Protest held for primate liberation
UCLA refutes activists’ accusation that research using
animals is brutal
By Lee Bialik
DAILY BRUIN CONTRIBUTOR
Protesters against lab experimentation on primates
marched from the Federal Building to the UCLA Neurophysiology building
and through Westwood on Monday.
Participants in the protest said UCLA was targeted to
advocate against experiments using primates that occur on campus. The
university strongly refutes their accusations.
The protest was one of dozens of events scheduled to
take place this week in 20 cities nationwide. The events are a part of
National Primate Liberation Week.
Activists organized the events in response to an
investigative report released this week by a national non-profit
research organization called Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
The report detailed an increase in experiments using
primates as well as an increase in public funding for them.
Michael Budkie, the author of the SAEN report and
organizer of national SAEN events, said experiments at UCLA often use
methods such as restraining primates to chairs, making openings in their
skulls, and placing electrodes in their brains.
Budkie added that research often makes the subjects
susceptible to diseases such as meningitis.
He believes the awareness of students and faculty
could help change the university's research policy of using animals.
"While some people at universities get paid to perform
experiments, I know that other scientists have higher ethical
standards," he said.
According to a statement issued by UCLA, the
university makes every effort to minimize pain and discomfort to the
animals. These efforts include having campus veterinarians and trained
animal-care specialists monitor every animal-research project to ensure
the animals are treated humanely.
In addition, the university said animals are only used
in research when no other appropriate means is available and that every
animal-research project at UCLA must be approved by an independent
The protesters believed otherwise, saying that
research was unnecessary and brutal.
They described themselves as independent activists who
live in Los Angeles and hope to raise public awareness.
Protester Dena Snedden, who grew up in the UCLA area
and attended UCLA Extension, said she was protesting to help bring UCLA
to the 21st century.
"It's time that they explore and implement humane
medical research. The technology is there," she said.
"The reason this is happening is to line certain
individuals' pockets at the animals' expense and the public's expense."
But researchers denied the group's allegations.
"The research I do wouldn't be worth anything if the
animals weren't socially and physically healthy. We maintain the
conditions to assure that that's the case," said psychiatry and
behavioral sciences Professor Lynn Fairbanks, one of the professors
named by the protesters as using primates in research.
SAEN has also planned a candlelight vigil in Westwood
on Friday evening.