MIKE WINTERS/daily bruin senior staff
Sixty protesters came out to march against animal testing in front of
the UCLA Neuroscience and Genetics Research Center on July 11, claiming
that using animals for scientific research is unethical and unnecessary.
By Lauren Raab
DAILY BRUIN CONTRIBUTOR
Calling for the end of animal experimentation, protesters marched
from Westwood Village to the UCLA Neuroscience and Genetics Research
Center on July 11.
The 60 activists hoped to spread the message that animals are being
mistreated in UCLA research facilities and that medical research
conducted on animals does not benefit humans. The university strongly
refutes these statements.
Michael Budkie and Chris DeRose, the organizers of the protest, said
animal experimentation is merely a business venture designed to profit
"These animals are suffering for no reason except to keep people at
UCLA paid," said Budkie, executive director of the Ohio-based Stop
Animal Exploitation Now.
Budkie stressed that brain-mapping research in particular is a
commonly duplicated procedure that should be halted, since findings are
Amanda Banks, president of the California Biomedical Research
Association, disagrees. Banks said that when researchers are looking to
begin a research protocol involving animals, they must prove to the
federal government that their approach to the experiment is original and
that animals are required.
"You can't just do it because it strikes your fancy," Banks said.
She added that animal experimentation is very expensive.
"Researchers, if concerned more about profits than the greater good,
would not use animal research," Banks said. "Fiscally, it's not
Protesters also said findings from animal research do not apply to
humans, either because of the difference in genetics or problems with
the research environment.
"Animals have a whole different physiology than humans, so usually
it's just fraud," said Diana Wells, who joined the protest with
classmates from Soka University in Orange County.
Budkie said animal research subjects are often so stressed or
diseased that they are not representative of their own species, let
alone human beings.
"When primates are socially isolated, they begin to exhibit
self-injurious behavior," Budkie added. "Basically, the primate has gone
Banks said that research animals are genetically very similar to
humans – even mice share 95 percent of humans' DNA – and animal tests
have been very helpful in curing human diseases.
"Mouse models of breast cancer have helped us bring breast cancer
survival rates to an all-time high," she said.
Banks said it would not be in researchers' best interest to use
unhealthy animals in their experiments.
"Researchers don't want animals polluting their data pool that are
not representative. It's not good research," she said.
UCLA spokeswoman Judy Lin said the university has many mechanisms in
place to prevent animal abuse, including a whistle-blower program in
which lab and facilities workers are asked to report any concerns they
"The university has a very large concern that research animals be
humanely cared for. We're in compliance with all the regulations –
federal and otherwise – for animal research," Lin said.