Animal Rights Activity Increases

Threats Made Against Behavioral Scientists


The level of activity in the animal rights community and the depths to which it is willing to sink to hinder research using animals have both been steadily increasing during the last few months. Activists are now targeting behavioral research with animals, particularly drug abuse research with nonhuman primates. Activities range from picketing the labs and homes of targeted researchers to threatened assaults to persons and property.

Marilyn Carroll, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, is the most recent victim of a series of such attacks. In mid-September, members of the Student Organization for Animal Rights (SOAR) at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, held a protest rally on campus. At the rally, they carried signs labeling animal research 'scientific fraud,' distributed leaflets describing Dr. Carroll's research as 'cruel and useless,' and named her October's 'vivisector of the month.' The leaflets contained Dr. Carroll's home and work phone numbers, and she and a veterinarian received death threats that day. In keeping with their strategy of persecuting one animal researcher each month, SOAR picketed Dr. Carroll's house in a suburb of Minneapolis in early October. On Halloween, several members of SOAR again visited her home, this time accompanied by an individual wearing a black face mask who identified himself as a member of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The representatives of SOAR and ALF harassed Dr. Carroll and her family and threatened to burn down their home. Dr. Carroll has sought legal protection and has been provided security by both the University of Minnesota and local law enforcement officials.

Dr. Carroll is a well-known and respected scientist in the field of drug abuse research. Her work has had a significant impact on our understanding of drug abuse prevention and relapse. She has been the recipient of a number of grants from agencies such as the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Committee on Problems of Drug Dependence. She received a merit award from NIDA for her research.

Dr. Carroll has been the target of animal rights activists, particularly SOAR, for a number of years as she is one of the few researchers in the nation who conducts drug abuse research with monkeys, but never before have their threats been so brutal. ALF, which has been deemed a terrorist organization by the FBI, engages in its illegal activities and promotes its radical agenda through the support of organizations such as SOAR, a student organization endorsed by the University and housed in the student union. Within 2 weeks of visiting Dr. Carroll's home, ALF took credit for fire-bombing a fur company in Minneapolis. Although the University of Minnesota has taken steps to ensure Dr. Carroll's personal safety, it is important that University officials be made aware of the threats posed by animal rights activists under their own supervision. Such egregious means of harassment jeopardize the future of biomedical and behavioral research. The scientific community has a responsibility to ensure that researchers are not sabotaged by their own institutions.

What you can do

Voice your concern about the rising tide of animal rights activity on campus by writing to the following people:

Nils Hasselmo
President and Chancellor
202 Morrill Hall
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Frank B. Cerra, MD
Provost
Box 501 UMHC
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Alfred F. Michael, MD
Dean
Medical School
Box UMHC
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

IDA Attacks Resume

Another behavioral scientist, Ron Wood, PhD, of the University of Rochester, is once again under attack. Dr. Wood, who is also involved in drug abuse research, has been targeted by animal rights groups, in particular by the militant activist organization In Defense of Animals (IDA). Because of previous attacks by IDA, Dr. Wood's research protocols were extensively scrutinized by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health--Office of Protection From Research Risks (NIH--OPRR). All allegations of animal abuse and cruelty were found to be without merit. The NIH peer review process concluded that Dr. Wood's research program was outstanding and warranted continued funding. IDA is currently trying to stop Dr. Wood's research at his institution by disseminating materials that misrepresent the results of these investigations and wrongly accuse him of being a 'convicted animal abuser' and as having committed 'scientific fraud.' Even though federal reviews have found no evidence of abuse by Dr. Wood, IDA persists in using these terms and in suggesting that Dr. Wood has committed scientific fraud.

PETA Takes on NASA

Following an unsuccessful campaign to persuade Congress to amend the VA-HUD Appropriations Bill, which would have terminated funding for NASA's remaining two international BION missions, members of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) staged a demonstration at the NASA headquarters on October 30, 1996. PETA was protesting the use of two monkeys in a joint U.S.-Russian effort to study the effects of weightlessness in space. PETA members occupied the office of NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin and chained themselves together with bicycle locks. They also interrupted a NASA Advisory Council meeting that was in session in an adjacent room. The protestors then blocked the entrance to NASA Headquarters and were arrested for trespassing. They were later released.

In a related incident, on November 18, 1996, PETA members chained themselves together and then sat at the base of the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. This caused authorities to close down one of the most popular tourist attractions in the nation's capital for nearly 2 hours. PETA was once again protesting the use of animals, particularly monkeys, in the upcoming U.S.-Russian BION mission.




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