Monday, April 7, 2014

This week's C&EN

A variety of tidbits from this week's C&EN:
It is upsetting that C&EN would feature an image of a burned animal being probed by a spectroscopist as some kind of evidence for progress in health science and diagnostics (C&EN, Jan. 13, page 28). In fact, the decision to include the photo of this shaved, burned, and undoubtedly traumatized mouse, strongly suggests that the magazine is out of touch when it comes to matters of taste and blind with regard to ethical considerations that should surround decisions involving animal research.

I would prefer that the researchers on this team shave and burn their own skin before anesthetizing and probing each other. I am serious. Not only would it be a better story, with more gripping photos, but it might also give such researchers pause as they consider the harm and suffering they inflict on their unfortunate lab animals.

Is it any wonder that much of our citizenry continues to regard animal-based scientific studies with revulsion? I hope that C&EN will adopt changes in its editorial review that considers and rejects coverage (and implied approval) of research invoking such obvious cruelty to animals.

David Cordes
Forest Grove, Ore.
The debate around animals in medical research is a heated one to be sure; interesting to see there is disagreement on the subject amongst chemists as well.

(I have always wondered if certain chemists are more likely to go into bench chemistry because they won't have to deal with the ethical issues of animal research?) 

5 comments:

  1. As a chemist, I personally went into an area where there was less likelihood of my research dealing with animals and/or being applied to animal experiments. I chose this area to avoid the animal testing. I find animal testing disturbing and do not want to contribute to it if at all necessary. I know it is legally necessary for animal models for drugs to be approved for instance, but I agree with Mr. Cordes above. In many cases, it is unnecessary:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draize_test
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow#Monkey_studies
    http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pain_distress/tips/campus_policy_suffering_examples.html

    Many scientists seem to ignore animals ability to feel pain and distress even in cases where scientists are trying to examine "higher" emotional qualities empathy in mice thru injecting dilute acetic acid into mice:
    https://www.sciencemag.org/content/312/5782/1967
    https://www.sciencemag.org/content/314/5797/253.full

    I know that animal studies will disappear and drastically descrease with time but it does not mean that animals should be used unnecessarily. I understand that scientists have noble goals in these experiments but they should not ignore the cost of suffering. I would be interested to see the analysis number of drugs, cosmetics, etc. that worked well in animal systems but failed in human systems. (Maybe this will be what is going to help us move onto more developed models eventually?)

    All that being said, I know that there are many more animals that can be saved from unnecessary pain, suffering, and slaughter by dietary choices alone.

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    1. "there are many more animals that can be saved fromunnecessary pain, suffering, and slaughter by dietary choices alone."

      I agree. One benefit of being a vegetarian is you dont have to ignorant of what goes on in slaughterhouses.

      Want to be shamed into vegetarianism? Just watch "Eathlings" (Its on you-tube). You'll never have a piece of meat again.

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  2. While I support animal testing where it's needed, I sincerely hope it decreases soon and eventually dwindles to zero as new technology is made. And while I support it when it's needed, I don't want to do it myself. I did an animal experiment once as an undergrad and I cried. Embarrassing.

    I got a 404 on your women faculty link by the way, CJ!

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  3. This is probably one reason my school doesn't allow photos to be taken in the animal facility. Even if it's good science, it can be easily misconstrued. Apparently a lot of the 'animal cruelty' photos you see on protesters' signs are decades old, but still make us look bad.

    Anyway, yeah, i'm probably a case of someone going into chemistry instead of biology (or medicine) because i didn't want to do/be around animal work. Also i just don't have the stomach for it, maybe because i'm a vegetarian. However i did eventually become interested in the field enough to work in a pharmacology lab, although i leave anything beyond cell work to my coworkers.

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