Groups protest animal testing
Activists target vivisection at UCSD labs
By LISA MAK
Senior Staff Writer
20 April 2004
As part of the annual World Week for Animals in
Laboratories campaign, activists from UCSD Students Against Animal
Suffering and San Diego Animal Advocates protested on April 20 against
animal testing conducted at UCSD.
Protesters stood at the intersection of La Jolla
Village Drive and Villa La Jolla Drive, passing out information and
holding signs with messages such as “Unseen Cruelty, Suffering and
Death” and “Vivisection: Science Gone Mad.”
“We learned of the cruel and wasteful experiments
going on at UCSD and decided to have a protest in conjunction with World
Week for Animals in Laboratories,” Jill Fritz, president of San Diego
Animal Advocates, said.
Due to pressure from protesters, the UCSD School of
Medicine decided in August 2003 to drop a course requirement in which
students watched experiments and demonstrations on live dogs.
According to Fritz, however, approximately 467 animal
experiments are currently taking place at UCSD.
The protesters said the school still uses primates,
rodents and other animals to conduct research.
“I think that it’s good that [UCSD] has taken out a
lot of the dog labs, but I know that they still do a lot of primate
research, especially for neurological research,” Christina Gibson, a
Thurgood Marshall College senior and a member of Students Against Animal
Suffering, said. “From my own exploration of the current literature out
there, a lot of their research is obsolete.”
According to Andrea Chiba, a UCSD cognitive science
professor who is a part of the neuroscience program, less than 5 percent
of animal research conducted at the university is done with primates. A
majority of the research uses rodents, Chiba said.
Protesters also claimed that animal test subjects are
not given proper protection.
“Over 90 percent of the animals that are used in labs
receive absolutely no protection at all under the Federal Animal Welfare
Act. Even for the animals that are protected, if the vivisector thinks
that that pain is necessary, he is under no responsibility to alleviate
that pain,” Megan Sewell, president of Students Against Animal
Jane Cartmill, a member of San Diego Animal Advocates
who dressed up for the protest in a Frankenstein costume, echoed the
“I think [the UCSD policy] sounds good on paper, but
like all of the institutional animal care guidelines, they are pretty
much self-regulated,” Cartmill said. “When you read the Animal Welfare
Act, you realize how much is left up to the discretion of the individual
investigator. Because of that, it’s like the fox guarding the hen house.
We’re not comforted by the fact that they have what they call a policy
of humane care.”
Chiba said that animal test subjects are usually
protected by regulations and cared for by researchers.
“The animals are covered by several government
regulations,” Chiba said. “You really can’t get good research when the
animals aren’t well cared for.”
The activists emphasized the importance of allocating
money to prevent health-related diseases, rather than using animal
testing to find new cures. Protesters cited statistics from the American
Cancer Society, stating that 70 to 80 percent of cancer is preventable,
but 70 to 80 percent of funding is not going toward prevention.
“We’re wasting billions of dollars on research that
has not really proven to be productive,” Sid Shapiro, a member of San
Diego Animal Advocates, said. “We’d be much better served by spending
that money on preventative health care.”
Chiba emphasized that the animal testing at school was
useful for medical and veterinary research.
“The one thing that people should be aware of is that
the animal research conducted at UCSD is aimed at medical research and
is even better for animals sometimes, because a lot of the research goes
toward veterinary techniques,” Chiba said.
Students Against Animal Suffering, which was involved
in the campaign to end the use of dog labs at UCSD and in a campaign
against fur clothing sold at Neiman Marcus, will disseminate more
information on animal testing for commercial and medical research on
campus April 22.
“We’d just like [UCSD] to start phasing out animal
testing and to take a responsible position because animal testing … is
outdated, it’s unnecessary, and it’s absolutely cruel,” Sewell said.