Expert Statements on Tania Roth’s ‘Child Abuse’ Experiments on Rats

Patrice Green, M.D.

I am a physician with more than 20 years of clinical experience and direct patient care. I have been on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. My clinical experience has involved both inner city and rural populations and, while I have cared primarily for adults, I have cared for adult survivors of child abuse, relying on clinical research when dealing with their multiple complex and pervasive psychosocial issues.

I am concerned that psychological experiments conducted on animals have failed to contribute to the health and well-being of humans. In particular, Tania Roth’s child abuse studies on rats have not yielded helpful insights into the foundations of human mental illness and have not improved our treatment of these illnesses. Roth’s experiments are not designed in a way that is remotely applicable to the human clinical setting. Moreover, her studies are poorly conducted and cause immeasurable harm to sensitive, intelligent rats and their offspring. According to an analysis from Tufts University, therapies developed for central nervous system disorders have the highest failure rate1 in advanced clinical trials, and the use of animals as models is recognized as a major factor in this failure. We must reevaluate these experiments and redirect funding to clinically relevant, non-animal studies.

James H. Yahr, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Tania Roth’s child abuse experiments on juvenile rats and their mothers are reminiscent of a gruesome horror novel. The experiments are unproductive, having no apparent applicability to human children or their well-being. To offer just one example, Roth attempts to mimic fetal alcohol absorption by force-feeding alcohol to newborn rats via intragastric intubation (through a tube that has been inserted down their throats). The experiments are so traumatizing that many of the neonates die in the process—and so poorly designed that data from the experiments are worthless. In one experiment, the pups who were intubated but not exposed to alcohol also exhibited changes to the biological marker in which Roth was interested, likely just from the stress of the procedure. Because of this confound, nothing meaningful could be concluded. Importantly, Roth’s methods in no way replicate the way a child would be exposed to alcohol in utero. Tania Roth’s disturbing experiments on rats should be ended immediately.

Carol Tavani, M.D., M.S., D.L.F.A.P.A.

As a physician and a scientist, I am appalled by Tania Roth’s child abuse experiments on rats. It is more than a stretch to say that these results could ever be extrapolated to humans. The oversight committee’s approval of this “research” is evidence to the fact that this system is nothing more than the fox guarding the henhouse. It is high time that more rigorous, objective oversight is implemented and that the Animal Welfare Act be amended to include birds, rodents, and fish, the most common species used in laboratories who currently have no protection under federal law. As a taxpayer, I certainly don’t want my taxes supporting such inhumane, obviously dubious experiments like Tania Roth’s. What a colossal waste of federal funds. I’m glad PETA is shedding light on this awful situation, and I appeal to the University of Delaware to stop these experiments immediately.

Jeanne C. Folks, D.Min., LPC

I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 35 years of experience in clinical practice, a Clinical Member of the International Institute of Traumatic Stress Studies, a Certified Fellow of the American Psychotherapy Association, EMDRIA/EMDR-certified, and an EMDRIA-approved consultant.

As clinical director of CT Psychotherapeutic Resources, a private practice dedicated to the treatment of traumatic stress, I believe that we will not have a world that is peaceful and free from violence as long as we are systematically inflicting suffering and pain on animals. The consequences of trauma and abuse are complex and far-reaching, and treating these conditions requires a multifaceted approach that addresses this problem on both an individual and societal level. There is absolutely no justification to deliberately inflict the trauma of abuse and neglect on sentient beings, no matter the species. Dr. Roth’s cruel and unnecessary experiments on rats, in which she separates babies from mothers in order to place them with fosters who are then forced into abusing them, will only take us further from the goal of addressing the widespread abuse and violence present in our society. For almost 20 years, Roth has traumatized and killed rats in painful psychological experiments that have yet to directly contribute to any tangible treatments for humans. Every day, I see the scars that trauma and abuse leave on my human patients, and I fully support the quest for improved and effective treatments that would alleviate suffering in people. But these future treatments will only come from human-relevant studies—we will not find these answers in the pain and suffering of rats. It is time for these experiments to end.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind