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

Media Coverage

ANIMAL RESEARCH Activists challenge UI standards

Findings of flaws presented; university reasserts compliance

By Jim O Neal The Gazette

IOWA CITY — Pointing to the University of Iowa’s own documentation of flaws in the treatment of research animals at UI labs, animal rights activists Wednesday demanded that the university prove its claim that it fully safeguards the animals’ welfare. Now!

The university reiterated its assertion that it complies with legal and ethical standards.

Leana Stormont, president of the Iowa Law Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, held a press conference in front of Spence Laboratories of Psychology to call attention to the results of an investigation conducted by Stop Animal Exploitation Now!

S t o r m o n t , the Midwest representative of Stop Animal E x p l o i t a t i o n Now!, noted that the UI Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee d e t e r m i n e d that surgeries conducted on pigs in 2003 and 2004 deviated from the protocol approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The research technician responsible for the deviations was barred from further contact with live animals.

Also, Stormont noted, the committee last year was informed by an office of the National Institutes of Health that it had been tardy in conducting program reviews and facility inspections.

Stormont said five monkeys ‘‘were confined to abysmal conditions and subjected to repeated experiments’’ from 1987-2003. She further charged that rodents at UI labs are sometimes killed by ‘‘cervical dislocation,’’ a procedure she decried as cruel, rather than being humanely euthanized.

Stormont said the findings should spur public concern.

‘‘One can only wonder what additional violations are not being reported,’’ she said.

She said the university prohibits public inspection of laboratories where animal research is conducted because non-researchers would be repulsed by what they saw.

‘‘UI assures us all is well within its laboratories but will not allow anyone to see what is going on inside,’’ she said. ‘‘The burden of proof is on them to substantiate their claims about animal welfare. If we’re wrong, it would be very easy to prove us wrong.’’

Steve Maravetz, director of Health Science Relations at the UI, said the university is proud of its record on the treatment of lab animals.

‘‘We do animal research here, and we spend a great deal of time, energy and money to oversee that research,’’ he said. ‘‘We comply strictly with all federal guidelines on animal research. Beyond that, we adhere to the highest ethical standards in the use of these animals.’’

Stormont and Jim Jacobson, treasurer of the Defense Fund chapter, questioned the value of conducting biomedical research on non-human animals, calling it a poor predictor of human responses to illness and treatment. M a r a v e t z dismissed that assertion.

‘‘The body of evidence is o v e r w h e l m - ing,’’ he said. ‘‘The use of animals in research has moved the ball down the field in a whole host of areas. Obviously, we disagree on that. We think the stakes are too high. We’re talking about people’s lives here.’’

Contact the writer: (319) 339-3170 or jim.o’neal@gazettecommunications.com 

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