May 14, 1998 Testimony of Stuart Zola

U.S. House of Representatives


National Science Policy Hearing

Communicating Science and Engineering in a Sound-Bite World

Thursday, May 14, 1998

Testimony of Stuart M. Zola, Ph.D.

Associate Research Career Scientist, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego and

Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences,

School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego

My Background: I am a research neuroscientist at the VA Medical Center in San Diego where I hold the position of Research Career Scientist, and I am a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego. The VA Medical Center is closely affiliated with the UCSD School of Medicine and is just a few hundred yards from the Medical School campus and my research laboratory at UCSD. I, and many of my colleagues, hold joint appointments at both institutions.

As indicated in the accompanying CV, I have served on committees at both institutions as well as committees at national organizations. For the present purposes, I outline briefly three committee positions I have held, because they are germane to my testimony. (1) During the years 1993-1997, I was the Chair and Director of the Graduate Program in Neurosciences at UCSD. We have approximately 110 faculty members, and admit approximately 10-12 PhD candidates each year. The Graduate Program in Neurosciences at UCSD was ranked first of all graduate neuroscience programs in the United States in an evaluation completed in 1996 by the National Research Council. (2) I served as Chair of the UCSD Animal Subjects Committee (1986-1993). This Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is mandated by federal regulations to oversee all aspects of the use of animals in teaching and research at UCSD (including, husbandry, housing, postoperative care, behavioral testing, and euthanasia). (3) During 1993-1997, I served as Chair of the 26,000-member Society for NeuroscienceÂ’s Committee on Animals in Research (CAR). CAR deals with animal research issues that have national importance to the research and biomedical community.

Brief Overview of Our Research Program: Research in my laboratory, which uses nonhuman primates, is directed at the development of an animal model of human amnesia and clarifying the way memory is organized in the brain. Specifically, our research has helped identify with certainty brain structures within the medial temporal lobe region of the brain that are important for memory and has begun to determine systematically how individual structures within the medial temporal lobe contribute to memory function. These achievements have been major goals in the neuroscience of memory since medial temporal lobe amnesia was first described in humans in the 1950s.

In parallel with this work in monkeys, we carry out work with human patients who have memory deficits as a result of damage to the medial temporal lobe. This work is done in collaboration with my long-term neuroscientist colleague at the VA Medical Center, Dr. Larry Squire. Extensive neuropathologic information has recently been obtained from several well-studied amnesic patients whose damage was limited to the medial temporal lobe. Such cases are rare, but they have helped to inform us further about the role in memory of specific brain structures and they provide evidence of the validity and importance of the findings from our work with animal models.

Significance of Our Research: The findings from our studies of memory impairment in monkeys with experimentally induced lesions in the medial temporal lobe relate to several human disorders that involve memory. For example in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), where memory impairment is typically the earliest symptom, there is considerable evidence that the medial temporal lobe brain regions where the most prominent pathological alterations occur are precisely the regions we have identified as important for memory in the monkey. Human memory impairment associated with pathology in the medial temporal lobe region is also prominent after anoxic/ischemic events, encephalitis, head trauma, and chronic stress. Finally, memory problems are an important issue in the increasingly aged normal population.

Basic Research vs. Applied Research: As efforts continue to develop treatments for human memory disorders, and to prevent memory deterioration, it will be important to fully understand the neurological organization of memory. The research that my laboratory and other neuroscience laboratories are carrying out attempts to gather fundamental information about the organization of memory and its neurological foundations. This kind of research is often referred to as “basic research” because it does not necessarily involve direct benefits to medical patients, unlike “applied research” which is intended to benefit patients directly.

Nevertheless, basic research is highly relevant to patient care and to the eventuality of developing effective interventions and treatments for brain-associated memory problems. Knowledge generated by neuroscience research has led to important advances in understanding of diseases and disorders that affect the nervous system and in the development of treatments that reduce suffering in humans and animals. This knowledge also makes a critical contribution to our understanding of ourselves, the complexities of our brains, and what makes us human. Continued progress in understanding how the brain works and further advances in treating and curing disorders of the nervous system require investigations of complex functions at all levels in living nervous systems. Because no adequate alternatives exist, much of this research must be done on animal subjects.

Indeed, as I described earlier, much of the focus of our research directed at understanding how memory works has depended on the use of experimental animals, particularly nonhuman primates. In our work, we first neurosurgically remove a portion of the brain in monkeys that our research with amnesic patients has suggested might be important for memory. The neurosurgery is carried out under anesthesia, so that the monkey experiences no pain or discomfort, and the surgery is done under sterile conditions, just as human neurosurgery. Indeed, we sometimes carry out the surgical techniques together with neurosurgeons from affiliated hospitals who scrub in to gain neurosurgical experience, and to follow the animals during postoperative recovery.

Following recovery, we use a series of simple and complex behavioral tasks of memory, to assess the impact of the brain lesion on various aspects of memory function. The behavioral portion of the study sometimes lasts for two years or more, because we assess memory periodically after surgery to determine whether initial deficits are long-lasting or transient. Eventually, we must euthanize the animals in order to evaluate the brain lesions and to determine the relationship between the locus and extent of damage and the presence or absence of behavioral impairment. We can study this relationship systematically in animals because we can prepare groups of animals with the same lesion. In human cases, nature typically does not honor anatomical boundaries and the damage is too variable from patient to patient. Using animals, we have been able to map out a memory system in the brain, i.e., a groups of interconnected structures in the brain that are critical for memory in humans.

Problems in the Communication of Science: It was this aspect of my work, the part of my basic research involving animals, that eventually got me involved with issues about communicating science to the public. That is, my work with animals became the focus of considerable efforts by animal rights activists, both locally and nationally. Until my work became a focus of the activists, I felt that my “job” was to clarify how the brain worked and to carry out high quality research and to do the research in a humane and ethical way. That was the job, after all for which I was being paid, and it was also the intellectual activity that I liked doing best. But the activists were telling a different story. A local group of activists attempted to discredit my research and the research of my colleagues that used animals, and claimed that we were in animal-related research “just for the money and job security” and that not only was basic research that used animals useless, but that we were “torturing” animals, and in all ways animal research was inhumane.

This was a terrible situation for me and for other scientists in the community around San Diego, some of whose research was also being attacked. We found ourselves on the defensive, against a well-organized, well-financed, animal rights movement that caught us completely unprepared and ignorant about how to respond effectively. We had not supposed that we would have to defend the fact that we were doing work that was so obviously important. We presumed that the public was generally well-informed about science and they would surely recognize the fallacious nature of the claims of the activists. But instead the public began to question whether the research was necessary, why we needed to use animals, and whether research that was done with animals had any applicability to human medical conditions. Moreover, this was happening not just in San Diego, but at research institutes all around the country.

In the context of attempting to counter the claims by the activists about animal research, I began to notice that they consistently distorted scientific facts and often simply made outright fallacious claims about science or the scientific process. For example, they claimed that the use of dogs obtained from pounds for research purposes was inappropriate because researchers using the dogs didnÂ’t know anything about the genetic background of the dogs. The activists claimed that unless genetic background was controlled for in a research study, the results would be too variable and the science would be bad. But this is not necessarily true. For some kinds of research it might be important to know the genetic history of the subjects, but for other kinds of research, controlled genetic background would not be relevant. Indeed, the research that led to the successful development of the cardiac bypass surgical techniques that currently extend the lives of thousands of individuals each year, depended to a large extent on research using dogs obtained from pounds, i.e., dogs for whom the genetic backgrounds were quite variable and unknown.

As another example of distorted and fallacious claims, activists declared that we no longer needed to use animals in any research because we now had computer models available, and other alternatives to the use of whole animals, like cell cultures and tissue culture techniques. This sounds like a compelling argument, but it turns out to be rather simplistic. Computer models have been successfully developed in a variety of research areas, for example there are computer models that are used to study certain cognitive functions, some forms of simple problem solving for example. However, there are myriad research areas for which no computer models exist, for example, a wide range of issues associated with brain functions, like learning and memory, and for numerous medical conditions. Cell culture and tissue culture techniques can be informative for studying the function of isolated components of a system, and can help identify the potential toxicity or medical benefits of compounds in the early stages of investigation. But it is usually the case that we need to understand function in the context of a whole, intact system, made up of interrelated organs and organ systems, where there can be many different influences on a particular function.

The Impact of Scientific Illiteracy. The claims about animal research and about the process of science in general that were being made by the animal activists seemed not unreasonable on the surface. And because they were not being effectively disputed by the scientific community, the distortions and untruths about science and the scientific process were often accepted without question by the general public Moreover, claims of abuse of animals were often being accepted at face value by the general public and by legislators, who were beginning to generate legislation that would further regulate research using animals.

As a result, in the mid 1980Â’s I became interested in the issue of communicating science to the general public and to legislators, as well. I was, at that time, Chair of the Animal Subjects Committee at UCSD and I knew that we ranked very high in our science (UCSD is consistently in the top 10 or 12 institutions in the country in terms of grant funding received) and in our humane treatment of animals. A small group of individuals at UCSD began to develop counter arguments to the claims of the activists, and to speak out at animal rights gatherings in San Diego. However, it soon became clear that in terms of educating people about science, it was not the animal rights activists whom we should target. Their views were unlikely to be changed by us. Instead, we determined that we should focus on the general public, and on legislators.

Before embarking on this process in a serious way, I wanted to insure that I would have the support from the highest level of the University. I did this because there was no doubt that once I started speaking out, I would become a target of the activists, and I wanted to make sure the University was completely supportive and would continue to be supportive even during what would likely become a focus of controversy and bad press for the University. In addition I wanted some assurance that this activity which would surely have impact on my research productivity would not impact my academic trajectory in terms of promotions.

Accordingly, I went to see the Chancellor of U.C.S.D. to present the idea that we ought to be taking a proactive strategy on this issue. My view was that we shouldnÂ’t just act defensively. Instead, we should be out there telling the public about the important research being carried on at UCSD in cardiology, and brain sciences, and other areas. And what kinds of problems our scientists are working on, and what we have discovered, and what this means for all of us in terms of potential treatments and cures for medical conditions or for the advancement of knowledge, and what an important role animals have played. That is, we should take proactive responsibility for communicating to the public, in lay terms, the excitement and the value of science.

The Chancellor at that time was Richard Atkinson (now President of the University of California), and he was very enthusiastic and supportive of these ideas. Indeed, in retrospect, an important lesson we learned is that it is critical that institutional officials, at the highest level, recognize the importance of communicating science to the public, and encourage faculty to speak to the public about science and scientific issues, including the issue of the use of animals in biomedical research. Some of my colleagues around the country were not so fortunate with their administrations, and did not have the success that we did.

I became the spokesperson for the University on the issue of the use of animals in research and in explaining science and the scientific process to the general public. Accordingly, I did many radio talk shows, both call-in and debate formats, TV interviews, and print media interviews, on the issues of science and the use of animals in research. Whenever the animal rights activists had a demonstration, I provided the media with the “balance”, giving the perspective of a scientist, explaining calmly and simply what we knew about how the brain worked, for example, and why computer models canÂ’t replace studies with whole behaving animals, and that the animals are treated humanely, and that they (the reporters) were welcome to visit any of our laboratories at any time and talk to the scientists who were actually carrying out the research that the animal rights activists had so badly distorted.

Additionally, I began to visit legislators, locally and nationally, to discuss the process of basic research, what it was, why it was important, the critical role that animals played, and how important it is to the research process to insure that our animal subjects, like our human patients, were always treated humanely. These visits to legislators were perhaps the most rewarding because I often got comments from them that, although they had many animal activists visit them, I was the first scientist who had ever come to discuss these issues with them. They were thankful for the information and for our discussions, because they wanted to “do the right thing”. But, until scientists began to talk to legislators directly, they were often as misinformed about science and the scientific process and the benefits of animal research as the general public. As a result, educating the legislators became a high priority because they were responsive to their constituents.

During this time I established good working and personal relationships with many legislators as well as leaders of all the federal regulatory agencies that govern animal research. Accordingly, I continue to be called upon by them for advice and consultation. Indeed, during the past several years I served on six national panels with officials from the O.P.R.R., the N.I.H., the U.S.D.A. and American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC; now, AAALAC, International). AAALAC is the “gold standard” accrediting agency for research facilities in the United States. In addition, I continue to interact frequently with the several national and state organizations that deal with educating the public about science and about the animal rights issue on behalf of the research community, e.g., the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), and the California Biomedical Research Association (CBRA). I have served as a panelist for their national meetings, and I have made several trips to Capitol Hill to discuss the issues about basic research and the use of animals in research personally with individual members of Congress.

While I did come under attack from animal rights activists and my family was threatened, nothing serious ever happened, and I continue to speak to the public about scientific issues. As I gained more experience talking with the public I realized that the public was eager to learn the facts, and once they had the facts, they usually came out on the appropriate side of the issue. Overall, we have been quite successful in countering the misconceptions about science promulgated by the activists. Indeed, it seems that each year there is less organized activity on the part of the activists.

Although successful, this has not come without some cost. Initially, my research productivity did suffer somewhat. Fortunately, I had several very good students who were able to keep our research going. Additionally, the University was supportive and took into account all of my activities on its behalf, and my academic promotions occurred on schedule. In a way, my students got cheated a bit because I was not able to mentor them as fully as I would if I were not involved in all of the educational activities directed at the public and the legislators. On the other hand, my students and my research assistant gained some benefit from this activity as well. Several of them have given talks at schools about what it means to be a scientist, they have come away from these experiences full of enthusiasm, and they see it as their continued obligation as scientists and researchers to communicate to the public about what it is that they do and why it might be important. Moreover, after the first year or so of my activities, some of my colleagues became interested in following suit.

The University actively encouraged additional faculty to become spokespersons. The Administration helped organize and pay for media training sessions. In these sessions, local radio and TV reporters would come and hold mock press conferences and interviews with the faculty being trained. These sessions are videotaped and then played back so that the reporters can critique our responses to questions and suggest how we might better develop our responses into sound bites. The media training sessions were originally made available to train faculty to respond effectively to questions about the use of animals in research, but it turned out to be such an effective training experience, that we use it now for training faculty to talk effectively about a wide range of scientific issues. Some of us have gotten so good at this over the years, that we can pretty much predict which sentences we have said at an interview are the ones that will make it onto TV that night. The Administration of the University has realized the value of having many of its scientists be able to speak with ease to the media and the public about the research they do. This has had a positive impact on the view of the citizens of the communityÂ’s about the role of the University in their lives, and it has had a positive impact on fund raising and gift endowments at the University.

Moreover, as a result of having a critical mass of individuals able to communicate science effectively to the public, the University developed a SpeakerÂ’s Bureau, which now consists of 20-30 scientists from all realms of science research being carried out at the University. The SpeakerÂ’s Bureau has been well-publicized in San Diego, and we routinely get calls from schools, fraternal organizations, clubs, and businesses throughout San Diego requesting speakers.

Overall, I think we have to keep the public as well as legislators informed and also excited about science and the process of scientific discovery. They need to understand the importance of what they are being asked to allocate funds for. I believe that scientists have an additional responsibility in their jobs, and that is to communicate effectively not just with each other but with the general public. We need to be able to tell the public in lay terms what is so exciting for many of us and what keeps us up at night. It is not necessarily the case that every scientist should be out there talking up science. Some terrific and highly respected scientists are simply not good at communicating the excitement of science to a live audience. But for those who are, there ought to be support and encouragement for this activity from the highest levels of their institution. Otherwise, how will we recruit the next generation of scientists?

Stuart Zola Statement to Senate Judiciary Committee Concering Animal Rights: Activism vs. Criminality






May 18, 2004




May 18, 2004

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee,

Thank you for allowing me to testify today and for conducting this hearing on the threat posed by animal rights extremists. I am Stuart Zola, Director of the Yerkes National Primate Research Laboratory at Emory University. I am testifying today on behalf of the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR). First let me say, I applaud you for conducting this hearing today and for your continued leadership on this and other biomedical research issues. Animal and eco-terrorism is a growing and increasingly violent problem in this country and your leadership on this issue is desperately needed and greatly appreciated. I also want to thank my fellow witnesses at this hearing for their courage as they are putting themselves at considerable risk by speaking out on this issue.

The National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) is the only national, nonprofit organization dedicated solely to advocating sound public policy that recognizes the vital role of humane animal use in biomedical research, higher education and product safety testing. Founded in 1979, NABR provides the unified voice for the scientific community on legislative and regulatory matters affecting laboratory animal research. NABRÂ’s membership is comprised of 300 public and private universities, medical and veterinary schools, teaching hospitals, voluntary health agencies, professional societies, pharmaceutical companies, and other animal research-related firms.

Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century – for both human and animal health. From antibiotics to blood transfusions, from dialysis to organ transplantation, from vaccinations to chemotherapy, bypass surgery and joint replacement, practically every present-day protocol for the prevention, treatment, cure and control of disease, pain and suffering is based on knowledge attained through research with animals. Ample proof of the success of animal research can be found in the vast body of Nobel Prize winning work in physiology and medicine. Seven out of the last 10 Nobel Prizes in medicine and 68 awarded since 1901 have relied, at least in part, on animal research

In fact, research on animals is in many cases an obligation. According to the Nuremburg Code, drawn up after World War II as a result of Nazi atrocities, any research on humans “should be designed and based on the results of animal experimentation.” The Declaration of Helsinki, adopted in 1964 by the 18th World Medical Assembly and revised in 1975, also states that medical research on human subjects “should be based on adequately performed laboratory and animal experimentation.” As well, the FDA expressly requires that laboratory animal tests be conducted both for prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs before these products can be tested further in humans.

Since its inception, NABR has witnessed many changes in animal rights activism. What began as a grassroots movement has grown into a sophisticated industry. I say industry with good justification – the combined operating budgets of U.S. tax-exempt animal rights organizations approached $200 million in 2002. Much of this money is directed at ending biomedical research involving animals. NABR is certainly concerned that we are at a severe financial disadvantage regarding advocacy and public relations efforts, but this is not the greatest threat to our members. The increased willingness of some animal rights groups to use violence and to inflict economic and physical damage on any person or entity remotely associated with an organization that uses animals in research, has become an increasingly serious threat to the biomedical enterprise.

Violent acts committed in the name of animal rights have been carried out in this country for more than two decades. In the past, targets have consisted primarily of research facilities and companies as well as researchers and their families. Congress responded to animal rights violence in 1992 by enacting the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992, codified at 18 USC 43. This act made it a federal crime to intentionally cause physical disruption to an animal enterprise by stealing, damaging, or causing the loss of property used by an animal enterprise if these acts resulted in damages exceeding $10,000. The Act was amended in 1996 and again in 2002. The 2002 amendments made several important improvements to the 1992 Act, including making it a federal crime to engage in the conduct prohibited by the statute in cases in which the resulting damage was less than $10,000. The 2002 amendments also increased the maximum penalties under the original statute.


Unfortunately, even with the improvements to the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, this law continues to be of limited use to federal law enforcement officials in combating violent and disruptive acts of animal rights extremist individuals and organizations. Moreover, since 1999 violent activists have employed a disturbing new strategy. Tactics still include arson, death threats, sabotage and vandalism, but the new approach is something the activists call “tertiary” or third-party targeting. It is this targeting of third parties that the original Animal Enterprise Protection Act and its subsequent amendments did not envision. Consequently, law enforcement has very limited means to protect these third parties from the actions of animal rights extremists.

By aggressively targeting clients, insurance companies, banks, health providers, accounting firms, shareholders, market makers, internet providers, even lawn care and catering companies, activists have found an effective way to disrupt the financial health and functioning of companies engaged in animal research.

The most successful proponent of tertiary targeting has been a UK-born group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC). SHAC has targeted third-parties since the late 1990Â’s in its campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences, a large contract research firm. Its targets have included some of the best known financial services companies in the world and the campaign has succeeded to the extent that the UK government has been forced to act as the banker and insurer for Huntingdon Life Sciences. U.S. animal activists have learned well from their UK colleagues and many of the tactics perfected overseas have now been employed against American targets.

A case study outlining the SHAC campaign is attached.

Just to be clear, I am not referring to tactics aimed at tertiary targets that involve the use of picketing, boycotts, letters, phone calls, letters to the editor, advocacy of new laws and regulations, or other forms of legal protest. It is the threat of physical violence, property damage, intimidation, coercion, and harassment that are the key weapons of these campaigns.

A couple of examples may help illustrate SHACÂ’s tactics:

Example #1 – In March of 2003 SHAC began targeting a large pharmaceutical company. This company was targeted because SHAC accused it of doing business with HLS. The campaign against them began with sporadic letters demanding the company end its relationship with Huntingdon Life Sciences. Next, there were protests at company facilities. Then personal information of company employees, including home phone numbers and
addresses, was posted on the internet. This led to numerous phone calls and faxes to the residences of executives, and “home visits” involving a number of activists protesting loudly outside employeesÂ’ homes, usually in the middle of the night. Sometimes, the home visits included spray painted messages like “Your job supports animal abuse – Drop HLS.” One of the companyÂ’s California facilities was damaged by vandalism with activists spray painting “______Kills Puppies” and splashing red paint on windows. Activists even sent a hearse to the home of one terrified employee to collect her body. They also tricked companies into calling employees to discuss their choice of cemetery plots. SHAC states on its Web site that it doesnÂ’t advocate violence or illegal acts but its Web site could be interpreted by some to encourage violence. At a minimum, SHAC wants target companies to believe it is prepared to engage in violent acts.

Example #2 — In 2003, a small family business in Ephrata, Washington was targeted by SHAC because, at the request of a client, it had sent apple samples to HLS in the UK for residue testing in 2000. This four-person contract research laboratory conducts agricultural residue studies on food crops with pesticides. In January, 2003 each member of the laboratory staff began receiving large envelopes full of brochures, newspaper clippings and graphic photos of animals. Letters to the company owner began to arrive in 2003 requesting that they sever their relations with HLS to avoid being “targeted” by SHAC. The company was placed on SHACÂ’s “global target list” on SHACÂ’s Web site. Letters and phone calls arrived from the SHAC USA spokeswoman, Danielle Matthews. She explained to the company owner that if they provided a statement saying that they would not do business with HLS in the future they would be removed from the list. When asked what would happen if he did not provide such a statement, she asked him how he would like some visitors arriving at his business. She also directed him to their Web site to view disturbing photos of damage they had done to other institutions that had done business with HLS. In October, 2003 the owner submitted to the continuing harassment and provided SHAC the statement necessary to remove them from their target list. Again, SHAC claims it does not engage in violent acts, but its Web site certainly implies that those who donÂ’t sever ties with Huntingdon Life Sciences might be subjected to violence. A recent NYT article explained, “Activists like Kevin Jonas, spokesman for the Stop Huntingdon group, insist they are not terrorists. But Mr. Jonas acknowledged that the label may serve the groupÂ’s purposes. – “The more weÂ’re painted in the media as terrorists the better, because no investment banker or pharmaceutical client is going to want to touch Huntingdon with a 10-foot pole.” The FBI says the following about SHAC: “Numerous criminal acts, including death threats, vandalism, and office invasions have been conducted by members of SHAC and its support groups.”

A copy of one letter sent by SHAC to the Ephrata company is attached.

These are two examples of the kind of activity in which groups like SHAC engage, but SHAC employs a number of other tactics. Threats, intimidation, and harassment often take the form of office invasions, “home visits” to employees, threats to the family members of employees (including children), electronic attacks, late night phone calls, black faxes and other harassing communications. A few examples:

• electronic denial of service attacks where a handful of activists using a computer program anywhere in the world can bombard a web site or email system with so much information that it crashes;
• phone auto-dialers where activists using a computer call company numbers hundreds of times a day, effectively tying up a company’s phone system;
• black faxes, where endless sheets of black paper are sent to a fax machine causing it to burn out;
• letters to companies threatening consequences, and citing examples, if they do not cease doing business with Huntingdon Life Sciences
• theft of personal information like home phone numbers, credit card, and social security numbers of company employees and their neighbors, where the information is then posted on the Internet;
• “home visits” where activists visit homes in the middle of the night with bullhorns and distribute “wanted for murder” posters to neighbors;
• smoke bombs set off in office towers, causing the evacuation of hundreds of employees;
• death threats against employees and their families;
• property destruction and vandalism of property like cars, bank machines, locks and windows;
• office invasions, where activists protest outside an office, and then rush in to occupy the facility to steal documents, destroy offices and assault employees.

On August 28, 2003, the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences produced a frightening new twist: bombings. Two pipe bombs were set off outside of Chiron Corporation in Emeryville, Calif. The first went off in the early morning hours, but the second was deliberately set for half an hour after the first, designed, we believe, to harm the first responders. Chiron had at one time been a client of Huntingdon Life Sciences and was listed as a target on SHACÂ’s Web site.

On September 26, 2003 a second set of pipe bombs, wrapped in nails, were set off at the Shaklee Corp. facility in Pleasanton, Calf. Shaklee is a subsidiary of a Japanese company that activists have tied to Huntingdon Life Sciences. It is by sheer luck that there were no injuries in either of these blasts.

Responsibility for the bombings was claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself “The Revolutionary Cells for Animal Liberation.” But there appears to be an interrelation between activists willing to carry out acts of violence. SHAC, which according to the FBI has an “extensive history of violence” uses its Web site to post lists of targets, including bombing targets Chiron and Shaklee. Those target lists include the home phone numbers and addresses of executives and employees of targeted companies. Groups advocating “direct action” like SHAC and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) also seem to have leaders in common. For example, Kevin Kjonaas (or Jonas) who speaks for SHAC USA was a one-time spokesperson for the ALF.


The direct targeting of facilities and researchers continues as well. In 2002, Ohio State University lost one of its most promising researchers, Dr. Michael Podell. Dr. Podell, a veterinarian, was the recipient of a $1.7 million grant from NIH to study the role of methamphetamines in the spread of HIV. He used cats in his study, which made him a target of animal activists. Over a three-year period, Dr. Podell’s life had been threatened many times. One of these was in the form of a photograph sent to him of a British scientist whose car had been bombed, with the words, “You’re next,” written across the top. He and his wife received more than 1,000 disgusting letters, e-mails, phone calls and spray-painted messages. Even his young children were confronted at their school. The threats, intimidation and harassment had their intended effect – in June of 2002, Dr. Podell, in fear that his wife and children might be harmed, left Ohio State, his $1.7 million grant and the world of research. He left the state and reportedly joined a private veterinary practice. The world has lost a talented and highly respected biomedical researcher because of the outrageous actions of animal rights activists. This success will only encourage similar actions against other researchers.

On September 24, 2003, the inhalation toxicology laboratory at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine in B

aton Rouge was broken into by members of the ALF. Computers and equipment throughout the lab were destroyed causing at least $250,000 in damage. In their letter claiming responsibility for the attack, the ALF called for an end to the research being conducted. In a message directed at the researcher doing the inhalation studies the group announced, “…your time is up!”

As a result of these campaigns, not only are the rights of companies to freely do business being infringed upon, but security costs are soaring both for private companies and public colleges and universities. Money that could be directed at researching cures and treatments for disease is being re-directed to provide extra security for existing research. Many companies have been forced to hire personal security to protect the homes of their employees.

More often than not, apologists for these terrorists claim that they are exercising their right to free speech. I want to make it very clear that NABR and its members fully support constitutionally-protected rights to free speech. However, coordinated campaigns that include threats, intimidation, coercion, harassment, and other tactics that place people in fear of physical harm to themselves or their friends and families are not forms of protected free speech. These are the tactics that extremist groups are using to forcibly impose their will on our law-abiding organizations, and we urge the Congress to take action by providing federal law enforcement with adequate tools to prosecute those who violate the rights of others.

For many years, our members have sought ways to protect their institutions against the threat of animal rights terrorism. NABR has long been active in working with Congress to find ways of doing that. Now, we find that current laws are inadequate to address the new tactics being employed by animal extremists. In fact, these campaigns seem to be designed to skirt existing laws.

We urge the Committee to help us find ways to protect our members from the evolving tactics of animal rights extremists. The continuation of life-saving medical research, the lives of your constituents — researchers and their families, and the economic health of this important industry, depends on us finding effective and immediate ways to address this problem. Law enforcement needs new tools to pursue and prosecute those who are perpetrating these violent, organized, and methodical campaigns against institutions that conduct animal research and third parties that do business with them. Our members are urging us to deliver this message to Congress about the need to find ways to protect their facilities, their employees and their families, as well as their life-saving research.

Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to testify, and for holding this important hearing today. I am happy to answer any questions.

More Hypocrisy from In Defense of Animals

Primate researcher Stuart Zola was recently hired as the new director for the Yerkes Regional Primate Center at Emory University. Zola has long been a target of animal rights activists because of his research efforts: has been at the forefront of studying the structures in the brain which account for memory. As he notes on his University of California-San Diego faculty web site,

During the course of our work, we have successfully established a model of human amnesia in the monkey, and we have been able to identify a neural system of memory in the temporal lobe that includes the hippocampal region (i.e., dentate gyrus, the hippocampus proper, and subicular complex) and adjacent cortical regions, i.e., entorhinal, perirhinal, and parahippocampal cortices.

Shortly after he was named the new director at Yerkes, In Defense of Animals decided to kick their ongoing campaign against the primate facility into high gear by making an appearance near Zola’s new home. They distributed a flier showing a monkey held in restraints and said that since 1992 Zola had received almost $2 million in federal grants “to cut up the brains of monkeys.”

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution interviewed IDA’s Jean Barnes who had her ignorance and hypocrisy in fine form.

For example, the paper reports that Barnes objected to Zola’s research noting that despite all of his research, “we’ve still got cancer.” I’m not quite clear on how Barnes thinks research into the memory structures in the brain is supposed to lead to a cancer cure. And, of course, Barnes conveniently forgets that while cancer has not been eliminated, thanks to animal research there are now more effective treatments for many specific forms of cancer as well as much better early detection methods.

But it’s Barnes’ blatant hypocrisy about targeting Zola at his home that really jumps off the pages of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. IDA plans not only to continue harassing Zola in his neighborhood, but also plans to distribute fliers to employees of Coca Cola claiming their company is supporting the “atrocities” at Yerkes. Coca Cola has nothing at all to do with the primate facility, but it is a large donor to Emory University.

For someone so willing to harass other people, however, Barnes jealously guards her own privacy,

Jean Barnes keeps some details to herself, too. In particular, she doesn’t want to reveal where she works, fearing that Emory would pressure her employer to muzzle her, or worse.

Barnes helps IDA posts the names, photos, home addresses, and telephone numbers of Yerkes researchers, but then cowardly hides behind her own veil of secrecy.


Yerkes foes get up close and personal. Alan Judd, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, August 3, 2001.

Stuart Zola faculty web page. Stuart Zola, University of California-San Diego.

Stuart Zola testifies before Congress about animal rights distortions of science

Back in May the U.S. House Committee
on Science held a hearing to examine how to communicate scientific ideas
to the public. As part of that hearing, neuroscientist Stuart Zola,
Ph.D., testified about his experiences after being targeted by animal
rights activists for experiments he conducted on primates designed to
find answers to questions about the way the brain handles memory.

The sort of claims animal rights
activists made about Zola’s work are typical of those made against
all animal research. “Until my work became a focus of the activists,
I felt that my ‘job’ was to clarify how the brain worked and
to carry out high quality research and to do the research in a humane
and ethical way,” Zola told the committee. “But the activists
were telling a different story. A local group of activists attempted to
discredit my research and the research of my colleagues that used animals,
and claimed that we were in animal-related research ‘just for the
money and job security’ and that not only was basic research that
used animals useless, but that we were ‘torturing’ animals,
and in all ways animal research was inhumane.”

Zola said he assumed the public
would have enough of a scientific background to see through the distortions,
but instead was surprised to find them accepting the animal rights claims
about his research.

Consider the common charge that
a certain experiment doesn’t have immediate practical applications,
so therefore it is wasteful. As Zola made abundantly clear, however, this
is confusing the distinction between basic and applied research and arguing
that the former is unnecessary, which is simply not true. As Zola conceded,
his own research into the neurological structures of memory will have
little immediate practical benefit for patients,

Nevertheless, basic research is highly relevant to patient care and
the eventuality of developing effective interventions and treatments
for brain-associated memory problems. Knowledge generated by neuroscience
research has led to important advances in understanding of diseases
and disorders that affect the nervous system and in the development
of treatments that reduce suffering in humans and animals … Continued
progress in understanding how the brain works and further advances in
treating and curing disorders of the nervous system require investigations
of complex functions at all levels in living nervous systems.

Another common claim made by animal
rights activists is that animal experimentation is unnecessary because
cell/tissue cultures along with computer models can be used for the same
effect. While it is true that alternatives to animal testing do exist,
they are not appropriate for all avenues of research.

Consider computer models. Such
models designed to study some cognitive functions do exist, but there
are no computer models of the brain which would answer the questions about the way memory structures function. For that Zola and other neuroscientists
need to rely on animal experiments. Similarly, while

cell culture and tissue culture techniques can be informative for studying
the function of isolated components of a system, and can help identify
the potential toxicity or medical benefits of compounds in the early
stages of investigation … it is usually the case that we need to understand
function in the context of a whole, intact system, made up of interrelated
organs and organ systems, where they can be many different influences
on a particular function.

Studying the effects of a new drug
in a tissue or cell culture is certainly helpful, but at some point researchers
need to know how the drug will affect the entire animal — something which,
again, requires testing the drug in an animal.

The biggest surprise from Zola’s
testimony is how isolated scientists engaged in basic research remain
from the general public. Reading Zola testify how he thought the public
would see through the animal rights distortions, the immediate question
is how widespread this naiveté is among scientists. Don’t they hear
about the polls where most Americans say they believe that humans and
dinosaurs co-existed at some point, or the relatively small numbers who
understand even the rudiments of chemistry or physics?

It is also alarming that Zola reported
he would visit legislators to discuss the role of animals in medical research

often got comments from them that, although they had many animal activists
visit them, I was the first scientists who had ever come to discuss
these issues with them … until scientists began to talk to legislators
directly, they were often as misinformed about science and the scientific
process and the benefits of animal research as the general public.

The University of California, San
Diego, where Zola works, created a speaker’s bureau to talk about
the research they do to local schools, businesses, clubs, etc. More universities
need to make a concerted effort to reach out to their communities and
educate the public about what they are doing and why it is important.


Testimony of Stuart M. Zola, Ph.D., US House Representatives Committee on Science,
May 14, 1998.