MSU prof in PETA poll for worst animal offender
Clarification: Drew Winter, who is quoted in the article as president of Students Promoting Animal Rights, is a contributing columnist for The State News.
Cat eyes and monkey brains.
The two sound more appropriate for discussion during a Halloween party in October, but they are currently the focus of an April poll by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, to determine which university has the worst animal testing offender — of which MSU has a professor in the final two.
The candidate is Arthur Weber, a physiology human medicine professor whose glaucoma research involves removing the eyes from live cats.
“This means that Dr. Weber has been voted as being among the most notorious animal experimenters in the country,” said Eva Vieyra-McDaniel, media coordinator with PETA, in an e-mail. “Which is certainly dragging down an otherwise respectable university.”
Marc Breedlove, chairman of MSU’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, said PETA’s portrayal of Weber is very misleading, and the cats he experiments with don’t feel pain during the operation.
Breedlove spoke on Weber’s behalf, per request of Weber, who declined to comment on the story.
“The animals are completely anesthetized, receive painkillers, and once the animals come out of the anesthesia, 10 minutes later you can’t tell the difference,” Breedlove said.
Weber has made the finals of the online poll, pitting him against researchers from Duke University whom experiment with monkey brains.
“Weber’s spent 25 years torturing cats by removing their eyes while they’re still alive,” the summary on Blog.peta.org reads. “... anyone going up against Weber and the (MSU) vivisectors should know that, like the cats who go under Weber’s knife, they’re in for a world of pain.”
Breedlove said Weber’s testing was reviewed for animal care concerns at MSU according to the Public Health Service Policy and the Animal Welfare Act, and also received peer review from the National Institute of Health.
“You can’t perform any research on animals until the research has been reviewed by a committee, including people from the community,” Breedlove said.
The research is particularly important, he said, because glaucoma causes blindness for millions of Americans every year, and Weber’s study could prevent or reverse the damage.
“If a treatment is found that prevents retinal cell death in cats with glaucoma, it might prevent retinal cell death in people with glaucoma,” he said.
Drew Winter, president of Students Promoting Animal Rights, or SPAR, and an English senior, said he’s against animal experimentation in general, regardless of whether or not the cats were conscious.
“There are many alternatives out there,” he said. “Computer-generated models and single cellular tests both yield accurate results.”
Winter said you can’t rely on animal tests because humans react differently to different medicines.
The Food and Drug Administration has considered banning animal testing by the next 10 years, he said, which is more incentive for MSU to move away from that type of research.
“For a cutting-edge university, SPAR would like to see them take a more productive role in testing more humanely,” Winter said.