Holding Scientists Accountable
- Holding Scientists Accountable
Today's featured scientist:
Jill M. Tall, PhD
Youngstown State University
One University Plaza
Youngstown, OH 44555 USA
ph: (330) 941-1387, fax: (330) 941-1483
On this first Saturday of September, 2007, Youngstown
State's college football team will open their season
against highly favored (31 points) Ohio State University.
Frenzied students will yell, cheerleaders cheer, the
band will play on, mascots will act silly, beer will be
consumed in pre-game tailgating parties, athletes will
run and pass and kick and score. All the while, few
members of Youngstown's academic community will be aware
of the dirty hush-hush secret horror being conducted
within the university's guarded animal research
laboratory. There is no reason to stand up and cheer for
Youngstown U. today.
More than five years ago, I came across a horribly
torturous rat study which added nothing to human
advancement other than advancing the career of one
zealous graduate student. I discussed that flawed
study with the scientist in question, hoping that
my effort would result in something good. I related
that conversation in a Notmilk column (April 18, 2002).
This week, I came across a similarly ridiculous study
published in the August 9, 2007 issue of the Journal
of Pain. One of the authors was the same young woman
with whom I had spoken to five years earlier.
In this 2007 study, rats were surgically invaded and nerves
in their spinal column were cut so that signals to various
limbs and internal organs were eliminated. This procedure
is called a sympathectomy. Rats were then pricked in the
paws and pain thresholds were determined for each laboratory
The April 18, 2002 column, revisited
TORTURING ANIMALS FOR SCIENCE
The headline read:
"A Diet Rich in Soy Products May Help Soothe Pain From
As I eagerly read the good-news article, my anticipated joy
turned to extreme sadness and frustration:
Scientists took male Sprague-Dawley rats and hurt them by
injecting them with a chemical substance called Freund's
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) calls the
use of Freund's Complete Adjuvant (FCA) a "painful
USDA defines "painful procedure" as:
"...any procedure that would reasonably be expected to cause
more than slight or momentary pain and/or distress in a
human being to which the procedure is being applied."
USDA allows the use of FCA to:
"To insure the most humane treatment of the lab animals
while obtaining necessary scientific data."
Jill Tall, the senior author, and colleagues induced pain in
laboratory rats, and then (incorrectly) concluded that soy
helped to reduce pain. How sad.
What is even sadder is that I called Jill Tall and had a
lovely talk with her. Jill is a post-doctoral graduate, and
she has enormous passion for her work.
I find her study to be extremely flawed, and told her why.
I cannot help but like her. I just hate the pain that she
causes animals while performing futile research in the name
Early on in our conversation, I asked Jill how she could
perform a digestive study on rats, and apply her data to
humans, when rats have completely different enzymes, and do
not even have gall bladders. When I told her that rats lack
this hepatic organ, her response was:
"I did not know that."
Jill compared rats eating soy protein to rats eating milk
protein (casein), and concluded that soy helped to reduce
pain. What she did not consider was that milk protein helps
to induce pain. I explained to her that casein is extremely
allergenic, and that after humans eat casein they produce
histamines, then mucous. Swelling and pain results. Her
"I did not know that."
Jill will one day have her paper published in the
prestigious Journal of Pain. I kid you not. There is such a
journal. (Tel: 319-335-7941).
Had the Marquis de Sade been a scientist, his publication of
choice would have been the Journal of Pain. Dr. Mengele (of
Nazi fame) and Jeffrey Hahmer most certainly would have been
Jill and I discussed animal rights issues. She told me that
she does not enjoy giving animals pain, and does so in the
name of science. I understand her. I once said the same
thing when I held innocent lives in my hand and causes
similar pain and death. Jill said:
"I am quite the animal advocate myself. I am convinced that
researchers make the best pet owners."
She may be right. Nietzche once said:
"You can never understand life until you hold death in your
Jill understands that life is precious. She just does not
understand the futility of animal research.
We had a friendly conversation, and Jill brought up the
issue of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
(PETA). She surprised me by saying:
"I have to draw my line in the sand. If I had those PETA
people in front of me, I would ask them to justify what they
do in light of the millions of people saved by the polio
vaccine, which was developed by using animal research."
I told Jill that the polio vaccine would have been approved
20 years earlier had it not been for the chimpanzees. I
explained that chimpanzees died horrible deaths when
injected with the polio vaccine. Rely upon animal studies
and one betrays humans. Her response:
"I did not know that."
Fact is, the polio vaccine was not approved for human use
until the completion of human trials. Like all new
pharmaceuticals, one never learns anything by animal
experimentation. Rat studies are just crap shoots. Sometimes
they work and sometimes they do not. It is not until human
studies are performed that mankind learns the true effects
of a new pharmaceutical.
Jill wants to do amazing things. She wants to cure cancers.
She wants to help people. She does not want to give pain to
animals, yet that is the system that exists, and therein is
both the problem and solution.
To Jill: We betray both the animals and the humans by
A rat cannot say:
"I have a headache. My stomach aches. I feel dizzy.
Something is wrong."
A human can do all of the above, and human tissue samples
now exist representing every form of disease known to
Do rats do better by drinking soymilk? Who gives a damn?
Does soymilk help soothe pain in rats? This is something
that I do not want to know.
Youngstown State University's website:
There are thousands of email addresses to be found at
their website. Click on one of more of those email
addresses and plant a seed so that this column educates
Youngstown's community about a horror story that needs
to immediately end.