Letter to UW animal research committee | One Shared Planet

Rob Streiffer
Chairman, Forum on Animal Research Ethics

Dear Professor Streiffer,

I understand that the Forum on Research Animal Ethics (FARE) committee is interested in suggestions for making the Forum’s events as effective as possible.  I would like to make some suggestions.

First, some history.  The idea for FARE arose when UW–Madison was fighting successfully to prevent passage of Resolution 35 on the Dane County Board of Supervisors in 2010.  Provost Paul DeLuca sent two letters to supervisors.  In the first letter, he listed questions that would be answered publicly in FARE events.  In the second letter, he wrote:

I am confident that these sessions will address concerns of those supporting Resolution 35, and I hope you will join me in supporting these planned informational sessions rather than pursuing Resolution 35.

Obviously, Mr. DeLuca’s intention was to offer an alternative to Res. 35 that would answer certain questions, would satisfy the supporters of Res. 35, and would steer the supervisors away from supporting Res. 35.

The most important element of Res. 35 was public, independent consideration of two questions: “How are monkeys treated during experiments at UW–Madison?” and “Are the experiments on monkeys at UW–Madison ethical?”  Mr. DeLuca repeated the ethical question in his first letter.  He did not cite the question of treatment.

If FARE is going to meet Mr. DeLuca’s objectives, answer the questions that he cited, and provide an alternative to Res. 35 that will at least partially satisfy the supporters of Res. 35, FARE must inform the public about how monkeys are treated during experiments and it must engage the public in a meaningful discussion of the ethical question.

During two years of FARE events, the public has heard very little about the treatment of monkeys during experiments, and the discussion of the ethics of the experiments done on monkeys at UW–Madison has been brief and superficial.  Meanwhile, specific situations at UW–Madison that warrant transparency and public discussion — e.g., Ned Kalin’s maternal deprivation of monkeys and the flaws in UW–Madison’s caloric restriction protocol that were revealed by a similar study at the National Institute on Aging — have received no attention.

Ideas that the FARE committee might consider that would help them achieve their objectives include:

  1. Committee members need to develop a shared understanding of why the committee exists.  The history of Res. 35 and Paul DeLuca’s letters provide the answer.
  2. A presentation about monkeys: their emotions, cognitive abilities, relationships, natural habitats, similarities with people, ability to feel physical and emotional pain, et cet.
  3. A balanced presentation of the housing of monkeys and the effects of laboratory housing on them.
  4. A balanced presentation of the treatment of monkeys during experiments such as destruction of amygdalas, infection with SIV, head-caps, eye-coils, birth defects due to excess hormones, maternal deprivation, push/pull perfusion, micro-dialysis, eye damage in glaucoma research, caloric restriction, et cet. To read this entire article click the link below:

Letter to UW animal research committee | One Shared Planet.

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