Do you use the products of Animal Testing?
This is a question often posed to opponents of harmful animal experiments (i.e. those which cause harm to animals).
Currently we are given little choice when it comes to medicinal drugs. For many types of product (i.e. the more recently developed drugs) we can have animal-tested drugs or no drugs at all. This situation is as unreasonable as one in which a Muslim is offered pork or no food at all. Anti-vivisectionists did not ask for things to be developed and tested in this way.
Some opponents of animal experimentation do indeed take the ultimate ethical stance and refuse anything which they know to have been developed and/or tested on animals. Others weigh up the pros and cons to try to estimate whether more animals (and/or indeed humans, the environment, etc.) will benefit from their death or from their continued survival. This cannot be more than a rough estimate, of course. It has to be up to each individual to draw his/her own lines and make his/her own decisions based on personal circumstances. For example, s/he may be a parent or carer, so that his/her death or illness would have negative repercussions on their dependants.
It is not always possible to know what has been tested on animals. Doctors will not usually know; nor will pharmacists.
Many people will be surprised, even shocked, by how some products have been developed. How many people use household products that have been animal-tested, or even bother to check? How many people never buy foods which contain artificial additives? These are animal-tested. How many people accusing anti-vivisectionists of hypocrisy if they used animal-tested medicines are teetotal, or never buy a product containing alcohol? Yet alcohol has also been tested on animals. Are they in favour of such testing, or would they support a campaign to stop it?
Our taxes support the monitoring of pollution: much of this involves animal-testing. 76,158 animals were used to test industrial substances in Britain in 1997. Animals have also been used to test office products, X-rays, life-support for premature babies and car safety.
Experiments have also been carried out on humans. The UK and US have conducted such research, which has sometimes resulted in illness and death, in living history. The US did deals with the Japanese after World War 2 to obtain experimental data from the horrific human experiments. There can be few people who agree with such experiments, but they may nevertheless be benefiting from them in some way.
It is impossible to live in the modern world without using, or involuntarily supporting, products which have been tested on animals.
We cannot undo what has been done in the past – we can only change the future.
To oppose such experiments in the present and future is therefore not inconsistent with using, knowingly or unknowingly, technologies which have been so developed in the past. We now have knowledge and technology which can enable us to progress without harming living creatures. Abandoning the crude cruelties of the past will free up people, time and resources to speed this progress and improve the effectiveness of our scientific research.
- It is estimated that ...adverse reactions to animal-modelled medicines are now the fourth largest cause of death in America, accounting for two million people being hospitalised every year - 100,000 of whom die
- The figure for the UK (re above) has been estimated as 70,000 deaths per year.
- For every 30-40 drugs effective in treating mice with cancer, only one is effective in people.
- Journal of the American Medical Association, 1998, vol. 279, pp. 1200-1205 & 1216-17
- New Scientist, 19th September 1998
- D.J.Galloway, Cancer Surveys, vol. 8 pp. 169-88