Letters to the Editor

Readers write about fighting biomed's animal testing practices, comparing troop deaths in Iraq each month, and abandoning faith-based initiatives.

Fighting biomed's animal testing practices

In response to the July 31 article "One city's fight over biomed plans," I applaud the people of Chandler, Ariz., for continuing to voice their concern over the presence in their community of Covance, the animal-testing company. Issues ranging from environmental concerns and biohazard risks to cruelty to animals have motivated hundreds of residents to become active in trying to stop Covance from building in their town.

Covance has worked hard to convince Chandler residents that animal experiments are a necessary part of medical progress. But the truth is that animal experiments are not predictive of how drugs or other treatments will work in humans.

Fortunately, we don't have to choose between protecting animals and advancing medical research. By moving away from animal experiments and creating humane and effective research tools, we can advance medical science and ethical standards for humans and animals.

Aysha Akhtar, MD, MPH
Senior medical and research adviser Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Washington, D.C.

If hundreds of animal research studies are unable to determine how the information gleaned predicts results in humans, then humans will have to be tested to see if the results are the same. This reveals the animal studies as the nonessential component of the research endeavor.

Animals are used as an ethical alternative to humans but we must not fool ourselves into believing that this is science. This is exploitation and revenue generation at best. Fraud at its worst.

The problem is that there is more money in biomedical research than there are good ideas.

Richard G. Mc Lellan,
Former board-certified emergency medicine physician
Los Angeles

The fact that government officials conspired with Covance to dupe their citizens by helping them purchase and rezone another property at the Chandler Airpark through a "front" company, shows how little regard they have for the opinion of their constituents.

Perhaps the Chandler voters should send their regards to these "representatives" when they go to the polls.

Rene Succa-Ruston
Westlake Village, Calif.

Troop deaths in Iraq compared

In response to the Aug. 1 article, "US troop fatalities in Iraq drop sharply," there is an old saying in the financial world, "Figures lie and liars figure."

To depict US troop deaths plummeting during the month of July tells a dangerous half story. Instead of comparing July 2006 with July 2007, the writer chose to only compare July '07 to June '07. That's the same bad reporting as comparing temperature readings in September (fall) to August (summer) to prove that the world is cooling and disprove global warming.

July 2007 was the deadliest July in almost five years of war. The actual increase from July 2006 to July 2007 was more than 67 percent.

For 2004 and 2005, the increase in each year versus 2007 was 33 percent. And comparing 2003, the year of our "mission accomplished," the increase for 2007 was 50 percent. In fact, for the first seven months of 2006 as compared with the first seven months of this year, the increase in US fatalities is 63 percent.

Hardly wonderful news.

Sam Schoolsky
Lake Charles, La.

Faith-based initiative should be abandoned

In the Aug. 2 article "Faith-based initiative backfires," Christopher Ringwald breezes past important constitutional concerns. The Bush administration's initiative hasn't backfired because it doesn't contain enough religion. In fact, it's stalled because it is based on a fundamentally flawed principle: That the government has a role to play in funding religion.

Ringwald rightly points out that many social-service providers are wary of spiritual interventions since they associate them with President Bush's allies in the often-intolerant fundamentalist community. But he fails to grasp that his plan to introduce a wider variety of religion into taxpayer-funded programs only makes things worse.

Religion is important to many people. That's precisely why it must always be individually chosen and paid for with voluntary contributions. Simply put, it is not the job of government to conduct spiritual assessments or to spend public resources urging people to adopt certain religious beliefs.

Funding religion with tax money flies in the face of constitutional safeguards, as well as America's traditions and history. The initiative should be abandoned entirely, not revised to make it worse.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn
Executive director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Washington, D.C.

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