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21 April 1999 Issue
Want a Healthier World Without Harming Animals?

From the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

"As a former poster child for cerebral palsy research, I urge the March
of Dimes and other charities concerned with birth defects to stop wasting
their limited resources on pointless experiments giving nicotine and
cocaine to pregnant rats or damaging the brains of ferrets or inducing
the premature birth of lambs. Instead they should direct their efforts
toward tracking down the causes of birth defects in humans, and
preventing them."
-- Lawrence Carter-Long

A Better Way to Help Babies
Birth defects breakthroughs depend on understanding how genetic and
environmental factors effect human beings. Animal experiments are
unnecessary and often misleading.

* Studies of human populations showed how the B-vitamin folic acid
prevent neural tube defects, like spina bifida.

* Magnesium was shown in other population studies to prevent more than
60 percent of cerebral palsy cases and 49 percent of mental retardation
cases in very low-birth-weight babies.

* Human studies showed that a fetal syndrome of face and brain abnormal-
ities and slow growth is actually caused by alcohol consumption during
pregnancy, rendering it 100 percent preventable.

* Women living close to Superfund hazardous waste sites are up to four
times more likely to have a baby with certain types of birth defects.

* Children of women who smoke during pregnancy generally have lower
birth-weights and score lower on standardized tests.

Marching in the wrong direction
The March of Dimes should be putting all its resources into human popula-
tion studies to track down the causes of birth defects and into prenatal
education and care to prevent them. But, in fact, the charity has given millions
of dollars to experimenters who give nicotine, cocaine, or alcohol to animals,
even though we already know from human clinical experience that these
substances can harm a developing baby.

Other March of Dimes-funded experiments have involved sewing closed the
eyes of kittens--experiments the charity denied having funded but was later
forced to admit. The same experimenter is apparently still on the payroll,
recently publishing a paper describing deliberate brain damage and freezing
of newborn ferrets. Another series of March of Dimes experiments focused
on inducing the premature birth of lambs, revealing nothing not already seen
in human observations.

Recently, the March of Dimes joined the tobacco industry in funding nicotine
experiments. The experimenter gave nicotine to rats and then forced them to
run through mazes, motivated by either hunger or fear of drowning. In some
cases, the rats' brains were deliberately damaged for the experiments. In
others, rats were given drugs that magnify fear and stress.

What You Can Do
The "WalkAmerica" fundraisers are held nationwide in late April. If you would
like to help organize volunteers or leaflet at the event, please call (202) 686-
2210, ext. 316, or e-mail us at charities@pcrm.org. Event coordinators will
contact you with information as soon as possible.

Want a Healthier World without Harming Animals?
Send your donation to one of the many charities that fund only human-
centered research and service programs. They do great work and not one
penny ever goes to animal experiments. Here are two of the best:

Easter Seals Association of Birth Defect Children
230 W. Monroe St., Suite 1800 827 Irma Ave.
Chicago, IL 60606 Orlando, FL 32803
312-726-6200 407-245-7035
www.easterseals.org www.birthdefects.org 

For a comprehensive list of health charities that do not fund animal
experiments, please contact:

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 404
Washington, DC 20016
202-686-2210, ext. 316
charities@pcrm.org * www.charitiesinfo.org 

"It saddens us so much to see the March of Dimes...spend its precious
resources on animal experiments. Unless the March of Dimes changes
course, we're going to urge our fans to send their checks elsewhere."
--Paul and Linda McCartney

Go on to Making Vegan Cooking and Activism Easier
Return to 21 April 1999 Issue
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