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To the editor:
In two recent letters to the editor (March 21, April 25), Shloime Perel condemns animal research as unethical and harshly criticizes scientists who engage in animal experimentation. However, Mr. Perel fails to mention that the vast majority of biomedical research is conducted humanely and in a way that attempts to minimize animal suffering. Neither does Mr. Perel provide a rational explanation why animal research should not be carried out.
Mr. Perel would have us believe that animal research is not necessary and that as a society we should do without it. I ask Mr. Perel to visit the families of patients who benefit from drugs that have been tested on animals. These include all the anti-cancer medications, the anti-HIV drugs, and medications that alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and a multitude of other disorders.
I do agree with Mr. Perel, though, that all animals, big and small, mammal and non-mammal, should be given consideration and treated in a way that minimizes pain and stress. Scientists have not eliminated animal suffering completely, but they are increasingly conscientious about animal welfare, and the methods used to minimize distress are improving.
Ultimately, the use of animals in research is an issue that society as a whole must carefully and sensibly consider. Nonetheless, we should realize that without animal research, countless human lives are likely to be lost. Perhaps even yours or mine.
BSc (Biology, 1993) PhD (Neurological Sciences, 2001)