Three mobile billboards inside Columbia, Missouri: medical group protests MU’s animal use in medicine

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine organized the event, calling for MU to use only simulators instead of live animals.
One of three mobile billboards that circulated around Columbia on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.

Thursday morning saw the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine organize in front of Memorial Student Union, protesting MU’s use of live animals in its emergency medical program.

There were around 10 protesters in total holding signs reading “modernize medical training” and “end animal use.” They stood for an hour total, from 11 a.m. to noon.

PCRM is a national nonprofit organization that advocates for plant-based diets and “effective scientific research” to improve human and animal lives, according to its website.

In addition to the protest, the organization had three mobile billboards circulate around campus.

Dr. Kerry Foley, a retired emergency physician, participated in the protest and had previously contacted the UM System Board of Curators through email. In that email, she asked the curators to use its authority to “replace [MU’s] live animal teaching exercise with human relevant methods.”

According to Foley, the curators wouldn’t allow her to speak at their meeting since they don’t allow public comments.

“We have surveyed all of the emergency medicine residency programs in North America and the numbers, as they stand, 269 programs exist and 259 of those programs have stopped using live animals,” Foley said. “So only 4% continue to use live animals.”

Foley says MU is part of that 4% minority and that using live animals makes training residents worse off for their skill area.

“It’s not only ethically questionable, but it’s also not the standard of care,” she said. “It’s not the best way to train residents. It’s not educationally equal to what we have available through simulators. And actually, y’all have the Shelden Clinical Simulation Center here at MU that can do all of the same things they’re doing with pigs.”

This isn’t the first time PCRM protested MU’s use of live animals. In 2018, it did much of the same, posting stationary billboards around Columbia and getting a mobile billboard to drive around campus, according to a Missourian article from last year. And according to previous Maneater reporting, Foley protested MU in 2017 with a demonstration outside the MU School of Medicine.

“There are five emergency medicine residency training programs in Missouri, [MU] is the only one that uses live animals,” she said. “So, it would be very simple for them to figure out what equipment they need, if they need anything anymore.”

Edited by Leah Glasser |

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