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Philosophy of AR > Animal Testing - Index > Anti-Vivisection Index

Why Medical Animal Research is a Fraud

The main defense that the average person will give you with regards to undertaking medical experiments on animals is that they 'would rather test on animals than on humans' and 'if we're going to find a cure for AIDS, or Multiple Sclerosis (MS), or Alzheimers, then it is justified'.

We cannot use animal models for human medical research. It simply is not clinically relevant. We cannot give an animal Epilepsy, or Alzheimers or MS or AIDS. These are human maladies. Scientists, seeing as they can't inflict these conditions on animals, often artificially simulate symptoms of the conditions, which immediately render the experiment absolutely useless from the start. They find a way to treat the artificially inflicted animal symptom, but rarely gain anything with regards to the human disease they are trying to fix! For decades, scientists have been 'breaking new ground' in the fight against these conditions, but when did we last see a breakthrough of any use? It's clinically irrelevant where animal models are used.

If we took all the outcomes of animal experiments and research and applied those results to humans, we would be so misinformed it would be dangerous. For example, Thalidomide would be considered safe, while aspirin should be avoided during pregnancy because it causes birth defects. Alcohol would be regarded as no more toxic to the liver than sugar, TB would not be considered dangerous, and smoking would not be held responsible for lung cancer (and in fact, if one study is to be believed, exposure to ciggie smoke would reduce the incidence of breast cancer). Doctors would have to reject that oral contraceptives increase risk of blood clots because in rats they have the opposite effect, and tamoxifen, a common contraceptive, would increase fertility. We wouldn't need Vitamin C at all in our diets and it would be difficult to overdose on morphine, according to tried-and-true animal research.

Animal experiments are also hugely responsible for the delay of acknowledging asbestos as a cancer-causing substance. In the 1930s USA, Britain and Germany did tests on rats and dogs to see if asbestos was, in fact, bad. However, attempts to induce cancer in these animals with asbestos failed repeatedly and the carcinogenic action in asbestos was doubted until the late 1960s when researchers carried out retrospective studies and took conclusions from that (like they should have in the first place!). Likewise, the anti-arthritis drug phenylbutazone has caused an estimated 10,000 deaths worldwide and been withdrawn, yet prolonged tests in dogs had shown no evidence of toxicity at all.

Scientists also tend to argue that all the important treatments in the past come from animal research. Of course, it has played a part, however it begs the question: how many of these 'cures' were from only animal research? Animal experiments inevitably led to human experiments, and these will usually be (and have usually been) where the real results lie.

Among the treatments that used no animal research at all are: defibrillation. W.B. Kouwenhoven of Johns Hopkins Uni is sometimes credited by pro-vivisectionists for developing a closed-chest defibrillator for dogs and then humans in 1957. However, he took his models from Rev. John Wesley (18th Century) and Dr P. Zoll in 1955-56, who used no animals at all. Kouwenhoven simply repeated what Zoll had discovered and credited his animal research (which he discarded after 9 months). Heart transplants, artificial hearts, pacemakers, open-heart surgery, caged-ball valve, anti-rejection immune response drugs, and ventilation of open thorax surgery are but 7 of thousands of approaches that were nothing to do with animal experiments.

The widespread use of rats and mice to find 'a cure for cancer' is even more foolish. The choice comes from tradition and cost, however rodents are very, very unreliable models. Even Pfizer reported that we would be better off to toss a coin. For chemical and food-based carcinogens it's not even possible to extrapolate results from mice to rats with any confidence.

Far from curing anything using animal research, we are losing ground in the fight against cancer, cardiovascular disease and birth defects, just to mention a few. Animal research is hindering, rather than helping, these causes. Increasing numbers of doctors and scientists agree that human medicine cannot be based on veterinary medicine. They further agree that the only way to deal with our mounting health problems is to abolish the medieval ritual of experimental research on animals and engage in real medicine: a medicine based on prevention, clinical research (the observation and treatment of humans suffering from human diseases) and above all, logic and common sense.

Some scientists and researchers seem to want to have us believe that we have to make a choice between humans and rats. It ain't like that at all. It's a choice between real science, real medicine, and fraudulent, misleading, dangerous science.

-Amanda Kennedy


 
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