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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Media Coverage

PROTEST: Group criticizes University of Iowa animal research

By Tom Owen The Gazette

IOWA CITY — An animal rights activist Thursday criticized two University of Iowa researchers for wasting tax dollars in redundant studies, and she called on the UI to release records on its primate research.

Leana Stormont, a UI law school student, held a press conference in front of UI’s Spence Labs to discuss the issue Thursday afternoon. She was speaking as the Midwest coordinator for Stop Animal Exploitation Now.

Her group requested a batch of records from UI under the state’s Open Records law. The group asked for all the active research proposals involving primates, health care records associated with those primates and reports that UI researchers file when primates die.

Linda Kettner, a UI spokeswoman, said she knew of no reason the UI would not comply with the group’s request for records.

During the news conference, Stormont singled out UI psychology professors John Freeman and Amy Poremba. They were among the researchers whose labs were damaged in a Nov. 14 breakin at Spence Labs.

Stormont said Freeman and Poremba are repeating already-existing research or research being done elsewhere. She said the National Institutes of Health currently funds 35 grants in Freeman’s research area — neural information processing in rats.

‘‘This is not about science,’’ she said in a news release. ‘‘This is about money — attracting hundreds of thousands of dollars to UI’s coffers.’’

Freeman could not be reached for comment.

Stormont cited an article Poremba recently published in the scientific journal Nature. In the article, Poremba said ‘‘it’s already known’’ that the left hemisphere of a human brain is involved in processing language.

But Poremba said her most recent article does not test that belief in a repetitive study; instead, it helped map a specific part of the rhesus monkey brain that processes complex sounds.

She also said that Nature is one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world. ‘‘They don’t publish redundant studies,’’ she said.

Stormont said Stop Animal Exploitation Now has no ties to the Animal Liberation Front, which took responsibility for the November break-in at Spence Labs.

In that incident, masked activists freed hundreds of rats and mice, overturned chemicals and damaged computer equipment.

Stormont said she held the press conference because the UI has not been forthcoming with information about animal research on campus.

In recent months, UI spokesman Steve Parrott has acknowledged that UI researchers are involved in primate research, but he would not say how many primates were being used or where, citing potential security problems.

Contact the writer: (319) 339-3158 or tom.owen@gazettecommunications.com  

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