In order to protect and promote that which is in the best interest of the general population, a public dialogue must be advanced on the issues surrounding animal-based research and complete transparency is a necessary condition if we are to proceed. However, because of the secrecy in which this type of research has remained shrouded, we have been effectively stripped of our ability to negotiate informed and intelligent decisions. As a society, we are ill-equipped to discuss the scientific efficacy and the ramifications of any pursuit until we are afforded an opportunity to understand the issues.
Each of us is the victim of deliberate deception and misinformation campaigns orchestrated by those who society holds in the highest esteem and deems above reproach. But distinguished scientists and authoritative institutions have abused our trust. We must take control of information – especially that which has been deliberately withheld — and begin to educate ourselves.
The issues discussed here are neither unique nor exceptional and, although this social revolution is taking place in one area, the disturbing problems discussed permeate every community in every state across the country.
In Gainesville, Florida, a grassroots effort is underway to speak to people. Activists are going door-to-door and creating awareness one-by-one. This community is building a petition that will be addressed to the University of Florida and the Florida Board of Regents that reads in part:
We benefit neither from the hyperbolic claims of animal rights activists nor the intentionally-evasive and self-serving representations of researchers with a vested financial interest in their experiments. Hiding behind euphemisms such as “humane research” retards civil discussion. If your research is humane and the animals are well cared for, there is no logical, moral, or acceptable reason to resist public scrutiny. We’ve all seen white mice navigate a maze and now we demand to see the rest of your subjects, especially since our money is funding your work.
We demand complete transparency as a necessary condition for dialogue.
Further, the University of Florida was the beneficiary of over $338 million in taxpayer-funded grants in 2009. We demand to see the experiments for which we paid. In this difficult economic climate, many of us have lost homes, jobs, cars, and more and are living from paycheck to paycheck. We are unwilling to fund your projects without total accountability any longer. We, the people, have the inalienable right to determine where, how, and on what our public money is spent.
We demand full disclosure in order to protect and promote our best public interests.
Like many institutions of higher learning, the University of Florida enjoys prestige, dignity, and, thus far, an unassailable reputation. But hidden behind the pristine image is a secretive world for which we bear the financial burden. The fact that the general public has no conception of animal-based research is deliberate. Whether we are in favor of or opposed to animal experimentation is irrelevant. We cannot have that discussion until we first understand what we’re talking about.
At UF, there are primates, dogs, cats, pigs, horses, sheep, reptiles, birds, untold thousands of mice and rats, and many other species enduring barbaric experimentation every day. To illustrate the misinformation that each of us has been compromised by, we need only understand some of UF’s experiments on rabbits. In 2009, USDA records indicate that hundreds of rabbits were classified as “Column E.”1 I encourage everyone to research this term and then apply the “reasonable person” standard. That is, what would a reasonable person conclude?
Column E means “no pain relief.” Under the Animal Welfare Act, it is a classification assigned to animals who endure surgeries and mutilations without anesthesia. Intentional injuries may be inflicted for the express purpose of causing slight, moderate, or severe pain. The animals receive no medication and are made to languish in agony until they are relieved by death. Does this sound “humane” to any reasonable person? Of course not! Yet when the public is told about ethical research, welfare laws, and strict regulations, these are precisely the types of atrocities that are being regulated.
There is one reason alone that animal experimentation is propagandized as “science” while, simultaneously, the “science” is deliberately and carefully locked away from public scrutiny. The reason is money. UF received over $338 million in taxpayer-funded grants from the government last year.2 Yet it is nearly impossible to determine on what our taxes were spent. This is not an accident. Researchers perform the same experiments year after year, enjoying a steady stream of public funds, and, thus far, public scrutiny has been easily averted with the recitation of a few standard mantras (e.g., humane research, strict welfare regulations).
Beyond the profound moral and ethical issues surrounding animal experimentation, it is nearly impossible determine why some researchers are awarded public funds for specific research yet simultaneously deny involvement.
In 2009, researcher Mingzhou Ding applied for and received public funds from the federal government to conduct brain-mapping experiments in monkeys.3 Briefly, this common experiment requires a primate to be immobilized in a chair designed to restrict all movement except for the head. The skull cap is then removed and metal rods fasten the skull to stabilizing equipment preventing any movement of the head. In Ding’s experiment, numerous electrodes were implanted in the brain and foreign objects were affixed inside the skull with tape. Two monkeys in question were kept restrained in total darkness. They were deprived of water as dehydration and starvation are standard tools to gain compliance. Water was then offered as a reward to manipulate the monkeys’ responses to various stimuli.4 We do not know the disposition of these monkeys, but the subjects of neurological experiments are normally killed when they are no longer viable.
Ding collected over $260,000 in our tax money last year for this experiment. Yet, the Public Relations Director for UF, Janine Sikes, has told the media that Ding is not the person who performed these experiments.5 She has neglected to explained, however, why he applied for the grants and received the awards as the principle investigator.
In addition, taxpayers should be interested to learn that in 2010 alone, we paid another UF researcher, Marco Salemi, over $700,000 to infect 24 monkeys with the designer disease, neuroAIDS.6 Salemi induces dementia-like symptoms in the monkeys as he charts their physical deteriorations. He’s been infecting, injuring, and killing monkeys for years and we, the taxpayers, are his benefactors. In fact, for decades now researchers have received billions of dollars in federal awards to infect monkeys with AIDS. The fact that monkeys do not contract AIDS appears to escape consideration.7
Just as the face of animal experimentation is concealed behind the pristine public image of the University of Florida, its inherent greed and violence is hidden behind the guise of science.
If the people of Gainesville are denied access to UF’s labs, we intend to take this fight into the court of law and the court of public opinion.
- “No pain relief” experiments are specified on annual USDA inspection reports. The latest available report from 2009 is followed by pages of “Column E” experiments on rabbits. [↩]
- According the 2009 annual report, of the $574 million in research awards received by UF, 59% (or $338.66 million) were taxpayer-funded federal grants. [↩]
- In 2009, the National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded $270,060 to Ding as the Prinicple Investigator conducting Biomedical Engineering experiments. Project Number: R01MH079388-03. [↩]
- This 2008 article in the Journal of Neuroscience, co-authored by Ding, details brain-mapping experiments. [↩]
- “UF Defends Accused ‘Animal Murderer’,” October 12, 2010. [↩]
- Project Number: 5R01NS063897-02. Viral Evolution in Peropheral Macrophages and Brain During Progression to AIDS. 2010 NIH Grant $711,142. [↩]
- “Rethinking AIDS.” [↩]