Science Insider has coverage of yesterday’s UCLA Pro-Test Rally. Hundreds of scientists, activists, and journalists showed up to two opposing rallies. The Pro-Test rally reportedly had hundreds of supporters, while a concurrent anti-vivisection rally, part of the annual World Week for Animals in Laboratories, had a markedly smaller turnout. The pro-testing rally was organized by UCLA neuroscientist J. David Jentsch in response to animal-rights extremists who torched his car last month.

This is all very troubling to me on a personal level. My feelings about animal testing are conflicting and not fully developed (which is hard to admit, since I tend to have strong opinions on everything!) On the one hand, as a long-time vegetarian and animal lover, I don’t believe it’s acceptable to use animals for their organs and for testing purposes, and I can’t condone keeping animals caged and deliberately causing them pain for the sake of studying it. On the other hand, as a proponent of science, I have to understand that we wouldn’t have been able to reach most of our basic scientific conclusions without animal testing. I’d like to see more restrictions placed on testing to thoroughly weed out any unnecessary studies, and I’d like to encourage the scientific community to made advances in stem cell research and computer modeling, to further minimize the number of animal studies that need to be done.

I also wish that animal rights activists would attempt to have as much concern and regard for scientists as they do for the animals that are being studied, and not to commit abhorrent acts like torching someone’s car. What the hell is that? Whether the cause is fighting animal testing or fighting abortion, activists need to remember that these types of crazy terrorists acts are only hindering their cause, not helping, and that they’re alienating a large base of sympathetic potential supporters.