The Science of Public Deception

In order to protect and promote that which is in the best interest of the general population, a public dialogue must be advanced on the issues surrounding animal-based research and complete transparency is a necessary condition if we are to proceed. However, because of the secrecy in which this type of research has remained shrouded, we have been effectively stripped of our ability to negotiate informed and intelligent decisions. As a society, we are ill-equipped to discuss the scientific efficacy and the ramifications of any pursuit until we are afforded an opportunity to understand the issues.

Each of us is the victim of deliberate deception and misinformation campaigns orchestrated by those who society holds in the highest esteem and deems above reproach. But distinguished scientists and authoritative institutions have abused our trust. We must take control of information – especially that which has been deliberately withheld, and begin to educate ourselves.

The issues discussed here are neither unique nor exceptional and, although this social revolution is taking place in one area, the disturbing problems discussed permeate every community in every state across the country.

In Gainesville, Florida, a grassroots effort is underway to speak to people. Activists are going door-to-door and creating awareness one-by-one. This community is building a petition that will be addressed to the University of Florida and the Florida Board of Regents that reads in part:

We benefit neither from the hyperbolic claims of animal rights activists nor the intentionally-evasive and self-serving representations of researchers with a vested financial interest in their experiments. Hiding behind euphemisms such as “humane research” retards civil discussion. If your research is humane and the animals are well cared for, there is no logical, moral, or acceptable reason to resist public scrutiny. We’ve all seen white mice navigate a maze and now we demand to see the rest of your subjects, especially since our money is funding your work.

We demand complete transparency as a necessary condition for dialogue.

Further, the University of Florida was the beneficiary of over $338 million in taxpayer-funded grants in 2009. We demand to see the experiments for which we paid. In this difficult economic climate, many of us have lost homes, jobs, cars, and more and are living from paycheck to paycheck. We are unwilling to fund your projects without total accountability any longer. We, the people, have the inalienable right to determine where, how, and on what our public money is spent.

We demand full disclosure in order to protect and promote our best public interests.

Like many institutions of higher learning, the University of Florida enjoys prestige, dignity, and, thus far, an unassailable reputation. But hidden behind the pristine image is a secretive world for which we bear the financial burden. The fact that the general public has no conception of animal-based research is deliberate. Whether we are in favor of or opposed to animal experimentation is irrelevant. We cannot have that discussion until we first understand what we’re talking about.

At UF, there are primates, dogs, cats, pigs, horses, sheep, reptiles, birds, untold thousands of mice and rats, and many other species enduring barbaric experimentation every day. To illustrate the misinformation that each of us has been compromised by, we need only understand some of UF’s experiments on rabbits. In 2009, USDA records indicate that hundreds of rabbits were classified as “Column E.” (( “No pain relief” experiments are specified on annual USDA inspection reports. The latest available report from 2009 is followed by pages of “Column E” experiments on rabbits. )) I encourage everyone to research this term and then apply the “reasonable person” standard. That is, what would a reasonable person conclude?

Column E means “no pain relief.” Under the Animal Welfare Act, it is a classification assigned to animals who endure surgeries and mutilations without anesthesia. Intentional injuries may be inflicted for the express purpose of causing slight, moderate, or severe pain. The animals receive no medication and are made to languish in agony until they are relieved by death. Does this sound “humane” to any reasonable person? Of course not! Yet when the public is told about ethical research, welfare laws, and strict regulations, these are precisely the types of atrocities that are being regulated.

There is one reason alone that animal experimentation is propagandized as “science” while, simultaneously, the “science” is deliberately and carefully locked away from public scrutiny. The reason is money. UF received over $338 million in taxpayer-funded grants from the government last year. ((According the 2009 annual report, of the $574 million in research awards received by UF, 59% (or $338.66 million) were taxpayer-funded federal grants.)) Yet it is nearly impossible to determine on what our taxes were spent. This is not an accident. Researchers perform the same experiments year after year, enjoying a steady stream of public funds, and, thus far, public scrutiny has been easily averted with the recitation of a few standard mantras (e.g., humane research, strict welfare regulations).

Beyond the profound moral and ethical issues surrounding animal experimentation, it is nearly impossible determine why some researchers are awarded public funds for specific research yet simultaneously deny involvement.

In 2009, researcher Mingzhou Ding applied for and received public funds from the federal government to conduct brain-mapping experiments in monkeys. ((In 2009, the National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded $270,060 to Ding as the Prinicple Investigator conducting Biomedical Engineering experiments. Project Number: R01MH079388-03.)) Briefly, this common experiment requires a primate to be immobilized in a chair designed to restrict all movement except for the head. The skull cap is then removed and metal rods fasten the skull to stabilizing equipment preventing any movement of the head. In Ding’s experiment, numerous electrodes were implanted in the brain and foreign objects were affixed inside the skull with tape. Two monkeys in question were kept restrained in total darkness. They were deprived of water as dehydration and starvation are standard tools to gain compliance. Water was then offered as a reward to manipulate the monkeys’ responses to various stimuli. ((This 2008 article in the Journal of Neuroscience, co-authored by Ding, details brain-mapping experiments.)) We do not know the disposition of these monkeys, but the subjects of neurological experiments are normally killed when they are no longer viable.

Ding collected over $260,000 in our tax money last year for this experiment. Yet, the Public Relations Director for UF, Janine Sikes, has told the media that Ding is not the person who performed these experiments. (( “UF Defends Accused ‘Animal Murderer’,” October 12, 2010.)) She has neglected to explained, however, why he applied for the grants and received the awards as the principle investigator.

In addition, taxpayers should be interested to learn that in 2010 alone, we paid another UF researcher, Marco Salemi, over $700,000 to infect 24 monkeys with the designer disease, neuroAIDS. ((Project Number: 5R01NS063897-02. Viral Evolution in Peropheral Macrophages and Brain During Progression to AIDS. 2010 NIH Grant $711,142.)) Salemi induces dementia-like symptoms in the monkeys as he charts their physical deteriorations. He’s been infecting, injuring, and killing monkeys for years and we, the taxpayers, are his benefactors. In fact, for decades now researchers have received billions of dollars in federal awards to infect monkeys with AIDS. The fact that monkeys do not contract AIDS appears to escape consideration. (( “Rethinking AIDS.”))

Just as the face of animal experimentation is concealed behind the pristine public image of the University of Florida, its inherent greed and violence is hidden behind the guise of science.

If the people of Gainesville are denied access to UF’s labs, they intend to take this fight into the court of law and the court of public opinion.

If the people of Gainesville are denied access to UF’s labs, we intend to take this fight into the court of law and the court of public opinion.

Camille Marino is an animal liberation activist and former political prisoner for the cause. Her first book ironically-titled Danger to Society chronicles her experience waging a war to expose taxpayer-funded animal experimentation at the University of Florida and her odyssey through the American System of Injustice. After 6 arrests, 2 extraditions, one raid on her home, 3 months on house arrest, 8 months in jail, and over 7 months banned from the internet, she is now free and remains unapologetic and unrepentant in her fight for Animal Liberation. Camille is the Founder and Executive Director of Eleventh Hour for Animals. Read other articles by Camille, or visit Camille's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 27th, 2010 at 11:48am #

    fine, fine! alas, alas, torturing animals and people is legal in u.s.
    activism in this piece is not asking or demanding first thing be done first: change the law!
    ok! they are well-meaning! but mafia is not! end of story and mystory! tnx

  2. camille marino said on November 27th, 2010 at 12:03pm #

    laws are created by and within the corporate-industrial complex to promote and protect their interests, not ours.

    change attitudes and perceptions and, perhaps, the law will follow.

  3. Don Hawkins said on November 27th, 2010 at 12:30pm #

    Here’s a law that many try and change with no success.

    Isaac Newton stated three laws of motion.
    The first law deals with forces and changes in velocity. For just a moment, let us imagine that you can apply only one force to an object. That is, you could choose push the object to the right or you could choose to push it to the left, but not to the left and right at the same time, and also not up and to the right at the same time, and so on.
    Under these conditions the first law says that if an object is not pushed or pulled upon, its velocity will naturally remain constant. This means that if an object is moving along, untouched by a force of any kind, it will continue to move along in a perfectly straight line at a constant speed.

  4. Don Hawkins said on November 27th, 2010 at 12:52pm #

    But Eve what are you talking about? I have a penthouse in the city I have a six figure salary a secretary named Fran but am miserable. But Eve what do you want? I want you to marry me, ok. And then it began to move along in a perfectly straight line at a constant speed.

  5. bozh said on November 28th, 2010 at 10:51am #

    yes to changing the attitude. but change in law comes first! such as? change the law which permits only certain people [well preselected and ‘educated’ ] to determine what children are taught and adults to hear-learn.
    and what children, soldiers, housepeople are told is well known. it is also well known that 99% of americans approve of the system.
    so, attitudes of 99% or even 999/permille, may change by going door to door. alas, attitude of the remaining one% may worsen.
    and which controls utterly army, cia, fbi, police; nearly all information, etc. and all power comes from the barrel of the gun!

    and, btw, does one think by going door to door for an ad hoc purpose [or even a much , much more general purpose] wld change the minds of americans who shout usa, usa, usa? and particularly changing one u.s law or lack thereof?

    make their army, cia, fbi, police ours is the only way out. so get going and animals wld be respected and not to mention people!
    the alternative appears stark: ever greater torture and abuse of some people and most animals.
    pet ideas, projects, peeves wld never do! tnx

  6. bozh said on November 28th, 2010 at 11:24am #

    a spartan country [region, really] like u.s which sends young boys to kill people or bails out only the ‘best’ americans, cannot be changed by any organization, movement, march, protest; a fortiori so, if each going on a particular or singular mission!
    such as? get ur jesus, save the children, end the drug wars, stop illegal immigration, pray, bring back troop, and another thousand causes.
    in fact, the more ad hoc pursuits, the more mafia likes it. why not, when most of these organizations wld not agree on time of day.

    so, the ruling class says, do u really want any of these organizations to govern u? look at them! forever arguing with everybody else and intragroup as well; as among greens, dissident sites, posters. tnx

  7. camille marino said on November 28th, 2010 at 2:29pm #

    not sure i understand you bozh…

    is your position that we should do nothing because we can’t do everything?

  8. bozh said on November 28th, 2010 at 3:16pm #

    i often say that the only way out is to form an antipodal political party to the one that exists in u.s. today.
    a political party that wld initially stand just for greater equality not only in earnings but also for a pantisocratic and timocratic governance.
    not, of course, in an utopian sense!
    just promoting three ideas and placing candidates at election time: ever greater participation of ever greater number of people in governance of any country and not just u.s.
    followed by ensuring that each human get’s equal pay for equal needs; what wld be one’s needs or inheritance wld be determined by all those who wish to participate in the inquiry and via referendum enact it.
    the third idea to promote wld be no wars of aggression.
    and then see how things develop.
    of course, all animal or human inheritance wld not be given back to us or biota in one day or even in decades.
    and some people may die before mafia restores our in heratance! tnx

  9. Charlie said on November 28th, 2010 at 4:36pm #

    C. Marino is exactly right to point to the critical issue: the information vacuum. Some degree of animal experimentation may be defensible on the grounds of significant advances in medicine, etc. And some animal experiments are indeed humane, involving only observations of behavior or other nonviolent methods. But I suspect that humane and/or scientifically significant animal experimentation may be less common than we’d like to believe.

    But how do we know? Animal experimentation is carried out in the dark. It’s like a national Gitmo for animals. We’re told the laws apply, but who’s the cop? How many researchers have ever been arrested and tried for animal cruelty? Any? If it’s billed as “research” can it never be torture?

    I think information will change attitudes. The cosmetics industry got caught with its pants down through an exposé of their “researchers” torturing rabbits, cats, and dogs by blinding them with shampoos and other toiletries. Now, there’s a significant PR advantage for a number of those companies to proclaim “Not tested on animals” on their products.

    Greed was the motivating factor in the cosmetics industry, and when their greed was used against them by the potential loss of sales, they changed. If activists can find a way to do the same thing to UF researchers, perhaps change may come there too.

    You’ve probably already looked at it, but the vet school at UF is another money pit for animal experimentation, and believe me, there are some less than humane “research projects” there.

  10. kalidas said on November 28th, 2010 at 5:47pm #

    I despise and abhor the pleas on behalf of that infamous practice,
    experimentation…I would rather submit to the worst of deaths, so far as
    pain goes, than have a single dog or cat tortured to death on the pretence
    of sparing me a twinge or two.
    -Robert Browning

    ‘Do not kick him’, said Pythagoras to a man abusing a puppy. ‘In his body is
    the soul of a friend of mine. I recognized the voice when he cried out’.