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I guess it was only a matter of time.

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They are furry poster children for a controversial cause, and their faces are appearing at a shopping mall near you.

Pookie the diabetic gray cat. Maggie the golden retriever and breast cancer survivor. Buddy the bulldog, healthy after heart surgery. Lucy the orange and white tabby, recipient of a kidney transplant.

These cuddly creatures, declares a national advertising campaign, are alive and well because of drugs, techniques and procedures developed and refined through experiments on cats, dogs and other critters. "Animal Research Saves Animals," concludes the campaign, which is making appearances in Northern California and across the nation in pamphlets, posters, public service announcements and mall exhibits.

The "Survivors" campaign, billed as a public education effort by the Foundation for Biomedical Research, is drawing fire from animal welfare groups that label it misleading and manipulative. Fearing reprisals, a handful of malls around the country, including one in Santa Rosa, have refused the advertisements. Most, including the Galleria in Roseville, have welcomed them, the organization's president said, though the Roseville mall pulled the displays this week without explanation.

"This is a very important message," said Frankie Trull, president of the foundation, which is based in Washington, D.C. "Most people know about the human benefits of animal research but have not thought about the veterinary benefits derived from it. That's what we are communicating.

"But animal activism has been so aggressive in recent years that some malls are refusing to use the displays. It's astounding, really. It's very concerning." Trull said four malls so far have rejected the ads, citing potential controversy around animal rights.

Alan Berger, director of the Animal Protection Institute, a national group based in Sacramento, called the "Survivors" campaign deceptive.

"This foundation is a lobbying and public relations group for companies that engage in animal research," he said of the biomedical group. "They promote the use of animals in medical research, but the truth is that many of the breakthroughs that they are talking about could have been accomplished without the use of animals."

The foundation, in its Web site, describes itself as "the leading voice of scientific reason and medical progress in the ongoing, sometimes violent debate" surrounding animal research. The chairman of its board of directors is Michael DeBakey, a renowned heart surgeon and chancellor of the Baylor University College of Medicine.

The organization touts the progress made in veterinary medicine as a result of animal research, including treatments for hip dysplasia in dogs, the development of drugs to treat feline diabetes and better diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in animals.

Donald Klingborg, associate dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, said it is "absolutely, uncategorically" true that animal research has led to important advances in veterinary medicine. For example, he said, research done on animals at Davis uncovered the cause of a once-fatal heart condition in cats known as cardiomyopathy.

"I was in private practice for 20 years in Merced County, and I saw this condition almost weekly," he said. "We could really do nothing to stop the progress of the disease, and the animals simply weakened and died."

Veterinary scientists at Davis discovered that the cause was an amino acid deficiency that could be eliminated by adding the chemical to commercial pet food. The disease has virtually disappeared, said Klingborg. But to accomplish the breakthrough, researchers had to induce the terrible condition in cats. Dogs, and even humans, may ultimately benefit.

Veterinary researchers at the school now are using former shelter dogs to test a potential vaccine for sterilizing canines, said Klingborg. That research might lead to fewer unwanted dogs and cats, about 20,000 of which are put to death in Sacramento County alone each year.

Klingborg said he was unfamiliar with the "Survivors" campaign. "But if it's factual, and it sounds like it is, I believe it could be an effective educational tool."

Berger disagreed, arguing that the foundation overstates the benefits of animal research. Tens of thousands of animals are used in medical research every year in the United States, in some cases subjected to "torturous" procedures, he said, yet few of these experiments lead directly to important advances.

"I couldn't tell you that no medical progress has ever been made from using animals in research," he said. "But I have real doubts as to whether researchers really need to use them. I believe that if we really made an effort to develop different testing protocols, we could completely eliminate the use of animals." Many procedures can be just as effectively tested on human tissues and in computer models, he said.

While that is true in some cases, Klingborg responded, live animals will always be necessary in medical research.

"We at UC Davis are the world leaders in developing alternatives to the use of animals in research," he said. "But even the most sophisticated computer model cannot mimic" all of the body's complex movements and actions.

On a recent afternoon at the Galleria in Roseville, one of dozens of malls that has featured the research foundation's advertisements in recent weeks, many shoppers breezed past the "Survivors" display without a second glance, drawn instead to the silk teddies and free bra fittings at Victoria's Secret and the cropped jean jackets at Abercrombie & Fitch. Those who took the time to consider the ads had mixed feelings.

"My impression is they are trying to make it seem OK to do research on animals," said Kristen Branton, 30, of Granite Bay, as he studied the display. "But how do we really know that these animals were sick in the first place? I'm not sure I trust it. I would need more hard facts."

Branton and his friend Sam Viele, 24, of Roseville, said they would support using animals in research if the critters were unwanted and otherwise would have been condemned to death at shelters.

"If it's going to die anyway, why not use it to help people and other animals?" Viele asked.

Renee Nichols, 35, visiting from Las Vegas, and Jeanette Page, 35, of Reno, said the campaign intrigued them. But they, too, wanted more information.

"My first reaction is that I don't like the idea of using animals in research, especially stray animals," said Nichols. "But what if it really is saving animal and human lives? What if it's used for the greater good? It does make you think.

"It would be nice if scientists could find other ways to get the answers," said Nichols. "But it's not a perfect world."

The debate will rage no longer at the Galleria. The mall's spokeswoman, Stephanie Ringey, said the "Survivors" posters have been removed after two weeks of display at the mall.

Ringey offered no explanation for the action. The display was not scheduled to be scuttled so soon, she said. But she insisted its disappearance has nothing to do with controversy about animal research.

"This was not in response to anything in particular," said Ringey. "We just made a decision to take it down."
http://www.sacbee.com/content/lifest...-7267568c.html
 

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I would like to ask the Biomedical community the following question:

Why not perform the research on live human beings? There are about a billion of ultrapoor human beings out there who are more than happy to give away their body parts or be subject to experiments in exchange for monetary compensation that can be used to support their loved ones or communities. They live like animals, eat like animals, and sometimes don't even have clothes on their backs. So why not consider them as sentient animals and treat them accordingly? At least they are animals willing to participate in your experiments. Don't force your experiments on unwilling animals who cannot decide for themselves.
 

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Whether research is helping humans or non-humans, research on animals is not consentual, and in many cases, not even potentially therapuetic (ie they take healthy animals, injure or infect them, and then experiment, instead of trying a new experimental procedure on an animal that is already sick).

The answer to Rushabh is a) we do experiment on humans, after there is some animal evidence and other evidence showing that it could work. Human participants are absolutely crucial for medical progress. Even after something is approved by the FDA, new users in effect are guniea pigs, many of us have been and don't even know it. For example, drugs not approved for children are often prescribed to children. These children are essentially taking part in a mass experiment. And yes, some people experience severe problems or death from some experiments.

Why not pay the poor? People are compensated for their time and trouble, but cannot be offered an amount so large that it would entice people to ignore their good judgment in deciding to participate, or so little that it would only entice desparate people to participate despite their better judgment (ie poor, drug addicts, etc.) These are part of current ethical guidelines in the US for human subjects in research.

As far as the poor already living like animals, not having clothes on their backs, etc. You may want to elaborate why that justifies enticing them to participate in possibly dangerous or painful experiments that they may not fully understand for the advancement of medicine they may never have access to.
 

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Originally posted by Thalia

As far as the poor already living like animals, not having clothes on their backs, etc. You may want to elaborate why that justifies enticing them to participate in possibly dangerous or painful experiments that they may not fully understand for the advancement of medicine they may never have access to.
Don't worry, it will be made perfectly clear to the poor people what the risks are. We can give them a lot of exaggerated horror stories just to get the point across as to how dangerous the experiments are.

So the poor people have a choice. They can choose to continue to live like animals or they can subject themselves to unknown experiments in exchange for monetary compensation that may make their lives easier. The choice is up to them. I think it is unethical NOT to provide this choice to the people. They don't really give a damn about whether the experiments will benefit them medically because medicines will not fill their stomachs and provide them with clothing and dignity. Only money can. That is the sad reality.

I believe that all experiments (from the first stages all the way to the last stages) should be done at the human level or never be done at all. There is really no justification for testing on any non-sentient beings as they are not capable of providing permission. Only human beings can do that.

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Why not pay the poor? People are compensated for their time and trouble, but cannot be offered an amount so large that it would entice people to ignore their good judgment in deciding to participate, or so little that it would only entice desparate people to participate despite their better judgment (ie poor, drug addicts, etc.) These are part of current ethical guidelines in the US for human subjects in research.
Human life is extremely cheap nowadays. You can buy 100 children for $100 each and put them in perpetual slavery if you want. If someone chooses to be subject to dubious experiments in exchange for $1000, ours is not to question why. Much like we don't question why mothers sell their children into bonded labor for pittance or why people are dying from malaria even though most of the deaths could have been prevented if mosquito netting was available.

Ethics is an artifical concept that is extremely contradictory. If it is not ethical to entice poor people into becoming subjects of experiments for $1000, then how is it ethical to allow children to continue to die from curable diseases?
 

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Because ethically, inaction is not equivalent to action.

Pushing a child off a bridge into a river is not the same as not jumping into save a child in a raging river.
 

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Rushabh- I understand that some of the ethical standards we quibble about and get outraged about in the US pale in comparison to ethical standards throughout the rest of the world. I also understand that it may seem silly to worry about medical ethics when there are poor in the US or children dying of cholera in the third world. I would like to see more equivalency myself, as well. However, I would like to raise the standards of living and ethical consideration for the rest of the world, not lower the standards of those at an advantage.

Anyway, one of my main arguments against research on animals is that it is often for chronic, preventable diseases brought on by western lifestyles (ie cancer, heart disease, diabetes), or diseases one can only get if one has the advantage of living long enough (ie alzheimers) when there are still people in other countries and our own who don't get simple cures that already exist. Like clean water (The greatest health improvement in the histroy of humankind), vaccines, antibiotics, proper nutrition.

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Ethics is an artifical concept that is extremely contradictory. If it is not ethical to entice poor people into becoming subjects of experiments for $1000, then how is it ethical to allow children to continue to die from curable diseases?
Neither is ethical. I don't see how experimenting on the poor has anything to do with not giving children cures that we already have.

R- you seem to have a bee in the bonnet.
 
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