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
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.