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‘Your Tax Dollars at Work’ Update: Shrimp on a Treadmill

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By Doug Powers  •  December 28, 2011 02:08 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

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It’s been over a year since I first heard that the government was spending a half million dollars for a study of shrimp on a treadmill. It’s the first research project of its kind since the Surgeon General’s office during the Clinton administration commissioned a study of the effects of an elliptical machine on Robert Reich.

The “Let’s Move” program for crustaceans must be going well, because the total expenditure on the study is now almost $200k over the originally reported half-million. But that’s still fairly cheap for a study being done purportedly to help define the effects of global warming on marine life:

Reports of $500,000 of taxpayer funds to study a project that has shrimp running on a treadmill hit the headlines early in 2011. A recent report now shows that $682,570 in grants has been awarded to the research effort.

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF) website, the money has been granted to the “Taking the Pulse of Marine Life in Stressed Seas” research conducted by biology professors Louis and Karen Burnett at the College of Charleston. The research page describes the professor’s “big question” as “How are human-made marine stresses affecting the marine life that we need?”

The website describes the process of the Burnett’s experiments, “First, a crustacean is infected, by injection, with the same types of disease-causing bacteria that are commonly encountered in the wild. Next, the animal is placed on a specially built, mini underwater treadmill. Then, the organism’s vital signs, such as its heart rate and blood pressure, are measured (as a proxy for fitness) while it walks on the treadmill–similar to the way that a person’s vital signs are measured while he or she& walks on a treadmill during a stress test. Finally, the treadmill performances of infected crustaceans are compared to those of their uninfected counterparts.”

Maybe shrimp, lobster and crabs would be a little less stressed if people weren’t grabbing them and throwing them on treadmills — just a thought. By the way, any shrimp that are unable to make the cut are donated to the White House.

What these reasearchers are not discussing is what is placed just outside the tank to make the shrimp run so fast, and it’s kind of cruel if you ask me. Somebody get PETA on the phone:

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**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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