Top 10 Reasons Why Animal Research Is a Cruel Joke

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Top 10 Reasons Why Animal Research Is a Cruel Joke

From In Defense of Animals (IDA)
April 2010

If you think all animal research is used to treat and cure life-threatening conditions, think again.

Indeed, when it comes to animal research funded with your tax dollars, every day is April Fool’s Day.

Every year, the federal government, led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spends billions of tax dollars to underwrite biomedical experiments on animals. As Americans prepare to file their annual tax returns, In Defense of Animals unveils its “Top 10 Reasons Why Animal Research is a Cruel Joke” in recognition of ridiculous, wasteful, and perverse research.

Selected from scientific papers published in 2009 and 2010 (as well as one from 2008), these experiments were funded by the NIH, approved by federally mandated oversight committees, and published in peer-reviewed journals. These experiments—the cream of the crop—show that your tax dollars and animals’ lives are frivolously wasted on research that adds nothing to medical progress and tells us nothing we care to know—or didn’t know already. One can only wonder what happens in the experiments that don’t get published...

These studies are simply the tip of the iceberg – IDA will continue to expose to the taxpaying public these ridiculous and wasteful experiments on a regular basis to demonstrate the reality of animal experimentation funded by a fundamentally broken tax-supported NIH system.

While reading these study summaries, you may ask yourself: Is this some twisted April Fool’s joke?

We wish it were.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SEXUAL AND/OR GRAPHIC CONTENT

All of the following are actual experiments conducted on live animals with your money.

Details:

10) 4 OUT OF 5 SCIENTISTS SURVEYED RECOMMEND EJACULATION TO RATS

 Four researchers at the University of Western Ontario’s School of Medicine and Dentistry and one researcher at the University of Cincinnati studied whether male rats enjoyed ejaculation or intromission (the insertion of the penis into the vagina) more. Their data support the hypothesis that there is a hierarchy of sexual pleasure, with ejaculation at the top!

Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

9) CHIMPS IN WORLD’S WORST ORPHANAGE CONDITIONS

Conditions that were “standard care” at primate centers until the 1990s!

Researchers at the Great Ape Nursery at Yerkes National Primate Research Center studied forty-six chimpanzee infants who were separated from their mothers and were receiving either “standard care” – only necessary medical attention - or “responsive care” – which included 4 hours of age-appropriate interaction. Responsive care stimulated chimpanzees’ cognitive and emotional development, while standard care caused abnormal behavior similar to that of human infants raised in “Greek, Russian, or Romanian orphanages.”

An interesting afterthought: the “standard care” described here actually was “standard care” at Yerkes until the 1990s! This is the same National Primate Research Center system, comprised of eight Primate Research Centers, that has cost over $1.3 billion since 1992 simply to maintain its “base grants” (that figure does not include the 30 years between 1960 and 1992) and published such results as“Sex differences in rhesus monkey toy preferences” and “Androgen-induced yawning in rhesus monkey females.” Three of the experiments on this list were funded by three separate Primate Research Center base grants, in addition to other NIH grants.

Funded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR – multiple, including the base grant for the Yerkes National Primate Research Center) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

8) THANKS TO THESE SCIENTISTS, CASTRATED HAMSTERS CAN STILL GET IT UP

Researchers at University of California – Berkeley, University of Virginia and Columbia University used various concentrations of testosterone injected at various frequencies into castrated, sexually-experienced male Syrian hamsters in order to define the optimum concentration for maintaining ejaculation.

Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

7) RATS TRAPPED IN UNCOMFORTABLE PLACES FOR A LONG TIME GET FREAKED OUT

In a study by scientists at San Diego State University, Colorado State University and the University of Arizona College of Medicine, experimenters subjected rats to either restraint – in which they were immobilized in a Plexiglas tube – or confinement – in which they were immobilized in a mesh cylinder with free air flow – under various conditions. Ultimately, they found that the increase in rats’ body temperatures in restraint was probably due to anxiety as well as physical discomfort, while in confinement, it was “primarily psychological.” This experiment was supported by a grant for the study of fetal alcohol exposure.

In a similar study conducted at the California National Primate Research Center with a grant awarded for AIDS research in addition to the Primate Center base grant, experimenters found that rhesus monkeys restrained in “primate chairs” two hours a day, for seven consecutive days, showed signs of acute and chronic stress. The restraint of monkeys in primate chairs is a procedure that is commonly used in experiments requiring the immobilization of a conscious animal.

Rodent study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA); primate study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR – base grant for the California National Primate Research Center).

6) MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT IN RUMINANT HISTORY

According to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Suffolk sheep became the first ruminant species used to study otoacoustic emissions (sounds produced by the inner ear). Some sheep were given sex hormones during prenatal development, while others had their testes or ovaries surgically removed after birth. Female sheep showed stronger emissions than males, a finding already seen in rhesus monkeys and humans. No spontaneous emissions were found in any sheep - “a common finding in non-human species.”

Funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

5) DON’T CASTRATE YOUR CHILDREN, SAY SCIENTISTS

From the NIH Intramural Research Program, which boasts the only lab ever charged with multiple counts of criminal animal cruelty!

National Institute of Mental Health intramural researchers at the NIMH Primate Core Facility in Poolesville, MD, found that castrated male monkeys showed more subordinate behavior and less dominant behavior than intact male monkeys. The researchers ultimately found that intact gonads played an important role in adolescent social behavior. Who knew?

Given that this is the same facility that discovered that monkeys raised without mothers showed signs of mood and anxiety disorders – what did you expect? Both of these studies were funded by the NIH Intramural Research Program, which received half a billion tax dollars in 2009 Recovery Act funding for infrastructure alone and boasts the only lab ever charged with multiple counts of criminal animal cruelty.

Funded by NIH intramural grants.

4) A FIGHT TO THE DEATH – BUT NOT BETWEEN LIZARDS

In a study created by scientists from Harvard University and the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, experimenters forced territorial male lizards (Anolis carolinensis) to fight each another by introducing them into the same cage. In these lizards, social status is “often established via aggressive interaction, the intensity of which is dependent on the motivation and initiative of the combatants.” After 31 pairs of lizards had fought each other and recovered for three days, the experimenters killed them all. Twenty of these lizards were immediately decapitated, twenty were “restrained” (to stress them out) for 90 seconds in the hands of an experimenter to “restrict all movement except that necessary for respiration” before they were decapitated, and the last twenty-two were “restrained” for 90 seconds, then given 5 more minutes to live before they were decapitated. Another 12 lizards, belonging to a control group that had not been “fought,” were also decapitated. Of course, all of this was necessary to study the effects of stress on lizards of varying social status, and thereby, to advance modern medicine.

Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR).

3) WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT? EXERCISE MAY HELP

From the researcher who discovered that adopted children fare better than orphans and social support alleviates depression!

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) used rhesus monkeys to show that exercise contributes to weight loss more than just eating less. In a local newspaper article about the experiment, a clinical researcher noted that rhesus monkeys are a poor model for humans, as they are much less likely to lose weight through dieting, and that the general conclusion has already been found in past studies with human volunteers.

In 23 years, the researcher responsible for this study has received 137 NIH grants. The “breakthroughs” of her long, taxpayer-funded career include: adopted children fare better than orphans; adolescents are more sensitive to social stress; social support alleviates depression; exercise improves brain function. All of these “discoveries” were first found in human studies long before she manufactured a monkey “model.”

Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR – base grant for Oregon National Primate Research Center).

2) MICE NEED ONLY WHEEL, NOT SHOCKS, FOR WHEEL-RUNNING

A study by scientists at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte and Appalachian State University tested how consistent mice were in performing an endurance exercise like wheel running. They found that voluntary wheel-running was a “repeatable” behavior with consistent performance measurements, whereas electrically shocking mice to motivate them to run to “exhaustion” led to inconsistent results.

Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

1) SCIENTISTS FIND VAGINAL STIMULATION MIGHT BE PLEASURABLE

Funded by a “high risk, high reward” NIH breakthrough grant!

Four researchers at the University of Western Ontario’s School of Medicine and Dentistry and one researcher at the University of Cincinnati studied whether male rats enjoyed ejaculation or intromission (the insertion of the penis into the vagina) more. Their data support the hypothesis that there is a hierarchy of sexual pleasure, with ejaculation at the top!

Experiments performed at Dartmouth College tested whether sexual intercourse, vaginal stimulation and social contact are able to cause female rats to prefer a particular place where they occur. They found that intercourse and artificial vaginal stimulation induced the place preference, whereas social interaction and the control treatment did not – hinting that vaginal stimulation may play a role in the pleasurable effects of mating in female rats.

In the Acknowledgements section of their paper, the experimenters thank a colleague for guidance on the “application” of artificial vaginocervical stimulation – which involved holding the rats by their tails, then inserting a 1 ml plunger into their vaginas until they contacted the cervix, delivering 15 stimulations every 30 seconds.

The NIH has received criticism – even from past directors – that it systematically funds incremental, redundant research and discourages revolutionary science using cutting-edge technology. As a response, the NIH has created “R21” grants for “High risk high reward studies that may lead to a breakthrough in a particular area.” It’s a great idea…in theory. In practice, the R21 grant is used to fund studies like this one at Dartmouth.

In another study funded with this R21 grant, which NIH awarded to research sexual dysfunction in women, this Dartmouth experimenter – who has received millions in tax dollars from the NIH since the mid-1980s and has two current grants, including the R21 – took female rats, removed their ovaries, gave them hormones, and applied a local anesthetic (lidocaine) to numb their vaginas. They found it made no major difference in the mating rhythms of these rats.

In yet another study from this R21 grant, this experimenter severed the nerves that connect rats’ genitalia to their brains and found that these rats showed abnormal sexual behavior, even though they still desired sex.

Do these studies at Dartmouth seem likely to provide the R21 criteria of “novel scientific ideas, model systems, tools, agents, targets, and technologies that have the potential to substantially advance biomedical research”?

If this is NIH’s idea of “breakthrough” or “revolutionary” science, one can only imagine what its “normal” science looks like. For an analysis of the kind of research the NIH should be funding, see the Recovery Act report on promising but under funded non-animal methods of research.

Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).