Vivisectors in Canada have come under criticism for their tests on lab mice’s responses to pain. It should come as no surprise, however, that the scientists were found to be within the ethical guidelines that govern animal testing.
The tests in question involve subjecting lab mice to unnecessary pain, then photographing their faces to document how their facial expression showed they were in pain. The methods used included injecting the mice with mustard oil.
The study and the researcher, Jeffery Mogil, came under fire when criticism from a newsletter on the subject of lab animal welfare prompted an investigation into the research. The publisher of that newsletter, Leslie Norins, said that the study seemed “frivolous” because of the large amount of information already available on the subject and, in his view, the research came close to a violation of the national guidelines on animal testing.
It is indicative of the lack of concern for animal life that even a study wherein scientists spend years inflicting needless pain on animals — simply for the purpose of inflicting needless pain — can pass so-called ethical standards. Norins was right when he said the research was frivolous, but he didn’t go far enough because he didn’t say that beyond frivolous, the study was cruel, unethical and just plain wrong.
There are very few animal testing reports that surprise me anymore. As a vegan I’m inundated daily with vivisection horror stories, but this one stood out simply based on the level of superfluousness in the research itself, not to mention the blithe attitude of Mr. Mogil toward his critics. It’s not even that the research would be more valid or more easily defensible if the pain was a side effect of some other procedure, but it might be a little bit less infuriating on a personal level.
I can think of few things more humiliating than being hurt, simply to record the look on your face when you wince in pain, and few more pointless scientific research studies than the ones being conducted at McGill University.
Photo: Aaron Logan