April 6th, 2011 1:30 pm | by NATHAN GILLES News | Posted In: Activism, Politics

Do You Give a Rat's A*#?

New pro-animal research billboard hits Portland

FRB Rat Billboard
If you thought the battle over animal research had taken a ceasefire in Portland, think again.

The city is one of six in the United States targeted in a new billboard campaign by The Foundation for Biomedical Research.

The billboards from the the pro-animal research group show a smiling child next to a lab rat and asks, “Who would you rather see live?” Part of its ResearchSaves campaign, FBR designed the billboards to increase public support for research that scientists say requires animals.

Portland qualified for the billboard campaign, says FBR spokeswoman Liz Hodge, because it is among the  “important cities for some of our supporters" and because she says it's among the "hotbeds for animal rights extremist activities.”

 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling foul on the FBR campaign. PETA, which has performed undercover investigations at OHSU's primate research center as part of its battle against the research center, calls the billboards nonsense.

“It’s never a choice between a rat and a child,” says PETA spokeswoman Kathy Guillermo. “It’s a choice between good science and bad science.”

At the center of the debate between PETA and FBR is whether research on animals is necessary for creation of new medicines for diseases affecting humans. You can guess who is saying what.

But is it fair to compare the life of child with that of a rat? For most people—rat pet-owners aside-—choosing between a rat and a little girl is probably a no-brainer. Rats are well, kind of nasty.

“I think it was purposeful on their part to chose an animal so maligned in our culture,” Guillermo says. “But however you feel about rats, they are animals that feel.”

Hodge says her group didn’t pick rats because they're unpopular.

"We choose a rat,” says Hodge, "because 95 percent of all animal models are purposefully bred rodents that are bred specifically for research."

The two “Who would you rather see live?” billboards are on the corner of Southeast 49th St. and Powell Boulevard and on the corner of Northeast 82nd Ave just off the I-84 exit.



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