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To the editor:
I was very disturbed by the article entitled "Arryn Ketter: Sympathy for Simians" by Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins, published in the McGill Reporter on April 3. I find the picture you paint of biomedical research to be disgusting and hypocritical.
Don't get me wrong -- I believe the Fauna Foundation to be a remarkable initiative, as is that of Arryn Ketter. I also believe the ethical treatment of animals and the protection of animal rights is something our society must address. I myself love animals. However, one must understand the use of animals in biomedical research is a very necessary thing.
Our life expectancy would not be that 80 years if it wasn't for animal research. The use of "biomedical research chimps," as well as countless mice, rats, cats and dogs, profits every single one of us almost every day, although we all take this for granted. We would not be able to "pop a pill" each time we have a headache, a stuffed nose or an ear infection if it wasn't for research previously done on animals. We wouldn't have the contraceptive pill, anticancer drugs, laser eye surgery, insulin for diabetics or even vaccines if not for research on animals. Heart bypass surgeries would not be standard procedures, and I could go on like this for a very long time -- the examples are countless! We cannot take advantage of everything modern medicine has to offer, yet condemn the biomedical community for cruelty against animals.
Secondly, animal research, at least in this country, is done with great care to spare the animals from pain and suffering. Our government as well as each research institute has extremely stringent rules and regulations for the ethical treatment of research animals. Furthermore, scientists do not go "poking and prodding" research animals for their own enjoyment. In fact, if you ask anyone that has done research on animals, they will tell you that it's incredibly difficult and saddening. In fact, most dislike it but realize its necessity.
And as for asking chimps to volunteer for biomedical research, next time your mother, father, sister, friend or yourself need surgery, chemotherapy or the relief of a stuffy nose, would you rather try something new, untested and potentially dangerous or something that has been deemed safe and effective in animals?
PhD student in neurology and neurosurgery