- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2001

Rethink your 'Rethink' editorial

Your March 6 editorial, "Rethink Plan Colombia" repeats some old Republican misunderstandings and confusions, of which Reps. Dan Burton and Benjamin Gilman are the most stubborn proponents.

Diverting U.S. aid from Colombia's military to the Colombia National Police is wrongheaded and dangerous. The police simply cannot eradicate drugs in a war zone it has neither the arms, the training nor the manpower to fight the coca growers' insurgent protectors and masters.

Only after the army regains control over the territory could the police operate. Moreover, the police are already so overextended that they are unable to do what they have been trained to do cope with crime, kidnapping or even traffic.

To pretend otherwise is to put the cart before the horse.

MICHAEL RADU

Senior fellow

Foreign Policy Research Institute

Philadelphia

Appointees should feel honored, not hassled

A full-string quartet played in my head as I read Arnold Beichman's column about the process one must endure to serve our country as part of a presidential administration ("The naked public servant," Op-Ed, March 6).

In the early days of the Clinton administration, I undertook the task of filling out long forms and going through the review process that Mr. Beichman complains about in his column. I considered it an honor to be selected to serve my country and president. Granted, it did take some fact-checking with my parents to identify old addresses and a few phone calls to former employers to get accurate information, but it certainly took no more than a few calls and a few hours to fill out the forms.

Is this too high price to pay to make sure presidential appointees are worthy of the call to service? I think not.

HOWARD SALTER

Silver Spring

Groups, readers find animal-based research column beastly

In her March 6 Commentary column "When rats have rights," Debra J. Saunders relies on severely biased sources to ridicule the historic settlement between the Alternatives Research and Development Foundation (ARDF) and the Agriculture Department, which finally provides rats, mice and birds (95 percent of the animals used in biomedical research and testing) minimal legal protection under the regulations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Both Johns Hopkins University and the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) are deliberately trying to create a panic within the biomedical research and patient advocacy communities to obscure a simple truth that they find distasteful.

For the majority of registered research facilities, such as Johns Hopkins, which have Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) or National Institutes of Health (NIH) certification, the inclusion of rats, mice and birds is already a reality and has been so for decades.

They will not see significant changes as a result of our settlement. For the other facilities (including 1,200 to 2,000 unregistered and uninspected), legal protection for these species will only impact institutions with substandard animal care and use programs.

Miss Saunders correctly notes that quality laboratory animal care equates with quality research results. For that reason, you cannot receive funds from the NIH unless you include all vertebrates (not just rats, mice, birds, cats, dogs, etc.) at a level of care exceeding the AWA; all pharmaceutical companies include rats, mice and birds under Food and Drug Administration directives and AAALAC accreditation rules; and every country in the world with a biomedical research community (except in the United States) includes rats, mice and birds.

If your readers are genuinely concerned about finding reliable cures for human diseases, then they should join the NIH, AAALAC, FDA, most of the civilized world, the ARDF and now the Agriculture Department in supporting full protection for all species at all research facilities.

JOHN MCARDLE

Director

Alternatives Research and Development Foundation

Eden Prairie, Minn.

For her March 6 Commentary column "When rats have rights," Debra J. Saunders should have talked to someone in the animal protection community, which advocates extending to birds, mice and rats the protections to which they are entitled under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), rather than distorting our position.

Better animal care and use already brought about as a result of the AWA have made for better science. Setting up a phony conflict between humane treatment of laboratory animals and life-saving research is the last desperate strategy of opponents of reform, who know they cannot win on the merits of their arguments.

In the column, for instance, John Hopkins University general counsel Estelle Fishbein refers to existing standards for laboratory animal care. But she neglects to mention that many research facilities (perhaps as many as 2,000) are not required to meet these standards. For those that are, failure to meet them merely means (maybe) disappointing one's peers.

Violating the AWA, on the other hand, means breaking the law. The National Institutes of Health and accrediting groups are not enforcement authorities, and prearranged visits from them are not the same as the Agriculture Department's unannounced inspections.

Mice and rats constitute 95 percent of the animals used in biomedical research. How is science advanced by denying them the minimal safeguards provided under the AWA?

If labs are already adhering to "regulations and standards," then complying with the AWA should be no problem. For the many unregistered and uninspected operations, it is time the animals they use gain the modest protections available under the law.

NANCY BLANEY

Director, National Legislative Office

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Washington

Debra J. Saunders' March 6 column "When rats have rights" ignores the right of patients and all citizens to have their tax dollars and charitable contributions used for biomedical research that is likely to ease their suffering.

Americans for Medical Advancement (www.curedisease.com) does not object to using animals in biomedical research for ethical reasons. Rather, we oppose the use of animals because they are unreliable indicators of what will occur in humans. Different species react differently to medications, disease and surgery. Hence, research using animals is a waste of time, money and personnel.

Taxpayer money and funds donated to charity should be given to researchers who use historically proven methods of biomedical research, such as in vitro techniques, clinical research and observation, epidemiology, computer modeling, research in the basic sciences of math, physics and chemistry, research to advance new technologies, such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners, and the myriad other research methods that are responsible for the high standard of medical care we have today.

The controversy concerning rats and mice will continue, but the discussion about the rights of humans suffering from AIDS, cancer, heart disease, cystic fibrosis and other diseases needs to begin.

RAY GREEK

President

Americans for Medical Advancement

Los Angeles

Saying the Earth is flat doesn't make it so, and saying that rats have adequate protection without their recent inclusion in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) doesn't make that true, either ("When rats have rights," March 6).

The fact is that thousands of conscientious scientists and physicians support inclusion of rodents under the minimal protection of the AWA.

Miss Saunders' implication that all medical advances are dependent upon animal-based research also is in need of correction. The majority of medical research is conducted without use of animals. Furthermore, the data from animal-based research is an undeniable "mixed bag," inconsistently applicable to humans.

Perhaps the plaintiffs at Johns Hopkins University who oppose minimum standards for animal care are concerned more about their operating budgets than anything else.

LAWRENCE A. HANSEN

Professor of Pathology and Neurosciences

University of California San Diego School of Medicine

and NANCY L. HARRISON

Scripps Memorial Hospital Chula Vista

San Diego

Affiliations for identification purposes only.


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