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Protecting the environment and laboratory animals

June 6, 1985



With regard to the article on air pollution and acid rain [``Attack on acid rain,'' May 10], it's hard to see how New England can possibly maintain an absolute cap on sulfur emissions (which actually requires reductions of up to 50 percent in some states) and still maintain adequate energy supplies. Electricity demand in the New England area is growing faster than anyone expected. It's unlikely that any new nuclear plants will be ordered and the amount of hydro-power that can be practically developed is severely limited. That exhausts the only major nonsulfur-emitting sources of electricity.

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Legislating a cap on sulfur emissions suggests that New England intends to look to Canada for major long-term energy supplies. If electricity is the life's blood of modern society, let's hope Canada remains a healthy and a willing donor to a nation that insists on shooting itself in the foot. Elizabeth Mudge New London, N.H.

The acid rain article refers to a survey by Paul J. Godfrey of the Massachusetts Acid Rain Monitoring Project. The survey showed that 5.2 percent of the states lakes, ponds, and rivers have no alkalinity and are ``dead.'' Geologically this can be explained by the lack of limestone in the region.

Why doesn't someone divulge the actual pH of every drop of precipitation that falls in New England or at any given area in Massachusetts? Analyzing samples of surface waters does not prove that their acidity is caused by ``acid rain.'' Surface waters, such as lakes and ponds are subject to varying degrees of deterioration. The process is often called eutrophication and involves the natural aging of the bodies of water. The cause relates to increased nutrient loading resulting from algal growth as well as vegetative growth.

The natural seasonal decomposition of this organic and aquatic vegetation can cause an acidic condition in these waters. Therefore the public must be informed that spending billions of taxpayers' dollars on emission controls will not necessarily eliminate nor solve the problem that is being blamed on ``acid rain.'' Lorrin M. Pittendreigh Marston Mills, Mass. Animal experimentation

I wish to correct an error in the story ``Scientific research vs. animals' rights,'' April 25. The Animal Welfare Institute is not an animal rights organization, and I made no statement about the ``animal rights movement'' as claimed in the report. Our work is devoted to reform rather than to abolition of animal experiments as demanded by the animal rights philosophy.

Our country is a major offender in mistreatment of laboratory animals for we use more animals than any other country, yet 14 nations have outstripped us in enacting legislation to prevent needless pain to animals in experiments and tests. The majority of Americans agree that animals should be used in experiments only for essential medical purposes, never for merely commercial reasons, and always be treated humanely. Christine Stevens Society for Animal Protective Legislation Washington

The headline, ``Scientific research vs. animals' rights,'' April 25, illustrates the way the current discussion about the use of animals in laboratories is posed.

This is not what the issue is about. What is at stake is not just a difference of opinion between ``dedicated'' scientists and people who just happen to like animals.

Several fantasies are at work. One is that we can assign people who have no better sense than to keep animals permanently confined in cages to wreak havoc upon these animals, and that from all this absurdity great insights about human health will ensue.

As of March 1984, the National Research Council stated that we know almost nothing about the health hazards of about 90 percent of the drugs, cosmetics, and chemicals commonly used. This is hardly surprising when we have a toxicology establishment mired in circa 1927 animal tests, in this age of the computer.

The atrocities which happen to animals in laboratories are but a symptom of the larger problem -- our persistence in subsidizing these atrocities. Loretta Hirsh Washington

One quotation from Alex Pacheco, who says he speaks for the Animal Liberation Front, seems to sum up the misguided attitude of this group. He said, ``People who do animal protection work recognize animals as basically no different than a small human child.'' Does this also say that a human child is basically no different than an animal?

I can understand why they are opposed to animal research, which may benefit children now or in the future, since they are unable to distinguish between a human child and an animal. John Rosenquist New York

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''