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Fur Flies in PETA's Fight for Animals.(People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
Insight on the News, July 17, 2000, by Aimee Welch Animal-rights activists claim biomedical research is cruel and unusual punishment, but the scientific community says PETA's incendiary brand of activism might be dangerous. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA, has a dream of equal rights for animals. No more lab rats in cages, whether for testing cosmetics or cancer treatments. No more circus performances by lumbering elephants. No more zoos in U.S. cities. No more chickens in boiler pots or cows on farms or milk in refrigerators. No more animal companions curled up on American hearths. As PETA activists are fond of saying, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy, and human animals have no more business using the parallel nations of nonhuman animals for food or clothing or forced companionship or lab experiments than the evil Dr. Josef Mengele had experimenting on fellow humans. PETA is celebrating nearly 20 years of in-your-face activism with business as usual: a steady stream of tofu pies aimed at the faces of perceived perpetrators of animal injustice (most recent high-profile target as Insight goes to press: Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, hit mid-press conference on May 30 by a 23-year-old activist shouting, "Meat pimp!") and sassy campaigns such as the latest against McDonald's. "We don't mind taking off our clothes or tossing a pie if that's what it takes," says Ingrid Newkirk, PETA's longtime president. "We would rather do that and make idiots of ourselves than be quiet on an issue. And people appreciate it." Controversy and sex. The activists know what sells. To that end, PETA has created campaigns for almost everyone. To name a few: * For the international anarchist types, there was the Web posting urging PETA supporters to join social-justice and environmental activists in Washington to protest the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, wearing cow masks and holding signs proclaiming, "The World Bank Is Killing Me" or "Animal Liberation = Human Liberation." * For college kids there was the St. Patrick's Day ad campaign countering the dairy industry's "Got Milk" ads with the slogan "Milk Sucks, Got Beer?" PETA argued that drinking beer was healthier than drinking milk ("wipe off those milk mustaches and replace them with foam," said the ads) and
people who love animals in their hearts but haven't a clue that they are supporting cruelty: buying flesh. * For the religious-minded there is the PETA-sponsored JesusVeg. she quit her job and set out to reform that shelter. no matter what good you get out of it. "Christians should extend the message that `God is love' to animals by not eating them. "My mother would say it didn't matter who suffered. This led to a job inspecting laboratories for the city government in Washington. * For older men. too." Newkirk says that long before all this hype began. Mothers Against Drunk Driving responded in outrage demanding PETA pull the plug on the campaign. In a press release last month PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said. when she was an English girl growing up in India she was horrified to see animals collapsing in the streets from starvation and abuse. to show people they "could be kind instead of cruel in everything they did. "I decided there was no excuse to treat animals this way. dissecting animals in school. a billboard featuring a model PETA describes as "a curvaceous red-white-andblue-bikini-clad vegetarian" claims meat consumption is linked to impotence." Never mind that the New Testament says Jesus ate fish or that the Old Testament says God commanded ceremonial feasts centered around animal sacrifices. written by Peter Singer. says Newkirk. When she took some abandoned kittens to a shelter and discovered animals in deplorable conditions. but how. Animal Liberation. caged and sitting in their own urine. now a professor at Princeton University. The model tells men that "vegetarianism is good for all your organs and lets animals keep theirs intact. And I began to ask how many people are there like me. Go Vegetarian" and encouraging diners at steakhouses to take up a more compassionate diet.told students that the dairy industry promotes cruelty to cows and calves. The Unhappy Meal illustrations imagine the lives of chickens and pigs on factory farms before they are slaughtered.com Website that claims Jesus was a vegetarian. Later. she read the new book that was becoming the bible of animal-rights activists. This is augmented by Jesus and cow impersonators waving signs reading "For Christ's Sake. Newkirk says her mother helped Mother Teresa in her human charities and they took in any animals they could. * For grade-school youngsters there is the McDonald's "Unhappy Meal" tour." So PETA was started." ." she says. PETA activists are distributing colorfully illustrated boxes to kids at schools and McDonald's playgrounds. she tells Insight. But Newkirk "didn't realize animals were in trouble in the West" until she was an American grownup and working in a brokerage on the East Coast. Later I decided no good came out of it.
says. a good $3 million more than in the previous fiscal year. 7. PETA has become the nation's most politically hip national animal-rights group. Programs sponsored by its education department reached 170. In 1999 it reported raising more than $16 million. 120 employees. president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research. according to the Foundation for Biomedical Research. the number of cats by 62 percent. Trull explains. polls show that a majority of Americans dislike the thought of animal suffering but support some animal research. guinea pigs by 36 percent. especially for medical purposes. "Non-animal models would be cheaper and faster. But now those kids to whom we introduced this concept" have reached an age to contribute." Americans for Medical Progress. they still are a very long way from eliminating all animal research as PETA demands. now preventable through phototherapy. USDA figures for 1998. But until scientists understand enough about the complex living system called a whole animal they will still have to use animal models" -.Has the message hit home? Newkirk thinks so: "When we started 20 years ago. But years after a federal interagency mandate to seek viable alternatives was handed down. Department of Agriculture. There are incentives to seek them.500 times in print media alone that year.000 members. stroke or kidney failure from lack of medication to control their high blood pressure." Refinement of research techniques and methodologies has resulted in a marked reduction in the number of animals that research facilities report using to the U.the full biological system cannot be mimicked on a computer. more than 1 million Americans would lose vision in at least one eye this year because cataract surgery would be impossible. 60 million Americans would risk death from heart attack. or USDA. most of the nation's 1 million insulin-dependent diabetics wouldn't be insulin-dependent -. measured against 1973 figures show the number of dogs used in research declined by 61 percent.they would be dead. Frankie Trull. tells Insight. an industry association in Washington. PETA routinely claims that alternatives to animal testing readily are available. It boasts some 700. "Without animal research polio would kill or cripple thousands of unvaccinated children and adults this year.000 schoolteachers and enrolled more than 4 million students. "If we were to adopt [PETA's position on animal research] a whole lot of people who are living normal lives right now would be dead.500 newborns who contract jaundice each year would develop cerebral palsy. hamsters by 54 percent and rabbits by 35 percent. for example. no one had heard about animal rights. However. It was mentioned 7.S. Many of the world's most respected scientists and physicians say that while they support humane treatment of animals and the search for high-tech alternatives to animal research. a Virginia-based foundation dedicated to public education concerning the good that has come from animal testing. deep-pocket celebrity supporters such as Alec Baldwin and an ever-increasing budget. the Food and Drug .
" Animal Research vs. The biomedical research community is lobbying heavily for their inclusion in the act. "Perhaps the mere idea of receiving a nasty missive will allow animal researchers to empathize with their victims for the first time in their lousy careers. PETA also claims that scientists can do whatever they want and that there is no regulation of their care for lab animals. It is that animals are other nations and it's just human ignorance and might that allows us to continue to ignore their need.Administration has found only two alternative tests to be adequate replacements for determining some safety aspects of certain new medical or cosmetics products. this is not where the danger is. Trull disagrees. claiming among other reasons the need to demonstrate to the public the humane standards by which they care for the animals. in my opinion. since the 1960s the Animal Welfare Act. "We don't have to behave like cavemen. But. or AWA. We're looking for good lawsuits that will establish the interests of animals as a legitimate area of concern in law. A major loophole in the AWA excludes from USDA regulatory oversight rats. Scientists don't go in the basement and pull the wings off flies. Animal Rights . we don't have to feed them our stuff to see if it's poisonous. PETA's Newkirk commented. and hundreds of facilities voluntarily register with a nongovernmental accrediting organization called the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International in an effort to demonstrate their commitment to humane animal-welfare standards. the model is sound. Meanwhile." Not only do scientists have an interest in keeping animals calm and healthy in order to obtain accurate results. "Ours is the sensible position. Our position is it's quite radical to abuse animals out of habit. And when 87 razorblade-laced threats were mailed to American primate researchers in the fall of 1999 by a group calling itself the Justice Department. "I think we have to be vigilant relative to the fringe element. the number of animals requested is justified and that pain alleviation is used. mice and birds -which account for 80 to 90 percent of all animals used." But Newkirk insists. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Public Health Service Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare also are charged with oversight of animal-research centers. The public doesn't understand well enough the complex medical research to challenge the statements PETA makes. The real danger is in the message of animalrights groups like PETA." She adds." She tells Insight she stands by those words. has mandated local committees made up of scientists. Trull says. breaking into biomedical-research facilities and leaving destruction and arson in their wake. Animal-rights terrorism from such fringe factions is causing some research setbacks and heightened security in at-risk facilities. "Nobody does research willy-nilly. PETA has given tacit approval to groups that have taken violent action in the name of animal rights. veterinarians and one public member to carefully review all animal-test proposals to make sure the research is essential.
" Chris De Rose." Michael W. swaying public opinion through publicity stunts and letter-writing campaigns. Former U. `Yeah. PETA "The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration. Baylor University. Fox. College of Medicine. PETA celebrity spokesman "If the death of one rat cured all diseases.' Sorry. the [animal-rights] movement has become more formidable than ever. surgeon general "None of this could have been done without animal experimentation." Joseph Murray. But I care about people more." Joycelyn Elders.S." Alex Pacheco." Bill Maher. chancellor emeritus. on the day he was notified he had won the 1990 Nobel Prize for medicine for his research on organ transplants "With increased sophistication and media savvy. `My father is alive because of animal experimentation. from personal care and household cleaning to health care and prescription drugs. good for you. Former U." Michael E. surgeon general "We feel that animals have the same rights as retarded children. director. the hard-line activists simply changed strategy. well. director. Everett Koop. There is no substitute for animal testing if we are to ensure the safety of all consumer products. DeBakey. This dog died so your father could live. I am here to set the record straight.S. it wouldn't make any difference to me.' I say. absolutely critical to the progress against AIDS and a wide range of other applications in both humans and animals. It's a tragedy and a waste of resources that scientists have to combat the antivivisectionists. but I am just not behind that kind of trade-off. Rather than settling for compromise. chairman. The Humane Society of the United States "To those people who say." C. vice president. and will continue to be."The use of animals in biomedical research and testing has been. Last Chance for Animals . Foundation for Biomedical Research "I care about animals.
hsus.peta-online. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group .gov) * National Institutes of Health (www.nih.gov) * United States Department of Agriculture (www.org) * Foundation for Biomedical Research (www. PETA FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE DEBATE BETWEEN ANIMAL RIGHTS AND ANIMAL RESEARCH: * People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (www.usda.fbresearch. in association with The Gale Group and LookSmart.ampef.org) * Americans for Medical Progress Educational Foundation (www."Six million Jews died in concentration camps.org) * Humane Society for the United States (www." Ingrid Newkirk. president.gov) COPYRIGHT 2000 News World Communications.org) * Food and Drug Administration (www. but 6 billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.fda. Inc.
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