Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Open forum: Strides being made toward humane science

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On behalf of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, I’d like to thank you for highlighting the futility of animals in research (‘‘Open forum: Military should stop using live animals to train medical students,” March 26).

When more than two-thirds of all U.S. medical schools have discontinued the use of animals in training (including Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and Yale), it would seem that the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine has a unique opportunity to improve their quality of education, and exemplify the humane treatment of animals.

Great strides are being made toward humane science. Earlier this year, an amendment to the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection Act was signed into law, guaranteeing chimpanzees retired from research a permanent sanctuary. In addition, the last remaining medical school to use dogs in their training announced it will no longer continue to operate on dogs.

Last year, the National Institutes of Health recommended a permanent ban on breeding chimpanzees in federally funded research facilities, as fewer researchers are relying on the chimpanzee as an adequate model for human disease.

As sponsor of the International Foundation for Ethical Research, an organization developing alternatives that will one day replace animals in laboratories, NAVS supports the development of non-animal alternatives in research. Development of necessary alternatives is the only way that research animals will be replaced.

It is vital to maintain the dialogue between the animal community and the scientific community. When we begin to find common ground, that s when we see real change for animals.

Thank you again for speaking for the voiceless.

Jamie Aitchison, Chicago

The writer is program associate for the National Anti-Vivisection Society.