Philosophy - Index > Testing - Index
Mice Blind Reality

[Times Online - opinion]

Junk medicine: experiments on animals
The number of scientific experiments conducted on animals has declined considerably over the past 30 years. The trend, however, has been reversed recently. The total has risen in each of the past five years and new data released by the Home Office this week show that the 2006 figure exceeded three million for the first time since 1991.

This has angered even the more considered elements of the animal rights lobby. The RSPCA pronounced itself furious and shocked, while the Dr Hadwen Trust, which supports medical research with nonanimal methods, blamed the Government's "ethical negligence". Its message was clear: scientists might talk about replacing, reducing and refining animal experiments, but this is mere lip service. The statistics tell a tale of more animal suffering.
The development of nonanimal methods is of course welcome, and when such techniques have been validated it is right to use them. The number of nonGM animal procedures in research, indeed, has come down from 2.27 million in 1995 to 1.65 million last year. Further investment is appropriate, but too narrow a focus on reduction would mean abandoning new animal models just as they are becoming most useful. Science must be serious about both medical progress and animal welfare, but that may mean using more animals when necessary, and fewer when it is not.

Mark Henderson is Science Editor of The Times

full story: body_and_soul/article2152048.ece

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