- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Questionable restrictions on animal-based research

I would like to defend the views expressed by Debra J. Saunders in her March 6 Commentary column "When rats have rights."

In his March 8 letter to the editor, John McArdle of the Alternatives Research and Development Foundation claimed that the Agriculture Department's regulation of rats, mice and birds would have no impact on major research institutions, but he ignores the deleterious effect of the department's regulatory approach ("Groups, readers find animal-based research column beastly").

The vast majority of animals used in research today are rats and mice, and their use can be expected to increase in coming years. Scientists have largely finished mapping the human genome, but they have barely begun to find out how specific genes function. Research with rodents that have been genetically manipulated to include or exclude certain genes will be essential to the process of translating genetic code into medically useful knowledge.

Mr. McArdle acknowledges that the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is not the only game in town as far as regulating animal research. The Agriculture Department estimates that 90 percent of the rats, mice and birds in research are already covered by other federal laws, voluntary Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care accreditation of research facilities, or both.

Mr. McArdle further acknowledges that AWA coverage of rats, mice and birds would not improve the welfare of those animals because they are already housed at major institutions that have effective animal care and use programs. Many such programs are staffed by veterinarians who are experts in laboratory animal care.

What Mr. McArdle will not acknowledge is what Johns Hopkins University and Miss Saunders have rightly pointed out: AWA regulation of these animals would increase the cost of research through red tape, and this will decrease the amount of potentially life-saving research that scientists can do with the limited grant funds they are given.

The largest single source of funds for medical research in this country comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Other government agencies provide additional funds, as do health charities seeking cures for specific diseases and companies hoping to develop new therapies. These funds cover various research costs, including animal care. Good animal care is essential, but excessive red tape is something we can do without. Paying for paperwork is not what I have in mind when I write a check to help find a cure.

I also think it unlikely that underwriting an onslaught of red tape is what Congress had in mind these past three years when it generously provided funds to help double the NIH budget.

The existing system of voluntary compliance monitored through local oversight is working. It covers some 90 percent of the rats, mice and birds used in research. The remaining 10 percent are scattered among as many as 2,000 facilities. That is a daunting fact. One may certainly ask what needs to be done to assure the welfare of animals outside the existing oversight framework, but for major research facilities that conduct the vast majority of research with rats, mice and birds, we ought to keep the current system as it is.

As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

ALICE HELLERSTEIN RA'ANAN

Director of Public Affairs

American Physiological Society

Bethesda

Military 'two-war' capability doesn't anticipate modern threats

Based on my experience as an Air Force officer and strategic planner, I would advise our national security advisers not to accept the advice of Col. John R. Brinkerhoff ("Defending two-war strategy, " Op-Ed, March 19). Col. Brinkerhoff suggests we ought to continue sizing our military based on a two major-theater-war (2-MTW) "strategy."

First, the 2-MTW construct is just that a construct a post-Cold War framework upon which military forces were to be shaped and designed. It was never intended to be a strategy of any sort.

Second, Col. Brinkerhoff contradicts himself while making his case for the continuance of the 2-MTW construct, stating that "it makes good sense in a world of multiple, smaller but still dangerous threats." A military force designed to fight major theater wars will not have the agility to quickly respond to many, smaller threats. All the military services are transforming themselves into lighter, leaner and more mobile units. The days of the heavy armored divisions are long gone.

Finally, Col. Brinkerhoff states, "We have sufficient air[lift] to [wage war in two separate theaters]." Nothing could be further from the truth. Under a 2-MTW scenario, transporting military forces that are primarily based in the United States would require at least 54.5 million ton miles per day (the ability to move 54.5 million tons one nautical mile per day). On a good day, when our aging aircraft are healthy, we would be lucky to reach 44.5 million ton miles a 19 percent requirement-to-capability gap.

In this new century, the international security landscape has changed dramatically. Our adversaries are likely to be terrorists with no state identification, rogue criminal elements, warring tribe and clans, and perennial annoyances such as Iraq's Saddam Hussein. These adversaries will, nonetheless, be very lethal as they have access to state-of-the-art technology and are willing to fight using unconventional methods.

Therefore, we must construct a force that is prepared for this new environment one that is lethal, responsive and agile enough to transverse the entire spectrum of military operations not an expensive, irrelevant relic of the Cold War designed to fight improbable foes.

KEITH A. HUTCHESON

Orlean, Va.

Northern Cypriots not content with Turkish rule?

Two March 14 articles on the Cyprus problem raise points that warrant a response ("Lira's plunge emblematic of Turkish Cyprus' woes, " "Turkish Cypriot president seeks recognition for permanent state").

You write that "although northern Cyprus stagnates, its economy adrift, most of its inhabitants appear happy with the security provided by the Turkish army." In this case appearances are indeed deceiving, for developments in the occupied areas of Cyprus have shown that a growing number of Turkish Cypriots are dissatisfied with the present partition of the island.

This past summer, thousands of Turkish Cypriots demonstrated for peace and protested Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus President Rauf R. Denktash's mishandling of the Cyprus issue. Most notably, Sener Levent, editor in chief of the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Avrupa, declared: "We are fighting for a single Republic of Cyprus. To be honest, we are being held prisoner in our own homeland. Whatever Ankara and its commanders want, they get."

Mr. Levent was promptly arrested by Turkish authorities, but his statement, and the demonstration he participated in, reflect the intense frustration of many Turkish Cypriots with the "security" that the Turkish army supposedly provides. Mr. Denktash's popularity among Turkish Cypriots continues to plummet. During the 26 years that the Turkish army has illegally occupied Cyprus, tens of thousands of Turkish Cypriots have fled Mr. Denktash's apartheid state in favor of prosperity and freedom in London and other cities. More than 70,000 illegal colonists have arrived from mainland Turkey during these years to take the homes and lands of the 200,000 Greek Cypriots who were forced to leave in 1974.

The Cyprus problem is fundamentally an issue of aggression, occupation, and partition by the military-controlled Turkish government and their puppet, Mr. Denktash. For 26 years, the government of Cyprus has patiently struggled for a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem. At almost every juncture, Mr. Denktash and the Turkish military leaders pulling his strings in Ankara have refused to compromise and to work in good faith for a solution. It is time for the world's news media to acknowledge that the Turkish military is the problem.

NICK LARIGAKIS

Executive Director

American Hellenic Institute Inc.

Washington


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