This morning we attended our very own Other Data Club. We found out that some of the researchers who attended the previous ODC would not come today because they had a course on animal experimentation at the same time. I’ll talk about this ODC in another post.
In my head, I related the fact they were attending that specific course with some (not so) recent news about the creation of a new vivarium in Azambuja, the controversy it raised, and the recent announcement by the government of the refinement of the European Union laws for the protection of lab animals. This is not a so distant subject for me now considering I’m currently spending part of my days in a research centre where using animals is a common and essential practice. It’s daily routine.
And they’re so important for the research being carried on because they’re so similar to us. They’re almost family! (in a Darwinian sense, if you’d prefer) That’s why this is not an easy subject – for anyone. And that’s why researchers and politics alike tend to address it with lot’s of care. It just came to my mind a very interesting theatre play by a Canadian author which addresses this theme of scientific research using animals (primates in that case) and the political implications and high public impact of the subject. It’s title is ‘Chimera’ and the author is Wendy Lill. (here’s a review of a Canadian production of the play) I’m sure that you researchers out there would love to read it.
I also mixed up in the spinner my mind as become these few days an article about an eventual “brain drain” of Portuguese scientific researchers to other countries. Today, at the Other Data Club, the researchers who were there would not agree with such a thing being true. Nevertheless, it this coincidence of subjects in my mind just sparked the image of Portugal’ scientific research system being a huge vivarium of scientific brains later to be used elsewhere. And then I asked the scientists present in the forum: “Do you feel like a brain?”.
And now, here, I extend my (quite harsh) question: “Do you feel you’re being used by Science just like a lab rat is?”