- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2001

The Agriculture Department has decided to wait a year before caving in to animal rights zealots, who want them to expand their protection of animals used in research to include rats, mice and birds. It looks like the well-being of rats takes precedence over healthy humans. While New York City and other large communities are trying to exterminate the filthy little creatures, the Agriculture Department will afford them the same protection as chimpanzees and guinea pigs. Do you suppose that we may see the day when a mouse trap will be as difficult to buy as a hand gun?

What this means for those engaged in research is more paperwork and rat and mouse inspections. The biomedical research people are up in arms over this intrusion into their world. They say that most of their work is done under grants from the government, which already imposes animal care standards. These people are trying to find cures for all kinds of diseases while the Agriculture people are trying to improve the quality of life for rats and mice. These are your tax dollars at work.

The department will want labs to report the number of animals they are using and (if you can believe this) categorize the type of pain and stress they are under. From what I have observed of mice, they seem to be continually under stress in that they must live in constant fear of being eaten by cats. We certainly don't want mice having nervous breakdowns in the research lab, as some of the cures developed might only work on nervous people. How you measure mouse and rat pain is beyond my comprehension.

The over-the-edge animal rights people also suggest using computer simulation in place of animals. That's what we need, vaccines that will keep your laptop healthy. Will one of the activists be the first to try a new medication the computer says is fit for human consumption? Instead of an electronic brain, are we now to consider the computer an electronic body as well? It's estimated that the new requirements will waste up to $90 million that could otherwise be used for scientific studies.

One group estimated that there are 23 million rodents being used for research in medical schools and pharmaceutical laboratories. What size building will we have to build in Washington to keep track of those 23 million rats and mice? What kind of mouse stress level will be acceptable to our USDA bureaucrats? Will overstressed mice receive treatment to bring them back to their normal despicable state? Find out where your congressman and senator stand on the mouse/rat protection regulations.

I don't care how many frogs, mice, rats or birds we have slice and dice. If the end result is a cure for some disease, we don't need the bleeding hearts interfering with medical research on the grounds that animals have human rights. If we can keep a convict on death row for 10 years, we shouldn't concern ourselves with how much stress a rat undergoes in his cage.

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