'I Wish I Could Make All Animal Experimenters Feel What I Felt When I Had My Aha Moment'
Alternatives to Animal Testing, Experimentation and Dissection - An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Dylan Forest, Dr. Frances Cheng, Animal People Forum
August 2020

Research institutions have little motivation to eliminate animal testing because the current system is self-sufficient: Animal testing is used to publish papers; animal experimenters can use publications to apply for more funding; funding agencies (consisting of animal experimenters) fund more animal experiments; research institutions get overhead money from the grants and further support animal testing (e.g., with related infrastructure such as animal testing facilities); and funding is used towards more animal testing. It’s a vicious cycle, and industry plays a big role in this as well.

Capuchin Monkey
A capuchin, formerly used in research, arrives at a primate sanctuary. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / NEAVS.

When Frances Cheng was working towards her PhD in physiology and biophysics, experimenting on animals was just how things were done. But then she started to question things, and she realized that her animal experiments were not only cruel, but also likely to teach her very little about human health. Along with this, she also learned that there was no place for someone critical of animal experimentation in her graduate program or her field of study.

Ultimately, Dr. Cheng finished her PhD, and moved on to dedicate her career to ending animal experimentation. She now works for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as a senior science adviser. Not only is Dr. Cheng an expert on the fight to liberate animals from harmful research, she also offers the valuable perspective of someone who was an insider and who knows very well how scientists are created by a system that trains them not to question animal-based research methods.

In an interview with Dr. Cheng, we discussed her “awakening” during her PhD program, whether change from within the scientific community is possible, and the important work she’s been doing since walking away from animal experiments.


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