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Oscar-winner Casey Affleck has partnered with PETA on a series of initiatives in recent years, from speaking out on circus abuse and the practice of dehorning to calling out Texas A&M for its use of dogs in laboratory research studies. Now comes word from the animal rights organization that Affleck is expected to appear at a Monday press conference and protest organized to urge the University of Massachusetts Amherst to end its experiments on monkeys.
Per PETA, Affleck will appear at the event alongside his mother, Chris, and PETA officials. The Afflecks hail from Massachusetts and that’s one reason why they’re taking the cause to heart, Affleck said in a statement.
PETA and UMass have been embroiled in a fight for years over the use of monkeys in its laboratory experiments. According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the two parties settled a lawsuit in 2020 after a years-long dispute over video footage that showed caged monkeys under distress. Earlier this year, PETA sounded alarms that it would be resuscitating campaigns for the ethical treatment of animals after the university doubled down on its use of animals for research purposes. A university spokesperson said, at the time, that “researchers believe work with marmosets is very important in addressing issues of aging.”
For his part, Affleck said in the statement that when PETA reps informed him of the “hideous experiments,” he didn’t know much of marmosets until he did his own research. “I found out that they’re New World monkeys who are inquisitive, social and intelligent. They’re very small and very vulnerable. They scare easily. And, in laboratories they’ve actually died of fright,” he said. “The animals used in these absurd and cruel experiments — they suffer, and that should be our starting point. Do they suffer? Yes? Then we simply cannot do it. My family and I are from Massachusetts and we tend to take pride in things uniquely New England or Boston: our sports teams; our accents; our universities. But on that last point — not today. UMass can and should do better. End these hideous experiments on marmosets today. UMass, be the leader I know you to be.”
Reached by The Hollywood Reporter, a UMass Amherst spokesperson directed requests for comment about the impending protest to the university’s website that hosts a lengthy blog post titled, “The Case for Animals in Research and Teaching.” There, the university states that animals are used in research “when no better options exist,” adding that over the past two decades, significant progress has been made “in developing alternatives such as cell cultures and computer models, yet there are still cases in which research involving animals is necessary to study the complex interactions of different physiological processes and systems.”
Laboratory animals, it continues, are used in many fields including immunology, neuroscience, behavior, nutrition and conservation research in field settings.
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