Butter Cows and Biomedical Research

WildEyedCowWe wrote recently about the New York City Bar Association’s push to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), a law that protects businesses and researchers who use animals from intimidation campaigns. We’ve seen a spate of illegal animal-liberation activity recently, including the vandalism of a cow made of butter on display at the Iowa State Fair. And a great response to this silly vandalism comes in The Des Moines Register—from two biomedical researchers, no less.

Since people tend to have short memories, it’s worthwhile to review why anti-terrorism laws are needed.

It’s important that the piece is from biomedical researchers because terror campaigns against that community were what spurred the first passage of anti-animal terrorism laws in 1992, called the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. Following the formation of the animal rights movement in the 70s and 80s, researchers were the primary target of terror and intimidation campaigns. One good example, involving PETA, is Dr. Adrian Morrison, a veterinarian and scientist.

Morrison was an outspoken defender of animal research and in the early 90s worked at the University of Pennsylvania conducting sleep research. But his defense of research made him a target of the Animal Liberation Front, an FBI-designated terrorist group. The ALF trashed Morrison’s lab one night and stole his personal correspondence while leaving him a chilling message: “Stop defending what is not defensible, or you will get a taste of your own medicine.”

Then, PETA—which used to handle press for the ALF—stated that it had received the stolen correspondence. Later, the Village Voice published a piece critical of Morrison’s research, and PETA sent a copy of it around—to Morrison’s own neighbors.

Who signed the PETA letter? Ann Chynoweth. Chynoweth was with PETA as far back as 1989 and stayed with the group for a few years. She’s now with the Humane Society of the United States as Senior Director of its anti-animal fighting campaign. After Morrison was harassed by protestors in a trip to Italy following the ALF raid, PETA wrote in its newsletter, “Thanks to the activists, there really is no rest for the wicked.”

Morrison was also smeared by the American Anti-Vivisection Society, which opposed necessary medical research involving animals. The vice president of AAVS at the time? Bernard Unti, who is now a special assistant to HSUS president Wayne Pacelle.

If you’re a regular reader, you’re sensing a pattern here. Radicals like Chynoweth and Unti have something in common with other radicals such as Mike Markarian, Paul Shapiro, and others: they’re all now at HSUS.

Fortunately, Morrison wasn’t intimidated enough to stop fighting the good fight, as others have been. For more on the importance of animal welfare, NABR maintains a list of Nobel Prizes in Medicine that have relied on data obtained from animal models. It’s been important. It still is. And animal liberation activists are on the wrong side of science.

This is just one example out of many. For more on animal-liberation terrorism, visit the FBI’s website.