Editorial: What One Person Can Do
Earlier this year, medical students decided to fix a problem at their school. They learned that a live animal laboratory was part of their curriculum at the University of Miami. They quickly contacted the faculty and put PCRM’s information on alternatives to work, as you will see on the back cover. To make a short story even shorter, the animal lab is no more.
These students follow in a tradition of students speaking up and winning. Medical student Safia Rubaii virtually single-handedly forced the University of Colorado to create options to its animal laboratory. At Harvard, medical student Rachel Freelund initiated the breakthrough alternative at Harvard Medical School in which students can learn in the human operating room, rather than in an animal laboratory.
While PCRM is delighted to provide the scientific, technical, and moral support that allows these victories to occur, the students and faculty deserve the credit. They saw a problem, looked for a solution, and made it work.
We all get opportunities to bring about such changes. Take charities, for example. When they ask for support, letting them know exactly the kind of work you expect them to do gives them a solid push in the right direction. Easter Seals, the American Kidney Fund, and many other charities specifically fund only nonanimal research, while others, notably the March of Dimes, are still mired in animal experiments. While it is the bureaucrats at an organization like the March of Dimes who must ultimately call a halt to these practices, donors can—and should—exert a bit of muscle. When enough people insist that their donations be targeted to clinical services and to research that tracks down the causes of birth defects in human populations, the charity will have to change.
Demonstrations, leafleting, airplane banner flyovers, and other activism will continue to grow. But the key decisions are still made one person at a time.
Neal D. Barnard, M.D.
President of PCRM