Human Exceptionalism

Animal Researcher on the Air

Our friend P. Michael Conn, Associate Director and Senior Scientist of the Oregon National Primate Research Center, was interviewed on the radio about his fine book The Animal Research War. (Before the interview begins, the hosts discuss the best time to eat sushi and the genetic makeup and expression of dogs.) Then, Dr. Conn explains the importance of animals in research and the terrorism to which he and other researchers have been subjected. From the interview:

There is a very real and very violent war going on right now against animal research. It’s almost invisible in the media…We want people to know that these extremist groups are having a strangling effect on drug development; things we need so desperately…We are in the middle, we are the welfarists, we want the best things for animals, we want the advantages that come from animal research to be used in people and animals, and we will stand for nothing short of outstanding animal care. And it is true that at our facility the primates are very well cared for and in many situations better cared for than the average poverty line child in the United States…

Right now we are in a situation where UCLA is suing extremists to stop a campaign of terror, vandalism, and threats directed at faculty and administrators. A UCLA van was firebombed sitting in Irvine, California less than a month ago. [I think this interview is a few months old.] The University of Utah is suppoting legislation to protect their scientists so their children aren’t menaced, their pictures aren’t put on the web, they don’t receive razor blades in the mail. At the University of California Santa Cruz, there was a home invasion less than a month ago. We have colleagues in Portland whose cars have been spray painted and covered with paint stripper, whose homes are painted with animal rights graffitis. Fire bombs are going off in L.A.. The Society for Neuroscience has felt it necessary to issue a “best practices” document. This is unusual because they are actually giving universities instructions on how to protect their researchers from extremists. This is a civilized country in the year 2008. What is going on?

But animal rights is a peaceable movement!

Conn talks about the hypocrisy of animal rights activists take advantage of treatments that required animals in their development [as they should, and as I have also noted].

It’s a good and important interview. Check it out.