I received this email this morning from the kind folks at Speaking of Research. Take a look…
We could really do with your help on this one. PeTA and Camille’s loons have the bit between their teeth and are getting quite a lot of traction in the local press and the web from their lies and distortions regarding Primate Products, and their campaign seems to have gained quite a lot of momentum. While most of Primate Product’s clients have stood firm the pressure is only going to grow, as DrugMonkey’s post yesterday indicates.
[Please read] Allyson’s post (see Confronting Misrepresentation) . We need to teach organizations like Primate Products Inc and the University of Florida that they need to engage more with the public, and that there are those out there willing to support them.
Please help us if you can, you and your readers could help to turn things around.
As a bit of background, photos of injured monkeys from a Florida company called Primate Products were “leaked” to the media. The photos show monkeys with injuries and were taken by company veterinarians to document the medical care they were receiving But, you should absolutely go read Allyson’s post. Her analysis is spot on, especially with regards to the misrepresentation of events. As Allyson writes:
Examples of misleading coverage of animal research presented publicly without
essential background, context, or explanation from sources within the animal
research community abound. More often than not, these stories are shaped
primarily by animal activists who are unconstrained by desire to provide
accurate information… Also notable in these stories is that
not only do they rarely receive full consideration of all of the facts, but they
also are rarely matched by widespread coverage when the results are in from the
federal agency investigations that activists typically call <warning: AR extremist site>
for in their press releases.
This made me think of my recent foray into the realm of anaphylaxis. If you walked into an emergency room and took a picture, without context or a base of knowledge from which to evaluate the photo, any number of horrendous stories could be concocted around the photo and sold to the public.
Figure 1: In this picture, an evil torturer drips an acid into the eyes of a restrained subject for her own pleasure and enjoyment.
Most people would look at the above picture though and immediately call “bullshit” on its caption. But, that’s because most of us have sufficient experience to accurately evaluate the image. Most of the general public does not have the experience to evaluate animal images in the media, and that’s why the responsible evaluation by experts is so important. Again, Allyson writes:
In the case of the Florida facility, the federal
agency charged with oversight, the United States
Department of Agriculture, has performed an investigation in response to the
photographs made public by activists. The results of the USDA focused
inspection regarding the allegations were “No non-compliant items identified
during this inspection.” In addition, the National Institutes of Health Office
of Laboratory Animal Welfare wrote a letter of agreement saying it “finds the
institution to operating in accordance with the provisions of the PHS Policy on
Humane Care and use of Laboratory Animals”. When the reports are made publicly
available SR will post them here.
Although company officials have not yet commented publicly, the USDA report
makes it clear that many of the allegations and speculation about the Florida
company that were offered to the media and via extremist websites by various
activist groups are untrue.
Speaking of Research does not expect that the activist groups
that have promoted this story will provide coverage of the USDA report that
shows their claims have no basis. Nor do we expect that they will discuss the
real conclusion, which is that socially-housed monkeys engaged in behavior that
is not uncommon for primates and hurt each other. In truth, many activists are
not interested in the USDA’s conclusions, or in whether laboratory animals are
socially or individually housed.
This is why it is so important for those of us with an audience to publicize these findings. Both the USDA and the National Institutes of Health have found no evidence of neglect. Animals shown in the photo were receiving medical attention for the types of injuries they might display in the wild. Yet, the loudest voices are always the most extreme.
But, there is no reason that our voices can’t also be loud. Head over to Speaking of Research and offer your support.