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Annual Animal Rights Convention Opens In Chicago

August 29, 1986

CHICAGO (AP) _ Animal rights activists from across the nation gathered Friday to discuss strategies for ending scientific experiments on animals and improving their treatment.

Nearly 200 representatives of about 50 animal rights groups launched the sixth annual Action For Life conference, examining such issues as research using animals, factory farms and treatment of pets.

″This is a training conference to give individuals ... skills in promoting social change,″ said Melinda Marks of Washington, D.C., an organizer of the five-day event. ″There are things you can do as an individual to prevent animal abuse.″

Ms. Marks said the conference will consider ways to try to end scientific experiments on animals. She said such experiments often don’t yield useful information and are repeated needlessly, causing unnecessary suffering.

Among the observers at the conference is Anne Hodgkinson of Paris, leader of a French group that opposes experiments on animals. She is planning a similar conference in France next year.

″I am a human and animal protectionist,″ she said. ″We are against vivisection, all experiments with animals.″

Francisco Martin will make a presentation on an anti-bullfighting demonstration he helped organize in Spain earlier this year.

″Hopefully it will spill over into other countries where bullfighting is taking place,″ he said.

The use of animals in scientific experiments is defended by the National Institutes of Health, said NIH spokesman Storm Whaley.

″Virtually every major achievement in medical research during the past century has depended in one way or another on the use of animals,″ said Whaley, quoting an editorial by institutes director James B. Wyngaarden that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Whaley said medical successes aided by research on animals include polio vaccine, bypass surgery, organ transplants and mood controlling drugs.

The conference will also consider ways to discourage ″factory farming,″ where animals are placed in small enclosures and fed drugs to promote quick growth, said Ms. Marks, vice president of Washington, D.C.-based Farm Animal Reform Movement.

″Six billion animals a year are raised for food,″ she said, many of them in such factory farms, she said. ″Our first goal is to educate people about farm animals and how they are abused and how it affects (human) health.″

She said the drugs used to promote quick growth in factory farms can be passed to humans.

″Raising animals for food is inefficient,″ she said, adding that one of her group’s goals is to get each American to give up eating meat one day a week.

She said participants in the conference plan to picket a Chicago restaurant as part of a campaign calling for a boycott of ″milk-fed veal,″ veal from calves kept in tight spaces and fed liquid diets to produce pink colored meat.

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