Laws Should Protect Animals

Bill 2296’s Punishment of Speech May Lead Activists to More Violence to Make Their Voices Heard

Members of the campus community recently received an e-mail from UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block extolling the virtues of Assembly Bill 2296, a new law that restricts the speech of animal-rights activists (whom he calls “anti-animal research extremists”) in order to protect animal researchers. As this law moved toward passage, much was said about the fear animal researchers feel when confronted by protestors. By contrast, few have commented on the pain and terror experienced by animals used in experiments or have explained why there is protest against animal research at UCLA and other institutions in the first place.

Every day at places like UCLA, animals are subjected to excruciating, unrelieved pain as involuntary subjects in research experiments that have not been described or justified to the public. Researchers and the heads of experiments hide behind unsupported general claims that such research is necessary and productive for human health, but they offer no information by which the public can assess their claims as to specific experiments.

Therefore, the public has no information about the research that is being done or whether, in fact, any of it has led to or has the potential to lead to worthwhile advancements. Researchers and the heads of institutions like UCLA reject calls for transparency about the animal research that is conducted.

Because of the way research applications are reviewed and funded, it is highly likely that research dollars are wasted on useless animal testing and experiments. Funding might well have been more productively invested in research methods that bear actual fruit in advancing human health.

Animal researchers like to further argue that they are in complete compliance with state anticruelty statutes and federal laws that regulate scientific research on animals. However, as legally interpreted, neither state nor federal laws provide any protection to animals tortured at institutions like UCLA.

State anticruelty statutes define “cruel” as only the infliction of “unnecessary” suffering on animals. Scientific research is arbitrarily defined as “necessary,” which means that the infliction of even the most horrific suffering on animals falls outside the legal boundaries of the “anticruelty” statutes.

Federal law is no different. The Animal Welfare Act purports to regulate scientific research, yet the AWA covers only a very small minority of the animals used in research and explicitly states that none of its provisions can be used to impede or affect research design or implementation. The AWA does not prevent the infliction of horrific suffering on animals; it only creates paperwork for research scientists who need to provide minimal justifications for their unwillingness to provide pain relief or consider alternatives to animal-based research or testing.

Chancellor Block, a former animal researcher himself, praises AB 2296 for providing new protections for animal researchers, but animal researchers already have complete legal protection from violent conduct. That is why we believe that a primary purpose of the new law is to intimidate peaceful protestors; the first versions of the law were even more expansive in curtailing their speech. Even though AB 2296 was reduced in scope before it was enacted, it still punishes speech.

Given the history of law enforcement reactions to animal advocacy protests, we believe that such a law is likely to be abused by law enforcement officials who use their authority to intimidate peaceful animal activists into silence. It is animals – and the people who care about them – who are not sufficiently protected by existing laws.

Unfortunately, laws like this – whose focus is the speech of protestors – may actually increase violent acts against researchers rather than diminish them. When lawful speech is stifled by expansive use of such laws to intimidate protestors, activists concerned about imminent and ongoing violence against animals may feel the need to resort to methods other than speech to have their voices heard. That tragedy could be avoided with more transparency and more public debate about whether the extreme pain inflicted on animals is justified.

Dan Kapelovitz is President of the Animal Law Society at the UCLA School of Law. Jill Ryther is the Communications Director of the Animal Law Society at the UCLA School of Law. Jaime Bryant is Professor of Law, Faculty Adviser to the Animal Law Society at the UCLA School of Law.


Anonymous said...

Those of us against this law successfully argued that they couldn't just target animal people. It should be across the board or not at all (Equal Protection). The ACLU was against it then. That's when the lawmakers used it for "educational institution" protection and it passed.

Anonymous said...

"Jaime Bryant"

That'd be Taimie Bryant.
Are you sure you know what you're talking about? Just as long as your insane message gets out there, regardless of the firebombings, then you feel as if you've actually done something?

UC System Kills Animals said...

No matter how many times the pro-research people say "firebombing" it's still going to be a lie.

No one was firebombed. Even the totally rigged L.A. Times corrected their initially false report weeks ago to say that David Jentsch's car was set on fire, not bombed. Even if you read his own account, he doesn't suggest it was a bombing.

I've never set anyone's car on fire, nor will I. But the fact is arson is a crime against property. This wasn't even a case of arson in a building, which does carry the risk that a firefighter or bystander could be hurt. This is a crime against property.

I'm not in favor of such tactics because I believe they're ineffective. They allow the abusers to appear to be the victims, and they allow people who don't understand how cruel animal testing is, or who have a stake in its continuing to characterize opponents of testing as "terrorists," however speciously.

But is a crime against property as serious or as immoral as animal cruelty? It is not.

THAT is the argument against arson: it allows the public to lose sight of who the true victims are.

But the public also needs to be aware that the UC system, in this case UCLA, has betrayed the inherent duty of an educational institution and has used every means in its power to silence debate and hide what's happening to animals every day on its campuses.

They won't listen, they won't negotiate, they stonewall those who are desperate to stop animals living in terror and pain, and dying at the whim of "researchers."

UCLA refuses, point-blank, to hear any voice asking for mercy for these animals. They deliberately create a situation where people who care about suffering feel like they have no option but to step outside the laws that are designed, not to protect people, but to stifle dissent and to keep destroying animals' lives for any experiment, no matter how cruel or baseless.

People need to realize that being a researcher or a scientist does not necessarily put you on the side of the angels. Scientists developed napalm; and many years ago scientists used to smash cats' heads in to "test" the effects of head trauma. What stopped them? Photographs. Information the public could understand.

Hard to make the argument that someone's a terrorist for taking pictures. Hard to make the argument someone's a terrorist for freeing lab animals.

What anti-testing and anti-vivisection activists need to do is use the truth against the abusers. The truth is in the pictures. The truth is in the faces of the animals in UC system labs.

Let Jentsch keep his car. Hopefully he'll need it when he needs to get out of town because no decent person will countenance his "experiments" anymore.

Anonymous said...

I think the general public should be educated more about animal experimentation. Were you aware that every batch of Botox must be tested on animals? They are given 50 times the safe dose until they are killed in a pretty horrific death. My derm. suggested I start getting botox and I refused asking him if he were aware of the testing. He was not, but he seemed pretty bothered. He said he couldn't see reason why every batch would need to be tested and thought it would be cruel and unusual to do so I verified the infor and sent it to him, they take an oath that says, "do no harm" and so it puts them in a bind to have this information. If more people knew the animals that had to die for cosmetic reasons, perhaps they'd not use the chemical and loss of revenue speaks louder than anything else. It is one thing in my opinion if it's medically called for to save people or animals in the long run, but never for cosmetic purposes.

Ed Muzika said...

I found this on the HSUS website:
Every year, more than 2.7 million people pay to have one of the most powerful toxins known to man—a potential bioterrorism agent—injected into their face. The agent is botulinum toxin, but we know the commercial product as Botox®Cosmetic. It smoothes facial wrinkles, but only temporarily.

Sadly, every Botox® injection comes with a price. Animals suffer and die in the potency testing of Botox. And while Botox has important medical applications, these animals die increasingly for nothing more serious than temporarily smoothing wrinkles.

Take Action!

Tell Allergan that animals
shouldn't die for vanity.
Urge them to replace the deadly
LD50 test for Botox testing.
In 2007 alone, more than 2.7 million cosmetic Botox procedures were performed, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Since 2000, Botox has been the number one cosmetic procedure performed in the United States. In 2007, Allergan netted $1.2 billion from all Botox sales, 50 percent of which were from Botox Cosmetic; that's more than $600 million for Botox Cosmetic alone. And total Botox sales are projected to increase by 13 to 17 percent in 2008.

Yet whether for therapeutic or cosmetic applications, batches of Botox must be tested before Allergan releases the product to doctors and dermatologists. To assess the potency of new batches of the toxin, Allergan uses an infamous procedure known as the LD50 (Lethal Dose 50 Percent) test. The purpose of the test is to find the dose that kills 50 percent of the animals used in the test.

You read that right: The end point of the LD50 test is death to half of the animals used.

Botox, or Botulinum Toxin Type A, comes from the waste of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, the same toxic byproduct that causes botulism food poisoning. Botox works by paralyzing the muscles that cause wrinkles and certain medical disorders. Because Botox is produced from bacteria, each batch naturally has varying levels of potency, with some being stronger than others. To standardize the potency of its product, Allergan uses the LD50.

This test involves giving mice a single injection of the product into their abdomen and seeing if animals die within 3-4 days. The mice are first assigned to one of various dose groups; each group will receive a different concentration of the product in order to estimate which strength will kill half of the targeted group. That concentration (the LD50 value) is then considered a single "unit" of Botox; from there, Allergan packages a given number of units into a vial for human use.

During LD50 testing of Botox, animals endure differing levels of muscular paralysis and suffer from impaired vision and dry mouth. Animals in the high dose groups die from suffocation, after their diaphragms become paralyzed and they can no longer breathe. Those who don't die immediately may languish with varying degrees of paralysis before being euthanized at the end of the three- to four-day test. One could hardly imagine a more distressful test. In an April, 2008 front-page story in the Washington Post, the HSUS vice president for animal research issues, Dr. Martin Stephens, characterized the LD50 Test as "the poster child for everything that wrong with animal testing."

Animal welfare advocates have been campaigning to abolish the LD50 for more than two decades. Developed in the 1920s, it has been all but abandoned as a routine safety test. However, it is still the method of choice by the manufacturers of botulinum toxin products and the government authorities that oversee them. Encouragingly, the regulatory authorities have signaled their willingness to accept more humane alternatives when these are developed by the manufacturers.

Working with various partners, The HSUS has sought to raise the profile of this issue with manufacturers like Allergan, regulatory authorities like the Food and Drug Administration, and pro-alternative authorities such as the US Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods, as well as consumers. Allergan is investing resources in finding alternatives to LD50 testing of its flagship product, but the company has revealed few details of its testing practices and alternative efforts.

It’s bad enough when animals suffer and die in the name of biomedical research. It is completely unacceptable when animals are forced to die for the sake of a temporary beauty enhancer—especially at a time when leaders in the field of safety testing are predicting the end of all animal testing with the application of modern scientific approaches to the field.

What You Can Do

Contact Allergan to urge them to replace the LD50 test for Botox testing and to keep investors and consumers updated on their progress. The company especially needs to hear from Botox users and Allergan investors. Please let Allergan CEO David E.I. Pyott know that you don't think animals should die in the name of individual vanity.