Animal Researchers Worried About Growth of Animal Law

Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on December 14, 2009

The Scientist, "the magazine for life sciences professionals," recently ran an opinion piece by P. Michael Conn on the growth of animal law courses at American law schools.  

Conn, the Director of Research Advocacy at Oregon Health and Sciences University and Oregon National Primate Research Center, collects some interesting facts: 55% of American law schools offer animal law courses, including 36 of the top 50 schools; 73% of law schools have some sort of animal law presence, through either animal law student groups or animal law courses; 68% of law schools are affiliated with universities that conduct animal research; of the law schools that offer animal law classes, 69% are at universities that conduct animal research.  

While these statistics are interesting, their significance to animal research is not at all clear. Conn claims, with little explanation, that the growth of animal law may threaten animal research at universities that have both animal research programs and animal law courses. Conn suggests that some courses aim to indoctrinate students into the animal rights movement. Without citing a single example, he claims that “programs championing animal rights or ‘liberation’ set up adversarial potential on campuses and pose a serious risk to the future of animal research.” Where such “programs” exist remains a mystery. There is no doubt that increased legal awareness of animal rights could, and hopefully will, limit our ability to use animals as objects, but given the disciplinary organization of universities, even courses that do investigate fundamental questions about legal rights and animal personhood have no mechanism for interfering with the conduct of other departments.  

Cryptically, Conn warns that “[f]ailure to address developments in the education of law students is likely to have a long-ranging impact on the ability to develop new treatments needed for human and animal well-being.” How exactly animal researchers hope to “address developments in the education of law students” is unclear, but there is no doubt that at least a few animal research programs have attempted to block the addition of animal law courses or at least alter their content. (Curiously, these are often the same researchers who wave the flag of “academic freedom” whenever anyone questions the merits of their research.) Considering the numerous reports of intense animal suffering at Conn’s own OHSU, perhaps he should turn his attention back to what happens in his own department.  

7 thoughts on “Animal Researchers Worried About Growth of Animal Law

  1. Animalib says:

    The animal rights movement will be victorious whether it be today or tomorrow.

    There is overwhelming evidence to prove that vivisection is inefficient, unreliable and a risk to human health. For decades, there has been the misconception that medical advances resulted from using animal models. In fact, vivisection has not cured a single disease, on the contrary, medical advances are the product of alternative more efficient, reliable and less costly methods Moreover, important medical advances have been delayed because of misleading information derived from animal “models”.

    There are several reasons why vivisection is inefficient and cannot work. Primarily this is because non-human animals are different not only from humans, but also from each other anatomically, physiologically, immunologically, genetically, and histologically (down to the cellular makeup, tissues being made of cells). Every species of animal has a very unique cellular makeup structure and is a different biomechanical and biochemical entity. Consequently, animals react differently to different drugs, vaccines, and chemical substances, not only from humans, but also from each other. Accordingly, this produces misleading information. Yet another experimental variable that makes extrapolating to humans even more difficult is the confinement and isolation of animals in laboratories. This situation puts stress on animals altering the animal’s physiology, increasing susceptibility to infectious diseases and certain tumours as well as influence levels of hormones and antibodies, which in turn can alter the functioning of various organs.

    Equally important is the fact that human diseases cannot be recreated in animals or in human beings. Once a disease is ‘recreated,’ it is artificial and is not longer the original, natural, spontaneous disease. It may sometimes be possible to recreate some of the symptoms of a disease but never the actual diseases itself. The exception to this is the case of infectious diseases. However, animals do not get human infectious diseases.

    Besides the fact that it is cruel to use animals in experiments we have no right to use innocent, voiceless and defenseless animals.

  2. shannon says:

    What i don’t see is whether the law classes are for or against animal rights.

  3. Dana says:

    Perhaps what is needed is a letter to the editor of that publication (or several letters) challenging the author Conn to prove his allegation that animal law courses are “indoctrinating” students and advocating animal rights and liberation, and name the schools in support of his theory, or withdraw the allegation. He is writing as and for scientists; as such, they should hold themselves to their own research standards when publishing articles or risk being labeled shrill propagandists.

  4. emme says:

    Conn doesn’t much believe in his own cause – the use of animals in research – if he thinks that the only way to ensure its sustainability is by forcibly suppressing animal law courses. Either vivisection is a worthwhile pursuit or it’s time to “tear down that wall.”

  5. Elinor Israel says:

    I’m glad that Conn is uncomfortable. I hope his discomfort continues to grow as he continues to methodically carry out his grizzly experiments upon the innocent animals that are held captive in his Frankenstein-like laboratory.

    The fact that universities are offering courses in animals rights is a step toward the demise of the atrocities committed by Conn and his minions.

    A pox on all of them.

  6. Lynn Nobil says:

    Perhaps the public, via television ads, should be aware of the horrors of vivisection. Current ads for homeless animals in shelters are extremely effective (I cannot watch them without crying)and public awareness must be increased for winning the case against animal cruelty in all forms.

  7. naomi werne says:

    Read “Sacred Cows & Golden Geese: The Human Cost of Experiments on Animals” by C. Ray Greek MD & Jane S. Greek, DVM. C. Ray Greek, MD, board certified in 2 medical specialties experimented on animals for ten years. He was not cruel but he wanted to cure disease. He concluded that vivsection retards scientic research. He documents this repeatedly. Further, while some diseases are purely genetic, some like the diabetes type II, which I suffer from, are caused by lifestyle. I speak only for myself but I would not torture a white rat or mouse let alone a monkey, cat, or dog because I got fat. Further, toruring them will not cure my diabetes – existing good drugs and cutting animal fat from my diethas led to a weight loss of 80 pounds and my remission.

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