Damned if you do . . .

One of vice-president Al Gore’s big environmental
projects has been to force chemical companies to test thousands of chemicals
already on the market for toxicity – most of these chemicals were
in widespread use before modern safety regulations and thus never went
through the testing regimen that new compounds go through. The Environmental
Protection Agency pressured the Chemical Manufacturers Association into
running a battery of five animal toxicity tests on 3,000 or so chemicals.

The use of animal toxicity tests brought an
objection from the Humane Society of the United States, which wants the
EPA to use this initiative to develop and implement alternatives to animal
testing, saying among other things that “the relevance of all this
animal testing to human safety is questionable, according to several toxicologists
with whom we have conferred.”

According to HSUS, the LD50 test (which establishes
the dose level that kills 50 percent of the experimental animals) is “widely
criticized on humane and scientific grounds.”

In fact, if interpreted properly, the LD50
tests still give important information about toxicity that can’t be gleaned
solely from the tissue and cell culture alternatives that HSUS and other
animal rights organizations push.

Those tests certainly have their place,
especially for establishing potential toxicity before conducting animal
tests, but there is still an enormous gap between testing on isolated
tissues and cells and testing on a whole organism.

Howard Lyman's baaaack

Fresh from testifying at Oprah Winfrey‘s bizarre libel trial in Texas (hey,
you don’t need to be an animal rights advocate to believe people should be able
to speak their minds), Howard Lyman is back touring the country promoting
a new book and spreading more misinformation than a Hollywood gossip sheet.
I missed his speech, but he was in my neck of the woods a few weeks ago. This
is a letter-to-the editor I wrote.

By the way, anyone who does get to see Lyman might ask the |Humane Society
of the United States| activist a simple question. Lyman insists that case of
CJD in England are almost certainly caused by BSE — “mad cow” disease
— and he’s said we might be in for an epidemic of BSE-caused CJD that will
make AIDS look mild. Here’s the question for Lyman — if BSE causes CJD, why
did the Sixth Annual Report on Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance in the
UK find that CJD rates in England are comparable to those in countries where
there are no known cases of BSE?

Editor, Kalamazoo Gazette,

In his speech at the Borgess Medical Center’s Coronary Health Improvement Program,
the Humane Society of the United States’ Howard Lyman forgot to mention a few
facts which might interest Kalamazoo Gazette readers.

First, the Humane Society of the United States is an extremist animal rights
organization which actually maintains no animal shelters. Instead it spends
its $40 million annual budget advocating for an end to medical experiments with
animals, hunting, fur and meat eating. As HSUS vice president Michael Fox puts it, “the life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal

As for Lyman’s claims about the alleged health benefits of vegetarianism, these
can be enjoyed by meat eaters who combine moderate exercise with a sensible
diet low in saturated fat and with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Anyone,
however, who eats a calorie-laden, unbalanced diet and ends up weighing 300
pounds, as Lyman claims he once did, will be unhealthy regardless of whether
he is a vegetarian or not.

Finally, I wouldn’t put much stock in Lyman’s claim that “If I live as
long as I hope, the world’s population will have quadrupled in my lifetime.
There is no way the food supply will quadruple.” The problem with that
claim is that world cereal yields have already come close to quadrupling since
Lyman’s birth in 1936, from an estimated 1200 kilograms per hectare then to
almost 4500 kilograms per hectare today. In the U.S. alone, for example, corn
production has quadrupled and wheat production has increased 6-fold in the last
59 years.

Along with other animal rights organizations such as |People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals|, Lyman and HSUS offer up a litany of misinformation designed
to further their agenda of placing human beings and non-human animals on the
same moral and legal plane. Borgess Medical Center would better serve its health-oriented
mission by not lending credence to such extremists.