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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Animal testing key to medical progress

It is not every day that a newspaper publishes a column as full of easily disputable contentions and outright mistruths as Kelly Overton's "Stop animal testing - it's not just cruel, it's ineffective" (Opinon * Commentary, June 23).

In fact, nearly all the medical advancements in the past 50 years have been absolutely dependent on the use of animal models. This includes cancer therapies, drugs for the treatment of AIDS, cardiac surgery, diabetes treatments and other remedies that together have saved millions of lives.

Despite differences among species, there are many more similarities. And they make animal testing an essential first step in determining the potential for benefit and risk of novel therapies before they are used in humans.

Assertions about how animal research is unreliable and can involve undetected side effects are myths propagated by those who wish to end the use of animals in research. They are factually untrue, and The Sun should be ashamed of giving a public platform to such misinformation.

Moreover, Mr. Overton's suggestion that researchers are deliberately abusing or causing pain to research animals is outrageous.

Good animal care and good science go hand in hand. Not only is the welfare of laboratory animals strictly regulated, but scientists feel a strong responsibility for ensuring the health and well-being of animals, both for the sake of compassion and sound science.

Only in a living organism can researchers truly understand the complexity of biological systems, observe how a drug meant to impact one organ system might affect another, or study how an animal or human might react to a stimulus.

One day, perhaps, technology will eliminate the need to use of animals in research.

Until then, our search for treatments and cures to devastating illnesses that affect both humans and animals must depend on the humane and regulated use of laboratory animals.

Dr. Bruce R. Bistrian

Boston

The writer is president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Humane test options can be more reliable

Thank you for printing Kelly Overton's insightful column on the ineffectiveness of experiments on animals ("Stop animal testing - it's not just cruel, it's ineffective," Opinion * Commentary, June 23).

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt recently expressed similar concerns when he announced that the Food and Drug Administration must come to grips with an appalling statistic: Nine out of 10 drugs that test as safe on animals fail when they get to human trials.

Better, kinder methods of drug testing can be and are being developed, including the Hurel biochip, which has a series of compartments lined with cells from various organs and allows a test drug to encounter human cells in the same order it would encounter them in the human body.

Kathy Guillermo

Norfolk, Va.

The writer is a senior writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Judge's sexuality just doesn't matter

Once again, The Sun has missed the story.

The appointment of a gay judge in Baltimore is certainly not news ("Ehrlich names gay to bench," June 24).

What is news is that Christopher Panos, who is widely respected as one of the leading experts in the state on domestic law, will bring to the district court a unique expertise that it sorely needs.

Why Mr. Panos' sexual orientation should be a factor in evaluating his appointment, let alone the headline, escapes me.

Julie C. Janofsky

Towson

Copeland's exit prompts concern

The departure of CEO Bonnie S. Copeland from the Baltimore schools leaves me with regret and concern ("School CEO leaving," June 20).

My regret is occasioned by the loss of a leader whose knowledge and leadership I have great respect for.

My concern is for the children of Baltimore, whose education will suffer from the instability always associated with a leadership change and the prospect of more years with little progress.

There must have been a better solution to whatever problems occasioned her exit.

Morton J. Baum

Baltimore

Mac vs. PC conflict isn't so critical

The switch from Macs to Windows-based PCs in Baltimore County schools will likely have little impact on the employability of any graduates, including graphic arts students ("Schools pulling the plug on Macs," June 19).

In my experience, business systems are evolving so rapidly that the hardware and software students use in school will be obsolete by the time they take their first job.

I work for a company that produces hundreds of documents each year.

And I've never heard of a printer or other production contractor refusing to bid on a document job because our copy was generated with Windows-based software.

Robert Dwyer

Baltimore

City solicitor asked the right question

City Solicitor Ralph S. Tyler III asked the right question about the proposed Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. rate increase: It's not, "How can we afford it?" but, "Should there be an increase at all, and if so, how much?" ("City attorney put brakes on PSC," June 25).

Why didn't our governor, the Public Service Commission and our legislators ask the same question?

Maybe we should elect Mr. Tyler as governor and his staff as legislators.

David Heston

Glen Arm

Healthy city needs to preserve gardens

Vibrant, healthy, livable urban neighborhoods require variety and balance: multiple types of housing for residents of diverse income levels, quiet residential streets within walking distance of assorted commercial establishments, and paved sidewalks alongside trees, gardens, parks and green space.

Three years ago, the Waverly neighborhood sacrificed two dozen single-family dwellings and several established trees to accommodate the city's need for a large supermarket.

To preserve some variety and balance in Waverly, the city should move quickly and decisively to preserve the Homestead Harvest Community Garden ("Saving an urban oasis" June 22).

Cindy Hartzler-Miller

Baltimore

City should assist Waverly gardeners

Thank you for the lovely article on the Homestead Harvest Community Garden in Waverly ("Saving an urban oasis," June 22). This garden is the type of thing the city should encourage.

There are two things the city should do for all community gardens - assist the gardeners in getting the land into a trust to protect it from encroachment, and provide each garden with free city water.

I hope City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke succeeds in helping Waverly keep its garden.

George Tyson

Baltimore

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