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Talking with my Company about Animal Tests

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  • Artemisd123@hotmail.com
    Refer to Letter #2905 at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AnimalAdvocacy/message/2905 (Be sure to contact your organization s management if they are sponsoring
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28, 2002
      Refer to Letter #2905 at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AnimalAdvocacy/message/2905
      (Be sure to contact your organization's management if they are sponsoring the May 19th walk, or any event that ultimately funds animal research.)

      My Company's Response to Sending this Letter & a Follow-On Letter (below):

      My company is one of the sponsors of the Juvenile Diabetes Research
      Foundation's "Walk for the Cure" event on May 19th. I sent the
      letter referenced above to our senior corporate officers, with copies to
      my boss and my boss's boss. I was very gratified to hear that my
      boss's boss, a very astute and thoughtful man, printed out my letter
      to discuss with his wife. Their oldest son is a researcher at MIT,
      so I'm sure it inspired some reconsideration of the topic. Even if
      they "pooh-pooh'd" it, this might have been the first time they
      discussed the moral, ethical and scientific demerits of animal tests,
      and they next time the issue comes up they will be more receptive.

      Anyway, a week later I got a response from my company's VP of Public
      Affairs telling me he'd spoken with JDRF officials and could ensure
      me that all their research animals were treated well. He attached
      the JDRF's statement on "animal welfare." I sent him the following
      reply. You may want to keep a copy of this letter to use if you get
      a similar response from your own organization's management. Please
      let us hear about YOUR EXPERIENCE talking with your organization
      about animal tests.

      =====================================================================

      Dear _________________;

      Thank you for discussing my concerns with representatives of the JDRF
      and providing me with their Statement on Use of Animals in Biomedical
      Research. While I'm sure it is the expectation of
      the JDRF that all animals will be humanely treated, it is the sad
      reality that the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) does very little to protect
      animals in laboratories, as it merely provides minimal requirements
      for housing, food, transportation, etc. It puts no limits on painful
      procedures that a researcher may perform, as long as study design is
      approved by the IACUC. (IACUC members are usually other animal
      researchers at related institutions.) Due to scarce funding, animal
      care guidelines are not always strictly enforced and many esteemed
      organizations have been cited for violations of the AWA. Just last
      week an article appeared about AWA violations at Johns Hopkins.

      But the most important reason to designate [ORGANIZATION'S NAME]
      Sponsorship Funds Essential Diabetes Prevention Programs and other
      Non-Animal Testing Programs is that animal tests and studies are just
      plan bad science. Since my first letter to you I've done additional
      reading and identified a particularly relevant article by Ray Greek,
      M.D. Dr. Greek received his M.D. in anesthesiology and became
      interested in the validity of the animal model of disease while
      discussing treatment options with his wife Jean who was completing
      her clinical rotations at the University of Wisconsin at Madison
      veterinary school. She would often come home with questions about how
      to treat certain cases. He would reply with the correct answer as it
      applied to humans. But, in almost all cases, what cured a human
      didn't work the animals, and vice-versa.

      This led the Drs. Greek to spend a decade studying comparative
      anatomy and physiology, reviewing treatment notes, and perusing
      scientific literature as well as medical history books. Jean's
      expertise in animal anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, combined
      with Ray's expertise in the same for humans, allowed this
      husband/wife team to examine the similarities and differences between
      the species with greater depth. Their work resulted in Sacred Cows
      and Golden Geese, a book that focuses on the science of this hotly
      debated topic. Here is an excerpt as it pertains to diabetes:

      Q:Wasn't it through lab animals that scientists discovered diabetes
      and developed insulin?

      A: Pro-animal experiment contingencies always site the development of
      insulin as support for continued animal testing. They assert, with
      justification, that without insulin harvested from slaughterhouses
      many diabetics would have lost their lives. Whereas it is true that
      animals have figured largely in the history of diabetic research and
      therapy, their use has not been necessary and furthermore has not
      always advanced science.

      Diabetes is a very serious disease, even today affecting ten to
      fourteen million Americans. It is a leading cause of blindness,
      amputation, kidney failure and premature death. Although the clinical
      signs of human diabetes have been known since the first century AD,
      not until the late eighteenth century did physicians associate the
      disease with characteristic changes in the pancreas seen at autopsy.
      As this was difficult to reproduce in animals, many scientists
      disputed the pancreas' role in the disease.

      Nearly a century later, in 1869, scientists identified insulin-
      producing pancreatic cells that malfunction in diabetic patients.
      Other human pancreatic conditions, such as pancreatic cancer and
      pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) were seen to produce
      diabetic symptoms, reinforcing the disease's link with the pancreas.

      Animal experimenters continued to interrupt the nicely progressing
      course of knowledge regarding the pancreas and diabetes. When they
      removed pancreases from dogs, cats, and pigs, sure enough, the
      animals did become diabetic. However, the animals' symptoms led to
      conjecture that diabetes was a liver disease, linking sugar transport
      to the liver and glycogen. These animal studies threw diabetes
      research off track for many years.

      In 1882, a physician named Dr. Marie noted the association between
      acromegaly, a pituitary disorder, and sugar in the urine, thus
      connecting sugar metabolism and the pituitary gland. Another doctor,
      Atkinson, published data in 1938 that revealed 32.8 per cent of all
      acromegalic patients suffered from diabetes. Bouchardat published
      similar findings in 1908. For some reason, the scientist who
      reproduced this in dogs, Bernardo Houssay, ended up winning the Nobel
      Prize in 1947. Obviously, it is hardly fair to say dogs were
      responsible for his kudo, since knowledge predated Houssay's
      experiments and any number of human-based methods would have produced
      the same findings.

      In the early 1920s two scientists, John Macleod and Frederick
      Banting, isolated insulin by extracting it from a dog. For this they
      received a Nobel Prize. Macleod admitted that their contribution was
      not the discovery of insulin, but rather reproducing in the dog lab
      what had already been demonstrated in man. They were not obliged to
      extract insulin from dogs, because certainly there was ample tissue
      from humans. They merely did so because it was convenient. In that
      same year Banting and another experimenter, named Best, gave dog
      insulin to a human patient with disastrous results. Note what
      scientists said about the dog experiments in 1922:

      The production of insulin originated in a wrongly conceived,
      wrongly conducted, and wrongly interpreted series of experiments.

      In coming years scientists continued to refine the animal-derived
      substance. Though it is true that beef and pork insulin saved lives,
      it also created an allergic reaction in some patients. Beef insulin
      has three amino acids that differ from human amino acids while pork
      insulin has only one. Whereas this sounds negligible, it takes very
      little amino acid discrepancy to undermine health. (Only one deviant
      amino acid is enough to produces certain life threatening diseases,
      such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia.) Injecting animal-
      derived insulin also presented the sizable danger of transmitting
      viruses that cross from one species to another. Had researchers then
      recognized these potentialities as well as the gulf of differences
      between humans and farm animals, scientists would have hastened to
      develop human insulin more quickly.

      The ability to treat patients suffering from diabetes without giving
      them insulin injections was discovered by chance on humans. Today,
      the administration of oral anti-hyperglycemics, which arose from
      serendipity and self-experimentation, eliminates the need for insulin
      injections in many patients. Diabetes is still stunningly enigmatic,
      in large part due to our continued reliance on the animal model. Most
      clinicians believe that strict glucose control though insulin
      injections offers advantages over a less regimented treatment plan.
      However, insulin is a treatment not a cure for diabetes. The exact
      biochemical process through which insulin regulates blood sugar is
      not yet known.

      -- Ray Greek, M.D., and Jean Swingle Greek, D.V.M.

      As I look through the list of esteemed scientists and researchers
      associated with JDRF research projects, I see that many of them have
      based their entire careers, livelihoods, reputations, followings,
      programs and institutions on the animal model; making critical
      discourse difficult, as those with a vested interest in animal
      experimentation usually refuse to even discuss this topic in a public
      forum. Often such a community of researchers makes little attempt to
      develop alternative models towards solutions of the problems, shows
      no concern for attempts to evaluate the theory in relation to others,
      and is selective in considering data which contradicts its
      assumptions. German philosopher Jurgen Habermas "stressed the
      importance of public debate and rational consensus for preventing the
      domination of society by one group of interests. Consensus suffers
      inaccuracy when relevant opinions are suppressed or discounted."
      [Curd, Martin and J. A. Cover. Philosophy of Science Norton 1998 p
      244.]

      The JDRF is in the enviable position of being able to sponsor genuine
      scientific debate on this subject while working with its industry and
      government partners to update existing regulations that overly rely
      on animal tests, thus stifling the incentive for scientific method
      that "delivers the goods" in terms of human cures and disease
      prevention.

      Once again I ask you to designate [ORGANIZATION'S NAME] sponsorship
      funds for essential diabetes prevention programs and other non-animal
      testing programs and next year to consider selecting a charity from
      those participating in the Humane Charity Seal of Approval Program
      at: http://www.humaneseal.org/approved.html

      Thank you for your consideration.
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