New Internationalist

Is animal testing necessary to advance medical research?

June 2011

The suffering of animals used in medical research is not contested, although the scale of it often is. However, views diverge sharply on whether animal experimentation is part of good science and results in medical breakthroughs for humans, or whether such progress could have been achieved by other means.

Every month we invite two experts to debate, and then invite you to join the conversation online.

See also our followup blog post from animal testing expert Andrew Knight.

Looking for a previous Argument? See the full list of debates.


Edmond Terakopian / PA Archive / Press Association
Pro-Test march in Oxford, UK. Edmond Terakopian / PA Archive / Press Association

Biomedical research is a difficult process, to say the least. The human body is the most complex machine yet encountered, consisting of trillions of cells, each containing billions of molecules, many of which are composed of tens of thousands of atoms. These molecular machines perform their designated tasks with incredible precision, working within a stunningly interdependent environment, from the level of molecules communicating with each other over minute distances right up to entire organ systems interacting with one another. Biomedical researchers need tools capable of mimicking this level of complexity. The past century or so has seen an explosion in the availability of investigative tools – cell cultures, non-invasive imaging, computer models – these are all powerful techniques in humanity’s arsenal in the war against disease and ignorance, but none of them fully replicates the intricacy of a living organism.

Without the ability to use animals in their research, scientists’ efforts would be massively hampered, not only in the direct development of new treatments, but also in the fundamental research which underpins all biomedical knowledge. For example, it was Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley’s work on the nerves of squid that elucidated the basis of nervous transmission; and it was John C Eccles’ work on cats’ spinal cords that first incontrovertibly demonstrated the nature of the synapse, earning him a share of the 1963 Nobel in Physiology, along with Hodgkin and Huxley. Without their work on animals, we would know far less about the workings of our own nervous systems and how to treat them.


Lai Seng Sin / AP / Press Association Images
PETA’s action in the US. Lai Seng Sin / AP / Press Association Images

Absolutely! The human body – indeed most living systems – is extremely complex. This

complexity and intricacy is precisely why animals are not good models for human medicine.

Humans differ from other animals anatomically, genetically and metabolically, meaning data derived from animals cannot be extrapolated to humans with sufficient accuracy.

Understandably, when a drug or other medical treatment is developed, it must be tested in an entire living system. Using another species is using the wrong system. Considering the differences that occur on the metabolic, genetic and molecular levels, when applied to an entire biological system those intricate differences become exponential. Pre-clinical testing needs to be conducted in such a way that eliminates the risk of species differences and is instead directly applicable to humans.

Medical advances should be weighed up against the delays and tragedies caused by reliance on animal experiments – the thalidomide disaster whereby tens of thousands of children were born with severe deformities not predicted in animal tests, to name one of the most famous, but there are many others. While some discoveries have been attributed to animal use, it does not necessarily mean that they could not have been made through other means. Dr John McArdle said: ‘Historically, vivisection has been much like a slot machine. If researchers pull the experimentation lever often enough, eventually some benefits will result by pure chance.’ Such logic does not constitute good science. Good science, relevant and, importantly, efficient science is what we must strive for.


It’s undeniable that there are significant variations between species, but part of research is taking these differences into account and selecting appropriate model organisms to replicate the system one is testing. Fortunately, researchers have devised many routes of minimizing inter-species variation, such as the use of transgenic animals – genetically altered to replicate human physiology more closely. This has additional benefits, including shorter generation-span, allowing scientists to perform experiments which simply would not be possible using humans (even ignoring ethical concerns).

I’d love to hear a proposal for methods to realistically replace these animal models that ‘eliminate the risk of species differences’, but currently none exist, and developing these methods is still well within the realm of science fiction. To suggest otherwise is highly misleading. One can claim that medical discoveries can be made using exclusively non-animal methods, but unless one can suggest realistic replacements, these claims are hollow.

The thalidomide tragedy in fact resulted from insufficient animal testing. At the time it was not standard procedure to give pregnant animals drugs before clinical use. Once investigators became aware of thalidomide’s mutating effects, experiments using pregnant animals confirmed the results, leading to these tests becoming standard for pre-clinical drug testing.


Even when genetically modified, there is no single animal model that can accurately mimic the complex human situation. There are far too many unknown variables that cannot all be accounted for. Instead, we now have scientific (not fiction) technologies such as microfluidic chips and microdosing. Not only do these techniques analyse the effects of drugs on an entire living system, they analyze a human living system, eliminating error caused by species differences and resulting in data that is relevant to humans.

Systematic reviews conducted in the areas of toxicity testing and biomedical research have shown that alternatives are far more predictive of human outcomes than data obtained from animals.

The results obtained from testing thalidomide (post-disaster) on pregnant animals only resulted in defects when given to white New Zealand rabbits – at doses between 25 to 300 times that given to humans, and certain species of monkeys – at ten times the dose. Even if the drug had been tested on those specific species (by chance) thalidomide would still have gone to market since the vast majority of species showed no defects, and of those that did, only at much higher doses than given to humans.


Claiming that microfluidics and microdosing can analyze drug effects on a full living system is absurd. How can a fluid-based chip replicate the most basic heart, let alone a human one? Microdosing can be useful for studying uptake mechanisms of a drug, but gives extremely limited information on its efficacy at treating a condition. ‘Alternatives’ are already widely used in research, but expecting them to replace animal tests in the near future is hugely naïve. It’s true that thalidomide doesn’t affect all species, which is part of the basis for drugs being tested on a variety of carefully selected species. These models will never be perfect but, as any scientist will tell you, no test is. We must use the best available model, and some of the time this means using animals.

More importantly, you continue to ignore the most important use of animals in science – basic research. Without access to live organisms, we would know far less about the function of the cardiovascular system, how digestion works, hormonal interactions, and a vast array of other data which none of your proposed ‘alternatives’ could even hope to elucidate. Thus, if we value progression of medical knowledge, animal research is a necessity.


Without emotion, we can say that no model is perfect, but a battery of human-specific methodologies in pre-clinical testing is far more predictive than depending on data from another species. Even the US Federal Drug Administration confirms that nine out of ten drugs ‘proven’ successful in animal tests fail in human trials. This not only questions the efficacy and the fundamental argument for using animals, but critically raises the question about all the drugs that failed in animals which might have worked in humans. How many discarded cures for cancer?

In the past, much research has been based on animals because we didn’t know any better. Today we are far more aware of the dangers of extrapolating from one species to another and we have scientific research methods – mass spectrometry, genome mapping, innovative imaging techniques and highly developed computer models capable of simulating parts of the human body as mathematical equations and three-dimensional graphical models, just to name a few more.

Terminally ill patients don’t care whether a cancer drug works on a mouse, or that some disease can be cured in another species. Such claims only taunt them with false hope. These people need real cures based on real science – not misleading and antiquated animal experiments.

Laurie Pycroft is one of the founders of Pro-Test, a British group that supported continuing animal testing in scientific research. Pro-Test wound up its operations in February 2011, but a related organization, Speaking of Research, is active in the US.

Helen Marston heads Humane Research Australia, which campaigns against animal experimentation.

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 444 This feature was published in the June 2011 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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  1. #1 Tom Ash 29 Jun 11

    Not being a medical researcher, I can only judge the question asked based on the above debate and an estimate of the different side's cognitive biases. Going on that, Laurie seems to have the better of the argument. That doesn't settle the separate ethical question of whether that makes animal testing acceptable - this depends on how much suffering is involved, and how much successful research would alleviate. With that in mind I've always been surprised that protests here in Oxford focus so heavily on medical research as opposed to, say, cosmetic testing, where that balance is clearly radically different.

  2. #2 brownie 05 Jul 11

    I do not believe it is necessary, and the cruelty is not justifiable on any grounds. there is much the medical profession might learn if they would listen to their colleagues who make discoveries, and listen to their patients more, rather than thinking they need to present as being infallible.

  3. #3 Penelope 05 Jul 11

    I have to commend Helen for her knowledge on the subject, if people were to look deeper into the reasons why they still use animals for testing, and you can find the information on the internet. People are just too caught up in other things to really search for the truth about so many things.
    We need to view all species of animals as our co inhabitants on this Planet, and stop the bloodshed of 60 billion of them per annum, and then there is the fur trade, the animal experiments, the exploitation of them in races, rodeos, circuses - and understand that they feel pain, they feel the loss of family members, they do not want invasive stuff to happen to them, mostly when they are still awake and feeling it all going on - they do not want their skin ripped from their body while they are still alive, or used in military exercises as target practice, and so on and so on.
    Once we stop all this terror, and abuse, then we will have a much peaceful Planet. But we have to stop being so barbaric towards other sentient beings.

  4. #4 Milo 05 Jul 11

    I was fairly neutral on the subject but it seems Laurie was getting pretty emotional and close to losing the plot there!! What Helen says certainly makes more sense on a logical basis and nothing Laurie said really convinces otherwise. The most convincing argument that according to FDA 90% of drugs successfully tested on animals fail in humans is pretty hard to ignore. If the excessive cruelty involved could somehow be justified perhaps... but by all accounts we've come a fair way in medical research and we dont need to do this (perhaps never did) anymore. Oh yeah and as for cosmetics... please.!

  5. #5 angela 05 Jul 11

    The reason for continuing animal experimentation comes down to the almighty dollar. Using animals is simply cheaper, and while there is no governmental pressure to change current testing methods, then the animal experiments will continue. There are wonderful alternatives that as pointed out are safer and more ethical, however while we keep our heads in the sand and believe the notion that 'we need animal experiments to save lives' then nothing will change and millions of animals will be subjected to painful and cruel experiments that in the end dont effectively help anyone. Its time to move science forward.

  6. #6 saxon 05 Jul 11

    What gives humans the right to take the lives of other creatures that God created just the same as He created us? We think we are so superior and so super intelligent. People are killing themselves with all these so called amazing advancements that are supposed to make our lives easier. Look at all the preservatives in food for one. Yes its easy and quick - but its killing us and creating serious disease. SO what lets kill some more animals! If humans are so clever they should find an alternative. Shame on anyone who thinks they have the right to take another life of any sort. Maybe if we all got back to nature and natural the way it was intended we wouldnt have all this disease and ’the need’ for scientists would no longer be there.

  7. #7 Rosie Nelson 05 Jul 11

    I strongly agree with Brownie and Penelope. There is no need to experiment on animals. Whatever makes some people think that animals have no feelings. They feel fear pain affection pleasure etc. just like us humans. These experiments are so cruel and needless. Instead of developing drugs why cant people be educated to live a healthy lifestyle and eat good food and not smoke and overconsume alchohol. Then there would be limited use of drugs.

  8. #8 Beejay 05 Jul 11

    Testing on animals is not only cruel but unnecessary. I believe that most animal testing is done to keep these ''scientists'' in their jobs. How can some of these tests help anybody, animal or human?

  9. #9 braggart 05 Jul 11

    Helen makes a considered argument, with factual evidence and clarity. I had never heard of the ramifications of animal experimentation before. It appears the evidence for using animals to remedy human illnesses is unnecessary and unscientific, let alone unethical. So why does the scientific community continue in this way; I'm afraid Laurie does not put forward a reasonable case.

  10. #10 Ivan 05 Jul 11

    I am a physicist in the medical research field and in part of my work aim to develop methodologies for minimising the use of animals. From my experience there is absolutely no substitute at all for the human body or any living animal for that matter. The biology is far too complex - even now every day new interactions of proteins and symbiotic processes in-vivo are discovered that have major impact on modern thought. It is very simply impossible to replace animal experiments. Any mention to the contrary is incredibly naive and only shows detachment from the reality (I’d say similar to a person becoming a sabotaging protester rather than become a politician to actually have power to make the change). The question of whether animal tests can be replaced really isn't the question that should be asked, because it is moot. The real question should be ’is it ethical?’ to use animal lives for the benefit of human lives. This is the non-trivial question.

  11. #11 Steven 05 Jul 11

    It is very simply impossible to replace animal experiments. Any mention to the contrary is incredibly naive and only shows detachment from the reality (I’d say similar to a person becoming a sabotaging protester rather than become a politician to actually have power to make the change). Unquote.
    You made a good point up to there lad. But trying to compare sabotaging protesters to Helen's argument is ridiculous and shows more than a little detachment to logic and reality. The point she makes is still valid and unarguable. The best possible way is via the human body. Therefore the issue is what is the best way of achivieving that eg microdosing, mathematical models, et al or a combination of same. What worries me is how many cures to god knows how many of humanity's ills have been thrown out because they havent worked in animals.

  12. #12 Dianne Kay 05 Jul 11

    The Laurie arguments for animal experiments, when he related just how unique the human system just confirmed the need to abolish the animal testing. The tests are seriously flawed. A family member has had two medicines recalled after consuming them for some time. Reason - they were unsafe. These medicines were tested on animals. Everyone with a brain knows that the real guinea pigs are the first humans to take medicines, and that all the animals suffering through these experiments is in vain. However, there is big money to be made, or claimed in grants, in animal experimental research.
    For both people and animals lets get serious, and confine scientific medical research to more up to date innovations than relying on century old animal torture. Surely in this millenium we are capable of that. Dianne Kay

  13. #13 Ben 05 Jul 11

    As a research immunologist that has personally used animals for experimentation I can say that it weighs heavily on my concience. I also understand the trepidation towards science in general and the idea of ’progress’ as dangerous as more science often leads to bigger problems. Perhaps we all would be better off in living hand to mouth in a hut, and I say that without sarcasm.
    As an immunologist I also see the benefits. Vaccination alone has prevented incalculable suffering and saved millions of lives and all vaccines have been discovered and developed through animal testing. Who amonst us has not been vaccinated? Smallpox, measle, cervicle cancer, rubella, rabies, flu etc and perhaps some time soon malaria and all cancers just to name a few. Would any of these vaccines have been developed without animal testing? I doubt it. If we struggle ethically to test on a mouse, with only the smallest of tests uncovering a cure and most discovering only part of the puzzle at best, then what likelyhood are we to test this on humans? Would we rather not vaccinate and endure the suffering and loss? Perhaps, but that's the discussion.

  14. #14 Malcolm 05 Jul 11

    My role as a veterinarian involved in the care of animals used for research puts me in close contact with both the non-human animals involved and the scientists actually conducting the work. I find repeatedly that things are more complex than they first appear. This can be seen from the fact that both Laurie and Helen use aspects of the thalidomide story to support their case. The complexity of this issue is such that it is more than a debate with just two sides. I have found it to be a broad and somewhat fluid spectrum where opinions may change depending on whether the discussion concerns the hypothetical or real life cases. Thanks for giving balanced exposure to two different but equally passionate points of view.

  15. #15 Teresa 05 Jul 11

    It is actually the regulatory authorities that need to get with the times as medical experts generally agree that animal data can be misleading.
    The FDA for instance requires that two species of animals are tested on – ironically due to differing reactions. As stated on their website “Two or more species are typically tested because a drug may affect one differently from another.”
    Patients advocacy group Europeans for Medical Advancement conducted a survey of British general practitioners in 2004. 500 GPs were asked their opinions on animal testing and its relevance to their work. 82% were concerned about animal data. 51% would have more confidence in human-based tests.
    It’s therefore time that the law caught up with the science!

  16. #16 Wing 06 Jul 11

    The following quote from N.C. Buyukmihci (professor of Opthalmology, University of California sums up the situation perfectly. ’....any information we obtain from experimental work must still be confirmed in humans. By carefully studying the human situation in the first place, we not only derive information that is more meaningful in caring for human patients, we also save the resources that would have been expended upon nonhuman studies and we prevent suffering and loss of life of the animals that would have been used.’

  17. #17 Gabriele 06 Jul 11

    I would simply like to say that animal testing had its time and place.. back 150 years ago.
    Today with the advance of science its rather embarrassing that we should hold on to such vintage scientific methods. after 150 years the principles of animal experimentation have not changed. Its lazy, inaffective and unethical and in my opinion lacks of common sence.
    animal experimentation is simply bad science.

  18. #18 Aditi 06 Jul 11

    I feel animal testing is a despicable and very outdated way of performing medical research. To think that we can ’advance’ medical research using something so ’outdated’ is a contradiction in itself. To advance research, we first need to advance research methods.

    As for Laurie's comments that developing animal models is in the realm of ’science fiction’, I must say that nearly all of the scientific advances that we have made to date were once considered in the realm of ’science fiction’. For example, had we continued to believe that to enable man to fly is ’science fiction’, there would be no aeroplanes today. I think it is high time that medical researchers stop fooling other people and take this issue seriously. Sufficient time, budget and effort must be invested to develop more ethical and non-animal methods of testing. I'm sure it won't be long before we hit a breakthrough.

  19. #19 Helena 06 Jul 11

    There is never any justification to hurt any sentient beings. Do we really know how they feel and think or are we so arrogant as to think we are the only ones that matter. Look at the world of humans and we can just see how well we are doing...wars, exploitation, death and destruction.

  20. #20 Shannon1175 06 Jul 11

    Helens argument made logical sense to me. I have no scientific back ground but you certainly do not need this to understand what Helen was saying. Her comments were factual and she addressed specifics,giving details on alternatives and stats on the failure of animal testing. Laurie on the other hand seemed emotional and unable to address the same points.
    I can't help but wander why this industry is still thriving given the advancements in non animal testing. As is so often the case I assume money is the reason.
    I want to know why animals are still used to re-test products and ingredients and why they continue to be used for educational purposes when the outcomes are well known.
    There seems to be so much suffering for no purpose ’US Federal Drug Administration confirms that nine out of ten drugs ‘proven’ successful in animal tests fail in human trials.’
    As stated by others here I absolutely do not believe it is necessary, or justifiable on any grounds.

  21. #21 Tom Ash 06 Jul 11

    Many commenters above seem very confident that they know the science better than scientists - I worry that this is similar to what goes on in the climate change debate, where people want a particular conclusion to be true and consider themselves instant experts on the subject.

  22. #22 Dr Andrew Knight 06 Jul 11

    Neither animals nor people are simply machines – to state that they are reveals a fundamental failure to appreciate their other qualities, and more disturbingly, a degree of moral blindness. In particular, unlike machines, both laboratory animals and people have the ability to suffer when afflicted by diseases, or when subjected to laboratory environments or procedures.

    Utilitarianism is a philosophy that aims to achieve the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’. Although many would disagree ethically, a utilitarian moral case at least might still be made for experimenting on animals (or indeed, people), to help people, (or in the latter case, a greater number of people), if it were truly the case that such research yielded tangible advancements in human healthcare of greater magnitude. It is on this basis that activists argue in favour of invasive animal experimentation

    However, in ‘The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments,’ very recently published by Palgrave Macmillan, I provide more than a decade of scientific research, analysis and personal experience to provide evidence-based answers to a key question: do animal experiments really advance human healthcare?

    By using meta-analyses of large numbers of animal experiments selected randomly — the ‘gold standard’ when assessing biomedical research, and analysing over 500 scientific publications, I’ve been to answer this question. The evidence is remarkably consistent. When considering costs and benefits overall one cannot reasonably conclude that the benefits accruing to human patients or consumers, or to those motivated by scientific curiosity or profit, exceed the costs incurred by animals subjected to scientific procedures. On the contrary, the evidence indicates that actual human benefit is rarely – if ever – sufficient to justify such costs.

  23. #23 Vanessa 06 Jul 11

    Animal testing is totally unnecessary. Compared to the amount of good it does and the suffering it produces, it is just not justifiable...not to mention the vast number of alternatives that are available now. The price is just too high to pay.

  24. #24 DanielLC 06 Jul 11

    Just charge people for animal cruelty. This will make it so they suffer the cost, and it's not an externality. If it's really worth it, they'll be willing to pay. If it isn't, they won't be.

  25. #25 Chay 06 Jul 11

    The animal cruelty involved, the wasted research, and the risk to humans far outweigh any potential benefits Laurie could possibly come up with. It is time we invested in real science. The process should also be transparent and encourage sharing of knowledge between researchers. Too many researchers simply chase grant money, and animal models are an easy way to produce papers, show some results on paper, and encourage further grants.

  26. #26 Malcolm. 06 Jul 11

    Why aren't these horrendous procedures conducted on humans?

  27. #27 rapattack 07 Jul 11

    No it has been proven to not be a good evidence based science. It is only in place to satisfy the authorities to give a tick to products/medications. This does not make sense. Also there is the reasoning of suffering to the animals themselves. We are breeding animals that have never known what it is to be outside. They are often freaks of nature so to speak. This is inhumane. I will not change my position on this issue as too much evidence has been presented to me through the various professionals that i have met over the years. Some did experiments for years on animals and now admit that the premise is flawed. We are a very different animal from a rat, mouse or dog.

  28. #28 Jessamy Korotoga 07 Jul 11

    Mr Pyecroft states that, regarding the complexity of the human body, “Biomedical researchers need tools capable of mimicking this level of complexity”. The “tool” needed in biomedical research, however, is not an animal, no matter how similar to humans they are believed to be. As pointed out in some earlier comments, the use of human cells, tissue and micro-dosing of human volunteers ensure that the data gathered is relevant - it is from a human. The data does not have to be extrapolated or manipulated to overcome species differences.

    Anyone who believes that animals “mimic” humans is mistaken. The historical evidence for this is overwhelming, and is too extensive to cover here, but one only has to remember the human volunteers given TGN1412 in March 2006, which caused them to suffer severe, life-threatening adverse reactions to the drug, therefore highlighting the inadequacies of the “animal model”.

    The investigators brochure, (1) written by the drug’s developers TeGenero described the research conducted prior to the volunteers receiving the drug.

    TGN1412 was tested in non-human primates with the justification that “non-human primates (cynomolgus and rhesus monkeys) are considered to be the most relevant species for safety and toxicology studies to assess any potential toxicity of TGN1412 administration to humans”. So macaques were used as they were thought to be a model which would accurately reflect what would happen in humans. Citing a number of the pre-clinical tests, conducted using non-human primates, the investigators brochure stated “No TGN1412 – related signs of toxicity, hypersensitivity or systemic immune system deviation were observed in these studies” (1)

    TeGenero stated that “In essence, the data show that single administration of up to 50mg/kg TGN1412 was well tolerated by the cynomolgus monkeys. Therefore, this dose level was considered to be the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) in this study” (1). At a higher dose of 90mg/kg, it was observed that two animals suffered enlarged lymph nodes for several days. The humans in the trial were given doses of 0.1mg/kg. (2) Therefore at doses 500 times higher than that given to humans, no adverse effect was seen in the animals, and at 900 times higher, the animals suffered only a mild immune response. The humans who took the drug suffered multiple organ failure caused by a massive immune reaction, as the drug triggered an uncontrollable response from antibodies. The worst affected volunteer was hospitalised for three months. One has had fingers and toes amputated.

    In a response to an article questioning the information available surrounding the TGN1412 drug trial, the Chief Scientific Officer of TeGenero, stated that their data indicated “that TGN1412 binds to human and cynomolgus monkey CD28 on a relevant cellular target population with very similar affinities” (3). As the above example highlights, “similar” and “mimicking” are not accurate enough when human and animal lives are concerned. The investigators brochure concluded that “Overall, the results of non-clinical studies in rodents and non-human primates have not revealed any potentially serious toxicities that would preclude the use of TGN1412 in healthy subjects” (1).

    Once again, animal data does not safeguard human health.

    1. TeGenero Immuno Therapeutics, Investigator’s Brochure TGN1412 Humanized Agonistic Anti-CD28 Monoclonal Antibody – 19th December 2005
    2. Stebbings, R et al (2007) “”Cytokine storm” in the phase I trial of monoclonal antibody TGN1412: Better understanding the causes to improve preclinical Testing of immunotherapeutics”, The Journal of Immunology, vol. 179, pp. 3325-3331.
    3. Hanke, T (2006) “Lessons from TGN1412”, The Lancet, vol.368, pp.1569-1570.

  29. #29 Paul Browne 08 Jul 11

    Tom Ash (at #21) is quite right, what we see from the anti-vivisectionist lobby in the animal research debate is indeed very similar to what we see from climate change deniers in the debate over man-made climate change and its implications, lots of misrepresentation and distortion of the evidence, often quite skillfully articulated. It's a shame that the majority of those scientists who are best placed to respond to them are usually far too busy actually doing science (and in many cases also practicing medicine) to do so.

    While there has been a great improvement in the public's understanding of the value of animal research over the past decade, thanks to a large degree to better reporting of medical reserch in some news outlets and the increased willingness of many scientists to discuss their work in public, the situation could still be a lot better. All too often reports of important medical advances in the news fail to even mention, still less discuss, the role of laboratory research - including animal research - in making the advance possible. This is why people like Andrew Knight can get away with their flawed and misleading analysis...that and thae fact that nobody in the real medical and scientific world considers it to be even worth refuting.

    A good example of how news reports can miss the back story is the report on the BBC about the first transplant of an artificial organ, a trachea, carried out by Professor Paolo Macchiarini.

    The BBC report discusses the operation in some detail but makes no mention of the years of research by Prof. Macchiarini and Prof. Seifalian , using animal species including mice, pigs and sheep, that laid the scientific foundations for the operation.

    This is just one example of many that highlight the importance of animal research to the most innovative areas of 21st century medicine, and also highlight why doctors and scientists still need to do more to explain the importance of such work to the public.

    Laurie is right, animal testing (or animal research is it is more accurately called) is still necessary to advance medical research.

    One more thing, while Laurie is right in saying that the sensitivity to Thalidomide varies between species, it does produce birth defects in a wide range of species. Had Thalidomide been tested in pregnant animals, as is now the requirement for all drugs intended to betaken by pregnant women, it would almost certainly never have proceeded into human use. Furthermore what Helen Marstone fails to mention is that, despite decades of research, no in-vitro tests have been developed that can detect the teratogenicity of thalidomide. This is a case where there really is no option but to test in animals (though in vitro and ex-vivo tests can rule out many drugs that harm the embryo and fetus at an earlier stage to reduce the numbers that need to be evaluated in pregnant animals).

  30. #30 Catherine Rodgers 08 Jul 11

    If we hadn't been wasting resources on animal research all these many years we would be further along in healing human illnesses. Reductionist science has done nothing for human kind. Nothing is better than observing the sick person at their bedside. The U.S. is highest in use of new ’medical technologies’ but we certainly aren't the healthiest and actually these new technologies many times cause new illnesses. I intend not to take pharmaceuticals or vaccines the rest of my life and if any are ever needed, I will request the old standbys. When people are healed of their maladies they need to thank the PEOPLE who had the procedure/pharmaceutical before them, when it worked out well.
    It doesn't matter if I am a scientist or not, I am a consumer and I won't purchase items tested on animals, for scientific reasons actually. For people who want an alternative to western medicine, homeopathic medicines have only been tested on people, mostly the people who discovered them. How cool is that?

  31. #31 Louise Smith 08 Jul 11

    I had a look at the Pro-Test website. I find it remarkable that there's no photo gallery showing the workings of vivisection. If you're so proud of what you're doing, why not show us the pictures? Got something to hide?

  32. #32 Helen Marston 09 Jul 11

    I’m not sure Paul Browne (#29) whether you have actually read Dr Andrew Knight’s recent publication The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments but it seems you are suggesting that systematic reviews of scientific literature is not a sufficient analysis of the value of animal research. One wonders how else a practice can be scrutinised and subsequently accepted for what it really is – a waste of precious time and resources.

    It’s easy for researchers to point to discoveries made through animal research. Why? Because that’s simply how it’s been done in the past. This is not to say however that such discoveries (and arguably more) could have been made by other means. Additionally, many discoveries were made by non-animal methods, and later experiments on animals only further verified these breakthroughs as being correct.

    William Harvey for example, has been credited as being the first to provide an accurate description of the blood’s circulation in 1628 through using animals (although it has been reported that the Chinese understood the blood’s action as early as 2,650 B.C.). However Dr Lawson Tait (one of the most famous surgeons of the nineteenth century responded:
    ”That he [Harvey] made any contribution to the facts of the [blood circulation] case by vivisection is conclusively disproved… It is, moreover, perfectly clear that were it incumbent on anyone to prove the circulation of the blood as a new theme, it could not be done by any vivisectional process but could, at once, be satisfactorily established by a dead body and an injecting syringe.”

    Ovarian function was demonstrated by physician Dr. Robert.T. Morris in 1895 in surgical procedures on women, yet history credits the discovery to Emil Knauer who one year later reproduced the procedure in rabbits in 1896.

    Banting and Best are often cited as having discovered insulin through animal experiments in 1922. However further investigation of the history of diabetes reveals that the connection between diabetic symptoms and the pancreas dates back to 1788 when an English physician, Thomas Cawley, performed an autopsy on a diabetic. Unfortunately subsequent research on animals delayed the acceptance of his hypothesis. Despite the existence of this knowledge, it was evidence obtained from Banting and Best’s dog experiments that was the convincing factor for scientists.
    More recently, deep brain stimulation for sufferers of Parkinsons disease if often credited to the terribly cruel work with MPTP-treated monkeys, yet unbeknown to many, the practice has actually been used to treat sufferers since the 1940’s - many years before the first ever description of the MPTP-primate model.
    Add to these false claims of success of animal experiments, the delays and disasters caused by using animals and we start to see a realistic picture of the futility of animal experiments.

  33. #33 I love all living things 09 Jul 11

    Scientist Robert Sharpe used to believe that
    experimenting on animals was essential to the advance of medicine.
    Now he thinks it is dangerous and unscientific. Why?

    Every year millions of animals suffer and die in the world's laboratories. They are burnt, blinded, poisoned, irradiated and starved. They are given electric shocks, made to smoke cigarettes and addicted to drugs.

    The idea as I understand it, is that fundamental truths are revealed in laboratory experiments on lower animals and are then applied to the sick patient. Having myself trained as a physiologist, I feel in a way competent to assess such a claim. It is plain nonsense. Sir George Pickering

    Internationally renowned surgeon Dr Bruno Fedi stated, “The abolition of vivisection would in no way halt medical progress, just the opposite is the case. All the sound medical knowledge of today stems from observations carried out on human beings. No surgeon can gain the least knowledge from experiments on animals, and all the great surgeons of the past and of the present day are in agreement on that”.

  34. #34 Teresa 10 Jul 11

    Paul Browne said “It's a shame that the majority of those scientists who are best placed to respond to them are usually far too busy actually doing science (and in many cases also practicing medicine) to do so.” What an absolute cop out! If the use of animals in science is supposedly so necessary then it would be negligent for those researchers to NOT defend their actions. The truth is proponents of animal research continue to evade debate on the issue because their arguments are flawed – both on ethics and science.
    Furthermore, a British survey of 500 general practitioners conducted in 2004 revealed that 82% of respondents were concerned about animal data animal testing and its relevance to their work. 51% would have more confidence in human-based tests.

  35. #35 Holly 11 Jul 11

    ’Just charge people for animal cruelty.’ I like it, DanielLC :-)

    Tom Ash's point about cosmetic testing is also very important - from an ethical point of view, it's obvious that it should be banned, and that laws preventing unnecessary abuse of animals in research labs (like here:​estigations-companion-anim​als/599609536001.aspx) should be enforced. However, it's not so obvious that the benefits of medical research on animals (which includes benefits to animals e.g. by informing veterinary care) don't outweigh the harms to the animals researched upon. There are similar animal welfare issues, not related to research, that are similarly obvious e.g. foxes shouldn't be skinned alive for their fur, chickens shouldn't be kept in battery cages so we can have cheaper eggs. So why don't animal activists focus their efforts on these cases, where the ethical decision is obvious?

    Another point: Scientists, who are interested in doing good research, continue to use animals in some cases. This suggests to me that animals are the best way to get good research done in those cases. People who argue that animal testing is unnecessary to produce equally good research tend to be interested in animal welfare, so I'm always going to be more suspicious of their arguments. I think that if you're concerned about animal welfare, you should argue against animal testing based on concern for animal welfare, not on arguments that you don't really believe and aren't very strong.

  36. #36 John_ 11 Jul 11

    Unfortunately, because of the rather extreme perspectives on animal testing put forward by Helen and Andrew, the debate about how to improve animal research is stifled. Their conviction that animal testing is not justified leads to many scientists to so vehemently defend current animal research, that they dare not admit that there are any problems with animal research at all, lest the animal welfare activists use those criticisms against them.

    Many of these problems are highlighted in Hooijmans et al (2010) A Gold Standard Publication Checklist to Improve the
    Quality of Animal Studies, to Fully Integrate the Three Rs,
    and to Make Systematic Reviews More Feasible. ATLA 38, 167–182, 2010

  37. #37 Alex 13 Jul 11

    Hmm... are antibiotics, pain killers, vaccines, insulin, blood transfusion, organ transplants, etc. necessary? All these things wouldn't be possible without use on animals.

    Will any of the people who oppose medical research refuse its benefits when the only alternative is death?

    P.S. PeTA should say: Stop testing on my friends and let me kill them all myself -

  38. #38 Morgan 13 Jul 11

    I thought is was disappointing to see Laurie cling on to an argument that was losing: that there's no other method. The IS currently a move away from animal model idealogically, driven not by ethics but by the emergence of new technologies and the demonstrably superior information generated by them.

    It isn't helpful to the debate to deny the existence or value of these techniques, which are revolutionising research, while still developing. Based on that alone, we should anticipate a move away from animal methodology, and to deny this is rather luddite.

  39. #39 Alex 14 Jul 11

    Gabriele said:

    I would simply like to say that animal testing had its time and place.. back 150 years ago.

    Penicillin, Blood transfusions, Kidney Transplants, Insulin, and treatments for Tuberculosis, Macular degeneration, Asthma, Meningitis, Breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease and much more were all developed in 20th century and all with much use of animals.

    So, did you mean all these things are ’unnecessary’?

  40. #40 Ann Johnson 14 Jul 11

    It's nonsense to suggest, in this day and age, that animals cannot be replaced in experiments. Why are the pharmaceutical companies dragging their feet over replacing animals with alternatives in testing? Partially because, until recently, there has just not been enough public pressure on them to do so. It is public pressure, and not governments, who can force the pharmaceutical companies to divert some of their gargantuan profits into meaningful research and development to find replacements. It should not just be left to organisations like the Lord Dowding Fund to find alternatives.

    Other businesses have to pay to make their products 'environmentally friendly'. So why shouldn't pharmaceutical companies be made to pay to find replacements for animals?

  41. #41 Teresa 14 Jul 11

    Alex, of course those things you mention are neccessary, but penicillin and blood transfusions were delayed for decades due to animal use. And the connection between diabetes and the pancreas was discovered way before Banting and Best's dog experiments. Even Christian Barnard - a pioneer in heart transplants - expressed concern about the role animals played in this field.
    Just because animals WERE used in some particular discoveries does not mean they could not have been made by other means - as per the examples above.

  42. #42 John_ 15 Jul 11

    Helen Marston writes

    ’Banting and Best are often cited as having discovered insulin through animal experiments in 1922. However further investigation of the history of diabetes reveals that the connection between diabetic symptoms and the pancreas dates back to 1788 when an English physician, Thomas Cawley, performed an autopsy on a diabetic. Unfortunately subsequent research on animals delayed the acceptance of his hypothesis. Despite the existence of this knowledge, it was evidence obtained from Banting and Best’s dog experiments that was the convincing factor for scientists.’

    Firstly, Cawley's evidence could merely be correlation. Secondly no one claims that Banting and Best discovered that damage to the pancreas could induce diabetes. That was Von Mering and Minkowski in 1889. After it was discovered that the pancreas was important in diabetes, people tried to make extracts of the pancreas to cure diabetes. These experiments failed, so despite knowing that the pancreas was important, that knowledge was insufficient to produce any treatments for diabetes. What Banting and Best did was to discover that by ligating the pancreatic ducts to prevent enzymes from destroying insulin, extracts of the pancreas could be made, allowing diabetes to be treated and save hundreds of thousands of lives. Animal experimentation was vital for this discovery

  43. #43 John_ 15 Jul 11

    Jessamy Korotoga writes

    ’Mr Pyecroft states that, regarding the complexity of the human body, “Biomedical researchers need tools capable of mimicking this level of complexity”. The “tool” needed in biomedical research, however, is not an animal, no matter how similar to humans they are believed to be.In a response to an article questioning the information available surrounding the TGN1412 drug trial, the Chief Scientific Officer of TeGenero, stated that their data indicated “that TGN1412 binds to human and cynomolgus monkey CD28 on a relevant cellular target population with very similar affinities” (3). As the above example highlights, “similar” and “mimicking” are not accurate enough when human and animal lives are concerned. The investigators brochure concluded that “Overall, the results of non-clinical studies in rodents and non-human primates have not revealed any potentially serious toxicities that would preclude the use of TGN1412 in healthy subjects” (1).
    Once again, animal data does not safeguard human health.’

    You are right that the responces in animals did not predict human responce, however that infomation has lead to research that showed why it did not work due to ’a species difference in CD28 expression on the CD4+ effector memory T-cell subset as being most likely responsible for the failure of pre-clinical safety testing of TGN1412 in cynomolgus macaques. This is a CD28-specific, rather than a general, difference affecting applicability of such models to the safety testing of new therapeutic mAbs and immunomodulatory biotherapeutic agents.’Primate testing of TGN1412: right target, wrong cell
    M Pallardy1, T Hünig DOI: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00925.x

    It should be noted that this should the differences had nothing to do with the differing affinities of TGN1412 for human and cynomolgus monkey CD28. These species differences are not irreducibly complex, in this case the receptor was simply expressed in a different cell type. Now we know this was can use a more relevant model.

    Animal models are never 100% accurate, however even negative results can reveal important aspects of biology, such as the research mentioned above, and allows us to further refine animal experimentation.

  44. #44 Andrew Knight 16 Jul 11

    I’ve only just seen Paul Browne’s post (#29) asserting that those who support animal experiments are often too busy practicing medicine to defend them, and his criticism of my research as “flawed and misleading”. This is because I’ve been too busy practicing veterinary medicine to check this column. However, my understanding from discussions with my medical colleagues, is that they do not, in general, believe that animal studies have contributed much to human healthcare, and indeed, evidence to back this view has been published in the British Medical Journal and elsewhere.

    Instead of providing any substantive criticism of my research, or evidence to back his positions, Paul simply claims that “nobody in the real medical and scientific world considers it to be even worth refuting.”

    My research includes a review of 27 systematic reviews examining the human clinical and toxicological utility of animal models, all of which have been successfully published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, as have my overall reviews. Because they typically examine large numbers of experiments selected randomly to eliminate bias, they provide a very high level of reliability.

    Paul may be uncomfortable with the results of my research, but this does not invalidate it. Nor do his unsubstantiated criticisms, and certainly not the lack of refutation of this research in the scientific world.

  45. #46 vegansara 16 Jul 11

    Generally speaking people believe animal research is an important and even a 'good thing' because those in authority tell us so. By and large people need/want to believe what they are told by those in authority . it makes life a lot less confrontational.

    I am reading an eye-opening book 'Wilful Blindness' by Margaret Heffernan. It has less than nothing to do with vivisection but it does explain how we, most of the time, choose to respect and obey those in authority. And those in white-coats and involved in vivisection are very much part of this authority clique.

    Three examples from the book:

    The first is probably known to many: that of Stanley Milgram, a psychologist, who designed a test to see if people would under take a task that was appalling. Volunteers were asked - by a very civil white-coated person - to administer a shock to someone doing word pairing should they get the word exercise wrong. Unbeknown to the volunteers the shocks were bogus and the person an actor. The actor would scream at the electric shocks given . The shocks went from 15 to 450 volts ( 450 being lethal).

    Of the 40 subjects 26 (65%) obeyed the white-coat to the lethal dose! Those administering the shocks were not aggressive; there was no anger, vindictiveness or hatred. They did what the white-coat asked of them. Because this experiment shows us in a very bad light it has been done many times (In the hopes I suppose to prove us better than this - apparently it hasn't).

    Second example is of two researchers finding Milgram's experiment using an actor as the 'shock victim' was perhaps suspect (perhaps the actor not convincing as a 'victim' and the shock giving volunteers knew this ). In other words those administering the shocks knew it was all make believe.

    So a REAL LIVE fluffy puppy was used. The puppy was given REAL electric shocks at three levels. Thirteen male and 13 female students were enlisted to participate. Level one shock caused the puppy to foot reflex and occasionally bark. Level two caused running in circles and vocalisation. Level three lead to continuous barking and distress - 65% of the men and 100% of the women did the white-coated researcher's bidding. (As a personal aside how did the researchers see themselves using a live puppy as bait? Oh! the irony of the experiment, wonder if they saw it like that).

    Third example is of 22 experienced nurses who were asked by a doctor they did not know (and over a phone) to administer what was an obvious excessive dose of medicine to a patient (this was, unbeknown to the nurses, a placebo). Twenty-one of the nurses did what they were told.

    This is how I see vivisection. It is hard wired into us that the white-coated fraternity is out there 'saving lives' and what they do must be right rather than be questioned. The old cliche of 'your child's life or a mouse' is false but is so deeply ingrained into the consciousness of both the research/medical establishment and the general public that it becomes heretical to suggest otherwise.

    Those daring to open the debate against the sacred cow of animal research and the supposed human health gleaned from it will get no thanks. instead they are all too often seen as the enemy of the people (Ibsen) though they are telling the truth.

    The truth hurts: after all who wants to admit we harm animals deliberately every day of our lives - for what? The status quo.

  46. #47 Leopold 18 Jul 11

    I distrust GM, avoid GM foods, and agree that research into GM should be controlled. I'm worried about the risks of uncontrollable proliferation of rogue modified genes.
    I do have a practical problem, however. I have haemophilia B and, when I have a bleed, I use recombinant factor IX to treat it. Recombinant factor IX is produced from a genetically engineered Chinese hamster ovary (yes, seriously...).
    These bleeds are very painful and, if not treated, could leave me crippled or dead. Some factor IX is produced from human blood, but it is taken from thousands of samples and is regarded as comparatively risky because of the risks of disease from multiple donors.
    It's a genuine ethical problem and, at the moment, I'm just closing my eyes and using the stuff. Am I doing wrong?

  47. #48 Hella Gamper 20 Jul 11

    Methinks L.Pycroft is stuck in the 17.cent. Cartesian mindset when he refers to the body as a mere 'machine'.Science as well as common sense/observation have demonstrated that bodies(human and animal)form a delicate symbiotic relationship with the mind/emotions.
    True,there are similarities between humans and animals,but animals are not isomorphic with humans.We differ on the cellular and molecular level and that is where disease manifests.Furthermore, to artificially induce a disease in an animal(most animals don't get the same diseases as humans!)is not only illogical, but highly unscientific and its methodology based on guesswork.
    As it happens, we NEVER had an independent scientific evaluation of the utility of animal tests vis-a-vis human based biology tests.The often touted claim ’most of the major advances in the last cent. would have been impossible without medical research’ has been debunked by the Advertising Standards Authority.Check here:

    Having said all that,I have to confess that most science based arguments either pro or anti-vivisection tend to end in the same vein-both sides state their cases, and yet the lay-person/ordinary member of the public remains confused.Who is giving the right info.,who can be trusted to tell the truth or indeed, how much medical jargon can be absorbed? More poignantly, shouldn't the ethical/moral implications take precedence over scientific modi operandi?What intrinsic right does homo sapiens have to experiment on another species,even if it were for the benefit of children,parents et al? Why do we assume that the human species is, a priori, MORE important than any other?What paradigm would we use for that conjecture?Cognitive human characteristics such as thinking, planning ahead,empathy,solving problems?Various scientists such as Marc Bekoff have provided ample evidence that non-human animals have the same capabilities and emotions, and of course we just need to observe our own companion animals to verify this.Not that I am even terribly interested if an animal has the same/more/less cognitive faculties normally ascribed to hominids,but fact is,we are ALL sentient beings and to inflict pain, fear,deprivation,to the non-consensual 'other',simply because we suffer from a 'superiority-complex' and CAN do these things in a lab.,is not only morally repugnant and nefarious,but shows we haven't quite abandoned the 'Island of Dr.Moreau'and our mental & spiritual progress will remain retarded.

  48. #49 isabel reinhards 20 Jul 11

    Animal experimentation is very convenient for the Big Pharma because it is not conclusive and the law allows medicines experimented on animals to go into the market earlier.
    Thousands of people have died because of the use of animals for experimentation.
    There are proper tests made on human cells in laboratories and these are conclusive and therefore very helpful to combat disease.
    It all boils down to money. Big Pharma is very powerful because it
    is immensely rich and it buys support.
    Governments give many millions to this industry and very little money to the real science, which uses human cells.

  49. #50 CatC 20 Jul 11

    Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: ’Because the animals are like us.’

    Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: ’Because the animals are not like us.’

    Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.

    (Charles R. Magel)

  50. #51 Ripley 26 Jul 11

    The evidence against the pro's of using non humans as test subjects for various and often ridiculously bizarre experiments far outweighs the pathetic argument pro-testers might wish to feebley suggest. So, go figure.

  51. #52 hmdcruz 03 Aug 11

    I read the Argument on the pros and cons of animal testing to advance medical research with interest. However, most of the discussion relates to drug testing on animals and its efficacy for humans. What about actual surgical procedures that save human lives? I am a keen supporter of animal rights and strongly oppose animal testing. However my position on this was tested earlier this year when I had to have a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery as medication or stents would not be effective. It was not until after I had had the surgery and realised what was involved, that it also occurred to me that such surgery would never have been performed on humans without testing it on animals first. I was very conflicted about whether I was right to accept this intervention as I could only think of all the animals that had died in its development and eventual safe application for humans. I have no idea what I would have done if I had thought about these ethical questions before I agreed to the surgery. I'd like to know what others think of this as it goes beyond the arguments about the testing of medications on animals for application in human treatments. Heather D'Cruz, Geelong West, Australia

  52. #53 Ellis Branch 05 Aug 11

    As a non-scientist, I would like to know two things about animal testing that I haven't seen mentioned yet (apologies if they are in the comments and I overlooked them).

    1) How much profit does animal testing yield in comparison with alternative methods of research?

    and 2) How quickly is progress made in scientific development compared with alternative methods?

    I think these are two factors that have to be considered and weighed against both sides of the argument, in both scientific and ethical, and also financial, frames of mind.

    Scientists and activists need to remember as well that animal testing, while important, is not the only issue being dealt with currently; and that perhaps the whole debate should expand to include the impact on society as a whole rather than only the most closely affected people; scientists, consumers (patients), and animals.

    I would also like to make clear that I am personally not in a position to make claims as to the positive and negative role of either side of the debate, as I have minimal education in the subject. It would interest me though to see exactly what these alternative methods are and whether they are truly viable options for scientists in research, seeing as only vague references were made by Helen, and immediately rejected by Laurie. If anyone has any ideas or links to more information I would be grateful.

  53. #54 Victoria Rudiak 18 Aug 11

    Animal testing is cruel and inhumane. I believe that animals have their rights, and what scientists do to them is terrible. On the other hand, many medical breakthroughs have been made by testing on animals; many lives have been saved. It seems to be necessary, because no other methods are as successful. The problem is that I, like many people, will continue to turn a blind eye to the issue, because we like to distance ourselves from it, not wanting to pick either side. The best that we can do is influence the way in which the animals are tested, to ensure that the methods are not inflicting unnecessary pain on the animals.

  54. #55 sarah 01 Sep 11

    animal testing is inappropriate. if humans aren't prepared and test it them selves well why test it on something that can't speak or tell you what is going on, feelings, pain etc.

  55. #56 Diana Tomkins 01 Oct 11

    Animals used in research are either taken from the wild, bred from wild-caught animals, obtained from animal refuges or just bred solely for the purpose of being subjected to cruel and invasive procedures, unecessary suffering and ultimate death at the hands of researchers. Any of these means can only be considered illegal, highly immoral and in total breach of any animal ’duty of care’ by those put in charge of the animal.

    A person breaches the duty of care if he/she does not take reasonable steps to:
    a) provide the following -
    (i) food & water
    (ii) appropriate accommodation or living conditions
    (iii) enable the display of normal patterns of behaviour
    (iv) treat any disease or injury
    b) ensure any handling is appropriate

    Animals in laboratories have corrosive chemicals rubbed into their skin and are shocked, starved, cut open, crushed, infected with disease and force-fed pesticides, poisons and drugs. They are often denied painkillers and left to suffer in terror and loneliness as they wait to die.

    It is therefore impossible to justify any such appalling experiments on animals.

    Non-animal testing methods are less expensive and more accurate at predicting effects on the human body, yet many corporations, universities, health charities and government agencies continue to conduct the same type of illegal, immoral and appallingly cruel experiments on animals with total disregard for their suffering - just because they can. Often this is just to enable another paper to be published or a PhD to be gained and considering the number of animals and the suffering involved cannot in any way justify the little if anything that is gained in advancing medical research.

  56. #57 M. Bajer 18 Oct 11

    Laurie's ’stunning interdependent environment’ goes infinitely beyond the human body. Those 3 words best describe life on the planet.

    Therefore the dire pain and suffering of other animal species cannot relieve the pain and suffering of the human species.

    It's only arrogant and ignorant humans that deem themselves the MOST IMPORTANT. Life is a more cooperative venture!

    It's sad that your authours neither say how cruel it is. Guess they think it's uncool or unscientific to extend kindness beyond humankind?

  57. #58 Seventh 21 Oct 11

    A lot of people have been referring vaguely to 'horriffic procedures' and similar inflammatory phrases, whilst also casually admitting they have no scientific background.

    How can these people say a procedure is 'horriffic' if they have absolutely no idea what is involved?

    I think a lot of people are terribly influenced by the awful phsycological animal tests of the 50s and 60s, where animals (particularly primates) were pretty much tortured in the name of science.

    Please understand that ALL animal testing goes through a huge array of ethical processing to decide whether it is necessary at all, and whether the test leaves the animal in as little suffering as possible.

    Most of the time, when we talk about animal testing for durg research, what happens is that an animal is given a drug, it is allowed to take effect in the body, and then the animal is euthenised (killed as humanely and painlessly as possible) so that the interactions of the drug in the body tissues can be analysed. (Admittedly, a HUGE amount of other styles of test go on, but this is a heavy proportion of them)

    The animal is well treated beforehand (you cannot have fair results if it is half-starved or terrified and stessed), it is given a pill or injection, and then is put to sleep. It usually will have no idea at all that it is part of some 'horriffic procedure' that causes it 'unnecessary pain and suffering'.

    My final point is that, as Laurie stated above, we simply do not have the knowledge or tecnology to accurately replace a living body system in research yet. I say YET. We're workign on it! Via animal research! These things must be done in order to be able to never have to do them again. It is a necessary step to the progress so that we can end it!

    What else can the scientists do? The laws demand that we cannot put an untested drug into a human, so what else can be done? How can they possibly ask people to volunteer to take a drug which may kill them within minutes - because we have absoulutely no idea how it will interact with their systems? Imagine the lawsuits! ’My brother went for medical testing and died - the doctors didn't know what the drug did when they gave it him!’ it's ridiculous to suggest that replacing ALL animal testing with human testing is a viable alternative.

  58. #59 Sofia 27 Oct 11

    Medical Animal Testing is necessary to a certain degree (a much smaller degree than it currently is). It is the other animal cruelty in the world that I believe is a much bigger problem.
    Cosmetic testing should be banned, or very limited, and companies should have to apply for a license to do it EVERY TIME.This would prevent the rampant, unnecessary torture which goes on every day.
    However, testing in for chemicals in general is not done enough. We have thousands of chemicals used to make things in places like China, where most things are manufactured now, and how many times have people been affected because of contamination from chemicals still in them?
    I live in Japan, where people eat fish and squid alive. It is horrible, and I try to teach my values gently, so that people will listen. What about the raccoon dogs who are skinned alive? You can find plenty of videos online. What about people who torture animals to death for the fun of it? I see a variety of good support on both sides, but really, the biggest problem is that animals are not respected as sentient beings in society. I also know that not many people would be willing to give themselves up for initial drug trials. They do that in China. To prisoners. And the Nazis did it in Auchewitz. Not to the willing. Get real, people. I don't know anyone who wants to die of illness, nor anyone who wants to become a guinea pig themselves. So the realistic answer is that we need animal tests, but in limited and very controlled circumstances. No live furring. No eating live squid. No eyeliner in bunnies eyes for hours. No killing animals in inhumane ways. The WORLD's governments need to step in and make laws, forms, applications and investagative procedures to protect animals more, because, though individuals may be moral, companies care only for their profits, and if they can't do it in the US, they'll skin them alive in China.

  59. #60 rihanno 29 Oct 11

    i strongly agree that animals should not be used for scientific experiments.animals systems are different to that of humans what guarantee is that what works on them will work on us?none
    vivisection is so cruel.they kill animals in such dreadful ways for no reason as it does not have positive outcomes.

  60. #61 Anna 13 Nov 11

    The use of animals in medical research account for less than 1% of the total use of animals in the UK, and it is stringently regulated and can have long-lasting beneficial effects.

    Why isn't the main focus on the use of animals in the food industry?
    Broiler chickens - millions of which are bred each year, just for a transient tasty meal - have been shown to experience suffering which would equate to a 'substantial procedure' in medical research, this kind of procedure is less common and harder to get approval for due to the stringent regulations.

    The use of animals in medical research may not always be justified, but at least the welfare of the animals is a prime concern (painkillers are often administered for example) this cannot be said for the mass produced animals in the food indsutry - this should be focus of animal rights protests. It happens on a hugely larger scale than medical research and is lacking stringent regulations.

  61. #62 payne 15 Dec 11

    i just did a research paper on this debate. it's justification it's failures, it's successes etc. i learned some truly horrifying stuff but i'm still convinced that animal research and experimentation still hold a valuable place in the scientific community. honestly when people refute the its importance with the long list of past success to prove the contrary, i have to laugh. and listen to the experts here people!! they know that the pain inflicted on animals in an experiment is nothing compared to what a human will go through for a lifetime without a vaccination. when helen was saying her piece i had to scoff at the idea of a computer replicating every process of the human body down to the finest detail. will it someday happen? i hope so, but its not gonna be for a loooong time. and when people say ’just cause it happened through animal testing doesnt mean it couldnt have happened some other way’ think to yourself; how long do you think it would have taken to develop the technology and find vaccines for Diphtheria, Cholera, Polio, Rabies, Smallpox and many others?? we would still be dealing with half of those today if we waited for the technology needed for them to be tested without animals to just get here!

  62. #63 Leslie 14 Jan 12

    The animals that are being testing are cared for properly.Scientist that test the animals must provide care and comfort. The animals must also be grown mainly to be tested. The benefits for the scientist should be worth any pain the animal may feel.Animals that are being tested rarely die or are treated cruelly.Please remember that many lives would be in danger if there wouldn't wasn't for animal testing.

  63. #64 KRis 17 Jan 12

    No, Animal experimentation results are irrelevant to humans because animals aren't like us.

  64. #66 jenna 19 Jan 12

    I feel that animal testing is bad cuz when your testing on animal I bet they dont even feel bad them screaming crying pleading for help and their defenceless against ahuman!!SO PLEASE STOP ANIMAL TESTING TODAY

  65. #67 Dirius 26 Jan 12

    Animal testing is still one of the most effective ways of making sure a product is safe. It may have been made a long time ago but when you show me something that you can test products on that wont feel pain and will give more accurate results then that is when we will stop. Stop spending your time complaining, if you really care that much you go try to find a way to replace animal testing
    Animal testing can actually be very accurate given enough funding to make the animals organs exactly (or close enough) copys of human organs. this increases the accuracy of tests tenfold

  66. #68 brandon 09 Feb 12

    i think that it is necessary for animals to be used for research because there would be less human in the world so using animals for research is a good thing..i mean yea sometimes i feel sad about it but we human we got to live our life to the fullest

  67. #71 kelsey 12 Apr 12

    I dont think we need animals any more for testing, we have advanced enough with our technology that we simply can extract human cells and test on those. That way no ones harmed

  68. #73 crow 26 Jul 12

    here's an idea - find a way to test stuff without torturing other living beings.. do a dissertation on that .. are we so backward and retarded that this is the only way???

  69. #74 Shay Baxter 06 Sep 12

    Ow co we need the little rats ow to get tested so we dont get bok.

  70. #75 Case Smien 19 Sep 12

    It is necessary, sorry animals. We need the medical advances for human life. Animal research has helped us save literally millions of lives by helping us find vaccinations and improve cancer research and other research for diseases such as, thyroid, lupus, crohns or u.c. , arthritis, and much more... i read a comment above stating that if people would just eat healthy and exercise there would be no need for drugs. Well my ignorant fellow, I am a 16 year old male, I've been a vegetarian on a great exercise regimen, and i am actually quite thin... and guess what, i have crohns diseases, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Some things are genetic, your saying rugs aren't needed, tell that to the 5 year old leukemia patients. Most life threatening diseases are GENETIC and have little to do with life style. Of course radiation can effect the destruction of healthy cells and deform the growth of another... this usually isn't the cause for most cancers. These experiments must go on until we find solutions. i love the animals but a human life (and later possibly hundreds) is far more valuable.

  71. #76 Case Smien 19 Sep 12

    It is necessary, sorry animals. We need the medical advances for human life. Animal research has helped us save literally millions of lives by helping us find vaccinations and improve cancer research and other research for diseases such as, thyroid, lupus, crohns or u.c. , arthritis, and much more... i read a comment above stating that if people would just eat healthy and exercise there would be no need for drugs. Well my ignorant fellow, I am a 16 year old male, I've been a vegetarian on a great exercise regimen, and i am actually quite thin... and guess what, i have crohns diseases, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Some things are genetic, your saying rugs aren't needed, tell that to the 5 year old leukemia patients. Most life threatening diseases are GENETIC and have little to do with life style. Of course radiation can effect the destruction of healthy cells and deform the growth of another... this usually isn't the cause for most cancers. These experiments must go on until we find solutions. i love the animals but a human life (and later possibly hundreds) is far more valuable.

  72. #77 Olivia 26 Sep 12

    If you are trying to test if something is dangerous for humans, you should test it on humans not animals. Animal testing is implying that they are less important than us, that we are superiority. Animals are just as important and more clever than most people that walk this earth. Animal testing is cruel and idiotic. Just reminds me of another reason I think this world is horrible, and only inspires me more to help animals in need...

  73. #78 Crystal 23 Oct 12

    According to a company called ’Safer Medicines’ they say that animal testing is wrong and that side effects from medicines has sent 1,000,000 Britons to hospital every year. Adverse drug reactions cost the NHS £2bn (The Guardian, 3 April 2008, Sarah Boseley).

    Adverse drug reaction kills 10,000 people every year in the UK. (British Medical Journal 2004).

    Drugs may have cured and helped people but what about the ones that have killed tons of people?

    The law doesn't demand for human biology tests such as human cellls and DNA, human tissues, body-on-a-chip devices, clinical trials in a test tube, computer models, microdosing.

    The regulations are outdated and action needs to be taken towards the government on these issues if you really believe in them.

    Check out

    I know about this company as I have a leaflet from them and they have a petition to sign which you can find on their website to call on the government to mandate the use of technologies that can predict safety of medicines more reliably.

  74. #79 Aidan 28 Oct 12

    Helen sounds much more convincing. Laurie doesn't really have anything to refute the fact that animal testing doesn't work 90% of the time, and that many of the failed tests on animals could certainly have been cures to aids, cancer, or some other disease. Having done a bit of research on the fact myself, I found out that the reason we did not know that cigarettes caused cancer is because of animal testing.

    Honestly, the only reason that animal testing is still used is money. There are so many companies set around for animal experimentation, it is a multi-billion dollar industry (yes industry). Those who raise the animals to be tested would be outraged as they would go out of business. The medical researchers would not like it, because they would discover all the cures to current diseases in not too many years, and then the government would have no reason to give them any more grants.

    It all comes down to money. Our system is corrupt, as it has always been.

  75. #80 Kaity H 09 Nov 12

    The use of animals for testing has been in effect since approximately the 1920’s and it progressed to being a major factor for humans in terms of advancing medicine and science (Murnaghan, 2010). While it is inarguable that many advancements have been made since animal experimentation began, it is obvious that the recurrence of the same test in repetition is highly unnecessary and is inhumane. Testing was initially used for discovering cures to diseases (such as diabetes (Murnaghan, 2010)) but is now being used for trivial things like cosmetics and household care. If something needs to be tested on an animal for the safety of humans, should we really be using it at all? And how good can it be for the environment? If any being on this planet treated their domesticated pet the same way they do in the laboratories, they would be charged with animal cruelty, yet somehow we can make an exception which differentiates a lab rat to a family pet.

    In 1922, animal testing took a major step forward leading to the release of some antibiotics and anaesthetics in 1930 (Murnaghan, 2010). These were advancements considered necessary to improve the quality of life for other animals and humans. The ratio of animals used for testing versus the number of beings cured was much greater than it is now. It was used as an essential step to curing illnesses and the harm to half a dozen in exchange of possibly hundreds of lives being saved was a superb feat. Sadly, however, our power as humans has led us to be disrespectful to the fact that animals still have feelings and value. The reason humans aren’t used for most chemical experimentation is because it is severely damaging and in most cases, life taking. No one would undo the procedures and any for who did, their screams would be so loud they would eco all around the city. So instead we use animals, beings who don’t have a voice. There isn’t one other animal on this plant which uses other animals excessively and superfluously in order to improve the quality of their own lives (New International, 2012).
    In the United Kingdom, 1876, the first ever regulation concerning the safety of animals utilized in scientific experimentation was released. It was named the Cruelty to Animals Act and the new law stated that any scientists who desired to perform animal experiments must have a licence. 7 years later, in 1883, this act was introduced into Victoria, Australia and made its way to the other states by the yearly 1990’s. This law was last updated on September 1st 2010 (NSW Department of Primary Industries and Animal Research (N.D.)).
    Enough tests have been done to animals over the last few hundred years to cover more than enough results. The continuation is therefore unwarranted and undesirable. The information collected from all previous tests needs to be made accessible to any persons who wish to use those ingredients and this will prevent the need for any more tests to be undertaken.

    It is clear from the information provided that it is no longer necessary to test on animals. While it may have been an obvious assistant in the past, technology is so advanced now that testing isn’t required to continue. With all the previous knowledge scientists have gained, there is no need to continue the maltreatment of animals. It is important to realise animals are our equals and they still have feelings, they don’t deserve to die this way any longer. Animals, no matter how great or small, deserve the love and reverence that any other being on this planet does. As many companies have shown, it is entirely possible to make products which are animals friendly and, quite often (as it tends to go hand in hand) environmentally safe too. As I said before, if any being on this planet treated their domesticated pet the same way they do in the laboratories, they would be charged with animal cruelty, yet somehow we can make an exception which differentiates a lab rat to a family pet. It’s time to make a change and once and for all eradicate the use of animals for experimental testing!

  76. #82 Jennifer 17 Jan 13

    Alternatives to Animal Testing
    • In vitro studies
    • Computer modeling
    • Epidemiological studies
    • Cell and tissue cultures
    • Clinical studies
    • CAT, PET, and MRI scans
    • Quantitative-structure activity relationship analysis
    • Chemical toxicity assays
    • Supervised operating room experience

  77. #83 melania 22 Jan 13

    i surely do believe that animals shouldn't be tested for medical treatments because:
    animals are like us humans we wouldn't like to be tested on for a medical treatment because of all the pain and suffering,animals go through the pain we go through and we have to be very careful on saying animals have no feelings they do have feelings because when they are badly hurt they cry,i will say from my heart i am not a fan of animals but hurting them on the other hand is not fair for them

  78. #84 melania 22 Jan 13

    i surely do believe that animals shouldn't be tested for medical treatments because:
    animals are like us humans we wouldn't like to be tested on for a medical treatment because of all the pain and suffering,animals go through the pain we go through and we have to be very careful on saying animals have no feelings they do have feelings because when they are badly hurt they cry,i will say from my heart i am not a fan of animals but hurting them on the other hand is not fair for them

  79. #85 Maryann 23 Jan 13

    No! Animal testing should never be used to advance medical research. Researchers use and abuse helpless creatures for their own welfare, without them they would not have a job in research. this would lead them to do the right thing and use common sense to find cures without using cruelty. Humans are totally different than any animal. I believe there are sadistic people in research who enjoy abusing living creatures that have no voice and can't fight back. Where is their empathy? And please don't tell me it's for the good of mankind because it is not. There is a passage in the bible that reads as follows, ’A good man does kindness to God's creatures, but an evil man does cruelty’. These researchers I believe do not believe in God, most scientists don't. How I wish they would put themselves in that animals place and try and feel the suffering they have to endure.I have no respect for medical people who allows this evil. I contribute to the anti-vivisection charity and they have assured me and others that animals are not needed for research. I would want them to get in touch with them and find out the truth.

  80. #86 Joshua Polk 27 Jan 13

    Though animal testing can be distasteful depending on the test I believe that it is the closest that scientists can come to replicating results in humans besides actually testing humans. It is a necessary evil in the psychological development process.

  81. #87 scott 02 Mar 13

    EACH AND EVERYONE THAT BELIEVES ANIMAL TESTING DOES NOT SAFEGUARD HUMAN HEALTH IS BEYOND HELP. Most of the current health and longevity of our species is due to the fact of serious scientific testing. You would not live the life you have without the science involving medicine and foods without animal testing. EACH person denying the history and benefits of animal testing are either unmitigated fools (ignorant of history facts and science) or has an immoral agenda usually steeped in a dire need to reject truth and believe in fables. We need animals and much more than for pets!!!!! They are our source of food, knowledge of biology, and medical advancements. DENYING this is just plain INSANE. Stop this foolishness and GROW UP. The innocent that will be hurt, become ravaged by diseases because of fools who ban animal testing will be on your heads in this life and the next.

  82. #88 abbie 06 Mar 13

    Animal Testing Should be banned

    An undeniable con of animal testing is the lost of many animal lives, those animals that do not die in test are put to sleep! This adds to the estimated 90 million animals killed worldwide for research. And animals are very different than people, so their test results are not always useful or practical for human comparisons. In research the animal will react in a whole different way than a human will to the medicine.

    Perfumes and cosmetics are often tested in the eyes of animals so that the reaction is quicker and it can make the animals blind.

    Animal research is the amount of animals killed and injured during animal research. Animals that don't die often live the rest of their lives in captivity because the tests have caused irreversible damage. In addition, many of the substances consumed by the animals never become approved for humans.

  83. #89 Simian Cattle 27 Mar 13

    ’These people need real cures based on real science – not misleading and antiquated animal experiments.’ - Helen

    ’ It appears the evidence for using animals to remedy human illnesses is unnecessary and unscientific, let alone unethical.’

    Of all the naive and ignorant things to have read. There is no way anyone here besides Laurie has even half a brain. Not only have all of you proven that you do not even understand what was written here, but because of your previous bias towards this topic, you have proven that you really don't care to know. Once you have an agenda, you'll believe anything someone says to support your naive and uneducated beliefs. At the same time, you believe something just because someone speaks without emotion. Yes Laurie got emotional because it's hard to reason with imbeciles. And the best part is that you think Helen knows what shes talking about. The simple fact that she implied that animal testing has no basis in real science proves she has no idea what she is talking about. Do you know what science REALLY is? If you agree with her you don't. Look up the scientific method and how to conduct an experiment vs how to conduct a quasi experiment. Look up Pavlov's dogs! That is animal testing. Look up the discovery of insulin while you're at it and you'll realize how horribly ignorant you look here. I'm so sorry, just because it seems unethical does not mean it is not ’REAL SCIENCE’ and to think this is incredibly foolish and just shows how uneducated you are.

    The Scientific Method:

    If you wanna get religious about it:
    Genesis 1:26 ’And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’

    Cancer patients don't care that a drug works on a mouse? Are you seriously joking right now? That some diseases can be cured in other species. Seriously, my dad would be Dead right now if they didn't kill some dogs to discover insulin. They used the scientific method (REAL SCIENCE) to get the results that are now being used to save millions of people from what was once a deadly disease. Ignorant people astound me. Makes me actually want to learn.

  84. #91 bob 08 May 13

    animals should not be used its very cruel and we have enough humans to do the experiments on our selves.

  85. #92 bob 08 May 13

    animals should not be used its very cruel and we have enough humans to do the experiments on our selves.

  86. #93 Mitchell.Sexner 13 Aug 13

    Animal testing has always been a major issue when it comes to medical research. Cosmetics, plastic surgery and the like are also some of the areas that are not spared from animal testing and would always get the top criticisms from animal rights groups. Not until there is an alternative solution that would replace animal testing, I think it will be an ongoing dilemma and issue that will pervade the medical industry.

  87. #94 Kathryn Pirnat 05 Sep 13

    Personally, I feel that in the advancement of the medical research field if researchers and biologists need to rely on the testing of animals in various conditions and circumstances for use in human beings, does it not make more sense to use human subjects which don't just mimic the human body but would actually represent the outcome of such tests for accuracy in humans? I've researched this subject and the only responsive comment I can find against such testing is that it would be wrong to test on human subjects. Why? Our prisons are overflowing with test subjects for these projects and I feel that would be the perfect atonement for their wrongdoings against society. What better way to say you are truly sorry for your actions then to offer yourself perhaps as a breakthrough in medical technology? Why should animals have to suffer? Many other countries have found alternative methods which have lead to significant breakthroughs in the medical arena without animal testing. We need to learn to use all of our wonderful advancements in electronic technologies in this area also. And the FDA does not always do its job in their monitoring of this field and many animals suffer horrendously and needlessly to the point of total cruelty! Brilliant minds should be able to come up with brilliant solutions without causing pain and suffering in the process for innocent, sentient beings. Thank you.

  88. #95 Montfort 07 Oct 13

    I agree with Laurie, we have to microdose to make sure these items are safe for human use. We don't want products out there that cause people to go blind or lose their smell after a few years of use.

  89. #96 wyna 13 Oct 13

    I believe that animal testing is not needed. We have medicine in our backyards, literally. There are so many plants, roots, flowers and leaves that my native ancestors used. Just an excuse for humans to be messy.

  90. #98 KRS sathwik 05 Jan 14

    I say that we should not test medicines on animals

  91. #101 bob 05 Mar 14

    I hate animals. we should test anything on them, drugs, guns, boxing gloves idc just beat the shit out of them. especially fucking cats goddam ill kell them all

  92. #102 estefany 09 Apr 14

    Jesus died in the cross for us never let are side

  93. #103 Charles Buzzell 27 Apr 14

    Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine has shown for a long time that there is no comparison to animal and human epidemiology. Animal testing is cruel and unwarranted.

  94. #104 Rainbow cupcake 30 Apr 14

    It's wrong to test stuff on animals over 26milloin are tested a year

  95. #107 jena 15 Aug 14

    well this will be short :

    some people say that since the animal's body is closest to the human's body they use the animal's body to expirement the common diseases that occur to the human's body , and try to find medications like ; when they found out that the snake's venom can be used as medications and they expiremented that on rabbits and mice

  96. #108 Jacky 23 Sep 14

    Animal testing should be aloud:

    Should Animal Testing Continue For Human Benefit?
    Animal testing should continue. Animals are very similar to humans. If scientists didn’t test on humans, the product or drug can harm humans. Animals benefit from testing, and so can humans. Animal testing has found cures and saved many people’s lives.

  97. #109 skylar 10 Nov 14

    this is cruel to animals. We should stop animal testing.

  98. #110 jade owen 14 Nov 14

    I thin it is cruel to experiment on animals as they normally die afterwards.I also think it's cruel that humans live and animals don't and then they complain that animals are becoming vulnerable and extinct.

  99. #112 monique 03 Dec 14

    i don't think it's right to test on animals because i think it's cruel.
    If half the test you did on animals didn't work on humans whats the point. I mean don't get me wrong i would love for the test to work. If you wanted it to work try the same test on the animal but with different stuff in the test tube.

  100. #113 Jenna Miles 01 Feb 15

    Animal testing is completely inaccurate and a complete violation on the rights of animals.

    Before reading this I would like to stress that I think the holocaust was evil, as does the person who wrote this article, it is merely comparing two atrocities, not belittling either

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This article was originally published in issue 443

New Internationalist Magazine issue 443
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