Sunday, January 18, 2009

bullshit detected! - "The practice of vivisection is of questionable value and incompatible with ecological philosophy."


Yes, that's straight out of the Green Party of England and Wales' Manifesto for a Sustainable Society Punkscience supports the Green Party, although clearly not that bit: Its a pretty fine example of the post-modernist fluff which is still prevalent within the party, despite efforts over the last decade to take the party's credibility up level (what the fuck is "ecological philosophy"?). The truth is that animal testing is absolutely essential to effective and efficient biomedical research. You simply cannot work exclusively with cell and tissue cultures or models. Animal tests expand our knowledge and save lives.

Punkscience knows this because he performs scientific experiments with animals. I work with marine invertebrates: Molluscs, crustaceans, echinoderms, polychaetes. I frequently have to sacrifice the animals I work with either because you cannot return them to the wild after exposing them to contaminants- we try to use non-destructive techniques where possible- or because we sometimes have no other option but to use destructive techniques. Take the MS Napoli, for example. The day after the ship first ran aground we were off to Lyme Bay to go and look for animals to collect to cary out a rapid assessment of the extent of the damage and to get ahead of any pollution release. Its important to have something to compare subsequent impacts to and so collecting animals from locations before they were impacted is essential in determining the relative severity of any incident. Unfortunately for the periwinkles and limpets we collected this required their subsequent sacrifice in order to carry out biochemical and chemical analysis on their bodies. Without this work and similar sampling trips to track the spread of the heavy fuel oil and diesel that was released from the ship during the debacle of its break-up, it would have been impossible for us to determine the actual effect of the wreck on the marine fauna of the Jurassic Coast. I think the humane deaths (we snap-freeze them in liquid nitrogen) of a few invertebrates in this fashion is a wholly reasonable exchange for the information they yield to us.

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