In her letter to the editor of May 19 Joyce Tischler implies that reasoned discussion from animal rights activists was responsible for changing the restraint methods used by Dr. Stephen Lisberger in his experiments on monkeys. In fact, Dr. Lisberger devised a suitable alternative in response to the Committee on Animal Research at the University of California, San Francisco. Post readers may not know that all experiments on animals at academic and research institutions must be approved by a local committee composed of both scientists and members of the community. The Animal Research committee on this campus and Dr. Lisberger had begun exploring alternatives to restraining monkeys long before animal rights activists became interested in the case.
The most tangible results of the activists' interest were demonstrations and hundreds of abusive letters, many of them threatening Dr. Lisberger in vividly specific and sadistic terms. The clear and explicit aim of the activists' actions was not to provide more humane treatment for experimental animals but to stop their use altogether, whatever the consequence.
On this precise point Joyce Tischler's letter evades the real issue. In fact, she and her colleagues are careful not to state their position on the use of animals in research. If she and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which she heads, support the humane and responsible use of animals in biomedical research, then we have no quarrel, and we can work together for common aims. If she does not support their use, then she should publicly and honestly state her position and defend its consequences for the future of biomedical research. ZACH W. HALL Chair, Department of Physiology School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco