Scott Tibbs
Published in the Indiana Daily Student, February 09, 1998

Back to opinion page.

ADL ignores truth again

The Animal Defense League has rebooted its anti-vivisection campaign for spring semester, this time targeting psychology professor Preston Garraghty for his work involving experiments on monkeys. The ADL has posted fliers with Garraghtyıs picture all over campus. But while the ADL is concerned about the experiments on monkeys, lost in the rhetoric is how this research will benefit human health. Last week, I spoke with Professor Garraghty to discover the facts of the matter.

From a general perspective, there is no research in the psychology department that does not benefit human health in one way or another. These experiments involve primates because primates and humans are biologically similar. This similarity is strong enough that researchers can discover ways to treat human ailments by treating similar ailments in monkeys. There is some research now being done on humans at other facilities similar to what is being done in IUıs psychology department, and the parallels indicate how important the research is.

The specific relevance to human health is if researchers can take a damaged portion of a monkeyıs brain and repair it, they will be able to transfer that knowledge into repairing human brain damage. This affects people who have suffered strokes or nerve damage. Monkeys are needed because their neural chemistry is similar to that of humans. Treatment for stroke victims comes directly from animal research. In addition, secondary damage to brain tissue surrounding the area affected by the stroke can be treated thanks to vivisection.

Chemical mechanisms in primate brains are the same as those in human brains for epilepsy, schizophrenia and learning and memory functions. About 1 percent of the population is afflicted with epilepsy and an additional 1 percent with schizophrenia. In a nation of 260 million people, that is more than 2.5 million people who could be relieved of their suffering by Garraghtyıs research, not counting people with strokes and nerve damage. Everyone can benefit from ways to enhance human memory. Because I am in remission from cancer, the nerve damage portion of the research is especially intriguing for me. If my cancer were to ever come back, the chemotherapy I would be subjected to has the potential to cause nerve damage. I would be helped directly by Garraghtyıs research.

Garraghtyıs methods are not cruel. A veterinarian inspects the facility every week. The monkeys are fully anesthetized to prevent suffering, and the researchers are careful to maintain their health. Itıs a cliche, but itıs a simple scientific fact that ³you canıt get good data from sick animals." If the experiments were inflicting undue pain on the animals, there would be consequences. On the fourth floor of the psychology building, the monkeys are not kept in small cages. They are kept in a large open area where they have tree limbs and swings and can interact with each other, and they are well-fed and cared for.

At the Jan. 28 ADL meeting, ADL activists complained of not being allowed onto the fourth floor to observe the conditions. This is done for sanitation reasons, as well as for the good of the animals. Because conditions must be controlled, it must be verified that anyone who enters the area has had TB and tetanus shots, and they are allowed in only if they are working with the animals. These restrictive conditions keep 80 percent of the psychology department faculty out of the research area and very few graduate students are allowed in.

Unfortunately, the ADL has not bothered to research this issue before launching its campaign. They merely passed moral judgment without thinking. So when you see their fliers around campus, take their information with a grain of salt.