1) the courage Jentsch and supposedly his graduate student show in supporting their views in the face of ignorant violence is both applaudable. It takes some cajonies to talk down people who explicitly tell you of their plans to end your life.

    2) @ Mike, you speak of other ways to test these products that does not involve animals but would be more expensive, and i’m curious what methods you mean, if someone could point me in the direction of research on that subject. I personally can’t think of a way to guarantee with any sort of accuracy or repeatability the unexpected consequences of a new medication without a live test of some sort.

    3) The line between advocating HUMANE animal testing and enjoyment/passive acceptance of animal pain is not (to myself) as plane as supposedly it appears.

    As i type this i realize crazy joe made all the points i wanted to and in a better format. So Ditto to that.

  • mike

    http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/alternatives-testing-without-torture.aspx heres a quick link from peta, using repitiable sources, showing that animal testing in a sense is an old way of doing things. There are newer methods that dont require animal testing, with more same results if not better. Again it comes down to using animals is alot cheaper, but doesnt mean its as effective. Heres some food for though. “Are you a rat? the answer is no, so then why would you think results on a rat would be exactly same as on you. Hence deeming the resource not that useful.

  • Naveed

    Mike, You’re going to quote PETA, a known terrorism group that wants to give all animals the same rights as humans, in a debate about animal testing…… (one of the many sources from a google search: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/282260/peta_when_animal_rights_becomes_terrorism.html)

    They want to end all use of animals for anything, we wouldn’t be able to farm and modern society would not be possible. I suppose if PETA achieves their goals you crazies will have to form PETP people for the ethical treatment of PLANTS we’ll just have to engineer all our food from sand?

    I think that all women should not be allowed to be educated and should be forced to stay inside and wear had scarves because Al-Qeada says that’s what is right and morale!…..

    come on mike you can do better than that….

  • Crazy Joe Malloy

    That’s an interesting article mike and I’m glad to read that there is progress being made in alternatives, though from reading it I’m not convinced we can just throw out animal research – which is the point you’re advocating, correct?

    Unless you can provide solid examples that make animal research obsolete *in it’s entirety* then animal research must continue in some way.

    To add insult to injury, PETA doesn’t exactly have a great reputation for honesty and (ironically) ethical conduct – I’d like to see the content of the article scrutinized before I just accept it as reality – but it certainly sounds promising, and perhaps one day we’ll get to a point where animal research isn’t necessary.

    I don’t think anyone here is espousing the idea that animal research results have a 1 to 1 relationship to what the results would be in a human – to imply otherwise is a false argument. However, they are a necessary stepping stone. They give us a window as to what’s possible on a biological level, from there we investigate if the results can be replicated in humans.

    Do you believe insulin works? It was developed through research on dogs and yet it works in humans as well, to many diabetics out there, I’m pretty sure they’d call that useful. I’m quite certain you could fill volumes with similar examples of the successes of animal research – that’s just the first one that comes to mind.

    Testing the effects on cultures of cells or skin samples sounds like a great way to reduce unnecessary animal research and, believe it or not, I am in favour of that – however such tests can only go so far.

    A treatment, procedure or medicine that works great on skin cells for example may have disastrous effects on lung or liver function – you can’t fully know until you see the whole thing in action, and sometimes over a long term and through many different variations. Cultures, simulation and volunteers will only go so far – sooner or later someone has to take the plunge and we’re going to want to know if it can at least work in animals first.

    There’s work being done right now to make organs transplants rejection free using a recipients stem cells to regrow the organ around the scaffolding from a donor, work on rats has proved that the technique can work. Actually, Ed Yong wrote an article about it back in late June, it’s a fascinating read:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/06/24/lungs-rebuilt-in-lab-and-transplanted-into-rats/

    No amount of simulation or stand-alone tissue samples could produce those results and you’ll be damned if you’ll find any volunteers for that kind of research. The rats in these studies aren’t “disposable”, they’re precious – if they live, it gives hope that, in the future, transplant recipients can live their lives without need for anti-rejection drugs.

    That’s one example among many, and that is the kind of benefits and capability you need to demonstrate through alternative methods that will make animal research obsolete. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it’s unlikely that we, as a world, can do that just yet.

  • SP

    “No amount of simulation or stand-alone tissue samples could produce those results and you’ll be damned if you’ll find any volunteers for that kind of research.”

    Which says everything about the evil of the research. Animal torture is never justified.

    “No one likes needless animal testing but some is absolutely necessary.”

    So we can extend our futile existence with a few extra years ? Perhaps a shorter life in harmony with our animal brothers has more value than an extended one made possible through the endless torture of countless creatures who feel every bit as much pain and misery as us when we are sick.

  • Crazy Joe Malloy

    Those are some bold statements SP.

    I realize this subject is probably upsetting for you and part of your reaction is coming from that emotional standpoint and more is probably coming from your worldview that we need to live in better balance with nature – which I can appreciate to a degree, as a species we’ve pushed against nature too hard and we need to better respect that.

    We aren’t talking about good & evil here though, nor are we talking about torture. Torture is the willing infliction of pain & suffering for the sake of doing so. Casting animal researchers as deranged tortures of animals is a wild distortion of the truth. Great care is taken to minimize animal suffering and death as well as to use as few animals as possible.

    No one delights in these things, researchers are real people too – no matter how much animal rights groups might want to dehumanize them.

    I wonder if you might take the time to go into a cancer ward, and tell the children there that their lives are futile, worthless and that they need to die so we can live in harmony with our animal brothers. That the people working to save their lives are evil and that they don’t deserve to make it.

    Of course, some of these kids won’t really grasp the larger scope of your argument, so you might want to take it up with their parents.

    You see, it’s not just my futile existence or yours that stands to benefit from the advances of medicine, largely due to animal research, but the needless lives of our children as well.

    I guess you could always take a stand and refuse any future medical attention for any condition that befalls you in the future. You could be a martyr to the cause, leading us by noble example…and that is your right and your choice, however, that’s where your rights end.

    Because to not explore the avenues presented to us by responsible animal research is to condemn those who suffer now and in the future to horrible deaths and preventable suffering.

    *That* is evil. *That* is torture.

    Hey, if you’re allowed to make bold statements out of emotion, then why not me?

  • James

    SP: “So we can extend our futile existence with a few extra years ? Perhaps a shorter life in harmony with…”

    Ever had a sick family member or friend?

  • Eric Rohn Estes

    I really enjoy reading these comments. A lot of thought is put in to them and that is definitely appreciated.
    To put a different spin on this, has anyone here seen what they do to animals in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, India, New Guinea, Afghanistan, Congo, Egypt, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, etc, etc? OMG! Have you seen what they do to the HUMANS? There is mass HUMAN genocide going on in the world and these hippie jerk-holes have the audacity to attack the people who are legitimately trying to make the world better. (prepare to get mad at me)
    God hates animals (by the way we are animals). He’s killed more than 99.99% of all the animal species that have ever existed. Through fire, pain, suffering… torture. That’s just on Earth. Whole planets with life on them have been needlessly eradicated and yeah I can say that with certainty.
    I digress. The one thing I can see that must be preserved at all costs is our accumulated knowledge. Humans have spent the past 13,000 years or so (yes humans have existed for longer but not in a dense enough population to properly retain large amounts of information) putting all these pieces together using our feeble yet awesome minds.
    If God is anything he is the repository of all-knowledge and therefore all-power.
    Why do I bring this up in a debate about animal cruelty? Because it brings to light what the true big picture is.
    All life on Earth is related (from the life we’ve found so far at least) we are all family. To protect our family we must accumulate as much knowledge (power) as possible, so we can truly be free. The fact that educated nations have made the switch from pointless dying and suffering to something beneficial and productive only makes sense. Our only hope is to become so powerful (knowledgeable) that we no longer have to resort to such “God like” cruelty in our search for understanding. Only then can we be truly benevolent (unlike God) and really get into the nitty-gritty of enjoying this universe and helping each other… our family. FYI, I don’t believe in god lol I just like to use the concept as an example :P
    Point, point, I had a point when I started…. Something along the lines of all these stupid hippies should spend their time and energy on something actually useful…
    Pretty out there right? Just throwin’ down some perspective ^.^
    Hey I’m not sending people contaminated razor blades! I legitimately want to save everyone and everything. I know that can’t happen but that doesn’t mean a reasonable attempt shouldn’t be sought after?
    That’s all from the mind of Eric today! Start the angry ranting after the beep!

  • M.

    I am an animal rights activist and I believe testing on animals is morally wrong because they feel pain [their intelligence has nothing to do with it]. Animal tests may work, but they are [imo] unethical. Slavery got lots of stuff done, but I’m sure we can all agree that it was unethical.

    Harming sentient beings–animal OR human–is wrong. Humans and non-humans both feel pain and we shouldn’t inflict harm on them intentionally. I am so tired of hearing about cruel and hypocritical AR activists. They are coming from a place of irrational emotions, but instead of helping, they are actually harming the cause.

    I want to help animals and people. We can save a lot of lives by providing clean water to 3rd world nations and also by providing medical care to everyone in our nation. We could save even more lives by teaching healthy habits to our youth.

    I realize that many medical advances have come from animal testing. But nowadays, I believe we should strive for alternatives while making the animals used rarer and rarer [and also by making their existances less miserable while they are in labs].

    As progress continues, I believe testing on animals will become a thing of the past. Harming people is not the way to get there.

    I think most everyone agrees on these simple points; perhaps we should come together, provide medical care and clean water to people, fund the search for animal testing alternatives, and move toward the day that animal research is obsolete.

  • AB

    Well said “M.”

    I’m a student of Biology so I recognize the vast importance of animal testing.
    But I also come from the far left of the political spectrum, so I know emotions about animal testing run deep. It’s hard to find a median. The best we can do now is have civility on both sides. Scientists and activists have much in common, and we’d make better allies than enemies.

    As of now, animal testing is necessary for human advancement. But I’ll be the first to accept a better model when we think of one.

  • John

    Whenever I hear this argument I think of the conundrum that faced Linda McCartney (the Beatle’s wife) as she was undergoing treatment for the cancer that would eventually take her. Her and Paul were strident vegetarians and “animal rights activists”. During her battle with cancer she would provide no clear answer about the obvious hypocrisy of receiving treatment that was developed through animal testing.

    Owing one’s life, or extension of life, to animal testing certainly lends a different perspective. Which makes me wonder if any of these fine folks shipping razor blades and threats through the mail would decisively refuse treatment for a life-threatening illness were it developed through animal experimentation.

  • Tul

    One thing I think the antivivisectionists fail to realize is how expensive research animals are. Big evil corporations would be the first to switch to something else if it were empirically as valid as animal testing, and already minimize their use as much as possible.

  • Katharine

    For goodness’s sake, the animal rights activists talk like we do all our experiments on animals without giving them anesthesia or pain medication. What nutbags.

  • Mercy

    Vivisection on innocent beings is about as low as the human race can get. As a lifelong vegan I have never been ill but I know there is plenty of alternative testing that can be used for pharmaceutical funded medication.

    Somebody earlier posted that we were `higher beings` and therefore entitled to use` lower beings` for our children. It is exactly this primitive mindset that vivisectionists thrive on to torture and maim those animals who cannot defend themselves. By the way there is no such thing as humane vivisection.

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