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Medicine Science

Protesting Animal Testing, Intruders Vandalize Italian Lab 285

Posted by timothy
from the matter-of-priorities dept.
ananyo writes "Activists occupied an animal facility at the University of Milan, Italy, at the weekend, releasing mice and rabbits and mixing up cage labels to confuse experimental protocols. Researchers at the university say that it will take years to recover their work. Many of the animals at the facility are genetic models for psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. Some of the mice removed by activists were delicate mutants and immunosuppressed 'nude' mice, which die very quickly outside controlled environments. No arrests have been made following the 12-hour drama, which took place on Saturday, although the university says that it will press charges against the protesters. The attack was staged by the animal-rights group that calls itself Fermare Green Hill (or Stop Green Hill), in reference to the Green Hill dog-breeding facility near Brescia, Italy, which it targets for closure."
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Protesting Animal Testing, Intruders Vandalize Italian Lab

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  • 28DaysLater (Score:5, Funny)

    by phyr (586855) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @11:33AM (#43525425)
    Haven't we learned anything from the movies... this is how the zombie apocalypse begins
    • by Dareth (47614) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @11:58AM (#43525731)

      "Haven't we learned anything from the movies... this is how the zombie apocalypse begins"

      Nope, still not funny. Will check back in 28 weeks.

    • Many of the animals at the facility are genetic models for psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

      Kind of like the rage virus from 28 days later, except it's going to unleash an epidemic of people rocking in the corner and talking to themselves.

    • by OakDragon (885217)

      Those that cannot remember the movie are condemned to view the sequel.

  • Animal Cruelty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @11:38AM (#43525481)

    Hmm... perhaps among the charges should be animal cruelty for exposing the immunosuppressed animals to pathogens that will likely kill them in rather painful manners.

    • Re:Animal Cruelty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @11:50AM (#43525623)

      Hah.... Problem is, for the nuts that do this it doesn't matter if the animals live or die. Either they're "saved from a worse fate" in the lab, or it's "the scientists who made them like this" so their existence is already unnatural or they're even "martyrs to the cause", but it's a flimsy justification for wanting to bust up someone's workplace without running into the level of security to be found in the average factory or office complex.

      Ultimately, it's not that they like animals. It's that they hate people.

      • by darthium (834988) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @01:02PM (#43526605)

        Hah.... Problem is, for the nuts that do this it doesn't matter if the animals live or die. Either they're "saved from a worse fate" in the lab, or it's "the scientists who made them like this" so their existence is already unnatural or they're even "martyrs to the cause", but it's a flimsy justification for wanting to bust up someone's workplace without running into the level of security to be found in the average factory or office complex.

        Ultimately, it's not that they like animals. It's that they hate people.

        And I'm not exagerating, last year, in a spanish 'animal lovers' facebook group named F.R.A (you can verify it by yourself), a girl told the rest how 'good person'was an old lady, who beat up his grandson (who was just learning to walk) after being bitten by the house's dog, she produly told the group that 'no question was asked' and she inmediatly figured out that the dog was innocent.

        And many cheered it up!

        Even in youtube videos, where little children got severely injured (look for instance, "perros atacan niño", there are comments accusing the victim that 'the kid must have provoked the dog, dog's won't attack without being provoked', and when I ask them to watch videos in youtube, like "Dog attacks Police Officer Taser Full News Report" they get angry, and many of them say I'm a nasty person, and that they refuse to watch the video.

        FWIW, they openly say they prefer animals than humans, they don't bother to deny it.

        Would you feel well, if you realize some of these individuals, is near your children on daily basis? Shouldn't PSYCHIATRY already have noticed them? Or are there studies of this mental illness that Im not aware of?

        • by tibit (1762298)

          The good dogs and cats I know of really understand young children and when they feel like they've had enough abuse by the toddler, they just leave. They are kind enough not to let themselves be provoked. OTOH, what you describe is stupidity cubed and a case of an animal that should be kept away from kids period.

    • I was thinking the scientists should publically protest the group's treatment of animals, but your idea is better.
    • Re:Animal Cruelty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by marcello_dl (667940) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @12:36PM (#43526267) Homepage Journal

      Vandalism is a good way to drive away people from your cause indeed.

      What about:
      - i am against animal cruelty so all experimentation and ALL EXPERIMENTS' results must be public.

      At least animals suffer only once.

      Failure to do so, using animals to compete for treatments, is a sadistic blood rite, not science.

  • by tnk1 (899206) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @11:41AM (#43525519)

    I have some sympathy for those who think animal testing is inhumane, but really all they are doing is just making sure these animals suffered for nothing. Does anyone think these funded projects will not get funding and a new set of animals to test on again?

    I think humane treatment of animals needs to be done in a context of changing society's views on animal testing itself instead of what is basically vandalism. Vandalism is only going to let people regard those against animal testing as some sort of anarchist losers.

    And yes, breaking into some of these labs is a biohazard situation. Probably not zombies, but still potentially very dangerous,

    • by Xest (935314)

      "Does anyone think these funded projects will not get funding and a new set of animals to test on again?"

      To be fair, potentially not. I suspect this sort of catastrophe is enough to put an end to some experiments and labs.

      I'm somewhat supportive of the cause of reducing animal testing because I think sometimes it is use unnecessarily and is done in an unnecessarily inhumane way, but I agree, this is the wrong way to go about minimising it's use and to screw up active experiments like this could be quite dan

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        Why won't they force the terrorists to repay every penny lost due to the attack? While it's unlikely they'd have enough assets to cover losses, it will at least be a deterrent. Even if the researchers got back all grant money lost this way, it won't bring us back the time lost, but at least that's something.

        This particular lab worked on psychiatric diseases which rarely cause death but "merely" cripple the person's life. For a more clear example, let's take a cancer lab, let's assume there's 1000 such la

        • by Khashishi (775369)

          deterrents don't work on extremists

        • by MiniMike (234881)

          Why won't they force the terrorists to repay every penny lost due to the attack?

          If they truly believed in their cause, the activists would volunteer to take the place of the animals they set free.

          I think the scientists affected by this would agree.

    • I wouldn't be terribly concerned about a human pathogens which tend to be controllable, but rather mutated lab animals that turn out to be invasive species in the wild. Then you go from saving a few hundred mice/rabitts to damaging or even destroying an entire ecosystem on a large scale.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        but rather mutated lab animals that turn out to be invasive species in the wild.

        Lab animals tend towards being common out in the wild - mice and rats, for example. The 'mutated' ones are even less of a threat, they're generally rather sensitive due to intensive inbreeding to express the desired traits. Since said traits are generally equivalents to human disorders, they're rather uncompetitive.

        • by Entropius (188861)

          Exactly. Nature is far better at building a mouse that survives to make more mice than we are, even if that were our goal; were there some mutation we could make to the mouse to make it better, Nature would have found it (literally) a million years ago.

          All those white lab mice just have "HERE, OWLS, OVER HERE" written on them.

    • by Rhacman (1528815)
      It's a desperate cry for attention akin to throwing a temper tantrum. If they really cared about animals they might think twice about releasing genetically modified / contaminated / infected / non-native animals into the environment. People do things like this when they can't sway public opinion through constructive means.

      There is a real discussion to be had for the role and extent of animal testing and the humane treatment of animals. These individuals have not demonstrated the maturity to be afforded
      • by KiloByte (825081)

        They are attention seekers. If you want to tell them what their tantrum causes, please send to info@fermaregreenhill.net your, uhm, fan mail. Mine was:

        Let's estimate the damage you sick fucks just did.

        For an easier estimation, let's replace the psychiatry lab with a cancer
        research one. Let's guess that in the world we have, say, 1000 such labs.
        It's safe to assume a cure for cancer will be found -- maybe in 5 years,
        maybe 20, maybe 50, but ultimately, it will. Thus, delaying such a lab's
        research by X, you

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @12:01PM (#43525775)

      I think humane treatment of animals needs to be done in a context of changing society's views on animal testing itself instead of what is basically vandalism

      Just to point out, treating animals humanely is already a concern at every real research institution. There are internal review boards and inspections to make sure animals are being treated well, they're healthy, and pain is minimized.

      Even if you don't think researchers care about the animals, consider this: there are economic and public relations motives aligning research institutions with the public's view on animal testing. If a research institution is abusing animals, that will eventually get to the media, which will be a headache for all involved. So they take steps to avoid animals being abused in the first place. Also, animals are expensive. The "higher" the organism, the more expensive it is generally. If you can use mice instead of monkeys, you use mice: using monkeys is insanely expensive. If you can use C elegans (a worm) instead of mice, you use c elegans. Mice are hideously expensive to maintain and complicated compared to C elegans. If you can use yeast instead of C elegans, you use yeast because... well you see the pattern. Each step down, especially from mice to C elegans, the consensus is that they matter less, and they definitely cost less. So there's pressure to move away from animal models wherever possible already. If someone is doing testing in mice and is getting funded to do it, those studies probably won't work except in mice or above.

      • Just to point out, treating animals humanely is already a concern at every real research institution. There are internal review boards and inspections to make sure animals are being treated well, they're healthy, and pain is minimized.

        And actions by animal rights activists raising the issue is what caused the increased sensitivity that has resulted in those review boards and inspections, as well as more rigorous legislation in many countries.

        • I'd argue it's actually that scientists are people, and also other people involved who do not claim to be championing "animal rights." But I am a scientist, so perhaps I'm biased in favor of scientists and against people who call themselves animal rights activists.
      • After the initial shock, people go right back to doing whatever they were doing before and all is forgotten. Otherwise, we would have all watched Food, Inc or similar shows and quit eating meat because of the barbaric conditions and needless suffering of animals used in the food supply.

        If people aren't willing to change because of a cheeseburger, they're not going to give a rat's ass -- and yep that's intentional -- when it comes to preventing the suffering of lab animals.
      • If you look up the definition of 'humane', it would preclude their use in labs in the first place...nothing about this is 'humane'. As for 'animal cruelty stories in the media' - this almost NEVER happens. And if it does get out, it's usually because of activists, not someone within the lab.
        • If you look up the definition of 'humane', it would preclude their use in labs in the first place...nothing about this is 'humane'.

          I don't intend to have an argument about definitions. The scientists have an interest in abusing research animals as little as possible if that is more satisfying to you.

          As for 'animal cruelty stories in the media' - this almost NEVER happens. And if it does get out, it's usually because of activists, not someone within the lab.

          So what? If someone in the lab notices a problem, they report it to the researchers or facilities management and rectify the problem without the media being involved. Public outrage and a media circus isn't necessary for animals to be treated properly. Most problems with animals in labs aren't made public: most problems in ANY organizat

    • I have some sympathy for those who think animal testing is inhumane, but really all they are doing is just making sure these animals suffered for nothing. Does anyone think these funded projects will not get funding and a new set of animals to test on again?

      I've no idea whether this particular set of experiments will be continued and animals replaced or not. But animal rights activists have raised the profile of this issue over the last 3 decades or so, and standards and regulations have risen in many countries as a result. And now the question is always asked, is vivisection the only way this can be done?

      As a result, I'm sure far less animals are now experimented upon than would otherwise be the case. Activism does work. But it's slow. It's slowly changing at

      • by realxmp (518717)

        I've no idea whether this particular set of experiments will be continued and animals replaced or not.

        If not at Milan then elsewhere, the research will be done as long as there are still diseases to be cured. There's pretty much no other way to model the complex system that is life, except with more life, computers can't cut it.

        And now the question is always asked, is vivisection the only way this can be done?

        Using this word to describe animal experimentation as a whole is a deliberate deception. Actual vivisection is actually pretty bloody rare because it doesn't often tell us much, instead an animal is usually euthanised and then dissected instead. A lot of the time the research invo

    • by Nexus7 (2919)

      Animal testing is inhumane, but it is also mostly bogus. They immuno-suppressed the f out of these animals, right? So they'll easily develop cancers and other diseases, right? Yeah, so what relevance does that animal have to humans? Zilch. It is accepted that mice testing is simply something to get out of the way, something to get funding for ('cause all that the funders - like the NIH in the US - recognize is testing on mice). They get it out of the way, so they can get to human trials, and that's where

      • you do know that to make a claim, you need to prove it with somehing more than a pompously stated opinion, right?

        BTW: Pigs would make great test subjects given how similar their internal systems are to us.... hmmm, kinda scary how similar we are internally to our own breakfast.
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @11:41AM (#43525525)

    It seems to me these activists have just volunteered to replace the animals in the next round of experiments.

  • No arrests have been made following the 12-hour drama

    What? "Protesters" are in a university facility for 12 hours doing who-knows-what, come out, and just being allowed to leave? Any Italians around here that can explain why they weren't loaded on a number of vans, taken downtown, and locked up?

    I wonder if that university has access to JSTOR...

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @11:51AM (#43525635)

    This is the same behavior I would expect from any kind of extremist where their actions are based on intolerant idealism. Whatever your religion, if you think other people need to suffer, you are wrong.

    • What about if you think animals have to suffer?

      • by HappyHead (11389)

        What about if you think animals have to suffer?

        Well, that does appear to be the opinion of these particular violent criminals who broke into a lab and released animals to die painful suffering deaths in the wild. Once again, they are wrong.

  • trespassed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bored_engineer (951004) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @11:57AM (#43525715)
    This is called trespassing, not occupying. It's always interested me how our politics can influence our descriptions.
    • by MasseKid (1294554)
      Funny, I thought it was called terrorism. Although I really have no idea what the word means anymore.
  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @12:11PM (#43525901)

    It's always apocalyptic for the animals when this kind of thing happens. This is Eco-terrorism and it's the local wildlife that suffers with the large influx of new animals that they suddenly have to compete with or risk catching whatever it was that required laboratory conditions to begin with.

    The lab raised animals have no natural ability to forage, hunt, seek shelter, hide from predators or anything else. They are proverbial sitting ducks and when released into the wild are usually located by the large numbers of dead (whatever) bodies all in a given area. In the event of predatory animals they can go on a rampage against farm animals or pets and the net result is a lot of other dead animals as well.

    The impact to the environment is bad as there is no balance and concerns like population disbursement across suitable environments are never taken into consideration. These are not the actions of anyone that gives a damn about the environment because if they did and had a clue they would never do something like this.

    When the animals are found they have to be put down (killed) in order to avoid further contaminating the environment with what was otherwise a controlled test requiring laboratory conditions. The net result is that critical research in things like medicine or other science sometimes gets set back by years as they have to start the entire research experiment over. This of course results in far more animals going through than otherwise would have and can significantly hamper life saving research.

  • I don't think there is anything more vapid than an animal rights activist IMHO because these people see nothing more important to focus their time on. To wake up in the morning and be outraged because rats are being used to test cancer drugs on suggests a certain disconnect from reality.

  • It should be noted that animal rights extremism is one of those nastiest "-ism"s out there. They're uniformly odd (gay, vegan, left-wing, what not) not-very-bright, hyper-emotional, irrational and violent, not to mention, annoying. In otherwise, extremism and violence-prone personalities.

    Furthermore, southern Europe has the craziest and most violent animal rights nutters out there. For a while, I'd see a crazy woman in a chicken suit squawking through a microphone incoherently in front of my office (AstraZe

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @12:57PM (#43526535)

      They're uniformly odd (gay, vegan, left-wing, what not) not-very-bright, hyper-emotional, irrational and violent, not to mention, annoying. In otherwise, extremism and violence-prone personalities.

      You forgot to mention they tend to make ridiculous sweeping generalizations.

  • Widely publicize that your lab is testing one mouse for exotic and deadly diseases. Then label all the cages only with numbers. Anyone breaking in wouldn't know which was safe to let escape. Notice that no actual disease test needed. Kind of like those signs "Property guarded by armed owner four nights per week: you guess the nights"

  • by realsilly (186931) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @12:47PM (#43526423)

    I like animals, I really do, but since our government agencies won't allow human volunteers prior to other means of testing, Research facilities are in a No Win situation. They use animals of various kinds to perform tests upon so the world has modern medicine that saves human lives. So they will tend to use those type of animals that the world has an abundance of, mice rats and more. The researchers also use those animals that are most closely related to human for more specific testing. Researchers must have strong constitutions, for I would suspect that many like animals and do their best to not let their personal views on animal testing influence the stringent research they are doing.

    Do these protesters really believe that through animal testing they have learned how to save other animals, not just people?
    Do these protesters realize that without this type of research, that they may force a delay in modern medicine by years, some of this medicine will likely be used to save themselves or someone they love dearly?
    Do these protesters ever go after the insecticide companies or companies that make poison strictly for killing animals that are pests?
    Do these same protester protect every species, such as roaches, ants, and stinging bugs?

    If they have ever owned one pet or put an animal to sleep because they care or ever gotten a pet for their child who "wanted one" or though that a cute pet would make someone happy, then the hypocrisy is just laughable.

    If you want to protest testing against animals petition your government to allow humans to volunteer for being the research test subjects, and when none come forward (after a set amount of time) then researchers can use animals. Talk to your politicians, change the laws.

  • How is this news for nerds?
    • by jbeaupre (752124)

      How is this news for nerds?

      Because it gives nerds hope that activists will free them from their parents' basements next.

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @01:21PM (#43526889)

    Anyone who identifies themselves as an "animal rights" activist or supporter to the degree of valuing them over human lives should be denied any and all medical treatments derived from animal testing.

    After all, they wouldn't want to be hypocrites, right? Right??

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @01:32PM (#43527025)

    While I'm not wild about animal testing, I recognize the necessity. Moreover, I know you can't "liberate" an animal that might survive a week in the wild, if that. Do these morons plan to give their immunosuppressed rats nice comfortable homes for the rest of their lives? From experience I can tell you that cats and dogs raised in lab environments emphatically do NOT make good pets and certainly can't care for themselves. If released, they will simply starve slowly. I'm also guessing that the people who released the animals dont' have the money to sustain them all to the end of their lives and that one way or another, most will end up in a public facility, euthanized. At taxpayer expense, of course.

  • I don't see why it would be unethical if we allowed people to be used for testing. We're rational and self-aware beings.

    The people could be paid for it and we'll know for sure that the treatments/medications/whatever actually works on humans.

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