In the past 20 years, the animal rights movement (ARM) has successfully manufactured a climate of public opposition to research involving animals. This trend in public opinion is in direct conflict with the biomedical research industry’s determination, ability and readiness to advance the understanding and treatment of disease. It also poses a very real threat to the future of medical and scientific research and development.
There are at least 250 ARM groups operating in the United States. Criminal activities by the extremists of these groups, ranging from misdemeanor trespass and harassment to assault and arson, pose the gravest threat to the biomedical research industry. Such actions are designed to intimidate and silence researchers while forcing the research community to divert precious dollars into security. A memo left by the activists who broke into a university research lab exposes the method in their madness: “We realize that every penny worth of damage we cause represents money unavailable for the purchase, mutilation and cost of expensive and sophisticated security systems now necessary to keep us out of research facilities and animals in.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and its sister organization the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), were responsible for the vast majority of terrorist acts committed in the United States in the 1990s. These two underground organizations have claimed responsibility for more than $90 million in property damage. Since 2000, there has been a marked escalation in the violence and the FBI has warned that all institutions involved in biomedical research – and anyone associated with them – are potential targets.