“They attacked all of neuroscience when they attacked me” -David Jentsch
This morning Sci attended the symposium on Animals in Research: Widening the Tent, a symposium on how to reach out and garner more support for animal research, and to encourage scientists to speak out. You’d think that would be a pretty easy thing, of course scientists want to support their own research! But it’s hard, and animal rights activists are determined to make it that way. It is very hard to speak out on the benefit of your research when you worry about your car being bombed, your children being threatened at school, your home being flooded, your laboratory attacked. When it happens to one of us, all of us feel the fear. And what can we do? For many years now, scientists have just kept their heads down. Keep your head down, don’t identify yourself, and maybe they won’t come after you.
But that is not helping. Without scientists speaking out in support of their work, the field goes to the small, but vocal animal rights movement, which hijacks our science and does their best to turn the public against us. They have money (PETA alone has a $120 MILLION budget), they have drive, and they have scared us into silence.
And that’s not going to happen anymore.
Scientists are speaking out, recruiting help, telling the public about their work, and getting people organized. I got to hear Tom Holder, the founder of Speaking of Research , talk about the progress that has been made. In the UK, people have vocally supported animal research, marches in support have easily outnumbered and overwhelmed the vocal minority. In the US, that is not yet the case, scientists are still scared.
But, as David Jentsch told me later, we cannot let fear hold us back, we need to let our outrage overwhelm the fear that we are all feeling. And we are outraged. In biomedical research, we scientists have made huge strides in developing cures for illness. Cancer drugs, psychiatric medications, the new flu vaccine, treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, arthritis. We need animals to do our research. We use other techniques in cells and humans, of course, but the fact is, we just don’t know enough about the body to make non-animal models which are useful. We are the GOOD GUYS. We are out to help those who are suffering, both humans AND animals suffering from similar diseases.
And we need to let people know, we need to inform the public of what exactly we do, how we do it, and what it means for the future of science. Sign the Pro-test petition, declare your support. There is safety in numbers. Speak with people about your work, and tell your personal story. Tell people about the animals you work with, why you work with them. If you don’t tell your story, who will?