Sunday, April 25, 2021

"Good Animal Care and Good Science Go Hand in Hand"

If good animal care and good science go hand in hand, it follows that poor animal care results in poor science.
The most appropriate behavioral management program houses macaques in a sufficiently enriched and safe environment to prevent the development of abnormal behaviors.

Abnormal behaviors include repetitive movements, such as pacing, circling, rocking, spinning, somersaulting and bouncing. Cage-licking, self-clasping, self-sucking, masturbation, “saluting,” and eating feces are some other aberrant, repetitive behaviors. Abnormal behaviors in macaques also can hurt or injure the animals, as in the case of hair plucking, self-biting and head banging.

Abnormal behaviors are an undesirable consequence of captive housing, reflecting an inadequate environment for maintaining the animal.” Macaques Kathryn Bayne, M.S., Ph.D., D.V.M., DACLAM, CAAB AAALAC International. (NIH Publication No. 05-5744).
The only conclusion that can be drawn from the undercover investigations and whistle-blower reports documenting a variety of serious behavioral problems like self-wounding, pulling out their hair, repetitive movements, and chronic diarrhea afflicting monkeys at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center is that the "science" being conducted there is not good science.
From Peta's 2020 undercover investigation at UW-Madison Keeping a monkey alone in such a bleak environment is obviously very cruel. It should be illegal.

This begs the questions of why does NIH continue to fund poor science? Why are the university's Animal Care and Use Committees consistently approving the resulting poor scientific projects? Why haven't USDA-APHIS inspectors cited the primate labs for their poor care? Why hasn't NIH OLAW required the reporting of behavioral problems and chronic diarrhea?

Unfortunately, the answer is the same for all of these questions. No one really cares. All the claims about good science being dependent on good animal care are just propaganda. Everyone on the inside must know this, which makes all of them liars.

And, of course, the reason no one cares is that there is no reason to. The money keeps pouring in.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Flat Indignant Denial

I came accoss this phrase in Nicholson Baker's book Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act. (Penguin Press, 2020). It was the strategy used by the CIA in its claims that it had not engaged in bio-warfare.

I was struck by how aptly the phrase captures universities' statements whenever details of their use of animals make it into the news cycle.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Parkinson's Breakthrough or Plain Old Hype?

You be the judge.

I'd have commented on UW-Madison's Facebook page, but I'm blocked. They are seemingly afraid of substantive dialog. And really, who can blame them? Million's of tax-payer dollars are at stake.

They recently linked to a press release from the university's PR department about purported progress in treating Parkinson's disease.

Primate Center vivisector Maria Emborg has published a paper reporting on her use of stem cells injected into the brains of monkeys who have some symptoms that mimic Parkinson's symptoms in humans.

The reason they have these symptoms is that she had injected a chemical called MPTP into their brains. [If you are interested, here are a handfull of posts concerning this hideousness.]

Now, you'd think from the press release that this was important big news. It isn't, and I'll get to that in a second. What's particularly hideous is what MPTP injected in their brains does to the monkeys. Reasonable people agree that this is just about as terrible a thing as you can do to an animal.

The reason this isn't big news, and what isn't mentioned in the press release, is that very similar research on fully consenting humans has been underway since at least the early 1990s. See Li, Wen, et al. ["Extensive graft-derived dopaminergic innervation is maintained 24 years after transplantation in the degenerating parkinsonian brain." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113.23 (2016): 6544-6549.]

Research using fully consenting humans is the only ethical way to proceed, and probably the smartest.

A bit of trivia: Check out her public funding history.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

UW-Madison refuses own medicine....

Long-time observers will not be surprised that a letter which appeared in the Mar 11, 2021, Capital Times pointing to the gross discrepency between a UW-Madison National Primate Research Center factsheet on pet monkeys and the Primate Center's own practices led to the university deleting the factsheet almost immediately and replacing it with a less embarrassing substitute. Ryan Hartkopf: UW-Madison, are you sure you want a monkey?

I guess they embrace the 'do as I say, not as I do' philosophy.

See the archived fact sheet here (you have to scroll down), and the gutted version without mention of the minimumly humane cage size here.

The cage-size standard in labs using monkeys must meet the minimum cage sizes stipulated in the Animal Welfare Act. Subpart D: Specifications for the Humane Handling, Care, Treatment, and Transportation of Nonhuman Primates stipulates that cages for young and female macaques must have at least 4.3 sq. ft. of floor space and be at least 30" high. Adult male macaques must have 6 sq.ft. of floor space and be at least 32" high. In the deleted Fact Sheet, the university says, "The minimum cage size for the smallest monkey is 4ft x 6ft x 6ft. That's 24 square feet of floor space, almost four times the floor space and two and a half times taller than is required by the Animal Wefare Act.

This is the reality of the housing used by the primate labs:





Kudos to letter writer Ryan Hartkopf for taking the time to read and think about what the university says it does and what it actually does to to animals. And kudos likewise to the Captital Times for publicing his letter.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

In Spite of Recent Fine, UW-Madison Still Racking-Up Animal Welfare Violations.

On April 15, 2020, the USDA cited and fined the University of Wisconsin, Madison $74,000 for twenty-three violations of the Animal Welfare Act that occurred between March 4, 2015 and April 25, 2019; about 6 violations a year. The university responded to the citations in an article in the Wisconsin State Journal:
Most of the problems described in the most recent settlement were immediately reported by campus staff to federal agencies, according to university spokeswoman Kelly Tyrrell. UW-Madison took steps to prevent future violations, including upgrading procedures, equipment and staffing, long before the settlement was reached April 15 and the fine was paid April 29. [UW-Madison fined $74,000 over care of research animals. Kelly Meyerhofer. Wisconsin State Journal. Jul 30, 2020.]
But the violations of the Animal Welfare Act continue at an apparently even greater rate.

On or about April 20, 2020, a monkey was given an overdose of an experimental drug.

On or about June 4, 2020, a monkey went eight hours without post-operative analgesia.

On July 13, 2020, a monkey escaped when being transferred to a transport device and sustained a severe injury to the end of their tail. The injury was not noticed for two weeks.

On July 17, 2020, a monkey escaped from a transport device and injured their tongue. Two other monkeys in the room also sustained injuries during interactions with the escaped monkey.

Numerous violations of the Public Health Service Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals have also continued since the citation was issued.

It is likely that the only agency the university reported the problems to was OLAW, the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. OLAW does not cite nor fine institutions for animal welfare violations. OLAW is a tiny agency within the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the United States Public Health Service, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

It remains to be seen exactly why it took three and a half months for the public to learn about the fine. The university is so quick to announce anything that buffs its image.

Not mentioned in the article were the rest of the violations. As mentioned above, the fine was imposed by the USDA which enforces the Animal Welfare Act. With only a few rare exceptions the Animal Welfare Act does not apply to mice, rats, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, or animals used in agricultural research. So, the USDA fined the university only for violations involving animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act.

The university was not cited or fined for its violations of the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The Policy applies to all Public Health Service-“conducted or supported activities involving animals…”. The Policy defines animal: “Any live, vertebrate animal used or intended for use in research, research training, experimentation, or biological testing or for related purposes.”

Since April 15, 2020, the university has reported PHS Policy violations involving more than 50 animals.

All of the reports submitted by the university to OLAW are available here.

Note: Local papers have shown no interest in the recurring violations. It seems that unless there is a fine, the university's law-breaking harm to animals isn't news.

What a world.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Wisconsin State Journal Shields University Officials From Embarrassment.

A letter they refused to print:

To the editor:

Steve Ackerman and Jon Levine’s op-ed was misleading. (Humane research will help stop the virus. Nov 21, 2020.) They falsely assert that research using animals at the university is “humane, well-regulated, transparent.”

The USDA Office of the Inspector General has repeatedly noted problems with the regulation of animal research and has found that the small fines levied by regulators, even when serious violations have been discovered, are considered by the labs as just a cost of doing business. [https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/33002-03-SF.pdf] The university’s recent $74,000 fine is a case in point. The UW’s National Primate Research Center alone receives about $10 million a year.

The lie is put to notion that the research is humane simply by watching the videos of the disturbed monkeys brought to light by Peta’s undercover investigation.

And transparent? When a single video referenced in a scientific paper was requested under Wisconsin’s public records law, the university shredded 628 videos and uncounted photographs and documents; they clearly didn’t want them to be seen by the public. [https://isthmus.com/news/news/primate-tapes-get-trashed/]

There is much about the op-ed that is misleading but space does not allow a full discussion.

Rick Bogle

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Kids or Monkeys?

An essay I wrote in 1998-ish

Ending Child Poverty

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 181.6 million underweight pre-school aged children among the world’s developing nations. WHO estimates there are 210.5 million stunted pre-school aged children and 46.1 million wasted pre-school aged children living in the world’s developing nations.

The World Health Organization summarizes its concerns, “Our findings confirm the great magnitude of undernutrition which, more than any other disability, continues to hamper the physical growth and mental development of more than a third of the world's children. Indeed, it is a major threat to their very survival.” [emphasis added]

The National Center for Children in Poverty at the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University reports that,

The number of American young children living in poverty increased from 3.5 million in 1979 to 5.2 million in 1997. The young child poverty rate grew by 20 percent during that same period.

22 percent of young children in America live in poverty, i.e., in families with incomes below the federal poverty line ($12,802 for a family of three in 1997).

Researchers have gathered new evidence on the importance of the first years of life for children's emotional and intellectual development. (Shore, 1997) Unfortunately, millions of American children are poor during these crucial years. Almost one in four (24 percent) of America's children under age three lived in poverty in 1995. These 2.8 million poor children face a greater risk of impaired brain development due to their exposure to a number of risk factors associated with poverty.

Children deprived of proper nutrition during the brain's most formative years score much lower on tests of vocabulary, reading comprehension, arithmetic, and general knowledge. The more severe the poverty a child faces, the lower his or her nutritional level is likely to be.

Exposure to neurotoxins such as lead causes brain damage and stunts the growth of the brain. 55 percent of African American children living in poverty have toxic levels of lead in their blood.

Experiences of trauma or abuse during the first years of life result in extreme anxiety, depression, and/or the inability to form healthy attachments to others. Another troubling effect of early trauma is that it leads to a significantly higher propensity for violence later in life. The stressors that face poor families cause much more trauma for their children.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Reduce the Poverty Rate, says the National Center for Children in Poverty.

World Vision is the largest child sponsorship organization in the world according to their current television campaign to raise money for children in poverty. Spokespersons Kathy Lee Gifford and Alex Trebek tell viewers that $22 a month in donations will give one child living in poverty the food they need to have a chance for healthy development.

The Christian Children’s Fund asks for only $0.80 per day, or $24 a month to lift a child from hunger.

Feed the Children, an organization dedicated to feeding the most impoverished children in America, says they can move 1000 pounds of food for a donation of only $10 a month.

Look at these figures from another perspective. David Amaral, a researcher at the California Regional Primate Research Center in Davis, California and Ned Kalin, a researcher at the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center in Madison, Wisconsin received a combined total of $579,487 tax dollars in 1998. They were paid to inject chemicals into the brains of young monkeys. These chemicals were injected into the region of the brain associated with basic emotions such as fear.

This means that approximately 724,359 children were left in poverty last year so that Amaral and Kalin could study methods of disrupting normal emotional development in monkeys.

In 1997 the National Institutes of Health spent $114,502,974 to keep researchers at the seven Regional Primate Research Centers working at projects like Kalin's and Amaral's. Researchers worked to clone monkeys, addict them to cocaine, poison them with alcohol, infect them with monkey viruses, and study why so many monkeys in laboratories mutilate themselves. This $114 million was only a portion of the total spent by the federal government to experiment on primates. Most major universities have projects using primates underway. It would not be unreasonable to estimate that the total figure used in this line of research is today approaching $200 million dollars.

But, using the 1997 figures and using only the total consumed by the seven NIH centers that year, about 143 million children who could have been saved were left in poverty. So, these scientists could achieve no larger impact than demanding that the primate centers be closed immediately and the money allocated to them be immediately targeted to end the ravishes of child poverty. By simply closing the primate centers stunting and wasting could be nearly eliminated among the world's children.

And, by closing only one primate center, child poverty in the U.S. could be ended.

What the researchers will do remains to be seen.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

A Deafening Silence

Peta recently released videos taken by an undercover investigator working as an animal care technician at the Wisconsin National Primate Resarch Center, a part of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The university was outraged.

But why should they have been angry if, as they are wont to say, the animals they use are all well treated? Informed observers will recognize that their outrage is really nothing more than embarrassment. The people who work in the labs don't want outsiders seeing what they do, seeing the animals' bleak cages, seeing the suffering our tax dollars pay for. They don't want their neighbor knitting their brow when they seem them.

The university has a long history of doing everything in its power to keep us from learning what is going on in its labs. In this regard, they are just like every other animal lab in the world. They all operate in the same way.

A Deafening Silence

[originally published in Primate Freedom Project’s Fall, 2006 issue of The Congressional Educator]

Scientific advancement often arrives as a stunning discovery. But stunning discoveries are the result of years of accumulated data. Any loss of this accumulated knowledge could be irreplaceable. The willful destruction of years of accumulated data is a crime against science and humanity itself.

Yet, when the University of Wisconsin-Madison destroyed sixty boxes of videotapes of its experiments on monkeys, the absence of outrage from the academic community was deafening.

Worse, the tapes were destroyed to stop people from learning what was occurring in the university’s labs. So, not only were years of accumulated observation and records lost forever, but also, the destruction was motivated by the university’s fear of an educated citizenry.

How did this happen?

Scientific American published a special edition titled “The Hidden Mind” on August 31, 2002. On page 72, there was a revised version of a 1993 Scientific American article titled “The Neurobiology of Fear” written by Dr. Ned Kalin, a primate vivisector and chairman of the university’s Department of Psychiatry. [Kalin is still the Chair]

In the article, Kalin explained that monkeys from a few days old up to twelve weeks old were separated from the mothers and subjected to three fear-inducing conditions and that the events were videotaped.

We wrote to the university requesting copies of these videotapes under authority of Wisconsin’s open records statute. Our requests were ignored. Under a different name, we again requested copies of the videos a few months later and finally received a denial of our request.

In 2005, we read a paper written in 2000, by Ruth Benca, a psychiatrist at UW-Madison [now at UC Irvine], Ned Kalin, and others in the journal Brain Research, titled “Effects of amygdala lesions on sleep in rhesus monkeys.” Benca et. al. explained that monkeys who had been used in Kalin’s experimental brain mutilations were strapped into restraint chairs overnight. Some of these monkeys were videotaped throughout the night.

Through a local attorney, we wrote to the university requesting copies of these videotapes. Shortly thereafter, in a letter dated December 13, 2005, senior UW legal counsel John Dowling formally denied our request.

We were able to interest a local weekly newspaper in this problem. The news editor, Bill Lueders, is also president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. When Mr. Lueders requested the tapes he was told: “They may have been damaged in a plumbing accident.”

In a letter to the newspaper dated July 6, 2006, Downing stated: “The videotapes and photographs in question were damaged, along with other data, when a steam valve broke on 1/18/05 releasing water and steam into the storage area. After the required time to keep these data had elapsed, they were destroyed.”

The newspaper reported: “But the UW provided no information as to what was damaged, or how badly. ‘I don’t know,’ says Dowling, when asked if the damage made it impossible to view the tapes. He also doesn’t know what his own letter means in saying that the tapes were destroyed ‘after the required time.’ He assumes this language, provided by others, refers to some records retention schedule.”

In our April request, we noted that the Wisconsin open records law prohibits the destruction of a requested record at least 60 days after access is denied. The tapes were destoyed 62 days after Dowling’s denial of the newspaper’s request. A record provided by the UW to the paper stated that 60 boxes of videotapes had been shredded on February 13, 2006.

A system completely out of balance

If activists had gained entry to the facility and had destroyed the tapes, it is likely that the university would have loudly claimed that the cure for childhood cancer had been lost and that the people responsible were terrorists.

On May 23, 2006, another UW primate vivisector, Michelle Basso, another monkey brain mutilator [now at UCLA], testified before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security in support of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act:

“I received a magazine to which I did not subscribe. Then I received a couple more magazines. I started to receive statements from magazine companies and other mail-order paraphernalia. I have a right o live free of fear.”

So, vivisectors want people who send them unwanted magazine subscriptions to go to jail, but at the same time, don’t want the public to know what is going on in the labs and feel perfectly justified in shredding boxes of primary data in order to keep the public in the dark.

The simple fact that the vivisection community has remained quiet about the loss of the primary data in the videotapes, and simultaneously lobbied for stiffer penalties for those who call attention to their activities should be sufficient reason to question any claims they might make.

If they are willing to shred data to keep it hidden from the public, why should anyone believe them when they claim that they are humane or that their research matters one whit? Their shrill complaints about being criticized and targeted by animal rights activists must be considered in the context of their refusal to open their labs to public inspection and the millions of taxpayer dollars they receive.

So it comes as little surprise that people concerned with how the animals are being treated will have to sneak in one way or another to see for themselves. And it comes as no surprise that when they do they will record what they see and and tell others about what they have seen. And it also comes as no surprise that the labs and their host institutons will make the absurd claim that it is in some way wrong for them to do so.