NIH Director Denounces Lab Animals Thefts as “Acts of Terrorism
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ Thefts of laboratory animals by animal rights groups could be considered acts of terrorism and may require enactment of federal laws against such raids, says the director of the National Institutes of Health.
″There are limits to civil disobedience we can tolerate as an expression of dissent,″ Dr. James Wyngaarden said Wednesday. ″In this case, we have moved past that level and now we have acts of terrorism against scientists and laboratories.″
Wyngaarden made his comments in an interview after speaking at a meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biologies.
Earlier this week, officials of the 28,000-member group said they would ask Congress to pass legislation making raids on scientific facilities a federal felony.
Asked if he would favor such a law, Wyngaarden said: ″My sentiments would be with it but I don’t know if it would be constitutional or not.″
In his speech to the biologists, which dealt mainly with Reagan administration cutbacks in research funding, Wyngaarden referred briefly to last weekend’s Animal Liberation Front raid on the University of California’s Riverside campus in which 467 animals were taken.
″The movement against the use of animals in research is approaching the terrorist tactic and clearly needs to be addressed,″ he said, calling for tougher action by police agencies.
He also urged scientists to educate the public about the value of using animals in research to save human lives.
″Every important medical advance over the last century has involved the use of animals,″ Wyngaarden said.
Jack Chappell, a spokesman for the university in Riverside, said Wednesday that the break-in resulted in $683,500 in losses, including damage.
″It is the university position that a dollar amount cannot be put on lost research. This is the investment we made; it is without measure,″ Chappell said.
Security has been heightened and a number of special measures have been taken, he added.
Chappell said the university was especially concerned about one of the stolen animals, a 5-week-old stump-tail macaque monkey named ″Britches,″ who was being used to study the relationship between blindness and mental retardation in children.
″This animal is an exotic species and may require more special handling than animals ... such as dogs or cats,″ Chappell said.
The university recommended feeding the monkey twce a day with a bottle of liquid food, such as a combination formula of commercial baby milk mixed with strained baby foods and augmented with vitamins.
No arrests have been made in the raid.