Rosenberg: Several US groups expose inhumane and frivolous animal experiments but your new group White Coat Waste Project specifically focuses on government-funded animal research.
Bellotti: Yes. $12 billion of tax-payer money a year goes to animal experimentation and the government is the largest funder of animal research in the US. Yet the public is largely unaware of the waste, fraud and abuse, not to mention the cost. The White Coat Waste Project is a watchdog group exposing what goes on in the government's animal laboratories on the public's dime. If it's not paid for by your taxes, it's not part of our mission.
They don't want you to know about us by Martha Rosenberg
Rosenberg: Do you have first-hand experience with animal research?
Bellotti: Between junior and senior years of high school, in the 1990s, I worked as an intern in an animal lab at a hospital in Manhattan. For seven weeks I witnessed experiments on pigs, beagles, rats, monkeys and more. I went through what I think a lot of people go through when they encounter animal research. First, you experience "shock and awe" at what is actually permitted and legal. I remember thinking, this is one of the good labs--I hate to think what the bad labs are doing. Then you kind of pull back within yourself and think, "I don't want to make waves." Finally, you decide you will fight back and speak out which is why I founded White Coat Waste Project.
Rosenberg: Exposing animal research is a tough mission. Twenty years ago, we heard of lab break-ins and rescues but today research facilities are triple fortified and some have been put underground. The other tough part is--animal research is always given a scientific mystique. The public is told we can't judge it but it is benefiting us.
Bellotti: Right--"we know how to spend your money better than you do" is the attitude. But what the government spends on animal research and what experiments it funds are public information. The public has the right to know about the 31 years its tax dollars have funded Professor Marilyn Carroll at the University of Minnesota who forcibly addicts animals to illegal street drugs.
Rosenberg: The researcher who received $3.6 million in the last decade to study the effects of heroin, crystal meth, and Angel Dust on menstruating monkeys?
Bellotti: Yes. And, the public has the right to know about Ohio State University Professor George Billman who has spent $1.9 million forcing dogs to run on treadmills, inducing heart attacks, and then killing the dogs. His astonishing revelation? Exercise might be good for you. Then there's the University of Wisconsin where researchers spent $2.5 million drilling holes into cats' skulls, placing wire coils in their eyes and deafening them and starving them to death. According to internal university records, the cat experimenters admitted that the purpose of these taxpayer-funded experiments was to "keep up a productive publication record that ensures our constant funding."
Rosenberg: What? No tax-payers or scientists who aren't in on the money could defend this kind of thing. How does cruel and stupid government-funded research like this persist?
Bellotti: What happens is the research grows, becomes entrenched and produces its own constituents and lobbyists. The universities and researchers who get this money think its theirs not ours and that they are entitled to it. There are huge incentives and the programs grow bigger each year.
Rosenberg: Sounds like scientific "pork"!
Bellotti: Yes. The universities and researchers are given a blank check and do not even have to defend the research or cite anything of value it has produced. For years, mice were considered miniature human beings and now we know that most mouse-based research has no applicability to humans and has been pretty worthless.
Rosenberg: National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis S. Collins always professes his spirituality and God-centeredness. Yet millions of animals die under his watch. NIH's new brain initiative will only increase the toll.
Bellotti: NIH projects including the new brain initiative are investments of public money. We are entitled to a return on our investments. What was spent, what is being done to animals, what do tax-payers get out of this? These are the questions the White Coat Waste Project will highlight.
Rosenberg: Animal research is so disturbing. Dogs having their vocal cords removed so they won't bark in pain, primates are put in plastic tubes so they won't move during invasive experiments. Electric shocks".forced swims".. Is there any good news?
1 | 2