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85% Vote to Ban Vivisection
On Tuesday night, Central TV aired "Central Extra", a current affairs programme. The programme was devoted to the issue of animal experiments. The format of the programme included a short film, detailing the issues surrounding animal rights, followed by a studio debate. Representatives from both SPEAK and Europeans for Medical Progress put forward the arguments against the use of animals. An Oxford University vivisector - joined by a Parkinson's sufferer and the director of Seriously Ill for Medical Research (who has a child with cystic fibrosis) - represented the pro-vivisection argument.
During the programme, viewers were asked to phone in and vote on the question: "Should we do scientific experiments on animals"? The resulting 85% vote against the use of animals in experiments proved that the case against animal experiments is gathering momentum. The pro-vivisection lobby will no doubt try to fob off these results, but before they dismiss them as a one-off, by members of the public who don't know the arguments, they should remember the survey conducted by TNS Healthcare, in which out of 500 GPs questioned about the use of animals in experiments, 82% considered that animal data can be misleading when applied to humans. The remaining 21% remained confident that animal tests were better than human-based safety tests of new drugs; 83% also supported the idea of an independent scientific evaluation of the clinical relevance of animal experimentation.
The pro-vivisectionist faction are aware that their arguments are failing to persuade; their strategy in defending their stance has been to slur the SPEAK campaign and other similar organisations, to release a pack of lies about the Oxford laboratory, about individuals involved in the campaign, about the campaign itself and about the true face of vivisection - and all this in the face of mounting evidence against their case, both from an ethical and scientific standpoint. Of course, not satisfied with all this, they have also manipulated the law to curtail our rights to legally protest and to speak out against them.
Their arguments, it seems, have not scored them any points with the public. Wise to the manipulative tactics and spin used by this government, the British people, always a little cynical about politics and politicians, are really beginning to listen.
The measure of support for any cause is to be found first and foremost out on the street; it is not to be found in a government office, or in the media, both of which address issues knee-jerk fashion after things have got hot under the collar, rather than before their public become disenchanted and take action themselves to air their case. Sympathy for the SPEAK campaign and beyond has increased massively; in the last three weeks alone, we have seen academics at a public function openly show their support to campaigners, have heard others say they are 100% behind us, have had the public come in huge numbers to sign the SPEAK petition, and most recently, have had the satisfaction of seeing the poll figures show massively in our favour following the Central TV debate.
A recent report in the Sunday Times said that multi-millionaire
Lord Sainsbury, the unelected science minister (whose post was - one must strongly suspect - a pay-off for his mammoth contribution to the Labour party) is most recently and controversially championing the idea of removing restrictions on brain-enhancing chemicals, known as "cosmetic neurology". It is just the latest of many things he has got involved with; he has his finger on the pulse of probably every upcoming technological, and biochemical development and is one of the leading figures behind the push for increasing research, more importantly, the research on animals; he and 'study-buddy' Blair were prominent in their support of the Cambridge and Oxford lab-build schemes. His abuse of his privileged position has undoubtedly had a bearing on the trend to try to increase research in this country - a trend, public support suggests, will go belly-up in the very near future.
Those with vested interests in the industry might like to make a note that their time is almost up. In an age where we can send rockets to the limits of our solar system, it's time the animal research community looked beyond the narrow confines of their butcher's laboratories and Frankenstein science and explored the challenges and hopes offered in the relatively unchartered territories of humane alternative scientific research that offers real hope for those with illnesses. The public see it; it's time the vivisectionists saw it too. It's time medical research caught up with the 21st Century, and if scientists wont do it willingly, then the SPEAK campaign and others like it, together with the support of the public, will force them to.