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It’s World Week for Animals in Laboratories

It literally makes me sick when I think about the millions of animals who are tortured and killed in laboratories every year. Most people will decry animal testing when they’re confronted with images of cats with electronic devices sticking out of their brains or bunnies locked in boxes so that chemicals can be poured into their eyes. But after they compose themselves, a lot of people still come out in favor of vivisection, because if we didn’t test on animals, where would we be? And aren’t testers as ethical and responsible as possible?

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no excuse for animal testing, and until it ends, every day should be World Day for Animals in Laboratories. But since it’s not, we have World Week for Animals in Laboratories, which began this past weekend.

I never know where to begin with these things, so I’m just going to mention some of the more notable developments, old and new, as well as ways you can get involved. (I was going to try to work in this ”funny” Onion article, but it reads so close to reality that I found it hard to find much humor in it.)

Unfortunately, there’s never a shortage of depressing news on the animal research front, but in the interest of sanity, I’ll be brief. Most of us were shocked to learn that ”eco”-giant Ecover tests its products on animals—how does that make the company green? More recently, there was the stomach-turning news that a monkey had been boiled alive in its cage in a research facility. And then after all that, we’re presented with even more proof that animals are suffering for naught, since, as with the Vioxx scandal, more safety tests, this time on Botox, were found to be inaccurate.

Even more disturbing, the Washington Post reported that the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods isn’t doing its job, which is to review and approve nonanimal tests. (Ask Congress to intervene here, and urge the FDA to pursue nonanimal testing alternatives here.)

But thankfully, the landscape isn’t all bleak. Last year, POM Wonderful stopped testing its products on animals as a result of protests, Israel outlawed animal testing on cosmetics, and the NIH stopped breeding chimps for research. (Project R&R—Release & Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories—now seeks to end testing on all great apes in the U.S. and have them released to sanctuaries; show your support for the Great Ape Protection Act here.)

Just this month, Yale canceled a vivisector’s lecture—to kids!—following an outcry. The fact that there’s such a thing as the Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing is cause for hope. And in what has to be the biggest positive development in vivisection in recent memory, three major U.S. agencies have agreed to phase out animal testing. Of course, as with the phasing out of gestation crates and the like, it will probably take at least 10 years, but it’s a step in the right direction.

With the tide seemingly starting to turn, now is a great time to do your part, since it’s likely your actions can have a greater impact than ever before. And there are so many ways you can help.

If you can afford to donate, put organizations like the American Anti-Vivisection Society and the National Anti-Vivisection Society on your list. (Also, be sure to enter your artwork in NAVS’ Art for Animals Classic.) The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is one of the most amazing groups around, because not only does it push the FDA to implement nonanimal tests, it has convinced medical schools to stop using live animals in their labs, it advocates for a vegan diet, and it does it all by spotlighting concern for people as well as animals.

Another way to let your wallet speak for you is to find out which companies test on animals and to refuse to buy their products. (And if you can, drop them a line and let them know why.) The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ Leaping Bunny Program, In Defense of Animals’ list of cruelty-free companies and NAVS’ guide to companies that test or don’t test on animals can point you in the right direction.

If you’re an organized, articulate thinker, write letters to the editor in response to relevant news. (If you can’t keep up on your own, subscribe to DawnWatch to receive news digests and info on where to write in; FYI, the site isn’t restricted to vivisection news.) And there are always plenty of petitions to go around—simply sign up to receive e-mail alerts from animal protection organizations. To start, you can tell Mars to stop testing their products on animals (and ask your omni friends not to patronize them).

You can also set up a Memorial Field display commemorating animals used in research, ”adopt an activist,” and more.

If getting out and making noise is more your style, there are plenty of demonstrations going on. You can attend a protest of Mars on Saturday in NYC or any number of other IDA-sponsored demonstrations. Or join one of Win Animal Rights’ protests against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) customers and suppliers. (For activists in the UK, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty is holding a Novartis protest on Saturday, its World Day for Laboratory Animals. You’ll also find a list of actions taking place in Europe and elsewhere on the site.)

Speaking of HLS, support the five remaining SHAC 7 prisoners, who were convicted under the Federal Animal Enterprise Protection Act, by donating to their Support Fund, writing letters and sending books to them in prison.

And don’t forget to speak out against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. It’s nothing more than an attempt to silence activists and to protect big-money interests that profit from the suffering of nonhuman animals.

Most of all, keep talking about animal testing. There’s a reason research facilities have no windows, and it’s up to us to make sure that the animals suffering on the other side of their walls aren’t forgotten.

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