Philosophy of AR >
Animal Testing Index >
The following book text is provided for free browsing or downloading. It is for your personal use only and may not be used for any commercial purpose whatsoever. This material is protected by copyright.
WHY ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS MUST STOP
I have been opposed to vivisection for many years; not just because it is unbelievably barbaric and
unforgivably cruel but also because it is worthless, wasteful, inaccurate, uninformative and dangerously misleading.
The cruelty is indefensible and an affront to human dignity, but in a desperate attempt to justify their evil practices many vivisectors still claim that what they do helps save human lives. They are lying. The truth is that
animal experiments kill people and animal researchers are responsible for the deaths of thousands of men, women and children every year; they are also directly responsible for a massive amount of human suffering.
The callous self-interest of vivisectors leads directly to the development and marketing of unsafe drugs and medical practices; there is without a shadow of doubt a conspiracy between the medical profession and the drugs industry to defend and protect a practice which has as much relevance to science as alchemy.
A future, more enlightened world will see vivisection as one of the more obscene and inexplicable practices of our age; it is our equivalent of slavery and cruel colonialism and those who fail to condemn it loudly will be branded as being as guilty as the vivisectors themselves by tomorrow's generations.
Animal experiments are done for personal and commercial gain by people who are driven by greed and vanity. But although the vivisectors may be cruel, unthinking and unimaginative
they are not entirely without cunning. They realize that their best chance of continuing with their work is to persuade the public that the work they do does have a value. And so they lie. And because they are backed by huge international corporations which are as frightened as they are wealthy, the lies are presented in a convincing and polished way. They terrorize and blackmail ordinary citizens by warning them that if animal experiments are stopped their children will die. It is crude and dishonest but it is often
The only way to defeat these lies is to tell the truth in simple but convincing detail. And that is why I have written this book.
Together we can stop vivisection. And we will.
Vemon Coleman Devon,1991
THE BASIC FACTS
LET US FIRST LOOK AT what goes on in the world's laboratories the number of animals involved where the animals come from where the money comes from and examples of the sort of experiments performed in modern laboratories.
How many animals are involved?
It is impossible to say precisely how many animals are abused, tortured, maimed and killed every year in the name of science. It is impossible because many scientists, well aware of the fact that what they do is worthless and unpopular, are secretive and refuse to disclose details of the animals they have used.
But, using the figures that are available, it is possible to make fairly accurate estimates. In America academic researchers use between 17 and 22 million animals a year, while the cosmetics industry there uses another million or so. In Britain experimental
scientists use between 3 and 4 million animals a year. Altogether the total number of animals used around the world is probably somewhere in the region of 250 million.
Or, to put the figures in a slightly more manageable way, animal experimenters use around 100,000125,000 animals an hour.
Where do the animals come from?
The demand for animals to cut up and kill is massive and so there are, inevitably, a number of people who earn their living by providing laboratories with the livestock they need. Supplying live animals is big business these days.
But where do the suppliers get the animals from?
Many of the animals are specially bred on animal farms where sophisticated techniques may be used to ensure that researchers get what they want. Some animals come from zoos (when they have a surplus of some species available), some are retired from other activities
(ex-racing greyhounds are popular with researchers) and some are captured in the wild.
It is this last method that arouses most indignation among environmental pressure groups, for some animals are captured in such vast quantities that whole species are threatened with extinction.
Way back in 1972 E. G. Hartley of the National Institute for Medical Research in London warned that 'in certain areas of India in which the rhesus (monkey) population was high some years ago few are now to be found'. Hartley went on to say that 'No one can deny that some effect on the conservation of certain primate species has been caused by the large number of primates captured annually for biochemical research purposes'.
Things have not changed much if at all since then. One British based animal supplier recently imported 10,000 monkeys into Britain over a four year period. The animals had been trapped, in the wild, in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. After enduring journeys which can be long, difficult and desperately uncomfortable such animals must then exchange their freedom for laboratory cages and their natural lifestyle for boredom and pain.
The constant fear of many animal lovers is that their family pet may one day end up in a laboratory and there is evidence to show that such fears are
well-founded. According to Dr James B. Wyngaarden of America's National Institutes of Health, writing in the
Journal of the American Medical Association recently, around 200,000 cats and dogs are picked up off the streets in America every year and then handed over to vivisectors to be used in experiments.
Where does the money come from?
It is impossible to estimate accurately how much money is spent on animal experiments, partly because there is so much secrecy surrounding everything these researchers do and partly because the money comes from so many different directions.
But the total sum involved is huge and despite occasional public pleas of poverty from individual researchers there is little doubt that the vivisection business is financially strong and unlikely to wither for lack of funds.
Most of the cash comes from three major sources: government, industry and charitable organizations. Between them the money men dish out vast quantities of money contributed by taxpayers, shareholders and people who have put money into collecting tins in the belief that they are helping to fight cancer, heart disease or some other disabling disease.
Most of the money contributed through governments is channeled into animal research via three specific departments.
First, and most obviously, a lot of money comes from departments or officially funded organizations which exist to help scientists.
Much of this money is available for 'pure'research which does not have to have any obvious, immediate, practical uses. Lots of it goes into institutions where it helps to pay for some of the world's most entirely useless research. It is fairly well accepted these days that scientists working in animal research can be pretty second rate, but many of these scientists have got very good at filling in grant application forms.
The next route that government money takes is usually through the world of education. Fairly huge quantities of cash are made available so that students can experiment on live frogs, rabbits and cats invariably repeating experiments which have been performed a thousand times before. But the really big money goes to postgraduate departments in universities where vast armies of white-coated pseudo-scientists are constantly searching for new ways to extract scientific papers from rats, cats, dogs and monkeys.
Finally, a considerable amount of money arrives in the hands of animal experimenters via
defense and war ministries.
When money come from this direction the amount of secrecy involved always vast becomes even greater. The fears and guilt-driven paranoia of ordinary animal experimenters are compounded by the deep-rooted fears and very special paranoias of the military establishment.
The largest portion of the money that is spent by industry on animal experiments comes from drug companies (making products for doctors to prescribe and for customers to buy over the chemist's counter) and cosmetic companies; together they spend a fortune on testing and investigating new ingredients and potential new products. But the involvement of industry is not limited to these two areas; companies which make products as varied as food additives, industrial and agricultural chemicals and household cleansers all do an enormous amount of testing on animals too.
Charities are the third major source of money for animal experiments. Funded by millions of small, individual donations from people who are attracted by the brash promises to conquer disease and find 'wonder cures', medical charities rely heavily on the fact that although most of us realize that it is our bad habits which make us W we still like the idea of someone finding a magical cure that will absolve us from taking any real, practical responsibility for our health.
In the end the route the money takes on its way to the animal experimenters is almost irrelevant. Whether the cash is paid over by a government department, a medical charity or a major international company, the real source of the money is not some anonymous accountant or bureaucrat: the money that pays for animal experiments comes from your wallet or purse.
You are paying for animal experiments when you pay your taxes, when you give money to a big medical charity or when you buy any product made by a company which has animal experimenters on its payroll.
You are entitled to know what animal experimenters are doing with the money they get and you are entitled to have a say in stopping them doing it, for the very good but simple reason that you are helping to pay the bills.
As you read on, just remember that you have helped to pay for virtually every experiment described in this book; you have helped buy the animals, you have helped equip the laboratories and you have paid the fat salaries of the white-coated men and women who have dreamt up and then performed the experiments.
I hope that fact makes you as angry as it makes me.
A catalogue of misery
It is difficult to know where to start or stop when describing the sort of experiments conducted by vivisectionists. I have a filing cabinet filled with research papers from universities and institutions all over the world and there seems no end to the variety of indignities that researchers can think up for the animals in their power.
In the end I decided merely to list very brief summaries of a handful of experiments that have been done in recent years. These are fairly typical examples neither more nor less horrifying than thousands of other experiments conducted daily around the world. I have deliberately chosen not to comment too much on any of these experiments, since my comments and criticisms appear later in the book. I will add, however, that I have had to bowdlerize some of the experiments I have described; just reading the original, unexpurgated papers describing some of these experiments made me feel so ill and so angry that I repeatedly had to stop work while preparing this section.
Three final points are worth making.
First, while you read about these experiments try to remember that every hour of every day between 100,000 and 125,000 similar experiments are going on in laboratories around the world.
Second, if you want to know what experiments are being conducted at universities or other institutions near to where you live just get in touch with your nearest antivivisection society.
Third, do not forget that most (if not all) of these experiments were conducted on your behalf and with your money.
1. British researchers blinded two domestic tabby kittens by sewing up their conjunctivae and eyelids. The kittens were then placed in a special holder and horseradish peroxidase was injected into their brains. The kittens were then killed.
2. Three researchers conducted an experiment in which female hamsters were distracted with sunflower seeds so that their babies could be removed from the nest a few hours after birth.
Under 'hypothermic anesthesia' the baby hamsters had their left eyes removed. They were then returned to their mothers. The scientists used fifty-nine golden hamsters in this experiment and removed the left eyes from 'about half'.
3. At the United States Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, a researcher spent nine weeks forcing thirty-nine monkeys to run on a cylindrical treadmill known as an 'activity wheel'. If the monkeys failed to run for long enough they got an electric shock.
4. Researchers funded by the UK Medical Research Council gave ferrets a drug that made them vomit at between half minute and five minute intervals. The researchers gave the ferrets another drug and concluded that under some circumstances the ferrets did not stand up to vomit and that under the influence of the second drug their vomiting was less forceful.
5. Three adult female cats were selected for a Welsh laboratory experiment because they were very docile. Wires from the cats' eyes were connected to a device held in place on the cats' skulls with self-tapping stainless steel screws. The cats were kept awake and their eye movements measured while their bodies were rotated and tilted and stimulated in other ways.
6. American researchers separated young kittens from their mothers to see what effect this had. At the end of the experiment the scientists concluded that separated kittens cried more than those who remained in close contact with their mothers. The scientists added that the crying seemed to denote stress.
7. Two eminent researchers working in America conducted a series of experiments designed to make baby monkeys depressed. To begin with they created a cloth, surrogate mother which could be triggered to blow out high pressure compressed air. When the baby monkey went to give its fake mum a hug the researcher would press a button and try to blast the baby monkey away. However, this did not work and the baby monkey merely clung on tighter. The researchers then built a surrogate monster mother that was designed to rock so violently that the baby's 'head and teeth would rattle'. Again, the baby monkey just clung on tightly. The third monster had a wire frame built into its body. The frame was designed to throw the baby away from it. This worked to a certain extent in that it did successfully separate the baby from its fake mother but the baby monkey just picked itself up and went back to its fake mother immediately afterwards. In a final attempt to alienate, terrify and thus depress the baby monkey the researchers built a 'porcupine' mother from which, at the press of a remote switch, sharp brass spikes would leap out. Once again the experiment was a failure for although the baby monkey was upset by the spikes it simply waited until the spikes had been withdrawn before returning to its mother.
8. The same researchers also created a 'well of despair' for monkeys. They built a vertical chamber with stainless steel sides and a rounded bottom and put young monkeys in it for weeks at a time. On this occasion the two researchers were successful. The monkeys eventually sat huddled at the bottom of the chamber looking depressed.
9. Scottish scientists pushed fine polythene tubes into rats' brains. They then put balloons into the rats' brains and blew them up. They found that all the rats suffered brain damage but that the smaller balloons did not produce as much damage as the big balloons.
10. Four British research scientists surgically joined together 224 individual rats to make 112 sets of 'fake'
11. Rats' tails were immersed in hot water so that the experimenters could study pain in rats.
12. Ten beagle dogs were deliberately given stomach ulcers.
13. Balloons made from condoms were pushed into dogs' stomachs through metal tubes and then filled with water. During the experiment the dogs, which were hung in slings, were kept awake.
14. The livers, kidneys and lungs of Guernsey calves were deliberately damaged to see how this affected the way the animals responded to drugs. The researchers concluded that animals with damaged organs sometimes get more unpleasant side effects when they take drugs.
15. Six monkeys were given a drug so that they would develop Parkinson's disease. They were then given the drug which is commonly used to treat Parkinson's disease in humans. When the monkeys' symptoms improved they were killed.
16. Cuts were made in the bodies of pregnant rats and metal screws cooled in liquid nitrogen were held against the developing heads of the baby rats. The baby rats were later killed and their brains removed so that the amount of damage could be assessed.
17. Two researchers in London found that if they breathed heavily on ants as they came out of their nest early in the morning the ants panicked.
l8 Three research workers shot around twenty monkeys just above the eye and then watched to see how long it took them to die. One monkey survived for over two and a half hours.
19. A psychologist removed a monkey's visual cortex and then kept the blinded monkey for six years so that he could study her
20. Researchers have kept the brains of animals alive outside their bodies and have transplanted the heads of monkeys onto the bodies of other animals. Such experiments have taken place in a number of laboratories.
21. An American researcher gave a pair of rats a total of 15,000 electric shocks in seven and a half hours. Later the researcher heated the cage floor so that the rats inside jumped about, licking their feet, as the floor got hotter and hotter.
22. Researchers clipped the hair from forty beagle puppies. They then put kerosene-soaked gauze onto the beagles' naked bodies and set fire to the gauze.
23. In a series of experiments conducted in France, over thirty baboons were killed in forty miles an hour fake car crashes. A number of monkeys were killed when their skulls were hit with a hammering device. The experiments showed that animals would be endangered if they drove cars into walls at forty miles an hour.
24. In a Canadian experiment three polar bears were made to swim through a tank filled with crude oil and water. When the oil coated their fur the bears tried to lick themselves clean. They swallowed so much oil that they developed kidney failure and died. The conclusion was that polar bears should be kept away from oil slicks.
25. Two experimental scientists designed a drum rather like a tumble-drier for traumatizing alert, awake animals. The drum was made so that it turned over forty times a minute with the animal inside falling from one side to the other twice during each rotation. During a five minute experiment an animal inside the drum fell four hundred times. The animal's paws were taped together so that it could not break its own fall and interfere with the traumatizing process. Animals traumatized in the drum suffered broken teeth, concussion, bleeding and bruising of the liver.
2 THE LIES THEY TELL
IN THEIR ATTEMPTS TO DEFEND the terrible things they do, animal researchers tell a lot of lies here are some of the commonest, together with the real facts.
Lie number 1: They say that animals are properly anaesthetized during painful or uncomfortable experiments.
The evidence shows that this simply is not true. Approximately three quarters of all animal experiments are conducted without any
anesthetic at all and recent figures show that the number of experiments is going up. For example, one recent set of Home Office figures in Britain showed that during a twelve month period the number of experiments performed without
anesthetics on baboons went up by 11 per cent, the number of experiments without
anesthetics on rabbits went up by 20 per cent and the number of experiments done without
anesthetics on beagles went up by 15 per cent.
Even when anesthetics are used the available evidence suggests that they are often inadequate. It is rare for a scientist experimenting on animals to have a properly trained anesthetist present during a procedure and there is no doubt that many of the scientists who have
licenses to experiment on animals do not understand how anesthetics need to be given. Anesthesia is a complex, sophisticated
specialty which it takes doctors years to master. As a result of ignorance many animals are
paralyzed but not anaesthetized with the result that although they cannot move or cry out, they can still feel pain. Other animals are simply given inadequate quantities of
The story of Wilhelm Feldberg, a researcher at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, helps demolish the myth that animals are always anaesthetized.
I first wrote about Feldberg several years ago after a reader of mine had brought his activities to my attention.
Feldberg studied medicine in Heidelberg, Munich and Berlin and in 1949 was appointed Head of the Division of Physiology and Pharmacology at the National Institute for Medical Research. It was there that many of his experiments were performed in the years that followed.
Looked at on paper Feldberg's list of qualifications and academic achievements was impressive. He was a medically qualified doctor, a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a Commander of the British Empire. Much of Feldberg's work was made possible by grants from the Medical Research Council.
A fairly typical scientific paper was published in the
British Journal of Pharmacology in 1978 after Feldberg and a colleague performed a series of experiments on cats.
To begin with the experimenters implanted a tube into the brains of the cats. Then, when the cats had recovered from the
anaesthetic. a mustard drug was injected straight down the tube into their brains. It was not difficult to imagine what happened next, but it may help if I quote directly from the paper that Feldberg and his colleague wrote:
Following these injections, shivering began within a minute or two and quickly became vigorous and widespread. The next effect was vocalization. It began with periods of miaowing which became more frequent and of longer duration and gradually the miaowing changed to growling and yelping. Later tachypnoea (rapid breathing), panting, salivation, piloerection (hair standing on end) and ear twitching were observed; later again, periods of intense excitation alternated with Periods of a more restful condition. During the periods of excitation the cat would suddenly charge blindly ahead or jump up to or cling on to the side or the roof of the cage, the pupils being maximally dilated. The cats showed compulsive biting; care had to be taken to prevent them biting through the lead of the rectal probe (a thermometer had been tied into the cats' rectums) by offering them instead a pencil on which they could clamp their teeth and eventually gnaw through.
If teenage youths had performed these experiments with stray cats they would have been locked up.
Feldberg, who had discovered that if you stick mustard into the brain of a live, unanaesthetized cat it would pant, salivate, leap up and down, miaow and try to bite its way through anything in reach, was given buckets of cash to perform variations on the same experiment and write about it in scientific journals.
For example, in 1983 Feldberg (this time working with two new chums) published a scientific paper entitled
'Hyperglycaemia, a morphine like effect produced by naloxone in the cat'.
In order to write this scientific paper Feldberg started off by putting tubes into the brains of live cats. Once again he discovered that if you inject a substance into a cat's brain while it is still alive and conscious it gets physically upset. Feldberg reported that his cats shivered,
miaowed, panted, salivated, retched, vomited and lost control of their bladders and bowels.
Feldberg did experiments like this for around thirty years, injecting a variety of chemicals into the brains of live, unanaesthetized cats. And he wrote a lot of scientific papers and became one of Britain's most honoured scientists.
Feldberg worked a lot with cats, but it was experiments on rabbits which brought about his downfall in the early summer of 1990 just four months after he was awarded the Wellcome Gold Medal in Pharmacology by the British Pharmacological Society.
Just before Christmas 1989 two undercover operators finally persuaded Feldberg to allow them to take video and still photographs of him at work. Flattered by the attention he was getting (one of the investigators, Melody MacDonald, was a former fashion model) Feldberg agreed.
As a result of film which the investigators took just after Feldberg's eighty-ninth birthday, the Medical Research Council held an inquiry. The published report of the inquiry shows that according to the Medical Research Council Feldberg failed to ensure that four of the rabbits he used were sufficiently anaesthetized during experiments performed at the National Institute for Medical Research, in Mill Hill, London. The Medical Research Council's report describes the benefit likely to accrue from Feldberg's work as 'negligible' and admitted that 'applied to the methodology the word "crude" is not inappropriate'. They conclude that 'a number of animals perished for no discernible beneficial reason' and criticized the British Home Secretary for the fact that he 'failed to weigh adequately the likely benefit of the research against the likely adverse effects on the animals involved'.
In some ways Feldberg was probably unlucky. I very much doubt if he was the only scientist in Britain who was failing to anaesthetize laboratory animals properly. He certainly wasn't the only scientist doing research work of negligible value.
It's quite clear from this case history that it is a lie to say that animals which are experimented on are invariably and adequately anaesthetized. The truth is that most animals have no anaesthetic at all; and even when an anaesthetic is used the chances are high that it will be inadequate.
Lie number 2: They say that the majority of scientists only use mice and rats and that most of the people who protest about animal experiments only do so because they think that cats and dogs are involved.
This time scientists (and their supporters) attempt to mislead the public in two quite separate ways.
First, they imply that rats and mice do not matter. This simply is not true, of course. The vast majority of those who disapprove of animal experiments disapprove of all animal experiments it does not matter whether experiments involve cats, sheep, mice, dogs, gerbils, guinea pigs or frogs. The principles which are followed by those who oppose vivisection are identical whatever the creature.
Second, they lie when they suggest that experiments involving cats, dogs and primates are rare. The truth is that I doubt if there is a species known to us which has not been used in experiments by
vivisectors. Monkeys, baboons and other primates are popular because it is easier for a scientist to argue that work done on a monkey is relevant to human beings than it is to make the same claim for work done on rats or mice. Rabbits are popular because their large eyes make a convenient test site for newly developed chemicals.
British experimenters use around 13,000 dogs a year and are particularly fond of beagles as experimental animals because they are friendly, trusting and intelligent. Talk to a scientist who uses beagles and they will tell you that they like working with them because their confidence is easily won.
At one British university a zoology researcher obtained two greater horseshoe bats (an endangered and protected species) and kept them for eighteen months in a plywood box. Each side of the box was 0.6 metres long and the walls were lined with plastic netting.
In laboratories all over the world research scientists are regularly experimenting on animals as small as hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils or as large as pigs, sheep and horses. Some animals are specially bred for laboratories. Others are 'acquired' in dubious circumstances. Large or small, young or old, tame or wild, animals are tortured, watched and then killed. Name any species and I will name the experiment. You envisage the suffering and I will find evidence of an experiment far worse and far more obscene than anything you can think of.
Lie number 3: Researchers claim that the animals they use are well looked after. They say that all experimenters care deeply about the animals they use and that before, during and after experiments animals are treated with care and respect.
Sadly, the evidence shows that this is far from true.
Consider, for example, the case of eminent American psychologist Dr Edward Taub who for years conducted experiments in which the nerves controlling monkeys' arms were damaged. The alleged aim of the research work was to find information that would help human stroke victims, but doctors have been investigating stroke victims for decades and I can think of no reason why anyone should want to conduct such experiments on animals.
It was through the efforts of an undercover activist called Alexander Pacheco that Taub's research methods were brought to the public's attention. Pacheco reported that he saw one animal collapse through not being fed and that he was instructed to torment and frustrate the monkeys, which were often strapped into 'crucifix' type restraints, with their eyes blindfolded and their heads locked into vices. Bones had been broken and some monkeys had been so distressed that they appeared to have bitten off their own fingers. The cages in which the monkeys were kept were describedas rusty and filthy dirty.
After taking photographs of the monkeys Pacheco brought a lawsuit against Taub, who was charged on seventeen separate counts of cruelty one for each of the seventeen monkeys who were involved in the experiments. During the police raid which followed the lawsuit investigating officers discovered rubbish bins filled with the mutilated bodies of monkeys.
At his original trial Taub was fined a total of $3,000 for failing to provide veterinary care for six monkeys who were said to be in urgent need of treatment. The National Institutes of Health cancelled a large grant to the laboratory where Taub worked. Eventually, however, Taub managed to get the convictions overturned. One judge discounted physical damage and suffering as subjective and inadmissible. Another court overturned one conviction on the grounds that a state's anticruelty law could not be applied to a federally funded research project. Another court concluded that human beings had no legal standing to sue on behalf of monkeys. And Taub ended up by claiming that he was a martyr to science.
Taub is by no means the only researcher to have been accused of mistreating laboratory animals.
In an experiment conducted by researchers in Pennsylvania baboons' heads were pushed violently to one side by a pneumatic ram. The aim was to investigate the effects of head injuries. The animals were supposed to have been anaesthetized during the experiments but afterwards the United States Department of Agriculture charged the University of Pennsylvania with over twenty violations of the Animals Welfare Act. The researchers were accused of sneering and joking at the way the sad, brain damaged baboons moved after they had been injured.
In London the Royal College of Surgeons was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a laboratory monkey and fined £250 after the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection brought a private prosecution, using evidence obtained during a raid on the College's research
centre. A ten year old monkey was reported to have been found collapsed on the floor of her tiny, box type cell suffering from dehydration. The ruling was overturned after the Royal College of Surgeons appealed on what appeared to be legal grounds.
In most countries researchers can usually avoid prosecution by keeping their laboratories locked and by claiming that everything they do is part of an experiment (even the most unbelievable cruelty can be sanctioned legally if the researcher claims that the suffering was part of the experiment).
Even where attempts have been made to introduce legislation to protect laboratory animals there have been appalling delays. For example, a quarter of a century after a law was passed to control the use of animals in American research laboratories, and four years after the United States Congress added extra provisions, the Department of Agriculture had still only produced two out of three expected reports detailing precisely how the law should be carried out. The intention of the legislation was to ensure that researchers looked after the mental and physical wellbeing of the animals in their care. Meanwhile, a recent survey of official reports from the US Department of Agriculture showed that animals are being abused or neglected in more than four out of every five research institutions in America.
Lie number 4: Many supporters of vivisection claim that animal experiments are required by law for all drugs,
cosmetics and other chemicals. Some spokesmen say that they do not like doing animal experiments but that they
have no alternative if they are going to satisfy the law.
This is not true. Where laws do exist to control the marketing and sale of products they usually insist that products which are sold to the public must not be liable to cause damage to human health under normal conditions of use'.
The success of companies which
never test their products or their ingredients on animals shows that it is perfectly possible to prepare and sell safe cosmetics (for example) which do not contain ingredients which have been tested on animals.
In my view companies which sell products which have been tested on animals or which sell products which contain ingredients which have been tested on animals do so of their own volition often because they consider animal testing to be cheaper or more convenient than other alternatives.
The law controlling animal experiments needs to be changed and brought up to date, but I have no sympathy for companies which still try to hide behind existing legislation.
Lie number 5: They say that all scientists approve of and support animal experiments, that animal experiments have produced an almost endless variety of valuable information and, finally, that dozens of Nobel prize winning scientists performed animal experiments as part of their award winning work.
The first claim, that all scientists approve of and support animal experiments, is easily disproved. The Ligue Internationale M6decins pour FAbolition de la Vivisection has nearly six hundred members all eminent medical scientists in twenty-eight different countries who are all opposed to animal experiments and who all believe that animal experiments are of no value whatsoever.
The second claim, that animal experiments have produced an almost endless variety of valuable information, is based on a premise that stands up less securely than a two-legged chair.
It is undeniably true that many animal experiments have been done and it is undeniably true that scientists have, over the years, discovered many valuable pieces of information. But although there may be a superficial link between these two undeniable truths, there is no deep, fundamental connection.
Indeed, a close study of scientific and medical developments during the last century or two shows quite dearly that animal experiments have hindered progress and caused far more problems than they have solved. To claim that because scientists have performed animal experiments and scientists have made valuable breakthroughs there must be a link between the two is as silly as claiming that because scientists have drunk coffee or tea the consumption of caffeine-rich drinks must be an integral part of scientific progress.
(I have dissected this argument in more precise detail on pages 53 to 75)
Finally, there is the claim that because dozens of scientists who have performed animal experiments have won Nobel prizes there must be value in animal experiments. Once again this is an illogical claim which is based on an entirely false premise. The truth is that for decades the scientific community has accepted animal experiments as essential and has therefore excluded scientists who have not used animals in their research work from any chance of winning such
honours. The vast majority of scientists winning Nobel prizes have been white males, but that merely reflects the fact that the majority of scientists being eligible for Nobel prizes were white males and that the system was heavily weighted in favour of white males winning these
Lie number 6: They say that animals do not suffer because they cannot feel pain and do not enjoy or endure any emotional responses.
Researchers with the remnants of feelings and a vague idea of what compassion is probably like to think that all this is true.
It is not.
The prerequisites for pain reception are a central nervous system, a system of peripheral pain receptors and a series of neural connections between the receptors and the central nervous system. All vertebrate animals possess these three essentials and can undoubtedly feel pain. Anyone with a sadistic nature who doubts the truth of this should try hitting a dog or cat and watching what happens.
The argument that animals cannot feel pain is so patently absurd that it is difficult to understand why anyone should believe it to be true. The fact is, of course, that the individuals who support this argument are not overly well endowed with intelligence. I have yet to meet any researcher or supporter of vivisection whom I can credit with anything more than a most modest intellect, and I find it difficult to underestimate the intelligence of these people.
Similarly, there can be little doubt that the animals used in laboratory experiments do indeed suffer a great deal of emotional and psychological distress. During recent years a good deal of research has been done which shows just how complex and sophisticated the social
behavior of animals such as monkeys, cats and dogs can be. Observers who have studied animals know that fear and anxiety are driving forces which affect members of every species and which are, indeed, usually present as a means of
self-defense. Similarly, all the animals used by experimenters suffer agonies of boredom and frustration when kept alone in small cages for long periods of time.
Lie number 7. They accuse those who oppose vivisection of caring more for
animals than for
It is difficult to imagine a more absurd or more unsustainable lie but this is, nevertheless, one which is often repeated by vivisectors who are anxious to discredit their opponents. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard it put forward usually by mean-spirited people whose compassion and thoughtfulness for other members of the human race matches their level of compassion for the subjects of vivisection.
The truth is that I have never met a committed member of the antivivisection movement who was not also committed to campaigning for human rights. Just about every leading member of the antivivisection movement has also made loud public protests about injustice, prejudice and cruelty to human beings.
1 have repeatedly been accused of caring only about animals and yet I have spent most of my life campaigning for more justice and better rights and conditions for human patients. I believe that the lives and welfare of all creatures (including humans) are closely and inextricably linked. It is absolute nonsense to claim that those who care for animals do not care for humans.
To give just one practical example, I have spent eighteen years nearly the whole of my professional life campaigning against the over-prescribing of tranquillizers and sleeping tablets. When the authorities in Britain finally took action the then Under Secretary of State for Health and Social Security admitted that it had been my campaigning articles which had finally persuaded the government to take action.
Lie number 8: They accuse those of us who oppose animal experiments of using emotional arguments to try to sway the uncommitted.
This really is the pot calling the kettle black. I cannot remember when I last heard a serious opponent of vivisection using an emotional argument to sustain his or her case. The truth is that we do not need to use emotional arguments and we do not want to use emotional arguments. Those of us who oppose animal experiments know that we can do so most effectively on scientific grounds.
The trouble is, however, that our opponents those who want animal experiments to continue do not want to argue on scientific grounds. It is
they who insist on using emotional arguments.
Whenever programmes about vivisection appear on television or radio stations those who support vivisection usually bring with them patients who are suffering from some disease or other. Naturally enough the patients are grateful for the treatment they have received and although they often look confused they grudgingly concede that animal experiments have to be accepted if human lives are to be saved. This is moral blackmail but it does not stop the vivisectors sitting back, looking smug and wearing 'there you are, what have you got to say to
that?' looks on their faces.
When the supporters of vivisection speak to journalists or write newspaper or magazine articles of their own they invariably introduce the thought of patients suffering from
leukemia, diabetes or some other threatening disease. Sometimes they will even provide photographs of individual patients preferably young and good looking.
'It is this child or a laboratory rat', they say with outrageous dishonesty. They rely on a crude form of emotional blackmail that has all the subtlety of paintbrush graffiti to put the uninformed and the uncommitted into a terrible position.
The implication is always that patients' lives have been saved through animal experiments. The pro-vivisection supporters use fear and anxiety to help prosecute their argument. They know that they cannot possibly win a scientific argument and so they rely on false emotional arguments.
Lie number 9: They say that institutions where animals
are kept and experimented upon are regularly examined by skilled, impartial inspectors who make sure that animals
are well looked after and treated with proper care and consideration.
But in Britain allegedly one of the best regulated of all countries there are around 20,000 experimenters who have
licenses for animal experiments and around twenty inspectors.
This means that if every inspector visits a new scientist every day of the year (never has a day off, never takes any holidays, never falls sick, never spends time doing paperwork or attending meetings, and works weekends) then each scientist will be visited about once every three years.
However good the inspectors are, this just is not often enough to ensure that animals are well looked after and rules are obeyed. Recent figures from the Home Office in Britain show that while, in one twelve month period, the number of infringements of the rules went up by 111 per cent, the number of visits paid by inspectors to laboratories went down by 8 per cent.
Lie number 10: They say that the Nazis disapproved of animal experiments. The clear implication is that anyone who disapproves of animal experiments must be in some way comparable to the Nazis.
This is a mean-spirited, nasty little lie that commonly appears in pro-vivisection propaganda. I have frequently been called a Nazi because I oppose animal experiments. The truth is that Nazi doctors like Josef Mengele did most of their experiments on human beings because they believed that they would get better results that way. They did perforrd some experiments on animals, but because they had access to an unlimited supply of human experimental material they did not bother using cats, monkeys or rats very much.
Mengele, for example, is said to have used 400,000 human prisoners in his experiments. Why on earth would he have wanted to bother using mice?
Lie number 11: They say that they have to be secretive about what they do because they are frightened of being bombed by terrorist groups.
Animal experimenters were secretive about their work long before the first bomb exploded. For decades many animal experiments have been conducted behind locked doors for the simple reason that the experimenters themselves know that what they do is so foul, so barbaric and so repugnant that if members of the public knew what they were doing there would be an outcry and their work would be stopped.
The bombing of laboratories has been a tremendous help to animal experimenters, who have used such attacks to excuse their secrecy and to try to attract some public sympathy. Indeed, bombing campaigns have proved so successful in helping experimenters attract support that some scientists (and their supporters) have been accused of sending themselves fake bombs and fake threats.
Lie number 12: When all else fails pro vivisectionists will often claim that the results obtained in laboratory experiments can be used to help animals.
Theoretically, it is true that drugs developed through work on rats could be used to treat rats. But does anyone seriously believe that experiments are performed on laboratory animals with the aim of finding drugs that will help those animals? And just how much effort goes into translating laboratory results into practical remedies for animals? Very little, I suspect.
The real flaw in this argument lies in the fact that even if the pro-vivisectionists were genuinely concerned about finding drugs with which to treat animal diseases they would not have to torture or kill them in order to find those drugs. The vast majority of doctors manage to find out useful things about human patients without performing evil experiments on them. The simple truth is that you do not have to kill an animal in order to find out how to help it.
LIKE MOST MODERN ANTIVIVISECTIONISTS I prefer to argue against vivisection on scientific and medical grounds. But the moral and ethical arguments are important and should not be forgotten.
Moral dilemma number 1: Are animals merely 'things' which exist to be used by humankind?
Rend Descartes was one of the greatest thinkers in history and certainly one of the greatest men of the seventeenth century, but he had a few weaknesses and blind spots. The biggest was probably his belief that because they had no immortal soul animals had no conscious life, no desires, no feelings and no emotions.
Animals, declared Descartes with the enviable certainty of a man who is inspired by powerful religious prejudices, were no more entitled to respect or consideration than were clocks; horses were no more 'alive' in the human sense than were the carriages they drew.
If Descartes had spent just a little more time looking around him and a little less time trying to understand the secrets of the universe, he would have known that he was wrong. If he had had enough common sense to talk to any child with a pet dog, cat or rabbit he would have learned the truth: that although it is impossible for us to imagine precisely how animals do think, or what they think about, there cannot possibly be any doubt that they are capable of as much thought as many humans. Simple observations would have told Descartes that animals feel pain, suffer when they are sick, get bored, endure unhappiness and depression, grieve, mourn and can be driven mad by abuse.
Each member of the animal kingdom is different, but that does not mean that cats are any less alive than Frenchmen or that dogs are any less deserving of our compassion than children. Even rats perhaps the most despised and least lovable of laboratory animals are intelligent, alert and sociable animals. They can develop relationships with one another and with human beings and they quickly become bored and frustrated when imprisoned.
But Descartes did not look around him and did not talk enough to children and his theories rapidly became accepted as fact by a society which was always better at thinking up theories than it was at sustaining them with facts. He was a powerful and influential member of the academic establishment and, most important of all, his beliefs fitted in comfortably with the beliefs of other scholars.
As the years went by so Cartesian logic spread throughout the scientific community and before long a scientist who wanted to look inside a cat would do so simply by nailing it to a board and cutting it open. He would ignore its squeals of protest as of little more significance than the squeaking of a rusty door hinge or a stiff axle.
To a large extent, therefore, it was Descartes' crude, simplistic and undeniably inaccurate philosophy which led to the development of modern day vivisection.
In order to keep thinking of animals as 'things' rather than sensitive individuals, most researchers have developed the habit of talking and writing about the creatures they use in a totally impersonal way, often using a strange vocabulary to describe what they are doing. Researchers will, for example, refer to cats as 'preparations', will describe crying or miaowing as 'vocalization' and will use phrases like 'nutritional insufficiency' instead of saying that animals starved to death. One group of researchers has used the term 'binocularly deprived' to describe domestic tabby kittens which they had deliberately blinded. When animals are finished with at the end of experiments they are frequently 'sacrificed' or 'subjected to euthanasia'. Maybe researchers do not like to remind themselves that they are killers.
Moral dilemma number 2: Do animals have rights?
Researchers with a simple way of looking at the world will frequently argue that animals do not have any rights. When pushed they will explain that the sole purpose of animals is to make our lives easier. The furthest they will go towards accepting that animals deserve to be treated with respect is to say that human beings share a responsibility to ensure that animals are not subjected to unnecessary suffering. The word 'unnecessary' is, of course, impossible to define satisfactorily and very few active researchers will ever admit that any experiments have ever involved 'unnecessary' suffering.