Eliminating the Use of Animals in Experimentation

March 28, 2022
Hosted by Jane Velez-Mitchell

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Episode Description

Dr. Ferdowsian unveils her proposal for a Belmont Report for Animals that she and her colleagues have created, which would take into account animals’ preferences, interests, and vulnerabilities, and would have a significant impact on using animals for research. We humans have an arsenal of human biology-based methods, and non-animal technologies could put an end to enormous suffering for both animals and humans. Animals want and require freedom, and together we can engage in a reassessment of how humans treat other animals, while embracing the medical advancements of the 21st century. In 2019, Drs. Hope Ferdowsian and Nik Kulkarni founded Phoenix Zones Initiative (PZI), a global nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interconnected rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet through education, research, and advocacy. Led by physicians and a diverse team, PZI focuses on widespread ethical and structural change to uplift the most vulnerable and marginalized, including children and animals, and provides resources to help others do the same. Historically, attempts to advance medical research have depended heavily on violating the rights of vulnerable people and animals. Forty years ago, as a result of public demands following unjust human research practices in the United States, the US Congress released The Belmont Report, which established key ethical principles to which human research should adhere: respect for autonomy; obligations to beneficence (doing good and avoiding harm) and justice; and special protections for vulnerable individuals and populations. Despite organized animal protection movements dating back to at least the 18th century, there are currently no standards for animals that are comparable to those that apply to human subjects under The Belmont Report. Hundreds of millions of animals—including fish, mice, rats, dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, and many other species—are used in research each year. After being forcibly bred and confined, most animals endure a lifetime of suffering which is full of painful protocols and procedures that cause physical and mental distress and illness, and then the majority of those animals are killed. The current treatment of animals within the context of research is based on outdated science and poor ethics. “Decades of public outrage over unethical human research eventually led to the 1979 publication of The Belmont Report,” says CEO Dr. Hope Ferdowsian. “As is now the case with humans, animals should be afforded key protections. Animals are often targeted because of their vulnerabilities. As a result, they overwhelmingly bear the burdens of research despite their inability to provide informed consent or benefit from the research. We need a transformative paradigm shift to bring medical research into the 21st century. We need a Belmont Report for animals.”

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Jane Velez-Mitchell

Jane Velez-Mitchell is the founder and editor of JaneUnChained.com, a digital news network focusing on animal rights and the vegan/compassionate lifestyle. Jane has won four Genesis Awards from the Humane Society for her reporting on animal issues. VegNews named her Media Maven of the Year in 2010. In 2013, Mercy for Animals awarded her their Compassionate Leadership Award. In 2014, Jane was honored for fighting animal abuse by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. In 2015, she received the Nanci Alexander Award at PETA's 35th anniversary. In 2017, she received Last Chance for Animals’ Sam Simon Award and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary’s Woodstock Warrior award.

For six years, Jane hosted her own show on CNN Headline News, where she ran a weekly segment on animal issues. Before that, she reported for the nationally syndicated Warner Brothers/Telepictures show Celebrity Justice, where she did numerous stories on animal issues championed by celebrities, and was also a news anchor/reporter at KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and WCBS-TV in New York. Velez-Mitchell is a graduate of New York University and began her career with reporting stints in Ft. Myers, Florida, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.

Velez-Mitchell is the author of four books, including two New York Times bestsellers, and directed and produced the documentary Anita Velez: Dancing Through Life which won a Gracie award in 2001. She lives with her partner, Donna Dennison, and their 4 companion animals in Los Angeles.

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