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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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Research far from done

By By Zack Oakey

In 1894, a brilliant man uttered total nonsense to his contemporaries. In his speech at the University of Chicago, the soon-to-be Nobel laureate Albert Michelson said, “The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted…is exceedingly remote.” However, Albert Einstein was 25 years away from shattering any notion that scientific progress can ever be static.

What was Michelson thinking? Oddly enough, we can ask some animal rights activists that very question. However unconscious their decision, many have made it a point to not allow outside information to enlighten their platforms.

Colleen Hatfield, the director of the Salt Lake Animal Advocacy Movement, said during a recent protest she led on campus that “almost everything that you can imagine to test on animals has already been done.” This coming from someone who has no research background and wants all animal-based experimentation to end.

No one should be able to say something such as this without receiving a critical response. The moment people think they have enough intellectual audacity to declare, like Michelson, the end of scientific progress8212;either within a specific field or generally8212;is the moment we who know better need to stand up for the truth.

No one has the ability to prestate with sufficient authority that all we need to know about animal-based studies is recorded when most researchers seem to be able to convince beneficiaries of the exact opposite every day.

Right now, patients who have signs and symptoms consistent with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, ebola, adrenoleukodystrophy, Gaucher disease, Huntington’s disease and thousands of others are told that we have no cure for them. If Hatfield were diagnosed with one of these or some other currently incurable disease, would she change her mind about her indelible principles?

On top of Hatfield’s assertion that we have all the animal-dependent information we need to cure disease, she suggests that researchers use stem cells as a replacement for animals because, she said, “nobody suffers in stem cell research.”

Animals are a necessary component for the creation, maintenance and simulation of diseases in stem cell lines. If the director cared to look into what is required to create stem cells and if she were consistent in her philosophy, she would not be able to weigh in on this alternative because of its implications. Rather, she would be more than happy, as she previously was, to simply give scientists no option because “everything that you can imagine,” including stem cell research and its connection to animal research, has been done.

More importantly, all drugs, including vaccines that have eliminated lists of diseases now only existing on life support in Soviet freezers, must be tested in living things. Stem cells hardly offer a meaningful substitute to multi-organ systems. Organs communicate with one another, and they will enzymatically alter8212;sometimes significantly8212;the effects of vaccines and other therapies that simply studying them in a dish with what Hatfield called “living cells” won’t do.

Advertisement seems to matter more to SLAAM and organizations like it than the fulfillment of principle. Predictably, their message is riddled with factual and, therefore, ethical problems. Inconveniences8212;like a whole century of scientific creativity8212;dent their perfectly polished hyperbole.

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Willus Branham/The Daily Utah Chronicle

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