PETA comes to UMass

Organization protests monkey lab with guest speaker Casey Affleck


AMHERST Mass. — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) held a protest on campus last Monday, September 13, 2021. 

Joined by Hollywood actor and longtime animal rights activist Casey Affleck, the largest animal rights organization in the world protested the use of marmoset monkeys in experiments at UMass’ Hormones and Cognition Lab. 

Protestors held signs, gave speeches, played videos, and called for the termination of these experiments, chanting, “There’s no excuse for animal abuse,” and, “UMass shut down the labs.” The protest began at the Student Union and ended outside of the Morrill Science building.

PETA made an appearance at the beginning of the semester in hopes of spreading its message to students early on. Massachusetts native, Affleck told the crowd, “we know this is a great school, and it will continue to be a great school when it stops torturing and killing these helpless animals.”

According to Masslive, leading up to the protest, PETA accused UMass of drilling into marmoset skulls, cutting out the animals’ ovaries, and keeping them in solitary confinement, among other claims.

In an interview that aired on WMUA on Monday, Amherst Wire’s Rebeca Pereira spoke to PETA neuroscientist Katherine Roe about the protest. Roe said that the experiments are, “invasive and unlikely to give us any information.” According to Roe, because marmosets are not humans, the data will have no real application to human health.

On its website, the university stated that certain laboratory experiments involving animals are necessary to achieve breakthroughs in human and animal health research. The website states that “all researchers must go through a rigorous process to justify the use of animals in research, including demonstrating that there are no viable alternatives.”

After the event, PETA published an article referencing speciesism, the idea of human superiority in relation to all other animal species. “It’s speciesist and wrong to believe that humans have the right to treat other species as nothing more than disposable tools to be used and thrown out.”

During the “Me Too” movement, Casey Affleck faced several sexual harassment allegations. Graduate student Erik Plowden, referencing Affleck’s history, told Western Mass News, “I think that it is cruelly ironic that an organization that claims to be about the ethical treatment of animals has apparently decided to eliminate human beings from that equation.”

The dispute between PETA and UMass has been ongoing for years. According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, in June 2020 UMass settled a lawsuit with PETA after two-plus years of debate over video footage that displayed caged monkeys in a UMass research lab.

Facebook Comments