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Why More Animal Experiments Last Year


The vivisection industry – the experimenters, the animal breeders, the equipment makers, the funding agencies, etc. – has its spin doctors out this week.

That’s because latest figures from the U.K. show that, despite all the talk of new computer technologies that can replace experiments on animals, vivisection actually went up last year, not down.

In the United States, it’s hard to tell how many animals are suffering and dying each year in laboratories, since millions of them, for example mice, rats and birds, don’t don’t qualify as “animals”, so they don’t have to be counted. In the U.K., 4.11 million experiments on animals in 2012 – an 8 percent jump on the previous year.

But in the U.K., official figures show that 4.11 million experiments were carried out in 2012 – an 8 per cent jump on the previous year. And there was an especially big increase in the use of monkeys.

We don’t know for sure, but it’s probably safe to assume that vivisection went up, not down, in this country, too.

No wonder the spin doctors are out.

“If we are to address the unmet medical needs of the 21st Century such as cures for dementia and stroke,” wrote University College London researcher Elizabeth Fisher, “then it is likely that some animal research will be necessary.”

By “some”, she must have meant to say “lots”. More, in fact, than ever – like more than a billion animals every year. A thousand million animals.

Dr. Fisher says we’re making more “medical breakthroughs” than ever. She writes:

The Gila monster’s (South American lizard) venom is a key ingredient in Lixisenatide, a new treatment for diabetes; genetically modified mice were key to the development of Lonafarnib, the first ever treatment for Progeria (a condition causing extreme premature aging in children); and pioneering research in macaque monkeys has contributed to the possibility of “three-parent IVF treatment”, which has recently come closer to being approved to avoid inherited mitochondrial disease.

She adds that in her own vivisection lab:

We found an unexpected interaction between an Alzheimer gene and the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome. This novel finding takes us another step closer to developing potential treatments by shedding light on Alzheimer disease in people with Down syndrome, and in the rest of us.

But she doesn’t manage to explain the giant disconnect in people’s heads over the fact that we thought vivisection was going down, not up. Like, for example, since cosmetic testing is being ended in Europe, why are more animals dying in laboratories, not fewer? Is it really all to do with things like “extreme premature aging in children”? (Why hadn’t we heard about that particular epidemic?) More scientists say that experimenting on nonhuman animals is a really bad way of finding treatments for humans.

And what happened to the 2007 report by the U.S. National Research Council, Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century, which pointed to the future of medical research as involving laboratories full of the new super-powerful computers that can trace the path of a substance through millions of human molecules, thus replacing all those dubious mouse studies?

Meanwhile, a growing chorus of scientists are saying that experimenting on nonhuman animals is a really bad way of finding treatments for us humans. Check out what they have to say in this video from Humane Society International. (It runs about 10 minutes.)

People who are afraid that without all these experiments on mice and monkeys, medicine would be set back decades need to understand that we already have the capability to produce the kind of computers that can produce far better results than most animal models.

monkey-lab-071813What’s holding us back is the vivisection industry itself – a huge, multi-billion-dollar business that wants us to believe that stopping vivisection would bring an end to medical progress.

In fact, the opposite is the case. It would free up those billions of dollars to invest in the kind of science and research that would generate enormous advances in medicine.

As usual, what’s good for our fellow animals is good for us humans, too. Just as when we stop eating animals we enjoy better health, when we stop experimenting on animals we’ll enjoy better medicine.