With attacks on scientists and incendiary devices planted by animal rights extremists, the issue of violence has clouded the discussion on the importance of animal-based research. Many research institutions have been so busy condemning these acts of vandalism and thuggery that they forget to expound the crucial role that animals play in the development of modern medicine.
There is a long history of medical benefits that relied on animal research, including penicillin, anesthetics, insulin, asthma treatments and meningitis vaccines. Even now huge leaps forward are being made in physiology and genetics. Recently a genetically modified mouse was successfully given the common cold, offering hope of new, better treatments for rhinoviruses such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Animal research is carefully regulated in this country, with scientists adhering closely to the 3 R’s (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction) to ensure that animals are only used where absolutely necessary. Not only would a ban on animal research dramatically slow medical progress, but it would also force current animal research to move to countries where lax regulations mean animal welfare standards are considerably lower.
It is time students at Santa Cruz stood up, not only to condemn the acts of terrorism than have rocked the university, but also to defend the need for life-saving research to continue. Students must take this issue head on, with debates and talks that allow both sides of the argument to be presented.