Animal rights vs. research: OSU halts anthrax study
By Sharon Schmickle Published Wed, Dec 9 2009 9:49 am
Worried about stepped up activity by militant animal-rights groups, administrators at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater abruptly cancelled an anthrax vaccine study that would have killed dozens of baboons.
"There are regrettably some violent acts committed by animal-rights groups, and the president felt we should take our breath here and not do this project just yet," OSU vice-president of research, Stephen McKeever, told the journal Nature.
In Oklahoma, the project, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and led by Shinichiro Kurosawa of Boston University School of Medicine, had been approved by the OSU animal-care committee in September and was awaiting review by the biosafety committee when OSU President Burns Hargis vetoed it, calling the study "controversial," Nature reported.
Kurosawa had hoped to use the OSU animal facility because it has the required level of biosafety containment for anthrax. Along with collaborators, he had planned to investigate the biochemical pathways that lead to death following anthrax infection, and to test an anthrax vaccine.
The real controversy here is the fact that the OSU President felt that a potential vaccine for anthrax that could save untold millions of lives wasn’t worth it. The lives of the baboons and the threats from animal rights activists won out over the greater good. The threat of an anthrax attack is very real in today’s world. It’s unfortunate that this decision will perpetuate that threat rather than end it.