Primate Freedom Project News Advisory
February 14, 2006
Wisconsin University Union Chair Files Lawsuit,
Claims UW Animal Research Oversight Akin to McCarthyism, Guantanamo
University Union Chair, Göran Hellekant, has filed a lawsuit
against the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents and UW Madison
Chancellor, John Wiley alleging that enforcement of federal animal
welfare laws is unfair to scientists when they are disciplined for
violating the regulations.
Ei Terasawa was barred from using animals for two years by the
UW Madison Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) when federal inspectors
discovered that monkeys were being left unattended during invasive
brain experiments, a violation of her ACUC-approved protocols. A
subsequent investigation revealed gross record-keeping errors including
much confusion concerning which monkeys had undergone various procedures.
The ACUC chair called her an “outstanding scientist,”
but she was disciplined nevertheless.
The (WUU)/Hellekant suit claims that the ACUC has no authority to
discipline staff and that doing so violates their right to due process
as stipulated by UW personnel policies and state law. The university
argues that using animals in research is a “privilege”
and thus, suspension of this “privilege” is outside
the purview of due process.
“I have read diffuse accusations, such as ‘failure
to recognize the importance of rules and regulations’ in letters
from the Administration to lonely Faculty and Staff as reasons for
closing down their research for years. When I read the wordings
in these letters to faculty and staff, the echo from our (in)famous
Senator's diffuse accusations of ‘anti-American attitudes’,
rings in my ears, or ‘being an enemy of the people’,
as it sounded once upon a time from the other side of the Atlantic
or Pacific. Then by calling our research duties, which many of us
have spelled out in our job descriptions when we were hired, a ‘privilege’,
the Administration avoids a contradiction.” (sic) Göran
Hellekant, “Message from the Chair.” May 20, 2005. http://www.wuu.info/messagefromchair.html
“We recently learnt from a letter we received from the Chancellor
that on campus one ‘investigator and staff the investigator
supervises’ are prohibited ‘from working directly with
live animals for a period of two years, at which time they may apply
for reinstatement’ (quotation form the Chancellor Wiley's
letter June 4, 2004).
“Now you may think that a. there must some highly valid reasons
for such a draconic sentencing, and as a minimum the investigator
was offered due process. This was not the case, because according
to the Chancellor's letter, the same Animal Care Committee that
passed the severe punishment also served as prosecution and appeal
forum. How do you successfully appeal to the same group that sentenced
you in its previous meeting?
So what about the infraction? It must have been serious since the
investigator demonstrated ‘a failure to recognize the importance
of the federal rules and regulations governing the use of animals
in research’. To me it sounds like one of the cases at Guatanamo!”
(sic) Göran Hellekant, “Message from the Chair.”
October 14, 2004.
Göran Hellekant’s work at the University of Wisconsin
with the protein brazzein has been showcased by the British House
of Commons as an example of modern biopiracy.
Hellekant studies the physiology of taste. He dissects living primates’
cheeks and jaws and exposes the nerves that run from the tongue
to the brain. He records the nerves' sensations while dropping different
sweeteners onto the monkeys' outstretched tongues. He has been doing
this to primates and other animals for over 30 years.
Surprisingly, some Madison-area animal rights activists have sided
with Hellekant, almost.
“Decisions about animal use and care, especially when violations
of federal laws and regulations have occurred, should not be left
in the hands of committees comprised almost entirely of other animal
researchers,” said Rick Bogle, member of the Alliance for
Animals Primate Freedom Project.
“Issues of this magnitude should be considered by the entire
university community. We’d like to see such matters presented
to the faculty senate so that historians, language professors, philosophers
and experts in every field can weigh in with their opinions. Letting
those with clear vested interests in animal research be the sole
arbiters of issues concerning animal research, seems entirely unethical,”
Links to related articles and documents:
Wisconsin University Union:
Primate Freedom Project gateway to Terasawa docs:
The Scientist: Peta asks journal to retract paper:
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