University of WI conducting horrible experiments on monkeys
Posted on May 20, 2011 by Rick Marolt
Last night, in a public forum, I cited the following examples of treatment of monkeys in experiments done in UW-Madison’s labs and asked Jordana Lenon, the outreach specialist from the Primate Center, if she thought such treatment was humane.
■Destroying the emotional centers of monkeys’ brains
■Damaging monkeys’ eyes
■Causing birth defects such as closed vaginas
■Poisoning baby monkeys with lead
■Keeping monkeys hungry their whole lives
■Conducting procedures on monkeys’ brains for three days straight
■Giving monkeys an immune deficiency virus
■Damaging monkeys brains so that the monkeys appear to have the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
■Exposing the nerves in monkeys’ cheeks
Her response: “I think it’s ethical and humane when the reason and what you can learn from it is scientifically valid and possibly medically valid.”
So whether or not our treatment of non-human animals is humane depends on the knowledge that we might get from it. If we learn enough, then, presumably, no treatment is inhumane. $$$$$$$$$$
My dictionary defines cruelty as “behavior that causes pain or suffering to a person or animal”. Cruelty is a matter of suffering. If an act causes pain or suffering, it is cruel, regardless of the consequences. While a principled utilitarian (of which there are none at UW-Madison) can argue that the consequences of an act make it more or less ethical, one cannot argue that consequences of an act reduce the suffering that it causes.
So if damaging monkeys’ eyes is cruel and inhumane outside the labs, it must be cruel and inhumane inside the labs.
What’s most interesting here, of course, is the blindness of a UW-Madison representative to cruelty. Richard Davidson, who participated in the study in which the emotional centers of monkeys’ brains were destroyed and who uses the similarities between people and monkeys to justify the research, is too blind to see that monkeys suffer like people too. He told me that we don’t know much about the suffering of monkeys and that we must be careful not to anthropomorphize. But if monkeys are like people physiologically and psychologically, then they must suffer like people physiologically and psychologically, and we would be irresponsible if we did not anthropomorphize.
This blindness to suffering is one of the many reasons why the oversight system is broken and must be replaced with a new system.
Watch the video of my exchange with Jordana Lenon above.
Neuroscientist Supporting Dane County Resolution #35