Bardgett defends research

I want to thank The Northerner for their unbiased coverage Feb. 15 of the issues surrounding the use of laboratory rats in my Biopsychology Lab course and convey my appreciation to Northern Kentucky University students and staff for expressing their opinions in the paper.

Witnessing this debate in the paper and hearing about it in the halls has been refreshing and thought provoking. For the most part, this debate has been rational, considerate and healthy.

However, the letter from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that was published March 22, 2006 added nothing except threats of “action,” egregious hyperboles and blatant misrepresentations.

First, PETA greatly exaggerated the effects of the lab procedures on our rats’ well-being. The NKU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which examines all work with animals at NKU and operates under strict federal guidelines, reviewed and approved every aspect of the research performed in the biopsychology lab. It’s no use to study the behavior of rats that experience unnecessary pain or distress. Researchers cannot generate high-quality and reliable data unless they meet the highest standards of animal care. I have been adamant throughout my career about ensuring quality care for our rats and mice.

Second, PETA stated that our research is “unnecessary” based on the erroneous premise that “beginner-level training experiments are not legitimate disease research.