Julie Leyva recently submitted some questions to the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. Jason Miller wrote the reply.
What is your occupation and for how long?
There are four of us serving as press officers for NAALPO:
Jerry Vlasak is a board certified trauma surgeon, a former vivisector, and a seasoned animal liberation activist who speaks, writes and debates on behalf of nonhuman animals. Jerry co-founded NAALPO and has been a board member of Sea Shepherd and the spokesman for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Camille Hankins has over 20 years of corporate marketing and management experience; co-founded Win Animal Rights (WAR), a group dedicated to shutting down Huntingdon Life Sciences, in 2004; founded the New York Animal Liberation Front Supporters in 2003; and is heavily involved in outreach to educate the public about the underground animal liberation movement.
Lin Bingham works as a writer and graphic designer. He is a vehement advocate of total liberation, including humans, nonhuman animals and the Earth. He specializes in “propaganda and agitation” and is willing and available to speak anytime one or more persons are willing to listen.
Jason Miller started with NAALPO about two months ago and is the newest press officer. I have worked as a supervisor in a call center for nine years where I’ve cultivated respectable problem-solving, conflict resolution, and communication skills. An ardent and seasoned animal liberation activist, I also founded the notoriously radical blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, in 2004. TPC has become a popular site for activists to go for education and inspiration and to interact via comment threads. Like Lin, I too am a writer who specializes in “propaganda and agitation.”
What is the Animal Liberation Front all about?
I’ll begin with NAALPO’s disclaimer:
Disclaimer: The Animal Liberation Press Officers do not engage in illegal activities, nor do they know any individuals who do. Neither does this website or the Press Office intend to encourage illegal actions. Rather, the Press Office receives and posts communiques from anonymous parties and provides comment to the media.
Since there isn’t a way to contact individuals working underground (their identity is not known to anyone in the aboveground movement), the use of communiques is one way the underground communicates with the public at large. Communiques can be sent directly to anyone including the press, underground support groups, aboveground animal rights groups, etc.
Because the individuals who engage in underground actions cannot reveal their identities to anyone, a North American Animal Liberation Press Office has been created to try to answer some of the questions as to why these actions may have been carried out, and to place the actions in a historical and philosophical context. Since we do not engage in illegal activities ourselves, we do not know the details of these actions, but we can try to the best of our ability to give you a better understanding of why a particular action may have been carried out.
Now, about the ALF:
The Animal Liberation Front is a grass-root, underground, militant direct action group that frees nonhuman animals from laboratories, fur farms, factory farms and other places in which they are imprisoned and tortured. Besides rescues, the ALF also engages in the destruction of equipment and property used in the oppression and exploitation of other animals.
Rooted in the UK’s hunt saboteur movement in the mid-1970s, the ALF is anarchist in structure, meaning there is no conventional leadership or central organization. Anyone who is a vegan and commits an act of sabotage against animal exploiters or frees other animals (while taking the necessary precautions to avoid taking a human life) can rightfully consider themselves a member of the ALF.
In the tradition of the Underground Railroad, John Brown, and the Jewish anti-Nazi resistance, the courageous members of the ALF are freedom fighters, fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves.
And they have been effective, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve cost the animal exploitation complex hundreds of millions of dollars since their inception and by our corporatist government’s foaming-at-the-mouth response to their actions. The FBI has labeled the freedom fighters of the ALF, who are engaged in extensional self-defense of nonhuman animals—sentient beings whom are being holocausted at the rate of billions per year— the “number one domestic terrorist threat.” So who are the terrorists here? Animal-defending members of the ALF or ruthless animal-slaughtering corporations and their government protectors?
Why do scientists test on animals?
There are four principal reasons that scientists continue to test on nonhuman animals, despite the availability of other means of conducting research and testing. These include:
—Money: Like most aspects of the pernicious socioeconomic paradigm of capitalism, the number one driving force behind vivisection is money. Vivisection (nonhuman animal testing) is big business for the companies that supply nonhuman animal research subjects (by capturing them or by breeding them in captivity); manufacture and supply cages, food, lab equipment and other accessories; and that do the actual research and testing. Researchers (vivisectors) who work for public institutions (like universities) and perform vivisection, can obtain federal grant money much more readily than those who don’t do animal testing. Institutions and universities have also grown dependent on the large grants they receive for vivisection.
–Careerism: Because grant money is readily available and because institutions rely so heavily on that grant money, researchers who pursue nonhuman animal advance their careers much more readily than those who don’t. Also, in the “publish or perish” environment of academia, employing the widely accepted practice of vivisection greatly enhances a researcher’s chances of getting published.
—Inertia: Nonhuman animal testing is a practice dating back to the nineteenth century. While an immediate conversion to other means of research and testing may be unrealistic, there are many viable avenues scientists could pursue to eventually eliminate the abjectly immoral practice of torturing nonhuman animals in the interest of “science.” However, as is the case in most instances, there is a tremendous amount of resistance to radically changing the status quo. Vivisection has been the prevailing method of drug, procedure, and product testing for over a century and as new scientists are educated and trained, they are indoctrinated to believe that animal testing is both necessary and morally acceptable. Vivisection has become dogma. Therefore convincing scientists to embrace other means of research will be no easy task.
–Corporate cowardice: Corporations continue to employ nonhuman animal testing on their products to shield themselves from tort liability. If a human consumer of their products is harmed, injured, or killed, a corporation hides behind the defense that it tested the product on nonhuman animals and “determined it was safe.” Also, the FDA requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to rigorously test their drugs on other animals before beginning human clinical trials. Thus as is usually the case, the corporate-state complex sacrifices life to protect property and profit.
If we do not test on animals then what should we test on?
There are a host of research methods and technologies, both extant and developing, that do not involve vivisection and which have proven to be effective or potentially effective. These include but are not limited to: clinical and epidemiological studies (which revealed the cause and effect relationship between smoking and lung cancer after years of animal testing did not); human autopsies, biopsies, and post-mortem studies; post-marketing studies of drugs and other products; imaging scans (that have produced significant anatomical and physiological discoveries); in vitro and tissue culture tests; computer models; biochips containing human enzymes and cells, which can be used to predict how a human body will respond to a drug; specific types of human cells cultivated from embryonic stem cells; and tissue models to replicate human organs. While it is true that there is no ideal means of testing new drugs, medical procedures, foods, or consumer goods, vivisection is a barbaric practice that needs to end on moral grounds and can, from a pragmatic standpoint, be replaced by equally efficacious techniques.
Who/what do companies that do not test on animals test on?
I covered this in my answer to number four. Your question raises a valid point though. The fact that there are companies that do not employ animal testing (http://search.caringconsumer.com/ offers a search feature which identifies companies that DO and companies that DO NOT test on other animals) provides further evidence that vivisection is an unnecessary and malevolent practice that can and should end.
Is there anything out on the market that has been tested on animals that is safe for humans?
Sure, there are plenty of products which have been tested on other animals that have proven to be safe for humans. However, in addition to the fact that nonhuman animals feel pain and experience suffering like humans, thus making vivisection abjectly immoral, there are vast physiological, genetic and behavioral differences between humans and other animals, making nonhuman animal testing very unreliable in terms of predicting the effect a product will have on people. Thus there are also many products that were tested on nonhuman animals which have proven to be highly detrimental or lethal to humans. For instance, adverse prescription drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
What are alternatives to animal testing?
Please see my response to question 4. Again, let me emphasize that the transition from the prevailing paradigm of vivisection will not be simple, and may not happen immediately, but it is morally imperative that we end the torment and murder of other animals for money, career advancement, those who fear change, and corporate protection from lawsuits.
I also recommend that you read “Alternative Methods To What?” by Prof Pietro Croce at http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Philosophy/Animal%20Testing/Vivisection/AlternativetoWhat.htm
For the latest updates on the animal liberation movement, visit NAALPO at http://www.animalliberationpressoffice.org/
Jason Miller is a relentless anti-capitalist, vegan straight edge, and animal liberationist. He is also the senior editor and founder of Thomas Paine’s Corner and the blog director for The Transformative Studies Institute.