Critics go for broke against cruel research

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1996:

BOULDER, Colorado––Now under funding
review by the National Institutes of Health, University of
Colorado biomedical researcher Mark Laudenslager’s $3 million
study of “Behavioral and Physiological Consequences of
Loss” in 120 young macaques went virtually unnoticed for
almost 12 years. But the terms “maternal deprivation,” and
“AIDS” suggest that the Laudenslager study may never be
obscure again.
Explains Laudenslager, “What we’re trying to
determine is, all things being equal, why is one person at a
greater risk from AIDS than another? Why does one HIVpositive
person die after six months, as opposed to one who’s
living 15 years later?” His hypothesis is that maternal deprivation
may inhibit full development of the immune system,
making the affected children more vulnerable to AIDS and
other diseases later in life.

Laudenslager’s method is to separate baby
macaques from their mothers for two weeks at age six
months, by temporarily removing the mothers from social
groups of 10 to 16 monkeys. The babies continue to receive
comfort and companionship from the rest of each group.
They in turn are taken out of their groups at age 15 months,
are put through a variety of behavioral, endocrinological,
and immunological tests until age four, and are then returned
to their groups for retirement.
The Laudenslager work only faintly parallels that of
the late Harry Harlow at the University of Wisconsin, 1930-
1970, whose repeated isolation of young monkeys in “wells
of despair” until they went insane became perhaps the most
notorious vivsection experiments ever. But funding by the
Office of AIDS Research is under attack as a boondoggle––in
part because even if Laudenslager manages to confirm his
theory, human data already demonstrates that poor
parent/child relationships are associated with subsequent
high-risk sexual behavior.
The Laudenslager study is high on a list of projects
targeted for cancellation by Medical Research Modernization
Committee co-chair Murry Cohen. This, Laudenslager says,
would be a death sentence for the macaques. “There aren’t
any retirement funds for the monkeys,” he explains. “We’re
responsible for them for the rest of their lives, and they live
anywhere from 15 to 20 years.” Completion of the study
requires keeping the monkeys under observation throughout
their lives for signs of immune system disorder.
Father Flanagan shafts cats
Another study with a Colorado connection came
under fire on September 22 when the Denver Post r e v e a l e d
that the U.S. Army has spent $5.5 million of the estimated
$2.1 billion cost of cleaning up the former Rocky Mountain
Arsenal chemical weapons plant to feed a nerve gas byproduct
called diisopropylmethylphosphonate (DIMP) to 85 mink.
Experimental quantities of DIMP were manufactured in
England especially for the project.
“At some point,” said lead researcher Thomas
Bucci, “you wonder why all this is necessary. When you
think about spending tax dollars on something, you wonder if
there aren’t better things to do than this.”
The DIMP study was subcontracted out to a firm in
St. Paul, Minnesota, a center of the mink ranching industry.
A few years ago, activists usually attacked animal
research on grounds of needless cruelty. Campaigns of that
sort continue. For example, alleging multiple violations of
the Animal Welfare Act, PETA in August filed a 53-page
complaint against Boys Town biomedical researchers Glenn
Farley and the husband-and-wife team of Edward J. Walsh
and JoAnn McGee. Farley has received $1 million from the
National Institutes of Health for experiments in which he
starves immobilized cats. Walsh and McGee induce brain
damage in cats. The studies are purportedly part of an investigation
of deafness. San Diego Animal Advocates is meanwhile
campaigning against fetal eye removal and eye damage
experiments by Edward Callaway of the Salk Institute in La
Jolla, California. His current experiments, on macaques,
replicate his earlier work on rabbits, ferrets, and cats.
Both the Boys Town and Salk Institute experiments
resemble work done on cats by Barbara Gordon Lickey at the
University of Oregon, beginning in 1969, brought to national
attention after the Animal Liberation Front smashed her laboratory
and removed six cats in October 1986. PETA press
releases describing the action seemed confident that the cruelty
of Gordon Lickey’s work would be recognized and condemned––but
though one judge remarked during the subsequent
trial of Oregon activist Roger Troen as an accessory to
the ALF action that most lay persons would have a hard time
understanding just how Gordon Lickey could routinely do
what she did, the ALF tactics brought as much visible public
outrage, chiefly over the cost to taxpayers of repairing the
damaged property, as did the animal suffering.
The Boys Town and Callaway campaigns haven’t
attracted either significant public support or ALF action yet,
and perhaps won’t.
Even when allegations of cruelty have been sustained
and have stopped research projects, the victories have
been short-lived. Last spring, for instance, New York
University reportedly drew a record civil penalty of $450,000
from the USDA for an alleged 378 violations of Animal
Welfare Act nonhuman primate care and housing standards
by former NYU drug addiction experimenter Dr. Ronald
Wood and staff. This summer, however, the National
Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes
of Health, renewed Wood’s annual grant of $420,000. Wood
will resume his drug addiction studies as a newly hired member
of the faculty at the University of Rochester.
Researcher charged
More lastingly successful campaigns have spotlighted
allegations of financial waste parallel to evident cruelty––and
many activists now talk about money first, because
sustained claims of misused public funding can stop projects
cold and even send researchers to jail. Lionel Resnick, for
instance, former chief of research at the Mount Sinai Medical
Center in Miami Beach, was charged on August 21 with 49
counts of mail fraud and three counts of money laundering in
connection with alleged use of $750,000 in grants to Mount
Sinai for work pertaining to AIDS to instead underwrite profit-making
virus testing done for other institutions under the
business name Vironc Inc. Resnick had received a record 18
consecutive renewals of NIH funding.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, Lawrence Carter Long
of Sangre de Cristo Animal Protection has for more than a
year been investigating the activities of the Inhalation
Toxicology Research Institute, situated at Kirtland Air Force
Base. Carter Long believes significant cruelty is involved,
but that isn’t even part of the public issue yet. The sum of his
knowledge from public sources about animal suffering at
ITRI is that in fiscal year 1993, ITRI used 4,663 animals in
experiments causing pain and/or distress, plus 4,907 in
experiments not causing pain, according to ITRI’s own
While details of the experiments have not been
available, some financial details are.
“Since 1960,” explains Carter Long, “ITRI has
spent over $300 million using beagles, nonhuman primates,
guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, sheep, goats, rats, and mice
in experiments involving inhalants and radioactivity. For fiscal
year 1995, ITRI’s budget totaled nearly $16 million.”
ITRI has denied Carter Long more specifics about
both animal use and money. ITRI claims, he says, that
“public release of the records would have a chilling effect on
how they are prepared. Perhaps the most chilling effect of
releasing the documents,” Carter Long has come to believe,
“is that the public would finally know exactly what is being
done with their tax dollars.”
On August 1, SdeCAP and the Humane Society of
the U.S. jointly sued the Department of Energy, seeking
copies of ITRI Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

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