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Researchers Fear Animal Rights Programs, Shrug at Animal Welfare

December 2, 2009

P. Michael Conn is very worried. P. Michael Conn should be worried.  P. Michael Conn makes his money from the torment and killing of nonhuman animals — and from lying about animal research — as the director of research advocacy at the Oregon Health and Sciences University and Oregon National Primate Research Center, institutions known for their cruel, unnecessary experiments on and abuse of animals (see end of post for links to previous OHSU-related posts).

And he’s worked up because 55 percent of law schools now offer at least one animal law course. And worse, students are taking these courses — and (gasp!) thinking about the morality of performing research on animals.

“Programs championing animal rights or ‘liberation,'” he worries, “set up adversarial potential on campuses and pose a serious risk to the future of animal research.” But take note, animal advocates: he shrugs his shoulders at “courses that promote standards for humane animal care and welfare,” as well he should. He knows that such so-called standards and laws are easy to ignore and get around; he knows this because we’ve had these sorts of standards and laws for years, and he and his pals at OHSU and elsewhere have still been able to get away with murder (literally). Animal rights, Conn is worried about. Animal welfare, he understands, is “unlikely to provoke conflict.”

Conn also gets into the  property issue in his Scientist article, noting that one reason animal exploiters, in the research sector and elsewhere, can get away with what they do is that our fellow animals are classified by law as “property,” as mere things, so he’s nervous about the possibility of our fellow animals rising out of their current property status. (I doubt anyone has written in more detail, from the animal rights perspective, about the property status issue than Gary Francione, so if you’re not yet familiar with these arguments and want to be, I recommend seeking out some of his essays on the topic; I don’t have direct links to any of them handy, but you can do some wandering through the sections of his Web site and find these discussions fairly easily, I’m sure.)

But Conn remarks that, despite animals’ property status, welfare laws still “emphasize our responsibility to care for them humanely.” Rubbish. The majority of animals used in research aren’t covered by welfare laws at all, and even those animals who are covered are routinely tormented in ways that violate laws and basic decency. The laws don’t work. And the whole point of animal research is not to care for animals. Confining them, mentally tormenting them, physically injuring them, infecting them with diseases, and ultimately killing them and cutting open their bodies is what animal research is all about.

Conn concludes his article with warnings about the implications for vivisection if the research community “fails to address developments in the education of law students” — in other words, fails to pump its propaganda into colleges and law schools.

We’re nowhere near the end of testing and experimentation on our fellow animals yet, but it’s good to see some of the abusers scared.


Photo courtesy the Empty Cages Gallery and Animals Voice

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