If you haven’t checked it out, there is a very informative (and increasingly technical) comment thread active under this recent Sconz post relating to the magnitude and meaning of recent animal welfare violations found in UW labs. I figured I would attempt a little summary work to make the thread a bit more accessible to the glancing reader.
The violation at issue involved UW-Madison researchers “not showing that they tried to find an alternative to painful experiments on animals.”
Holly, a friend of the Sconz, detailed the process such research undergoes for approval. Essentially, to use an animal in a research project a researcher must submit a “protocol” to a committee that consists of a number of questions. One of those questions requires the researcher to show that there are no alternatives to painful experiments. This is where the issue seems to get contentious.
Even though the “protocols” in question met this requirement on the committees view, it did not on the inspectors. Holly (in the red corner) said the inspectors did not see the protocols meeting this requirement because of a misunderstanding or lack of information on the part of the investigators, which they found sufficient to amount to a violation. As she put it:
The committee understood the necessity of the procedures, and the inspectors needed more clarification
Rick (in the blue corner) said that such a lack of information is unlikely.
Rarely (never in my experience) is an approved protocol completely rewritten. It is unlikely that an entire section as fundamental to the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act would be deleted if it had ever been there.
The basic question: Was this most significant violation a result of insufficient information on the investigators part or was the committee actually allowing a researcher to do painful experiments without showing there were no alternatives? If anyone has anymore info or thoughts please post them, lets keep this going.