Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Princeton U's lab animal violations (cont.)

For at least the 2nd year in a row, Princeton University has been cited for violations in caring for laboratory animals. The Times of Trenton reported on Saturday that once again a USDA inspection revealed that some primates were not provided with water for over 24 hours and there were “inconsistencies in the use of animals from what was described in the IACUC protocol.”

IACUC stands for Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee – a group legally required to exist where research occurs. According to a university spokesperson last year after violations were publicized, this committee consists of 3 members, a veterinarian, a member from the Princeton-area community and “a practicing scientist experienced in animal research.”

The same spokesperson reportedly indicated last year that the university was “strengthening" this committee. However, this year’s repeat of some violations prompts questions about how much stronger the committee is now – assuming members exercise any kind of oversight.

Of course the far bigger question is, Why animal research (Princeton’s term) or experimentation (the word others use) at all in 2011? One quick answer seems to be “money.” Animal research for the government and for companies wanting to test products on animals pay institutions and/or their researchers.

Decades ago, Peter Singer, ethicist and Princeton faculty member, wrote about the field of animal research – its horrific cruelty and its inapplicability to humans. How could it possibly have become more humane or germane since then?

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