I was recently given a new issue of one of these magazines, Lab Manager and discovered a featured cartoon strip named Lab Bratz. And wouldn't you just know it, the writer is a lab manager at a lab at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The episode in Lab Manager caught my eye because it it was so offensive:
The on-line color original is here.
The frame of the live cow in the giant blender is of course just a comedic device, and it isn't what struck me as sufficiently offensive to write this. What caught my eye were the topic and dialog:
Fat dumb scientist: "Do you always grow your cells in bovine serum?"
Bald dull scientist: "Usually... Why?"
FDS: "Well, we have freezers full of the stuff. I was wondering where it all comes from."
BDS: "There are things man was not meant to know."
Cow in blender: "Moooo?"
The funny reality behind what we are not supposed to know is that bovine serum is usually fetal bovine serum. Here's an on-line ad:
High Quality Fetal Bovine SerumsThe production of this material (especially in light of the availablity of human serum and artificial serum) is ethically controversial. See for instance:
Available in USDA or US Origin-See full list for pricing
IFBS- USDA Fetal Bovine Serum $165 per 500 ml
Please call today for a free 50 ml sample.
The use of fetal bovine serum: ethical or scientific problem?The entire paper -- providing more than you may want to know about this issue -- is available here. This probably isn't a funny topic to anyone other than those deadened to suffering in the labs.
Jochems CE, van der Valk JB, Stafleu FR, Baumans V.
Altern Lab Anim. 2002 Mar-Apr;30(2):219-27.
Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is a common component of animal cell culture media. It is harvested from bovine fetuses taken from pregnant cows during slaughter. FBS is commonly harvested by means of a cardiac puncture without any form of anaesthesia. Fetuses are probably exposed to pain and/or discomfort, so the current practice of fetal blood harvesting is inhumane. Apart from moral concerns, several scientific and technical problems exist with regard to the use of FBS in cell culture. Efforts should be made to reduce the use of FBS or, preferably, to replace it with synthetic alternatives.
So I skimmed through all the strips. Episodes 21-26; 44-50; 71; 73; 79; 87; 93-98 (funny rats with tumors); and 101 all feature rats. Episodes 93-98 seem particularly callous.
I can just imagine these clipped and tacked to the bulletin boards in labs around the country: "Man, that rat suffering with the tumors is just so funny."
These people are certifiably ill.