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Researchers Decry Animal-Rights 'Terrorism'

Ninety researchers from prominent universities and federal institutes have signed their names to a sharply worded commentary decrying "terrorism targeting medical scientists."
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The essay, which appears in the April 15th issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry, decries recent attacks on researchers by animal rights activists. "Terrorists are attacking scientists who are attempting to alleviate human suffering," it states. "We need a concentrated public effort to eliminate these acts — particularly the harassment of scientists studying nonhuman primates."

The commentary cites a number of recent attacks on researchers, but focuses on the recent troubles of Edythe London, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA. Her field of study is the neurobiology of addiction.

London — a child of Holocaust survivors — has had her home attacked twice over the past six months. In October, it was flooded when a garden hose was inserted through a window. In February, an incendiary device ignited and caused further property damage.

On Feb. 21st, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge granted a restraining order against three animal rights groups and five individuals, prohibiting them from harassing university researchers or trespassing on their property.

At the time of the first attack, a communiqué from the Animal Liberation Front accused London of addicting primates to methamphetamines. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece in November, London insisted that "While monkeys receive drugs in the laboratory, they do not become ‘addicted' in the same sense that humans become addicted. Still, we are able to see how changes in brain chemistry alter the way the brain works -- knowledge that is vital to the design of effective medications."

The commentary calls the attacks "horribly misguided," adding, "It is impossible to reconcile the willingness of these terrorists to harm humans -- particularly people who are working to alleviate human suffering -- with their contention that they value life of all kinds." Lead author of the piece is Dr. John K. Krystal, professor of clinical pharmacology at Yale University.

The essay ends with a call for "more vigorous investigation and prosecution of the criminals committing the crimes against these scientists, their staffs, their families, their neighbors and the communities in which they live." It praises "the vigorous prosecution of terrorism in the United Kingdom" and adds "we need to mount an equally vigorous campaign in this country to prevent these heinous attacks."