Princeton University cited for violations of USDA rules for lab
would Peter Singer do?
of the landmark book, Animal Liberation, Singer described the industry supporting
the continued use, and horrible abuse, of uncounted millions of laboratory
animals around the world. As Princeton Professor of Bioethics in the Center
for the Study of Human Values, what is Peter Singer thinking now, and what
will Peter Singer do about his own institution's practices?
a routine USDA inspection of its facilities in late June, Princeton University
was cited for 11 "procedural" violations of federal guidelines
for treatment of animals in laboratories, as detailed in the Animal Welfare
Act of 1966.
violations noted occurred with primates who are used in research at the
university. These reportedly consist of 15 macaques and 10 marmosets. The
other animals used in research are guinea pigs, rats, mice and salamanders.
violations had to do with withholding water to use as a reward for the animals'
participation in experiments, administering post-surgical painkiller medications
only "as needed" instead of routinely, and performing more surgeries
than had been spelled out in research proposals.
Aronson, a spokesperson for the university, pointed out the institution's
high scores with the USDA for cleanliness of Princeton's labs and good health
of the animals. She mentioned oversight and documentation procedures "we
were already aware of and in the process of correcting."
alludes at least in part to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee
(IACUC), a group legally required to exist where such research occurs. At
Princeton, this committee includes a veterinarian, a practicing scientist
experienced in animal research and a member from the Princeton-area community.
report had it, Aronson also indicated that the university is in the process
of "strengthening" this committee.
to "significant discoveries that benefit humankind" as the result
of its "highly regulated research activities" using non human
primates and other animals, Aronson said the general public will gain from
the university's animal research.
Princeton "researcher" was quoted in Friday's Daily Princetonian
— which also reported that 13, not 11, violations were cited in the
USDA report. According to this person, most modern surgical techniques and
medicines are first tested on animals, which reduces the need for and risk
to human subjects.
USDA report initially came to the attention of the media through an organization
called "Stop Animal Exploitation Now," or SAEN. Its executive
director, Michael Budkie, reportedly said "You can't have it both ways."
He pointed out that on one hand, researchers claim the animals are similar
enough to us that the research would have some sort of validity, but on
the other, they say that doing these [violations] to them would not cause
them any unrelieved pain and distress.
of unanswered questions remain and may follow in subsequent coverage. For
instance, what's the difference between "research" (the word most
often used in the Princeton context) and "experimentation"?
how does Princeton's IACUC operate — what does it check? how often?
to whom does it report? is it advisory only? who is the community representative?
what is the university's "action plan" to strengthen its IACUC
and how soon will it be implemented?
are Princeton's researchers and administrators sufficiently aware of the
growing movement against use of animals in research or experimentation?
or of the options for research without animal involvement?