Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ALF Vandalizes UCLA Primate Vivisector's Home

Los Angeles Times:
An animal rights group has claimed responsibility for flooding the Westside home of a UCLA professor who uses lab monkeys in research on nicotine addiction.

An FBI spokeswoman said Monday that the agency is investigating the claim that the Animal Liberation Front used a garden hose to flood the house of professor Edythe London on Oct. 20 in an attempt to stop her animal experiments.

The FBI, along with UCLA and Los Angeles police, are treating the vandalism as a case of domestic terrorism....
Invariably, when I mention that vivisectors are in it for the money, one of them writes to me and says, "How dare you!" Right. Here's part of the current real estate listing for Dr. London's Beverly Hills home:

1249 Shadybrook Drive
Prime Lower BHPO, CA 90210
Offered at $2,595,000
Owner: Edythe D. London

"Best Deal in all of BHPO. Reduced $600k. This won't last. Perfect location on the quiet side of desirable Shadybrook Drive. Located 1.5 miles North of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Absolute Turnkey home remodeled in the best style and taste. 3700 sqft with 4 Bedrooms + Maids and 4.5 Bathrooms. Beautiful hardwood floors [a little water damaged] thru-out entertaining areas. High ceilings, skylights and wide open spaces bring in an abundance of natural light. Sprawling family floor plan with great large walls for artwork. State of the art kitchen with granite countertops. Beautiful swimming pool and surrounding outdoor deck area. This home is perfect for the most discriminating buyer who demands only the best. Also available for lease at $10,500 per month."
And here's one of the photo's:Before considering her work, consider this:
For example, since smokers extract about 1 mg of nicotine per cigarette, a 1 pack per day (20 cigarettes per day) smoker likely receives near 100 percent nicotine replacement using a 21-mg/day patch. However, this patch dose likely underdoses heavier smokers, and higher nicotine doses (44-mg/day) have been shown to provide better relief from withdrawal symptoms and to increase short-term efficacy.” Randolph C. Barrows, Jr., M.D. SMOKING CESSATION (Chapter 3)
And here's a description of some of what she's doing to monkeys:
Two gonadally intact adolescent (4–5 years old) male rhesus monkeys (Macacca mulatta, 8.9 and 7.7 kg) participated in the studies. Monkeys were housed individually in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms maintained on a 12 h light/dark schedule with lights on at 7:00 A.M. Monkeys were fed Monkey Diet Biscuit daily after each experimental session and were weighed biweekly. They participated in a psychological enrichment program. The animal protocol was approved by the Yale and Veterans Administration Animal Care and Use Committees and is in compliance with United States Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

Nicotine was administered orally using the dose escalation paradigm described previously (Pietila et al., 1998 ). Nicotine (Sigma, St. Louis, MO) was administered in a saccharin–Kool-Aid (Kraft Foods, Northfield, IL) solution as the sole source of fluid on a daily basis (with the exception of days of nicotine withdrawal before each scan and also for the day of and immediately after the scan). During weeks 0–4, the animals increased their average nicotine consumption from 3.3 to 37.5 mg/kg. During the last 5–8 weeks of the study, the animals' average daily nicotine consumption was 30–38 mg/kg. After 6 and 8 weeks, the nicotine solution was removed and the monkeys had access to water.” Edythe D. London et al. Human tobacco smokers in early abstinence have higher levels of beta2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors than nonsmokers. J Neurosci. 2006.
So, during the final 3 weeks of the study, the larger of the two monkeys was being administered the equivalent of more than 13 packs a day (8.9 kg X 30--38 mg = 267 mgs) to almost 17 packs of cigarettes a day (8.9 kg X 38 mg = 338.2 mg).

The smaller monkey was being administered the equivalent of between about 11 packs a day and 14 packs a day.

“Such tactics are beyond contemptible, have no place in a civilized society …” says UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. Of course, Block is talking about flooding her mansion, not forcing the monkeys to drink nicotine ladened Kool-Aid.

I can't remember the last time UCLA hosted any substantive public discussion regarding the use of animals in its labs; maybe it never has. In either case, you can't really criticize the garden hose event if the university won't discuss the matter in public.

See too: Tobacco company's research grant to UCLA raises suspicions

And here's a link to a pitiful letter from Edythe D. London, "Why I use laboratory animals."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

And why aren’t you mad?

A few of my last posts have been really mean. But I’m so very angry.

The use of monkeys in research acts as a lens for better understanding the nature of our relationship with other species and even with each other.

Animals consumed or otherwise harmed in research amount to but a very tiny sliver of the animals consumed by us for all other reasons.

The laws governing laboratory animal care and use are significantly more restrictive than those governing agricultural or other use. Monkeys make up only about .3% (less than one third of one percent) of all the mammals and birds used in research, according to some sources. There are unique legal requirements for their care and use, most notably the requirement of a plan to provide some psychological enrichment.

There are very large laboratory complexes dedicated to the use of monkeys that concentrate researchers and animal care specialists in one place. The use of other common species in the U.S. is widespread and more or less evenly dispersed throughout university and private labs.

With the publicly funded large primate labs we have a sort of captive ant colony living between glass plates we can observe and evaluate – in spite of their efforts to keep their work hidden and secret. And, because of the special laws governing the laboratory use of animals, and the special laws dealing with monkeys, and the concentration of expertise and resources at these large primate labs, they present us with a best-case real-time example of regulated animal use in the U.S.

This casts problems like the Vilas Monkeys, Jennifer Hess, Ei Terasawa, and the 628 Pieces of Primate Research Garbage in a special light.

Repeated lying, hush money, unmonitored run-away research, and blatant cover up must be very common throughout the nation’s animal labs. Or else, the University of Wisconsin is a wild exception.

And the animals are suffering horribly. This is the baseline reality against which all the problems must be considered.

And the claimed benefit to us of their suffering is – at best – debatable.

And, we know more now about the minds of other animals than ever before. Few serious students still argue that animals don’t have minds. Monkeys are said to have minds very like our own. It is the presence of mind in animals – particularly monkeys – that is used as a justification for very cruel experiments each and every year.

And, like bombs and secret prisons, this is an evil enterprise conducted in my name, with taxes taken from me.

And then, as if things couldn’t be any worse, a local Madison magazine has its collective editorial head so far up its ass (I’m back to being mean) that it names one of the primate vivisectors “Person of the Year.” Egad. Strap the suicide bombs on me now!

And, an anti-domestic violence group sings the praises of the largest contract animal testing lab in the world – cited on multiple occasions by the USDA for inadequate veterinary care and various animal care and use violations.

Everyone should be angry. Everyone.

I know that everyone isn’t angry, and I get even more pissed off when I consider the reasons they aren’t, which is commonly money or ignorance; sometimes its cruelty, sometimes callousness, but usually just plain old disinterest. Ho hum, they’re only animals, who cares if they're suffering?

When the Jews were being gassed and melted into soap, did anyone in Germany give a damn? I suspect that those who did were in the tiny tiny tiny minority and that the doctors experimenting on them, the police arresting those who complained, the government and universities who colluded, were smug in their power to control public sentiment.

If you aren’t mad too, then you’re clearly part of the problem.

Oculomotor unit behavior in the monkey.

Robinson, D.A. Oculomotor unit behavior in the monkey. J Neurophysiol. 33:393-403, 1970.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Steinem, DAIS, and Covance

Local readers will be aware that Gloria Steinem was recently the keynote speaker at an October 16, 2007 fundraising event for the Madison-based Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, or DAIS. And, that she asked DAIS to drop Covance as a sponsor of the event when she learned that the company has a very long, very well-documented history of violent animal cruelty.

Wisconsin State Journal columnist Melanie Conklin wrote about the dust-up:
"As soon as we found out it was a concern for her we stopped the sponsorship of the event, " says DAIS executive director Shannon Barry. "We really want to be respectful of Gloria 's wishes and we had no idea there was any problem."
Who would have thought that Steinem would be offended by a corporation hurting animals?
Covance spokesperson Mona Terrell calls Steinem 's decision "a regrettable publicity stunt. "
As if Steinem needs more notoriety.
"Ms. Steinem 's decision to align herself with groups that oppose medical research is an unfortunate and selfish distraction from the true purpose of this event, which is to support victims of domestic abuse,” Terrell says.
Medical research like forcing pesticides down dogs’ throats.
"It is ironic that Ms. Steinem ... is criticizing the life-saving research that Covance and companies like ours have done to benefit women, children and even pets who suffer from debilitating illnesses."
[Note to paid propagandists: Always appeal to the image of sick women, children, and pets.]
Steinem's name has attracted many new sponsors for the annual luncheon, which will cover the financial loss of Covance, says Barry. Also helpful is that Steinem is donating her time.

Despite this wrinkle, Barry can 't wait to meet Steinem.

"To be in the presence of someone that iconic is like Christmas a thousand times over. ... It was her book, which I read when I was 14, that put me on the path to the work I do."

Barry adds that Steinem's presence may also help make the community aware of the magnitude of the problem of domestic violence.

"One-third of all arrests in Dane County are domestic violence-related, " says Barry. "I 'm hoping Steinem 's presence here will get that message out."
DAIS executive director Shannon Barry followed up with a letter to the editor of the Capital Times on October 23, 2007:
DAIS was notified by Gloria Steinem's office a couple of weeks ago that Steinem was not comfortable appearing at an event sponsored by Covance. This statement came after Steinem's office was contacted by the Alliance for Animals. It was suggested to us by Steinem's office that she might not attend the event given this sponsorship.

When DAIS learned of this, we immediately asked to meet with Covance. The company was extremely sympathetic and voluntarily offered to remove its name as a sponsor of the luncheon....

DAIS continues to be grateful to Covance officials for their support. Covance has been a leader in Dane County through the company's response to domestic violence victims employed in that organization. Not only have company officials created proactive employee assistance programs to deal with domestic violence, but they also have provided generous financial contributions to support the survivors.

We are grateful to Steinem for volunteering her time to speak on behalf of the issue of domestic violence and our organization. We are also grateful to have a community partner such as Covance that has not only financially supported us, but that has also lived the change we wish to see across Dane County.
Ok, Shannon Barry feels that being in Steinem’s presence is “like Christmas a thousand times over,” and that Steinem’s presence here and her talk could help make the community aware of the magnitude of the problem of domestic violence. Understandable, but she also feels that violence directed toward animals is ok so long as the aggressor is making monetary contributions to her organization. Hello?

Ms. Barry can’t have it both ways. This is the age-old story of the newly elected politician going to Washington with the best of intentions, but soon being corralled by the “generosity” of the polluting or predatory industries or agencies they had hoped to regulate. It’s all about something called ethics. Steinem has it, Barry doesn’t.

Barry bemoans the fact that the Covance sponsorship angle got local media coverage, not necessarily sympathetic to the animals, but she has no one to blame but herself and DAIS. She should have stayed on point. She could have spoken about the acknowledged domestic violence among Covance employees and called attention to the fact that kicking a dog or slapping a monkey at work just might bleed over into one’s domestic life. She could have spoken about the fact that violence begets violence, but she didn't. Instead she chose to grovel and praise the deep pockets of a leading animal abuser.

“You can’t blame Covance,” she seems to say.

I’m reminded of the beaten women I’ve encountered who resist blaming their abusive spouses.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Compassion and Kindness Redefined

Brain Storm, the cover story by Frank Bures in Madison Magazine, is enough to make any kind and compassionate person puke their guts out. In this 3500+ paean to Richard Davidson, certain words are missing altogether. Words like: fear, anxiety, experimental brain ablation, ibotenic acid, restraint chair, or monkey.

Instead, we find comments like, "He's visionary. He's brilliant. He's compassionate and kind. And he's a very, very good scientist. And what he's done attests to all that."

"And what he's done attests to all that."

Here's some info not included in the article that attests to his compassion and kindness:

"METHODS: Twelve adolescent rhesus monkeys were studied (six lesion and six control monkeys). Lesions were targeted at regions of the OFC that are most interconnected with the amygdala. Behavior and physiological parameters were assessed before and after the lesions. RESULTS: The OFC lesions significantly decreased threat-induced freezing and marginally decreased fearful responses to a snake. The lesions also resulted in a leftward shift in frontal brain electrical activity consistent with a reduction in anxiety. The lesions did not significantly decrease hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF)." Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ.
Role of the Primate Orbitofrontal Cortex in Mediating Anxious Temperament. Biol Psychiatry. 2007.

"In primates, during times of need, calling for help is a universal experience. Calling for help recruits social support and promotes survival. However, calling for help also can attract predators, and it is adaptive to inhibit calls for help when a potential threat is perceived. Based on this, we hypothesized that individual differences in calling for help would be related to the activity of brain systems that mediate goal-directed behavior and the detection of threat.By using high-resolution positron emission tomography in rhesus monkeys undergoing social separation, we demonstrate that increased [18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose uptake in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and decreased uptake in the amygdala independently predict individual differences in calling for help. When taken together, these two regions account for 76% of the variance in calling for help. This result suggests that the drive for affiliation and the perception of threat determine the intensity of an individual's behavior during separation...." Fox AS, Oakes TR, Shelton SE, Converse AK, Davidson RJ, Kalin NH. Calling for help is independently modulated by brain systems underlying goal-directed behavior and threat perception. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005.

"Eighteen males underwent lesioning procedures at an average age of 34.9 months. Sixteen unoperated male controls were used for comparison and at the beginning of the study were on average 34.6 months of age." Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ. The role of the central nucleus of the amygdala in mediating fear and anxiety in the primate. J Neurosci. 2004.

"To examine the role of the amygdala in mediating this endophenotype [an anxious temperament] and other fearful responses, we prepared monkeys with selective fiber sparing ibotenic acid lesions of the amygdala. Unconditioned trait-like anxiety-fear responses remained intact in monkeys with >95% bilateral amygdala destruction. In addition, the lesions did not affect EEG frontal asymmetry. However, acute unconditioned fear responses, such as those elicited by exposure to a snake and to an unfamiliar threatening conspecific were blunted in monkeys with >70% lesions." Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ, Kelley AE. The primate amygdala mediates acute fear but not the behavioral and physiological components of anxious temperament. J Neurosci. 2001 Mar 15;21(6):2067-74.

"CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that, in primates, the fearful endophenotype is characterized by increased fearful behavior, a specific pattern of frontal electrical activity, increased pituitary-adrenal activity, and increased activity of brain CRH systems." Kalin NH, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ. Cerebrospinal fluid corticotropin-releasing hormone levels are elevated in monkeys with patterns of brain activity associated with fearful temperament. Biol Psychiatry. 2000.

From the article:
"We have far more control over our wellbeing, over how we respond to the world, than a simplistic, deterministic view would permit," says Davidson. "This work leaves us with a much more hopeful and optimistic message. It also places more responsibility on us. In some sense, this work is really a call for us to take ownership over our own minds.

"We have an extraordinary ability to transform our minds, if we so choose."
Cruelty, like all our behvioral choices, are actions that begin in our minds. According to Davidson, changing who we are, how we behave, is just a matter of practice, "What my work suggests," says Davidson, "is that our capacity to experience free will is a skill that can, to some extent, be enhanced through training."

So, what are the likely long-term results of Davidson's continuing practice of burning away the emotion centers of monkeys' brains with acid and then trying to frighten them with a snake? Greater compassion and kindness or increased callousness and an increased ability to justify cruelty? According to Davidson himself, the answer is clear.

See too: Dalai Lama Disciple Makes Big Discovery!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Late Night Reading

If you like reading the dark and macabre stories of Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft, then curling up with an Annual Progress Report to NIH/NCRR from one of the National Primate Research Centers might be right up your alley. These reports include suggestive accounts of hundreds of bone-chilling experiments, untold suffering, wild exaggeration, and much mystery. They are available upon request to the NIH or the institution itself. Price is variable.

The 2006/2007 Wisconsin National Primate Research Center’s annual report is a real page-turner.

The editor and lead author of the report is the center’s propagandist, Jordana (Jori) Lennon. She has produced an online newsletter over the years titled Research Highlights and uses this title for a section in the Wisconsin annual report to highlight the center’s top accomplishments over the reporting period. [Note: after some additional digging, I've learned that "Research Highlights" is a required part of the Annual Progress Report, so this wasn't Jori's original work. On the otherhand, it does make the title of her previous newsletter, Research Highlights, something a little less than inspired.]

The section begins with its heavy guns:


A long established team of researchers trying to cure polycystic ovary syndrome in women has recently hit upon some major discoveries.

In one finding, published in the journal Reproductive Technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers David Abbott and Daniel Dumesic report that the drug pioglitazone improves insulin action and normalizes menstrual cycles in a majority of female rhesus monkeys with PCOS. This work done at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center is key, the scientists say, because it proves the importance of using this species as a successful model for treating PCOS in women.

The work is “key,” not because it helps women, but because it “proves the importance” of using monkeys as models of PCOS?

I think most readers of the report would naturally come away with the impression that following this “discovery” in monkeys, pioglitazone might be tried on women suffering from PCOS. And, if they do, then maybe the propaganda worked.

In fact, the therapeutic effects of pioglitazone in women with PCOS has been under constant study since at least 2003. [Romualdi D, Guido M, Ciampelli M, Giuliani M, Leoni F, Perri C, Lanzone A. Selective effects of pioglitazone on insulin and androgen abnormalities in normo- and hyperinsulinaemic obese patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Hum Reprod. 2003 Jun;18(6):1210-8.]

So, maybe the “major discovery” by Abbott and Dumesic didn’t have anything to do with women suffering with PCOS after all. Maybe it simply was the discovery that pioglitazone has a beneficial effect on female monkeys suffering from the effects of experimentally induced PCOS-like symptoms. Maybe, in the macabre world of the monkey labs, this actually is perceived to be a “major discovery.”

In their defense, given the fact that their ability to induce a variety of hormonal irregularities and genital deformities in monkeys that mimic some of the symptoms of PCOS hasn’t led to improvements in the treatment of the condition in women, they have to find something to cheer about.

One of the mysteries in the report is the section titled “Source of Investigator’s Support.”

This is a list of scientists and the funding they have received throughout the year. I think a reader would assume that the document refers to scientists at the primate center and funding used to conduct their work at the center. But, mysteriously, the list is not so straightforward. There may be a reasonable explanation for this, but it shows just how difficult it is to learn what facilities like the primate center do with the money they receive, or even a very basic thing like their total funding.

Take the case of David B. Allison on pg 112. Allison is a biostatistician. He was a listed coauthor on three papers in 2006 and 2007 with Wisconsin SIV researcher David Watkins. (There were about 50 authors listed on the three papers, combined.) Watkins' lab probably can’t make head nor tail of the numerical data they produce, so they ask a statistician for help. Here’s the mystery: the Wisconsin Primate Center annual report lists Allison and eight of his NIH grants, totaling about $2.5 million. This is included in the Total Funding amount of about $44 million (not including the base grant)on pg 116.

But Allison is a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His $2.5 million is from grants to him at his home institution. Surely, UAB lists these eight grants and the $2.5 million in one of their reports as well. Does every university that consults Allison add $2.5 million to their Total Funding summary? There are a number of similar examples throughout the Wisconsin report. The Total Funding reported in the primate center's annual report doesn’t seem to mean anything very much at all.

This is from the CRISP, it doesn't mention Wisconsin or monkeys:

Grant Number: 3P30DK056336-05S2
ALLISON, DAVID B. dallison@uab.edu PROFESSOR

Abstract: DESCRIPTION (adapted from the application) The proposed UAB Clinical Nutrition Research Unit (CNRU) will foster a multidisciplinary approach to basic, clinical and translational research with an emphasis on understanding the metabolic factors, environmental influences, and associated genetic traits underlying nutrition and obesity-related health problems. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) provides an ideal academic environment for interdisciplinary research centers. With a 50-year history of pioneering research, the Department of Nutrition Sciences currently includes 18 primary research faculty and $8.3 million in total direct cost funding (80% federal). In addition, the Department coordinates all of the extensive nutrition training and service programs at UAB. To complement its well-established nutrition research program, in 1990, the Department initiated a campus-wide effort to strengthen obesity research. Institutional support of $1.96 million enabled development of the Energy Metabolism Research Laboratory and recruitment of an outstanding team of scientists. The result was rapid growth in new/peer-reviewed funding and interdisciplinary collaborations, such that in 1996 UAB established an intramurally-funded University-Wide Obesity Nutrition Research Center which, with NIH funding, will evolve into the proposed CNRU. The CNRU research base comprises 60 investigators from 18 academic units, with total direct funding of $44 million for nutrition/obesity research (88% federal; 11 R01s). Of the 77 funded nutrition/obesity studies and approved P/F projects, 65 (84%) will use CNRU Cores. The Energy Metabolism/Body Composition Core will support metabolic studies in humans and small animals; Genetics Core will focus on research related to gene expression, polymorphism detection, and genetic animal models; Nutrient Analysis Core will provide an array of nutrient analyses and new methods development; and the Biostatistics Core will support study design and data analysis. The CNRU will also support three P/F studies, a New Investigator, and an Enrichment Program. With exceptional institutional support and an ideal academic infrastructure, UAB has established a strong base of obesity/nutrition research and is now poised to greatly expand this effort through creation of a CNRU.

Thesaurus Terms: biomedical facility, nutrition clinical research, human subject, nutrition related tag

530 3rd Avenue South
Fiscal Year: 2006
Project Start: 01-JUN-2000
Project End: 31-MAY-2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Are Animal Models Predictive?

Sick Monkeys = Worthless Research

"AAALAC contends that good animal care and good science are inextricably linked, since medical and scientific bounty emanate only from the use of healthy research animals". [my emphasis] F. Key Kidder. Vivarium Forum: Accreditation A-Z. ALN Magazine; September/October 2005.
"Animals, like humans, are living organisms, and if you are trying to study a phenomenon that is characteristic of a living organism, there are certain kinds of questions that you only can answer using a living organism, complex questions where a response involves all of the feedback mechanisms that exist within the organism, but don't exist when you have an isolated piece of tissue or cells that are cultured.” Eric Sandgren, vivisector, and Chair of the University of Wisconsin, Madison Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee quoted by Nathan J. Comp in “Comp Time with Eric Sandgren.” Isthmus. 10/10/2007.
These dual claims – living animals are needed and they must be healthy – are commonly heard from those who defend the use of animals in research. The claims frequently go hand-in-hand as a rebuttal when an institution’s animal care is criticized. Researchers claim to be very concerned about the animals’ health because research results would be hopelessly skewed if the data came from sick animals; it is the complex biology of healthy living animals that is needed as a test bed, they claim.

Setting aside the general absurdity that one species is a predictive biological model of another, following the researchers’ arguments to their conclusion, if they use sick animals in their experiments, the results won’t be meaningful.

But, in the case of monkeys, all the animals are chronically ill. Following the researchers’ logic, much of the data coming out of the monkey labs is tainted due to the poor health of the animals.

Poor health?

Consider the health of two monkeys. One from Wisconsin, s93052, and one from California, MCY28114. If you think these cases might be exceptional, consider this:
In recent years, a substantial number of macaques have died at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, USA, following protracted intractable diarrhea. The diarrhea could last for up to two years and occurred in infant, juvenile or young adult animals. The histopathological diagnosis at autopsy was chronic colitis. Rubio CA, Hubbard GB. Chronic colitis in Macaca fascicularis: similarities with chronic colitis in humans. In Vivo. 2002.
Chronic enterocolitis is the leading cause of morbidity in colonies of captive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)... In colonies of nonhuman primates, recurring diarrhea is the leading cause of animal morbidity requiring veterinary care. Sestak K, Merritt CK, Borda J, Saylor E, Schwamberger SR, Cogswell F, Didier ES, Didier PJ, Plauche G, Bohm RP, Aye PP, Alexa P, Ward RL, Lackner AA. Infectious agent and immune response characteristics of chronic enterocolitis in captive rhesus macaques. Infect Immun. 2003 Jul;71(7):4079-86.
Put this in perspective: researchers claim to need healthy animals, but the monkeys are sick. They claim to be on the verge of a cure for every known human ailment, but are unable to cure diarrhea, even with an endless supply of animals with the naturally occurring condition.

In addition to the “protracted intractable diarrhea” so common in the monkeys, they are also, universally, suffering from a condition known as hypervitaminosis A
Chronic vitamin A toxicity develops after taking too much vitamin A for long periods. Bone pain and swelling of the bones is common, often associated with high levels of calcium in the blood. Other symptoms include hair loss, high cholesterol, liver damage, and vision problems. Symptoms are often subtle and may include fatigue, malaise, and nausea.

In children, hypervitaminosis A can cause craniotabes (abnormal softening of the skull bones). Irritability, decreased appetite, itchy skin, and poor weight gain are common. There may be skin changes with seborrhea (extremely oily skin and hair), and cracking at the corners of the mouth. Medline Plus
Now this:
The purpose of this study was to determine what types of feed are used at the National Primate Centers and to estimate the amount of VA [vitamin A] that rhesus macaques are consuming. Five of the eight centers responded to a short survey that was administered through telephone and electronic mail contacts. VA intakes are well above those that are considered adequate for humans, and VA concentrations in commercially prepared standard primate diets exceed National Research Council (NRC) recommendations by as much as four times. Penniston KL, Tanumihardjo SA. Vitamin A intake of captive rhesus monkeys exceeds national research council recommendations. Am J Primatol. 2006.
Recent work examining vitamin A (VA) status of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) used as models for human biomedical research has revealed subtoxic hepatic VA concentrations. Livers of marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus), another experimental animal, were also high in VA as was serum retinyl ester concentration. Both species consumed common research diets that provided up to four times the amount of VA (retinyl acetate) as currently recommended by the National Research Council. Mills JP, Penniston KL, Tanumihardjo SA. Extra-hepatic vitamin A concentrations in captive Rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) monkeys fed excess vitamin A. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2005.
We showed previously that hepatic vitamin A concentrations of captive rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) are subtoxic to toxic, with livers exhibiting stellate cell hypertrophy and hyperplasia. Penniston KL, Thayer JC, Tanumihardjo SA. Serum vitamin A esters are high in captive rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) monkeys. J Nutr. 2003.
Although the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) is a widely used experimental animal, its exact vitamin A requirement is unknown.… Our goal was to determine hepatic vitamin A concentrations of captive monkeys. Liver autopsy samples from rhesus and marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) monkeys were obtained from the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center.… Liver samples were extracted and analyzed…. The vitamin A concentration of the rhesus monkey livers was very high…. Considering that the natural diet of the rhesus monkey (fruits, seeds, roots and insects) is not high in preformed vitamin A, the vitamin A content of the diet appears excessive, supplying four times the NRC recommendation and resulting in high liver stores. Penniston KL, Tanumihardjo SA. Subtoxic hepatic vitamin A concentrations in captive rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). J Nutr. 2001.
Adding to the problems of “protracted intractable diarrhea” and hypervitaminosis A is the problem of chronic captivity-induced mental illness. In its extreme version, self-mutilation, it effects at least 10% of the rhesus monkeys in US labs. In its less extreme versions, it may effect nearly all laboratory housed macaques.

"Medical and scientific bounty emanate only from the use of healthy research animals."

If, as primate vivisectors claim, they need whole living animals because they need to see all the feedback systems at work, or in the words of mouse vivisector Eric Sandgren, “[I]f you are trying to study a phenomenon that is characteristic of a living organism, there are certain kinds of questions that you only can answer using a living organism, complex questions where a response involves all of the feedback mechanisms that exist within the organism,” then the research with monkeys is bound to fail. Essentially, the animals they are using are sick to their stomachs, have chronic diarrhea, are being poisoned with vitamin A, and are insane.

I imagine one or two feedback systems might be affected.

Monday, October 8, 2007


MADISON- Covance, Inc., one of Madison, Wisonsins largest employers, is no longer welcome as a sponsor of a local fundraising event. Gloria Steinem, who will appear in Madison to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of a local human services agency, asked that the organization drop Covance as a sponsor of their October 16th event.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Evidence shows animal research is a waste

Aysha Akhtar, M.D.: Evidence shows animal research is a waste
A letter to the editor, Captital Times — 10/02/2007

Dear Editor: In addition to the ethical issues raised by animal research, more and more members of the medical research community are calling attention to the fundamental problems with animal experiments ("Doc: Testing on animals obsolete"). As a neurologist and public health specialist, I know there is ample evidence that underscores the urgent need to move away from using animals in research.

In a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, physicians cast doubts on the usefulness of animal research and cautioned against extrapolating research results from animals to humans.

The editors of a September 2006 editorial in Nature Reviews concluded that mouse-based cancer research has not been useful and questioned why researchers still rely so heavily on these animals.

There are scientifically superior and more ethical ways to learn about human health and disease and how to treat and cure human illness. We simply can't afford for researchers to waste more time and money on a system that does not work.

Aysha Akhtar, M.D., senior research adviser, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington, D.C.

Mishandling of Germs on Rise at US Labs

Mishandling of Germs on Rise at US Labs

WASHINGTON (AP) — American laboratories handling the world's deadliest germs and toxins have experienced more than 100 accidents and missing shipments since 2003, and the number is increasing as more labs do the work.

No one died, and regulators said the public was never at risk during these incidents. But the documented cases reflect poorly on procedures and oversight at high-security labs, some of which work with organisms and poisons that can cause illnesses with no cure. In some cases, labs have failed to report accidents as required by law.

The mishaps include workers bitten or scratched by infected animals, skin cuts, needle sticks and more, according to a review by The Associated Press of confidential reports submitted to federal regulators. They describe accidents involving anthrax, bird flu virus, monkeypox and plague-causing bacteria at 44 labs in 24 states. More than two-dozen incidents were still under investigation. [Much more...]

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