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In March 2012, the pro-animal rights group Stop UBC Animal Cruelty accused the University of British Columbia of performing unethical and cruel experiments on animals. The organization joined People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a larger protest pressuring eight major international airlines to stop shipping animals to research labs around the world, such as the UBC lab in Vancouver.
But after investigation into the accusations, the Canadian Council on Animal Care found no evidence of any animal cruelty taking place in the labs. However, one major airline, Air France, has already caved to the pressure of the organizations and canceled shipments of monkeys to research labs.
Animal experimentation has led to numerous medical breakthroughs, such as the discovery of the diphtheria toxin, the development of heart valve replacement surgery and the invention of the polio vaccine. Organizations such as PETA have no appreciation for the millions of lives these discoveries have saved. Instead they attempt to limit such research for the sole reason of feeling bad for the animals and label the practice of animal experimentation as ineffective; sadly, they are misinformed.
In the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section of its website, PETA claims “more lives could be saved and suffering stopped by educating people on the importance of avoiding fat and cholesterol, the dangers of smoking, reducing alcohol and other drug consumption, exercising regularly, and cleaning up the environment than by all the animal tests in the world.” But they provide no evidence or statistic to back this up. It’s therefore hard to take this claim seriously, especially since under another FAQ, PETA makes the outrageous assertion that “Many of the roads we drive on were built by slaves,” while discussing the ethics of using drugs developed through animal testing.
Actually, PETA, slavery ended in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. Most of the roads we drive on weren’t built until the interstate highway act of 1956. With such an egregious historical error displayed on their site, it’s difficult to believe or trust anything PETA says. The UBC lab in Vancouver, falsely accused of animal cruelty, probably feels the same way.
Animal experimentation is the key to our current medical prowess. Without it, insulin would never exist, thus dooming diabetics. Heart surgery would still be in an archaic form, as no surgeon would be able to practice it except on live humans, a daunting prospect. Right now, researchers are using animal tests to search for a cure to HIV/AIDS. Without animal experiments, all new treatments would take far longer to isolate and test, as they would all have to depend on the availability of human trials. This would slow down medical research to a snail’s pace, which means life or death for some; patients with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease being tested, observed and experimented on in pigs, can’t wait that long for the development of new treatments and therapies.
Groups like PETA need to be restricted. Instead of listening to their incorrect assumptions, we should press on in medical research, something that will benefit all humans. While the freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment, that does not mean we need to listen to them. Students, as well as large institutions that fund research and airlines that ship animals to laboratories, should ignore the counsel of animal rights activists and do what is right for humanity.
By Jack Schoelz