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16 October 2012


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To where and whom should we direct our outcry? Can we add our voices to any protest of these hideous experiments?


Why would anyone want to mess up like this with animals... Their innocence is worthier than this kind of research...


Sadly, there are so many cases of overt animal abuse--within scientific labs in academic centers, more in corporate labs, and of course outside of science (as in Big Agriculture, military testing, circuses, illegal animal trade, fur trade, poaching, etc.)-- that they overwhelm efforts from PETA and other organizations such as the WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) to publicize and stop them. I would encourage concerned citizens to visit those sites, become informed (but don't watch the videos if you're squeamish), and do as much as you can to sign petitions and send letters to responsible officials. Both these organizations do a good job of suggesting reasonable, polite, but firm language to be used in writing to officials, whose emails and phone numbers they provide.

Happily, there are a lot of successes of such efforts. But we have to change the way people view their relationship to other species in order to produce lasting change.


It would be interesting to know what the researchers hoped to learn via this research. Can someone explain?

Carolyn Dicey Jennings

Perhaps this research was intended, in part, to demonstrate the brain (rather than mere behavioral) defects caused by social deprivation to highlight the need for work on animals in more ecological settings, ala Matsuzawa's research. That is, a lot of findings on the limitations of monkeys and apes is based on research that reared test animals in conditions like this, so this study may help us to see the full extent of the neural difference between the test animals in these studies and healthier test animals. Matsuzawa was able to show that, reared properly, chimpanzees surpass humans in visual short term memory. Perhaps the Madison study will encourage more work of Matsuzawa's ilk, and discourage the funding of work that does not include maternal and other social provisions, because these monkeys are essentially cognitively disabled as a result.

Helen De Cruz

Matsuzawa's chimps are indeed interesting, as they are reared in mother-infant dyads, which is more ecologically relevant. Not only does his research show that chimpanzees are superior in visual short-term recall, they also throw an interesting light on chimpanzee social cognition and learning, through a system similar to that of a master and an apprentice.

Perhaps we should consider limiting the study of chimp behavior to experiments with animals that have been reared under more natural conditions, e.g., animal sanctuaries, such as the research done by Brian Hare and colleagues (link here).

As Hare points out in the text I've linked to, one can conduct a lot of experiments with chimps that live under such conditions. The results obtained from classic chimpanzee labs (where the animals are raised by humans, housed in concrete cages etc) often differ from results obtained from animals from sanctuaries and other more animal-friendly places.

For instance, Hare and colleagues found that chimps are acutely aware of the attentional states of others (These chimps came from the famed Yerkes center at Emory, a result quite divergent from earlier studies done with lab chimpanzees.

David Duffy

"...experimental manipulation of individual early experiences in rhesus macaque models allows for the discrimination of true serotonin pathway gene-environment interactions, as opposed to the gene-environment correlations that can confound human studies (Jaffee and Price, 2007). Finally, it has been suggested that the impact of serotonin pathway gene × environment interactions on adult behavior may be rooted in the developmental timing of the early stressor (Ansorge, Zhou, Lira, Hen, and Gingrich, 2004); animal studies allow for the assessment of the developmental timing of these interactions influencing behavioral or psychiatric outcomes."

And see eg

The human literature on the interaction between stressful life events, serotonin transporter promoter polymorphism genotype, and depression, is now quite extensive, but not as clear-cut as in these animal models.


it says that abstract/bookish knowledge about some topic of study doesn't equate with either the know-how and or the impetus to act in accordance with, defense of, that knowledge in the face of institutional pressures. Perhaps someday schools will teach the skills needed for "fearless" speech and organizing constructive resistance (to avoid the typical fates of whistle-blowers).

Lori Gruen

I started a petition (not a big fan of petitions, but it worked here before). Please sign and spread the word, and if you have colleagues at University of Wisconsin, please be sure they know what is going on at their workplace.


It is unclear to me what experiments would ethicists like Lori Gruen approve of.

Would the use of monkeys to develop the Polio vaccine be another example of “outbursts of foolishness”? Would the use of mice to develop HER2 breast cancer therapy be "painful scientific foolishness" as well?

If not, why not exactly.

I am just trying to figure out what is the exact complaint here -- is she bothered by just this one study in monkeys?

I asked the same questions here:

and, although invited Prof. Gruen to respond, she never did.

Lori Gruen

Dario continues to try to change the subject. It is an important topic, but the topic at hand is about the renewal of maternal deprivation research. There are all sorts of research projects that I believe can be ethically defended (that requires having access to many details). Kalin's renewal of maternal deprivation research to create and study anxiety is not one of them.

Dario do you support this specific research? I have posted the protocol, we have many details in this case, we have expressions of concern from inside the ACUC as noted in the meeting minutes, we have commentary from a pediatric psychiatrist who works with children who suffer from anxiety disorders claiming this is not the right way to go.

So there is a very specific issue here that I am hoping people will discuss.

The general issue I raise in the post is about the adequacy of the oversight process. Another very important ethical issue that the approval of this specific maternal deprivation experiment raises. I welcome thoughts and discussion about the oversight process, the role that philosophers should play in that process, the level of confidence that the public can have in that process, etc.



I would have to study the protocol in detail to give you an informed opinion, nor I am an expert on the topic. But I can assure you that protocols are not approved without due consideration. The low number of rejections you cite comes from the fact that investigators already have a well established set of guidelines to begin with, in most institutions protocols are typically pre-reviewed by veterinarians to detect major issues that may affect the welfare of the animals and fixed before submission, and only afterwards they proceed to be reviewed by the IACUCs. The scientific merit of the studies are evaluated by NIH study sections and the chances of success are, as I am sure you know, rather low.

You argue the approval process is deficient in terms of a proper ethical discussion of the experiments and that philosophers can contribute in this process. This is in fact your central criticism. And yet, you are not willing to share what ethical framework you want others to adopt, and how you would apply it to other cases. Why not? I honestly want to hear what your proposal is. I am not changing the topic. To the contrary, I am focusing on the crux of the issue here.

I served as a veterinarian on the Madison campus for almost 6 years. The IACUCs are not even functional enough to be called a joke. It is rubber stamp, or loose your job. How many protocols are approved by unanimous vote on that campus? I can assure you it is >99%. It is rare for a veterinarian to speak up like that - I commend whoever did that as being very, very brave and possibly a bit foolish. You will note it was still approved. You will also not be able to find a dissenting opinion filed with OLAW.
Unless the feds start taking a serious look at the dysfunctional IACUC system, especially as it exists in Madison, this sort of cruelty and waste will continue.
Here's the best part: you're paying for it. I am sure Ned Kalin is very appreciative of all your money going to support his need to torture monkeys.
Jim Brown, DVM

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