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AAAS Leadership Again Decries Intimidation of Scientists Who Use Animals in Research
In response to an attack by animal rights extremists who reportedly placed an incendiary device against the front door of a California researcher who uses animals in her research, AAAS reaffirmed a 29 November 2007 statement by its Board of Directors, decrying such tactics.
For the second time in four months, the home of Edythe London, a professor of psychiatry and of molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), apparently was targeted by animal rights extremists. The Los Angeles Times reported that the incendiary device caused a fire after being left at London's front door 4 February 2008. Fortunately, the researcher was not at home and no one was injured. Several other scientists at UCLA and other research institutions have been the targets of harassment, threats, and dangerous attacks against their property in the past 18 months, according to AAAS staff who have been tracking such incidents.
"All of these scientists conduct research with non-human primates in efforts to better understand the physiological processes underlying human disorders like premature birth and visual defects," said AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner, executive publisher of Science. "London's research concentrates in particular on nicotine and methamphetamine addiction, in an effort to develop more effective treatments."
Scientists using animals in research are required conduct their work under strict regulations enforced by their institutions as well as federal granting agencies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he added.
AAAS has consistently recognized the important role that animal research has played in curing disease and relieving suffering. In the wake of the latest apparent attack by animal-rights extremists, the Association reiterated its support for responsible use of animals by scientists, as expressed in the 1990 AAAS Resolution on the Use of Animals in Research, Testing, and Education, and again in 2007.
The most recent Board statement said: "If intimidation drives scientists from their valuable efforts and discourages young scientists from pursuing fields of inquiry that require the use of animals, medical progress will be seriously impeded."
Although AAAS supports the right of individuals and their organizations to oppose animal research, "the use of threats and acts of violence is deplorable and cannot be tolerated," Leshner said. AAAS expresses its strong support for London and her colleagues who have been the victims of these attacks.
6 February 2008