Oberlin College Must Stop Experimenting on Animals

To the Editor:

Oberlin College touts itself as a top-ranking undergraduate college in science education, with progressive curricula and extensive resources, and yet several of our science departments insist on engaging in antiquated, expensive and irrelevant animal experiments and dissections. There is no longer a place for such practices in any respectable science or medical community, including Oberlin College.
Between 25 and 50 million animals fall victim to vivisection every year in U.S. laboratories alone, for the sake of “science” and “progress.” Mice, rabbits, cats, dogs, chimpanzees and many other non-human animal species are burned, starved, irradiated, shocked, mutilated, kept in isolation, poisoned, drugged and electrocuted.
Aside from the glaring ethical issues surrounding such atrocious treatment of sentient beings, vivisection serves no scientific purpose beyond lining the pockets and padding the credentials of a medical community that relies on animal tests to get work published. With only a few changes of variables within an animal-based experiment, a vivisectionist can produce ample data “proving” almost anything.
Many doctors and scientists now openly criticize the cross-species extrapolation inherent in vivisection. How can we expect any results from any animal test to be applicable to human diseases when even chimpanzees, who share around 99 percent of the same genetic material as humans, are not susceptible to many human diseases (such as AIDS) and react quite differently to drugs and procedures than do humans?
Persistent reliance on vivisection within the medical research community has several obviously harmful effects on humans. For instance, many drugs that seem safe enough when tested on animals prove to be extremely dangerous, even fatal, when given to humans (such as the now infamous diet drug Fen-Phen). Other drugs are clearly lethal to non-human subjects and therefore undergo no further testing, even though they may very well have worked wonders in people.
Animal tests led scientists to believe that cigarette smoke does not cause cancer in humans, delaying warning labels for years. To this day, cigarette manufacturers use animal data to support their claims that cigarettes do not cause certain diseases and are not addictive.
What else is being overlooked or misunderstood due to bogus animal tests? In light of the three decades spent fighting cancer and two decades combating AIDS, isn’t it time to start focusing our limited research funds on studies that actually have a chance of helping people?
Animal tests are not practiced due to lack of superior options. Alternatives to animal testing, such as clinical and epidemiological studies, in vitro research, cell and tissue cultures and computer models, are less expensive and more reliable, accurate, and ethically sound than vivisection.
The Oberlin College community, no matter how progressive and advanced we may purport to be, is complicit in the horrors and wastefulness of vivisection. Hundreds of animals at any given time are kept by the biology, neuroscience and psychology departments for research and dissection.
Additionally, there is no official College regulation guaranteeing students the right to refrain from vivisection, even in introductory classes. For an institution of higher learning that is supposedly on the cutting edge of science, Oberlin College is painfully behind the times.
It is time for Oberlin College to abandon its antiquated reliance on vivisection. It is time for the students to demand this of our professors, of our college, and of our peers.
Next week Oberlin Animal Rights will be sponsoring a Cruelty Free Week to bring to light many issues surrounding vivisection. The Oberlin community is obligated, by the values of progress and scientific excellence it espouses, to rally for an end to Oberlin College vivisection.

–Natalie M. Stamm 
College first-year


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