The Corner

Animal-Rights Activism and the Usual Media Double-Standards

Nature magazine this week reports on a survey about the effects of animal-rights activism on biomedical research, and the results are stunning

A poll of nearly 1,000 biomedical scientists, conducted by Nature, reveals the widespread impact of animal-rights activism. Extreme attacks are rare, and there does not seem to have been any increase in the rate of their incidence in the past few years, but almost one-quarter of respondents said that they or someone they know has been affected negatively by activism. . . [My emphasis]

Animal researchers who said that they or someone they knew had been affected by activism wrote about incidents ranging from anonymous threats and protests outside laboratories to vandalism, ‘liberation’ of animals, physical attacks by masked activists and bombs both real and simulated. “Home damaged, young children terrorized, death threat, etc,” reports one genomics researcher matter-of-factly. A small number, about 15% (26 respondents), who had been negatively affected by activism said that they had changed the direction or practice of their research as a result. After encountering violent protests, one US academic was “much less willing to conduct any studies on non-human primates, despite their absolute critical relevance for neuro-protection research”.

Nature magazine articles often get big play in the mainstream media, especially if they report dire news about climate change. But so far there has been barely a peep of interest in this survey that I can find.

Imagine the kind of play this survey would get if it found that pro-life activism had affected the practices of one-quarter of American physicians.

Steven F. Hayward — Stephen F. Hayward is a senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of a two-volume political history, The Age of Reagan.

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