The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


PETA Director of Laboratory Investigations Justin Goodman takes the podium in opposition of animal testing. PETA is widely known for its radical stance on the use of animals in research.

Credit: Garett Nelson

Did you know that over 365,000 animals are used in experiments at Penn?

On Tuesday evening, a crowd of Penn students gathered in Huntsman Hall to hear the University of Pennsylvania Speech and Debate team argue in favor of animal experimentation at Penn. Their opponents? Justin Goodman, the Director of Laboratory Investigations at PETA, and Aysha Akhtar,the author of "Animals and Public Health: Why Treating Animals Better is Critical to Human Welfare."

Goodman talked about and showed pictures of experiments that took place at Penn like testing cocaine addiction in rats, the effect of vision loss on dogs and invasive brain experiments on primates.

Akhtar, who also works at the Food and Drug Administration, argued that there is a difference between research and experimentation, and while research is acceptable, experimentation is not. “If you volunteer for a clinical trial, you are doing research … there is a difference between taking people and animals against their will, that is experimentation.”

Penn Speech and Debate, arguing in support of the practice, compared animal research to parenthood. “We’re not going to ban parenthood just because there are abusive parents, so we aren’t going to ban the entire animal testing in the University just because there are bad examples of animal testing,” the team argued.

They also argued animals do not have rights because animals are not autonomous, cannot self legislate or afford researchers respect. Researchers, on the other hand, have the obligation to respect animals.

Before the debate, Penn Speech and Debate specified that they did not necessarily agree with the argument they presented but were presenting the counter argument as an intellectual exercise.

PETA approached the Speech and Debate Team and suggested a debate, hoping to raise awareness among students. “A lot of students don’t realize that most of what happens in laboratories is funded by their tax dollars. National Institutes of Health has a budget of $30 billion and 47% of that goes to experimentation on animals,” Goodman said. “The issue is a debate that is dominated by people who abuse their authority and defend it in the absence of any real evidence that experimentation on animals helps people.”

College sophomore and Vice President of Penn Speech and Debate Adam Adnane said he was drawn to the topic because he is a pre-med student and animal experimentation is prevalent in his studies. “I’m doing research in radiology, and just last week we experimented on mice and had to euthanize them. It’s an awkward position because you don’t know if it’s the best way to go about getting results for other human beings.”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.