Let's give the animal rights movement due credit. Its highly visible efforts have contributed to a number of positive changes in the laboratory use of animals for purposes of assessing the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and other products: The housing and care of lab animals have improved greatly. The total number of animals used has declined drastically during the past several years. Today, in universities and industrial laboratories, committees vigilantly oversee the animal facilities and require written evidence that the experiments have genuine value in advancing human and animal health.

Unfortunately, the movement has a downside that threatens to paralyze biomedical research.

Few researchers can look at the assertions and actions of the Washington-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) without becoming enraged. The organization's overheated propaganda, its distortions of the truth, its intimidation of respected scientists, and various acts that border on guerrilla warfare have...

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