Sources: In Defense of Animals (IDA)
Editor’s Note: This is Defense of Animals yealy report. I added pictures to show how these horrific crimes look.
The American public should be outraged by the torturous, inhumane and fraudulent use of animal life for research. For this reason, In Defense of Animals (IDA) has created the “Outragies Awards”, to highlight the worst use of animals in cruel, repetitive and wasteful research- like tormenting baby rats to study “child abuse”, giving hallucinogenic drugs to monkeys to create an animal model of schizophrenia, and hanging mice upside down by their tails to study depression. Tragically, there are hundreds of animal experiments that are outrageous and these Top Ten simply exemplify some of the worst. These experiments—the cream of the crop —show that your tax dollars and animals’ lives are unjustifiably wasted on research that adds nothing to medical progress and does not promote human health.
Each year, billions of dollars go to fund animal experiments, much of it through United States-taxpayer supported funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The unsuspecting public is led to believe that these experiments are necessary to promote human health and well-being. Indeed, the mission of NIH is to “to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”
But under close scrutiny, this claim does not hold up. Federally-funded animal experiments continue year after year, examining the same questions, at huge cost, creating “animal models” for diseases and conditions that are uniquely human, like smoking and alcoholism.
1.Most Outrageously Cruel: Born to be killed-newborn monkeys cut up for vision experiments.
Scientists at four institutions, including the University of Houston, College of Optometry, Vanderbilt University, and the National Institute of Mental Health, used newborn monkeys in grisly, invasive research, allegedly to study how vision develops in primates, even though many non-animal alternatives are available.
Tiny monkeys, some as young as two weeks old, were subjected to brain surgery during which electrodes were implanted. Next, each monkey was tracheostomized and placed in a head frame to undergo extensive electrode recording trials lasting 2 to 4 days. Amazingly, the researchers report that they used Propofol, a short-acting anesthetic, for these marathon procedures. Finally after days of electrode testing, the babies were killed so their brains cut be cut out and studied.
Their findings, which they described as “not surprising” were that many of the neural pathways they observed functioning were the same as those that have already been traced in adult monkeys. They weren’t surprised by this because they noted that baby monkeys already have “functional vision at birth.” So all that suffering and waste of life yielded no new knowledge or advancements in this field. Read more. Cost $734,000
2. Most Outrageously Senseless: Cats deafened and turned into experimental equipment.
The winner in the category went to researchers at the esteemed institutions of Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.
Highly invasive hearing experiments were conducted on 15 young cats, purporting to improve hearing aids and cochlear implants for human use. Cochlear implants are used to help hearing- impaired individuals perceive sound. Cats were made deaf using high doses of drugs known to damage the nerves involved with hearing. Some cats used in the experiments were naturally deaf. The researchers report that some of the cats had already been used in a prior experiment. After the deafening procedures, cats had surgery to install cochlear implants and then were put through lengthy electrophysiological testing trials. They did not describe how long the testing trials lasted, other than to state that they administered steroids every four hours to minimize brain swelling.
Experimenting on cats to purportedly enhance the performance of cochlear implants for humans is cruel and unjustified. The response in an auditory neuron in an anesthetized cat is a limited view of the full picture of human hearing physiology. Hearing is a conscious phenomenon. Tracking the way neuron fires in an anesthetized cat is outdated and inhumane.
Ironically, the principal investigator also uses psychophysics in his work, but he’s also been cutting up cats for this line of research since at least 1996. Cost: $443,000.
3. Most Outrageously Depraved: Mice with their sense of smell wiped out, are anxious.
Inspired by their ability to damage the sense of smell through genetic tampering, a team of eight researchers at Columbia University and their collaborators conducted a study on male mice with an impaired sense of smell, suggesting that this might help treat anxiety in people. Their efforts earn them our Most Outrageously Depraved award for subjecting these poor mice to a range of tests that imposed “inescapable stress,” including hanging them upside down by their tails with adhesive tape for six minutes to see how long they would struggle before giving up.
Other tests included painful foot shocks, 24 hours of food-deprivation, and the infamous simulated drowning test where mice are put into a basin of water with no way out and no means of rest to see how long they try to swim before giving up. (Note – only the researchers know this is simulated – the mice really do think they might drown.) When all these trials were finished the mice were killed to study their brains.
The National Institute of Mental Health supported this absurd study, which opens by stating that “anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent fear in the absence of immediate threat,” and then proceeded to bombard these poor mice with all kinds of immediate threats. The American public paid for this study which refers to scores of prior studies that demonstrated how damaging the sense of smell in animals increased their anxiety. Cost: $400,000.
4. Most Outrageously Heartless: Baby rats tormented to study “child abuse.”
The award for Most Outrageously Heartless goes to four scientists at New York University Emotional Brain Institute who teamed up to abuse baby rats. Literally. They set out to mimic “child abuse,” but ended up subjecting infant rats to something more like the torture chambers at Abu Ghraib.
Baby rats received painful electric shocks while being exposed to the scent of peppermint for five days in a row. Because they were so young, the scientists hypothesized that the baby rats somehow substituted the peppermint odor for the smell of their mother, and thus perceived the shocks as coming from her.
Another group of baby rats was abused by removing most of the nesting material from their mothers. This frustrated them so much that they were not able to properly care for their babies; they handled them roughly, stepped on them, and nursed them less so they went hungry. The experimenters report that this group of babies cried more frequently than the control group who stayed with mothers in proper nests.
Weeks later, these groups of abused baby rats were subjected to the “forced swim test,” where they are put into basins of water with no platform for resting to see how long they struggle to swim before they give up and float helplessly. Psychologists use this simulated drowning scenario as a standard test, allegedly to study “depression” in animals. Cost: $2.6 million.
5. Most Outrageously Absurd: Broken homes don’t lead to drinking in prairie voles.
The Most Outrageously Absurd Award goes to a group of researchers at Emory University, Oregon Health & Science University and Quinnipiac University, who wanted to examine whether prairie voles who are raised by one parent would be more apt to drink alcohol than those raised by both parents. In this study, the fathers were removed before birth and the pups were raised only by the mothers. The researchers found no differences in the offspring’s tendency todrink alcohol, whether they were raised by a single parent or both parents
They also compared whether the voles would be more likely to drink “socially” by placing the drinking apparatus nearer or farther from an adjacent mesh cage with another vole. Researchers claim their results showed a preference for “social” drinking.
At the end of the experiment all voles were injected with ethanol, gassed with carbon dioxide and decapitated. The only justification they offer for this extreme measure was to analyze their blood ethanol level. It seems they never considered simply drawing their blood. Cost: $270,000.
6. Most Outrageously Repetitive: Fright Nights at University of Wisconsin: 25 years of terrifying monkeys.
The runaway winner of our Most Outrageously Repetitive award is a team of researchers at the Health Emotions Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Ned H. Kalin and his colleagues have been reporting on their use of rats and monkeys to study the neurobiology of fear since 1988.
There is no evidence that any of the experiments have helped anyone but the scientists. In a recent paper, they report on another 24 monkeys they frightened and killed, purportedly to study neurological components of childhood anxiety. Young male rhesus monkeys, ranging in age from 9 months to 4 years, were placed alone in a test cage and then a “human intruder” would enter the room and sit there for 30 minutes. After this episode, monkeys were anesthetized to have their blood drawn. Monkey behavior during the intruder episode is briefly described “freezing for at least 3 seconds, and tense body posture,” among others.
Unfortunately for children born with an anxious temperament, this latest study on the brains of frightened monkeys will have absolutely no effect on their life trajectory or help them if they develop a mental illness. Cost: $5 million.
7. Most Outrageously Inexcusable: Nicotine damages lungs of baby mice.
The Most Outrageously Inexcusable category goes to a team of researchers at seven institutions who exposed pregnant and newborn mice to nicotine so they could study the effects on their lungs. Mice were surgically implanted with “mini-pumps” to expose them to nicotine. Some were forced to drink it when it was added to their water source.
The researchers claim that even though the link between maternal smoking and impaired lung function in children is “incontrovertible,” this experiment demonstrates more precisely how that happens. Researchers claim that although we know that cigarette smoking causes lung damage in offspring, the exact mechanisms are “poorly understood.”
Here is what we do know. Animal “models” of tobacco and nicotine exposure have not helped to understand smoking in people. Animal studies have provided conflicting results when applied to humans, even failing to consistently replicate what we already know from human studies, such as the link between low birth weight and smoking during pregnancy. Cost: $2.4 million.
8. Most Outrageously Superfluous (Best Tax-Payer-Funded Vacation): Monkeys pumped with PCP to study “schizophrenia.”
Our Most Outrageously Superfluous award goes to a team of eight scientists from Yale University, UCLA, and pharmaceutical giants Merck and Pfizer. Their research was conducted on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts where wild caught monkeys are captured and used at the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation. These researchers conducted a totally redundant study that attempts to show that the drug asenapine can diminish the cognitive effects of PCP, a hallucinogenic recreational drug also known as “angel dust.”
PCP was administered to the monkeys for two weeks, purportedly to mimic the cognitive impairments seen in schizophrenia, and then asenapine was administered for four weeks to reverse the effects of the PCP. But asenapine had already been identified as a drug of treatment for schizophrenia in people and was well into human clinical trials before this monkey research started. So what was the justification for this research? Why would scientists need to travel 3,600 miles to experiment on monkeys when the U.S. government already provides them with very large monkey colonies throughout the country? Maybe they just wanted a taxpayer-funded vacation on an island paradise. Cost: $525,000.
9. Most Outrageously Asinine: Psychologists strive for breakthroughs by studying sexual preference in hamsters.
Our Most Outrageously Asinine award goes to researchers at Cornell University for their study of the sexual inclination of hamsters to mate with a “foreign” hamster.
NIMH’s mission statement claims it is “paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure” of mental illness by fostering “innovative thinking and novel scientific perspectives. In this way, breakthroughs in science can become breakthroughs for all people with mental illness.”
First they exposed the racially different hamsters to each other for eight days in adjacent cages with a mesh barrier, so they could see and smell each other. Next they placed them in a cage together for five minutes and observed whether the female was “sexually receptive” to the male. They then repeated the five minute pairing of the same female Turkish hamster with a male Turkish hamster who she had not seen before.
They compared the two pairings and concluded that female Turkish hamsters were more likely to copulate with a “foreign” hamster than female Syrian hamsters. Cost: $2.3 million.
10.Most Outrageously Pointless: Stressed rats drink more than non-stressed rats.
In an expensive study of the obvious, psychologists at the Graduate Center for the City University of New York designed an experiment to see what effect stress would have on rats who drink alcohol. Of course, rats don’t drink, so first they had to get them used to drinking by mixing alcohol in their water.
These great minds, who take the award for Most Outrageously Pointless, decided that complex life stressors in humans could be studied in rats by putting them into a restraint chamber. Rats were restrained one hour each day, for ten days in a clear cylindrical tube that prevented them from moving.
The results showed that the stressed rats “drank” more alcohol than the non-stressed group. The researchers also appeared to be unclear about the voluminous literature confirming the adverse effect of alcohol on human memory. So they put the groups of rats through memory tests and discovered that the drinking, stressed rats performed better! No wonder these scientists are confused; they’re relying on animal experiments to study human behavior. Cost: $1.4 million.