The medical research community is sharing an upbeat storty this Monday morning.
Perhaps nothing so earth-shattering that it negates the tidal wave of criticism and condemnation that animal agriculture and the meat and poultry processing industries face each day, but positive nonetheless.
According to a new poll released last week, the tide may be turning with regard to public support for the use of animals in research, at least in the United States. It should be qualified that it’s “humane and responsible” animal research that is finding strong support.
Here are the results: In April, Zogby International polled 2,102 adults (margin of error of 2.2%) and found that a solid majority of 60% of those polled supported the use of animals in research.
Among men (1,015 respondents), those supporting animal research was 74.4%; even among women (1,078 respondents), traditionally a group far more critical of the conditions and the concept of animal in laboratories, those supporting animal research was 58.1%.
The widespread support was bipartisan. Among Democrats, positive support for animal research was 62.5%; among registered Republicans it was 70.7%; and among independents, support reached nearly two-thirds of respondents at 65.1%.
The poll was conducted on behalf of the Foundation for Biomedical Research and is partly the result of a national campaign that began a year ago with advertising, billboards and social media sharing a simple message: “Animal research saves human and animal lives.”
It doesn’t get any more succinct than that.
Of course, as is true of many controversies, when the risk, costs and benefits are fully explained, a majority of people usually agrees that science and technology—properly applied—are needed and necessary as tools to deal with the challenges we face on a crowded plant with multi-faceted problems that must be addressed.
On the other hand, sob stories about abused lab animals (almost always featuring primates, not the far more ubiquitous rats and mice) are among the animal rights community’s most powerful weapons in leveraging public opinion against a spectrum of activities and industries involving animals. It’s relatively easy to hide behind the notion that computer modeling can accomplish anything that live animal research can do, while pretending that poor, abused lab animals are only serving profit-hungry medical and health-care corporations.
In reality, the foundation is supported by nearly all of the country’s top academic institutions, numerous nonprofit organizations and patient advocacy groups, as well as many thousands of individual donors. Its efforts support all kinds of research across many different scientific disciplines.