Oxford's animal abuse extends farther than you might think
Oxford University's links to cruelty in Israel
The following article comes from an undercover investigation carried out by Let The Animals Live in Israel. The similarities between the horrific experiments carried out at the Weizmann Institute and those carried out at Oxford University are obvious, involving what seem to be identical painful experimental techniques and procedures, as well as desensitisation of researchers and animal technicians. But this is not surprising when the links between this Institute in Israel and the University in Oxford are revealed. It was the Chief of the Veterinary Services of Oxford University who confirmed the conditions of the monkeys in the laboratory, provided advice on housing and on the thirst regimen for the primates at the Weizmann Institute.
Experiments on Monkeys and Cats in the Department of Neurobiology, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
An undercover investigation by 'Let The Animals Live - Israel'
Over the course of the past thirty years, Professor Amiram Grinvald and his colleagues in the Department of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, have conducted a series of invasive and punishing experiments on monkeys and cats. Many of these studies last for several years and involve drilling holes in the skulls of the animals, in order to expose the brain cortex. A special dye is then applied directly on to the brain surface in order to observe the electrical activity of groups of nerve cells, which is subsequently photographed. All of these experiments fall under the heading of basic research, ‘trial and error’, which, by definition, need not yield any practical application to human or veterinary medicine.
The Israeli organization 'Let the Animals Live' carried out an undercover investigation in the Department of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in October 2007. The undercover work was the result of information received by an animal technician who had been employed in the department for a month. The investigation documented two experimental procedures: experiments on eight monkeys, headed by Dr David B Omer, and experiments on an unknown number of cats, headed by Dr Shmuel Na'aman. Both researchers are pupils of Professor Grinvald.
At the present time, eight monkeys are housed in the Department of Neurobiology at the Institute: their names are Shuki, Teka, Zubumupu, Gaydamak, Koko, Pikatchu, Peretz and Butch. These animals were purchased from the monkey breeding farm at Mazor in Israel. The following documentation is based on the testimony of the animal technician, undercover video footage and on descriptions of the procedures used on the animals that have already been published in articles by Professor Grinvald and his colleagues.
Experiments on awake monkeys (Shuki, Teka, Zubumupu, Gaydamak, Koko and Pikatchu) last four years, under the following conditions:
Experiments on anaesthetized monkeys (Peretz and Butch) last one year, under the following conditions:
Experiments on cats:
Experimental Brain Research on Primates and Cats in Israel
Brain research on monkeys is conducted in laboratories where the animals are kept in punishing conditions, in social isolation and in small metal cages in windowless rooms, in the absence of any environmental stimulation or enrichment. Most of the monkeys are forced to endure a daily thirst regimen, whilst immobilized in a ‘primate chair’ for hours on end, day after day, having being fitted with a dental cement cast and having had large holes drilled into their skulls. Some of the experiments include having chemicals injected inside their brains, parts of their brains removed or deliberately damaged, or being given various drugs prior to undergoing yet more invasive procedures. Most of the experimental procedures are performed on awake and feeling animals.
The researchers and animal technicians have little or no background of working with animals and equally lack the professional expertise necessary to cope with such intelligent animals. In most cases, the researchers and animal technicians become desensitized to the suffering of the monkeys and cats they use, and lose sight of their most basic needs. They show no compassion for these animals, but instead, view them as disposable commodities, research tools, test tubes with tails.
Experiments on monkeys and cats are conducted in absolute secrecy, behind closed doors that are well guarded. The animals are transferred from one room to another, covered with cardboard boxes or plastic sheets, to make sure that no one will see them. In discussions with the general public or the media, the researchers will always make a point of saying how much they love and care for ‘their animals’. They tell us that no laboratory animal of theirs ever suffers. The news article ‘The brain behind brain research’ (Yediot Aharonot, July 2000), about Professor Amiram Grinvald, begins with the following words: ‘Professor Amiram Grinvald’s monkeys like grape juice. They very patiently sit in their white chair in the laboratory, watching television, and whenever a picture appears on the screen, thousands of coloured lights flicker on their brains. In recognition of their cooperation, Professor Grinvald gives them some grape juice and strokes them.’ In a news report about the new Brain Research Institute at the University of Bar Ilan, the Institute’s Director, Professor Moshe Abeles, stated: ‘I can’t say that the monkey is happy, but he doesn’t suffer’.
The truth is revealed only to the undercover video camera. The two undercover investigations that have been conducted, one at the Hebrew University (in 2001) and the other at the Weizmann Institute (in 2007), reveal the grim truth about what really happens in brain research labs.
There Are Other Ways
The main argument put forward to justify the use of monkeys and cats in brain research is that it would not be ethical to conduct these experiments on human subjects, and that the data obtained from these studies is valuable and may have applications to human medicine. This argument begins to pale in significance when considering the availability of highly sophisticated non-invasive imaging technologies. These instruments are capable of processing information at the level of nerve cell networks and small populations of nerve clusters, and even single nerve cells, using human subjects. According to the researchers, these sorts of observations can only be conducted through invasive experiments using monkeys.
Research using these advanced imaging techniques allows for ‘real time’ observations on conscious individuals whose brain is actively involved in cognitive processes (such as thinking, reading, singing, speaking and writing) while allowing the researcher to talk to the subject under investigation. Such cognitive activities simply cannot be studied in monkeys.
The range of imaging techniques includes: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); magnetoencephalography (MEG); functional MRI (fMRI); transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS); diffusion tensor imaging (DTI); single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT); positron emission tomography (PET); magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS); event related optical signaling (EROS); and electrical impedance tomography (EIT). Additional methodologies for studying the human brain include: post-mortem examination; the study of donated human brain tissue; psychophysics; in vitro (test tube) studies; cognitive studies; clinical observation of brain damaged individuals; molecular genetic studies; and so on.
With respect to the cruel and invasive monkey and cat brain research conducted at Professor Amiram Grinvald’s laboratory involving visual stimulation, equivalent studies are conducted at Aston University in the UK, using non-invasive MEG imaging on human subjects. The results at Aston are more accurate, in addition to being directly relevant to human beings.
It should also be obvious that the human brain is unique with respect to its organization and structure, in terms of size, proportions and cell populations, and cannot be compared to the brain of the monkey or cat. Attempts at extrapolating animal-based research to humans has led to medical disasters and actually impeded medical progress. Yet despite these catastrophes, few scientists are prepared to openly challenge the concept of using animal models, such as monkeys and cats, for the study of human disease.
The reasons for this reluctance to speak out include political considerations as well as self interest. A major obstacle to opening up the debate is the strategy used by animal researchers who see any challenge to their animal experiments as a threat to their inalienable right to ‘academic freedom’, irrespective of the outcome of their animal studies.
For more information on LET THE ANIMALS LIVE and the investigation into the Weizmann Institute: www.letlive.org.il/english/home.php.
Disclaimer: The information on this website is for the purpose of legal protest and information only. It should not be used to commit any criminal acts or harassment.