Monkeys and Beagles 3-26-15 Meeting Summary

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Thank you to the 15 people who attended the meeting last night, including Jeremy Beckham, who works at the Beagle Freedom Project, and whose full transcript and recording is below.

Kalin and Open Records: Part 1

Kalin Summary

Dr. Kalin is a primate researcher at UW Madison. He was at the center of public outrage a few months ago (although the Alliance has been following this for multiple years) because news came out about a maternal deprivation study he was planning to undertake with baby monkeys. The monkeys would be separated from their mothers, exposed to various stressors like humans and snakes, subjected to invasive tests (blood draws, skin biopsies), and then killed at between 1- 2 years of age. Their brains would be dissected, and the findings were supposed to help us understand anxiety in humans. You can read the original protocol here.

Multiple people inside and outside the university were opposed. Dane County Supervisor Al Matano was so upset that he created Resolution 275, encouraging the supervisors to stop this terrible experiment. You can read the resolution here, and watch the hearing here. Another person of note is UW bioethicist Robert Strieffer, who spoke on his own behalf (not the UW’s, as he makes clear in his statement) at the Resolution 275 hearing. I’m excerpting his words below:

This study, by taking baby monkeys away from their mothers at birth, subjecting them to numerous tests that will cause fear and anxiety, and, finally, killing them,           is indisputably going to cause the monkeys a great deal of harm and a great deal of psychological suffering…And although  I hope that this research, if it continues, will produce new information that will contribute to our helping the many people who suffer from anxiety or depression, I don’t think this extreme amount of suffering is ethically justified by that speculative hope.

I have Dr. Streiffer’s full transcript, which I can share if requested. You can also watch his testimony here.

Kalin Update

So, just a couple of weeks ago, the medical researcher at the Wisconsin State Journal contacted me for a quote.

This guy. Image from WSJ site.

He told me that Kalin had decided to do the study without the maternal deprivation and wanted to know how I felt. I told him, of course, that there are still a lot of horrible things the experiment is doing to these poor monkeys, but that any amount of suffering removed from their lives is a positive. You can read the article here.`

There are a lot of bizarre things about this update, and I’ll cover some of them below, but the message to take away is that this experiment is still cruel and unjustified. 

Why this is strange

I’m excerpting Dr. Sujatha Ramakrishna’s letter to the editor in full, because it is perfectly put:

UW-Madison’s complete turnaround on monkey maternal deprivation experiments highlights the lack of ethical oversight on this issue.

For months, UW faculty vociferously defended this research as being vital to the advancement of human health. But now, the lead investigator has suddenly decided that maternal deprivation studies are not necessary after all.

It makes one wonder how many other useless experiments have been approved by UW’s animal research committee in the past, and how many will continue to be approved in the future. Their review process is clearly not working, and is in need of a major overhaul.

Aaaaand boom goes the dynamite!

As researchers and animal activists know, there is a lengthy, extensive process of review before experiments are okayed. This is the oversight that researchers always refer to when we say there needs to be more oversight. To change the experiment partway through is grossly inappropriate, and Dr. Sujatha Ramakrishna captures that exquisitely.

Second the reasoning is, well…see for yourself:

Dr. Ned Kalin said he decided to keep the monkeys with their mothers in the weeks after birth because other research found removing them doesn’t increase anxiety as expected, not because of complaints by animal rights activists.

“We’re changing the experiment based on science, not based on pressure that I’ve had,” Kalin said

While Kalin and his colleagues were developing a brain scanner coil to use in the new study, he decided to study another group of monkeys that had been neglected or abused by their mothers naturally and thus removed from them.

That study involved 25 monkeys removed from their mothers and 25 monkeys not removed from their mothers.

All of the monkeys were exposed to snakes and humans who didn’t make eye contact with them. The tests showed that the monkeys removed from their mothers were not more anxious.

“We actually found less anxiety, to our surprise,” Kalin said.

Pretty much. Via Giphy.

On one hand, Kalin couldn’t really say that he’s changing the experiment because the public is unhappy, because there is just a huge us vs. them thing happening between researchers and anyone who cares about animal welfare. Okay, that’s fine. But the finding that the monkeys removed from their mothers are less anxious and that’s why he’s changing the experiment? I just find that…surprising. Surprising and a little suspicious, as anyone who has been around children would.

Whatever the reason, I am glad those poor monkeys will be suffering slightly less. But we need to keep in mind that these experiments are still institutionalized animal abuse.

HSUS puts it well:

Text:

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are poised to begin lethal experiments on baby monkeys in the coming months in an attempt to study the development of anxiety and depression in humans.

The University recently decided NOT to include one of the most controversial parts of the study, which involved permanently removing 20 newborn monkeys from their mothers within hours or days of birth and forcing them to live in isolation for weeks. We certainly welcome this change; however, if the study moves forward as planned, 40 baby monkeys will still be removed from their mothers at six months of age — causing distress for both the babies and mothers — and will be subjected to invasive testing throughout their short lives before being killed so their brains can be dissected. The monkeys will be put through all of this despite serious concerns that remain about the ethics, validity and necessity of this study.

And, honestly, with the discovery that the maternal deprivation doesn’t cause stress, how are we to trust any part of the experiment now? How can we trust the snakes will cause stress, or the humans? Maybe they’ll cause less stress and they are now unnecessary…

snakes gif

Tell em.

Bizarre.

Side note: If you practice meditation or mindfulness, but are unhappy with Dr. Davidson’s and Dr. Kalin, etc. experimenting on animals at UW and want to practice with a group that cares about animals, check out the Madison chapter of Dharma Voices for Animals. That’s the link to their facebook, or you can reach the organizer at dharmavoicesforanimals.madison@gmail.com.

Open Records

Wisconsin has an open records law that is part of a national series of laws called “sunshine laws.” The laws increase transparency. Wisconsin’s current law says that citizens can request records from government entities, including UW Madison research records.

As I’ve written about in other posts, this access is now threatened by a policy item in the 2015 budget bill. The item states:

“The bill creates an exception to the open records law for information produced or collected by or for UWSA faculty or staff with respect to commercial, scientific, or technical research until that information is publicly disseminated or patented.”

If you care about freedom of information, you need to speak out against this bill. If you care about animals, you need to speak out against this bill. 

There are a lot of reasons to be unhappy with the current budget bill, and if we don’t speak out against this item, it may slip by.

In the words of an advocate:

My sense is that this is NOT an issue on lawmakers’ radar; that means it could very well pass with other proposals that are included in a sweeping package of changes affecting the UW.

And once something becomes law, it’s really hard to reverse, as we were reminded later in the meeting by Jeremy’s mention of the UW animal cruelty exemption.

What you can do

We need people to organize leafleting, to table at the farmer’s market, to speak out against the bill, to plan and do fundraising for a potential primate research ethics conference, and more. Add your name here, or email me at hannah@allanimals.org.

THIS MONDAY, there is a hearing at Madison East High School with Sen Erpenbach and Rep. Tayler, 5 – 8 pm. Please come if you can. If you live elsewhere, look here for other hearing dates (credit to AFSCME).

sunshine laws

From, of course, the 2009 production. Via wikipedia.

Also, please look here (Joint Finance Members and Contact) to see if you have any of these representatives. If you do, contact them immediately. They are on the Joint Finance Committee and they have the most say in the budget bill’s final outcome. If you know people who live in their districts (see: Joint Finance Districts), contact them and ask them to do the same.

Ridglan and Beagle Freedom Project: Part 2

Our friend Jeremy was nice enough to join us for the second half. Subsequent to his approval, I uploaded the mp3 file and transcript. I’ll include a summary, but I recommend reading the whole thing.

Summary

– Jeremy has been working on 2 projects equally. The first is legislation to require labs to make efforts to re-home lab cats and dogs after experiments. The second is Identity Campaign, which lets people virtually adopt lab animals, give them names, and advocate for their eventual release.

BFP-ID

A screenshot of identitycampaign.org. These are ALL UW Madison animals. Look how many have been adopted! Still three pages left, though…

– There are three big beagle breeding companies, and one of them, as the Isthmus just pointed out, is in Mount Horeb. Between the three of them, they produce 12,000 – 15,000 beagles a year, and Ridglan in Mount Horeb produced about 4,000 last year. 95% of dogs used in labs are beagles because they are docile and don’t fight back when they’re being hurt.

From Isthmus

– We can’t do a lot at a legal level, since the legislation hasn’t been introduced in Wisconsin and we have an animal cruelty exemption for UW researchers as of 2011. We can raise awareness, though, and we are looking for your ideas.

To tie our two sections together, Jeremy talks about open records. Without open records law, adopters won’t be able to see what experiments their adopted lab animals went through.

Enjoy the full transcript below, and please contact hannah@allanimals.org to get involved. (NB: All links and images were subsequently added and have been approved by Jeremy.)

Audio available here.

My name is Jeremy Beckham, and I used to live in Madison, several years ago, and I’ve just been working on the animal testing issue for many years, and now I work for an organization called Beagle Freedom Project. And Hannah had invited me to participate in your call, and I’m glad to be here!
I’ll give an overview of some of the stuff I’ve been working on lately for Beagle Freedom Project. I would say my time and attention has been divided pretty equally between two things that we’re working on right now. The first is our legislation that we’ve kind of coined as the “Beagle Freedom Bill.” And, this is legislation we’ve already got passed in Minnesota, and it’s also pending in, I believe, five states right now. And what the legislation says is that after a dog or a cat has been used in an experiment, the laboratory must make efforts to find that animal a home. They would be legally required to.

From Beagle Freedom Project

And the reason we’ve been pushing for this legislation is when the BFP was first founded about five years ago, at the beginning, we were able to get dogs and cats out of labs with ease. We would contact the laboratory, they were willing to give the animal to a home – please let them go when you’re done with the experiment. And we produced some videos based on these rescues, and a lot of the videos went viral. And by viral, I mean many millions of views. It’s possible some of you have seen them before. They’ve been shared a lot. They often say things like “Beagle touches grass for the first time outside of lab,” something like that.

An example of one of the earlier, publicized rescues. Happy beagles!

So after these videos went viral, and they showed clearly broken animals who had lived a life of deprivation in the lab, the research community started sending around these memos, saying “don’t let dogs and cats out of your labs any more: it’s hurting our image.” And then all of a sudden, no one was working with us any more. We weren’t getting our phone calls returned, we had to start playing sort of shell game where we would work with the local humane society or the local shelter and the laboratory would never know we got them. In fact, we’ve facilitated rescues of hundreds of animals that we’ve never even publicized, because we know if we publicize them, it’s going to jeopardize future releases now.
So, we first approached Senator Scott Dibbl in Minnesota about this problem, and said we think that they [labs] should be legally required to release them. I mean, right now, they’re just killing them for no reason, other than to protect their image. And so it became law in Minnesota, and now this legislation is pending in CA, NY, NV, CT, and NJ. Right now the bills have been introduced, and some of them have already gone to their respective committees. And animal research communities are kind of freaking out about this. They’ve hired lobbyists in a lot of places, especially in California, because there are so many labs there, to try to fight this legislation. And remember, this legislation does nothing at all to interfere with the experiment itself. In fact, if the experimenter says killing the animal is necessary for the research, unfortunately we still can’t do anything about that. The legislation just says if a dog or cat survives an experiment, it has to be offered for adoption. It can’t just be killed summarily or as a matter of course. But the laboratories are very worried about what this is going to do if basically there are thousands of dogs and cats that are walking ambassadors against animal testing, because people will have them in their homes, they’ll be sharing their story with their friends and neighbors about why their dog is always afraid of metal – you know, that’s a common thing we’ve seen with a lot of our rescues; the animals have lived in cages their whole life, they have kind of PTSD symptoms with metal doors, you know, or anything that kind of reminds them of a laboratory life.
BFP-states

If you live in New York, California, Connecticut, or Nevada, go to http://www.beaglefreedomproject.org/right_to_release to find out how you can support the bill.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of research for that legislation in a lot of these different states, researching the various ways we’re using dogs and cats in experiments, researching what adoption policies exist in labs, if any, and working on our media relations, and some of that stuff as well, kind of putting together policy briefs and talking points, things like that, to try to make the case to legislators that this legislation’s important. The second thing I’ve been working on is a campaign we just launched – which you may already be familiar with a little bit – called Identity Campaign. And, I know some of you are familiar with, back in the day, when Primate Freedom Project was a little more active, when there were these things called Primate Freedom Tags. Where there were these stainless steel tags that actually had the information of the monkey who was in a lab. I know Bill Lueders bought one. So, we’re kind of taking that idea, that basic idea, applying it to dogs and cats, and then going a lot further with it. We have information for roughly a thousand dogs and cats that are currently in labs, and you can go on to our website and browse all these animals in these laboratories all over the country, including UW Madison…Identitycampaign.org is the website where you can go through. And you can choose one of the animals that’s available there and choose to do a virtual adoption for it, because, one of the reasons we wanted to do this too is that we have this huge waiting list for people who want to provide homes for a dog or cat who was used in an experiment and we don’t have enough animals to give them, because laboratories won’t work with us anymore, so we wanted to tell the people, why wait – you can do a virtual adoption now, and then advocate for their freedom and we’ll assist you in filing public records requests to find out what’s happening to your animal…and the idea is we wanted to give these dogs and cats an identity, so one of the first things you do, when you’re completing the checkout process after you’ve chosen your animal is we want you to give your animal a name. Right now, they only have a number, but you’re going to give the animal a name, and we’re going to use that name, because we don’t want to call a dog 0401.
Now I know one of the reasons I was invited on the call, too, is about that Ridglan article, and part of my research was looking into the three biggest places that breed beagles for experiments. And, you guys might already be aware that beagles are the most frequent breed used- about 95% of dogs in laboratories are beagles – and perversely, the reason they’re chosen as a breed by animal experimenters is the very same qualities that make them wonderful companions – that is, they’re friendly, they’re docile, they’re very forgiving – those same qualities make them vulnerable to abuse, vulnerable to abuse in a laboratory. So, they make them easier to handle by technicians, they don’t fight back when they’re being hurt. So, as a result, there’s sort of a cottage industry that’s built up around specifically breeding beagles for experimentation. And the three biggest companies that do that are Covance – although not the Madison location – the Covance…in Pennsylvania. Covance does have facilities in Madison, but that’s not their beagle breeding farm. Marshall Farms, which is in upstate New York, and Ridglan, which is in Mount Horeb. And, between these three facilities, they breed between 12,000 – 15,000 dogs every single year, to sell for experiments.

From ridglan.com, currently under construction.

[Ridglan]…just last year, they bred under 4,000 dogs. I have the address – not in front of me – but if anyone wants it, I can’t share it with Hannah, and she can share it or whatever. Basically, the facility is a factory farm for dogs…Inside this facility is just rows and rows of cages of beagles, being bred for experiments, shipped all around the country. All around the country. And almost none of them come out alive. You know, most of these dogs are used in toxicity testing, so they’re being pumped full of chemicals and experimental drugs, and they keep increasing the dose in these experiments until they find that point where most of the dogs are dying or experiencing extreme symptoms. So, it’s a very tragic thing.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin state law…now it actually has a complete exemption…as of 2011, the state legislature completely exempted researchers from crimes against animals. And that – most states now have that – where if you are an animal in a laboratory, there is no law – so there’s not much we can do on the beagle front, at least, you know, going after them under cruelty statutes, so we have a lot of work cut out for us.
Thanks so much, Jeremy, and thank you to all of you who came, called in, and read this summary. Please feel free to share this information with others. I’m attaching two hand outs below about open records and Kalin, and some links to learn more about all the topics we discussed.
Links:

Antivivisection Thursday: For the Monkeys and the Beagles Meeting TONIGHT!

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WHY YOU SHOULD COME:

1. Meet some like minded people!

2. Snacks! You can’t have snacks over the phone!

3. First 15 people get a COMMEMORATIVE BOOKMARK!

4. Lots of literature, AND collaborative brainstorming sheets!

If you can’t come, I hope you call in!

  • Dial-in Number: (712) 775-7031
  • Meeting ID: 591-111-721
Here are most of the documents for the meeting:
COLLABORATIVE BRAINSTORM sheets for meeting 3-26-15 alternately, email me your ideas! hannah@allanimals.org
Sign Ups for CA-AV meeting 3-26-15 alternately, email me your sign up info! hannah@allanimals.org

For the Monkeys and Beagles: A Combined Anti-Vivisection and Companion Animals Meeting

Thursday, March 26, 2015
7 – 8 pm
Lakeview Library, Tableside Room
2845 N Sherman Ave
Madison, WI

Mark your calendar for a March 26th, 7 – 8 pm, combined Anti-Vivisection and Companion Animals Meeting at the Lakeview Library. 7:00 – 7:35 will be focused on Kalin, and 7:35 – 8:00 will be a town hall forum to discuss Ridglan and what actions we can take. A representative from the Beagle Freedom Project will be available via conference call, and you’re invited to join us the same way if you can’t join us in person.

Facebook Event page

UW’s Misleading Press Release on Early Puberty

Notice this article from New Scientist magazine in 2007

Childhood obesity brings early puberty for girls, Phil McKenna. 2007. NewScientist

Increasing rates of childhood obesity may be responsible for a dramatic increase in early-onset puberty in girls, new research suggests.

Now read the UW’s recent announcement five years later

A University of Wisconsin-Madison study using primates could offer answers as to why girls are reaching puberty earlier, in some cases as young as age 7.

For years researchers have been studying why young women are maturing faster. Doctors believe early puberty in women may lead to breast cancer and type 2 diabetes later in life, and that it might stunt brain development in the final stages of the maturation process.

Read Rick Bogle’s examination of the latest “breakthrough” in primate experimentation at the UW.

Primate Freedom: UW Issues Misleading Press Release.

And a recent report from WISC’s David Douglas.
http://www.channel3000.com/news/30404153/detail.html

Please Madison media, stop reporting on everything the UW Primate Center hands you without doing some research yourself.

Institute of Medicine Report Could Spell End of Chimpanzee Experiments

WASHINGTON—The Institute of Medicine today released a report that finds that chimpanzee experiments are not needed to develop an HIV vaccine, hepatitis C antiviral drugs, or treatments for a wide range of other human illnesses. The report underscores the need to end chimpanzee experimentation in the United States, the last nation on earth still conducting large-scale experiments on humankind’s closest genetic relatives.

Experts from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) testified before the IOM during the seven-month report process, providing evidence on the scientific and ethical problems of chimpanzee use in invasive experiments.

The report, written by a panel of scientific and medical experts convened by the IOM on behalf of the National Academy of Sciences, says that most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary. Regarding hepatitis C research, for example, the report says, “The committee finds that chimpanzees are not necessary for HCV antiviral drug discovery and development and does not foresee the future necessity of the chimpanzee model in this area.” Read full article here:

PCRM | Institute of Medicine Report Could Spell End of Chimpanzee Experiments.

Read about the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act here.

Ban Chimp Testing: Scientific American

 

The testing began shortly after Bobby’s first birthday. By the time he was 19 he had been anesthetized more than 250 times and undergone innumerable biopsies in the name of science. Much of the time he lived alone in a cramped, barren cage. Bobby grew depressed and emaciated and began biting his own arm, leaving permanent scars.

Bobby is a chimpanzee. Born in captivity to parents who were also lab chimps, he grew up at the Coulston Foundation, a biomedical research facility in Alamogordo, N.M., that was cited for repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act before it was shuttered in 2002. He is one of the lucky ones. Today he lives in a sanctuary called Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Fla., where he can socialize and roam freely. Last year the National Institutes of Health announced plans to put some 180 ex-Coulston chimps currently housed at the Alamogordo Primate Facility back in service, to rejoin the roughly 800 other chimps that serve as subjects for studies of human diseases, therapies and vaccines in the U.S., which is the only country apart from Gabon to maintain chimps for this purpose.

Public opposition is on the rise. In April a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill, the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, to prohibit invasive research on great apes, including chimps. And when the NIH announced its plans for bringing the Alamogordo chimps out of retirement, objections from the Humane Society, primatologist Jane Goodall​ and others prompted the agency to put the plans on hold until the Institute of Medicine (IOM) completes a study of whether chimps are truly necessary for biomedical and behavioral research. The IOM project itself has been criticized: the NIH instructed it to omit ethics from consideration.

In April, McClatchy Newspapers​ ran a special report based on its review of thousands of medical records detailing research on chimps like Bobby. The stories painted a grim picture of life in the lab, noting disturbing psychological responses in the chimps. Then, in June, Hope R. Ferdowsian of George Washington University and her colleagues reported in PLoS ONE that chimps that had previously suffered traumatic events, including experimentation, exhibit clusters of symptoms similar to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in humans.

That chimps and humans react to trauma in a like manner should not come as a surprise. Chimps are our closest living relatives and share a capacity for emotion, including fear, anxiety, grief and rage.

Testing on chimps has been a huge boon for humans in the past, contributing to the discovery of hepatitis C and vaccines against polio and hepatitis B, among other advances. Whether it will continue to bear fruit is less certain. Alternatives are emerging, including ones that rely on computer modeling and isolated cells. In 2008 pharmaceutical manufacturer Gla­xo­Smith­Kline announced it would end its use of chimps.

In our view, the time has come to end biomedical experimentation on chimpanzees. The Senate bill would phase out invasive research on chimps over a three-year period, giving the researchers time to implement alternatives, after which the animals would be retired to sanctuaries.

We accept that others may make a different moral trade-off. If the U.S. elects to continue testing on chimps, however, then it needs to adopt stricter guidelines. Chimps should be used only in studies of major diseases and only when there is no other option. Highly social by nature, they should live with other chimps and in a stimulating environment with room to move around. And when a test inflicts pain or psychological distress, they should have access to treatment that eases those afflictions.

The Animal Welfare Act affords chimps some protection. But clearly more is needed. To develop and enforce tighter regulations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces the Animal Welfare Act, should establish an ethics committee specifically for biomedical research on chimps. The committee would need to include not just medical researchers but also bioethicists and representatives from animal welfare groups. Such measures would no doubt make medical testing on chimps even more expensive than it already is. Yet if human lives are going to benefit from research on our primate cousins, it is incumbent on us to minimize their suffering, provide them with an acceptable quality of life—and develop techniques that hasten the day when all of Bobby’s fellow chimps can join him in retirement.

See article here:
Ban Chimp Testing: Scientific American.

If you live in Wisconsin, visit our Great Ape page: What you can do.