Here is a compilation of information from some current resources that may be of use to anyone involved in debating / opposing animal experimentation. Sometimes it is hard for non-scientists to argue on scientific issues and one suggestion was that another approach was to stay with the moral and ethical arguments opposing animal testing. However, if possible, I feel that being able to raise scientifically referenced articles or books that quote specific figures and examples with regard to animal experimentation may be of great benefit when confronted by actual researchers who wish to promote animal research using widesweeping scientific statements to support their cause.
There are also very useful URL's on animal experimentation and links at various sites such as
The following answer was compiled from current information received from contributors to the AR list. If anyone wants the original posts, please contact me and I will forward your name to the writers for response. Also, there are probably many different ways to answer such a statement depending on the angle from which you approach the problem.
In answer to the statement "But as of now, if one of your loved ones comes down with ANY treatable disease, you can thank animal research " , the following replies were received.
(Source 1 - Dr John Wedderburn - email@example.com ). The knowledge base of modern scientific medicine has come from a large variety of sources. Very few treatments have actually been discovered during animal research. It is true that they have all been tested on animals but this is because of the way the research world is organised and regulated. A simple example of what I mean is Banting and Best's discovery of Insulin. They spent years trying to prove their theory on dogs while thousands of children died of Diabetes. It cannot be said that no good has ever come from animal experiments - but what can be said is that if the same money and brainpower had been devoted to alternative investigative modalities, medical science would now be much further on than it is today - and all without this horrific on-going holocaust of animals.
(actually on reading this statement again, I see that it is actually badly worded and its meaning is different from what the writer intended. it is true that "you can thank animal research" for many of the diseases that your loved ones come down with - iatrogenic and nosocomial disease are far commoner than is ever admitted. the ghastly mistakes from misleading research have indeed maimed and killed millions of people).
(Source 2- Alix Fano, MA, Executive Director, Medical Research Modernization Committee firstname.lastname@example.org) If you have access to the world wide web, go to www.mrmcmed.org and pull up A Critical Look at Animal Experimentation. (This also includes the article from Scientific American titled Animal Research Is Wasteful and Misleading by Neal D. Barnard and Stephen R. Kaufman).There is a section on drugs and toxicity testing on the www.mrmcmed.org website. You may remind your relatives that a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that between 76,000 and 137,000 Americans died from drug side effects in 1994 - drugs that were all tested on animals first. This makes drug-induced deaths the 4th - 6th leading cause of death in the US. Similar statistics were released by the US General Acounting Office in the 1980s.
Apparently 52% of drugs on the market had post-approval side effects not predicted by animal tests. Animals have vastly different metabolisms than humans due to differences in ADME: Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Elimination rates. Digitalis - a life-saving heart drug - was withheld from the market for ages because it dangerously elevated blood pressure in dogs in whom it was tested. The diet drugs fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine caused heart valve abnormalities in people who took them, though these effects were not observed in pre-market tests on rodents. Examples like these are endless. In addition, while drugs are most often tested on rodents (and dogs), rodents are physiologically unable to vomit - an important feature because this means that they cannot expel a toxic substance as humans can. They also cannot complain of headaches, nausea, stomach pains and other effects. Rats do not have gall bladders so they digest fats differently. Rats reabsorb malformed fetuses, so a drug that may cause birth defects in humans (such as Thalidomide) would not be observed to cause birth defects in rats, unless you went to great lengths to cut pregnant animals open and remove the fetus prematurely (which is done now). But not all drugs that caused birth defects in humans have caused birth defects in animals and visa versa. A new book, Lethal Laws: Animal Testing, Human Health and Environmental Policy (UK: Zed Books, 1997) (Fax +44 171 833 3960) devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 3) to a critique of animal tests for toxicology and reveals why they are ineffective.
(Source 3)Two examples of drugs developed without animal research are penicillin and the smallpox vaccine. Both were discovered by clever, observant scientists. You probably know the stories of both, but just in case:
The smallpox vaccine was developed by a scientist who noticed that everyone in a particular village had contracted smallpox except one person: the milkmaid. It appeared that the milkmaid had been exposed to cowpox through her daily contact with cows, and her body developed antigens against the cowpox and those antigens were effective against the smallpox. Cowpox is closely related to smallpox, but much milder. The scientist began exposing healthy people to cowpox (without testing his theory on animals) and found that those people became immune to smallpox.
Penicillin was discovered accidentally by a scientist who noticed that germs would not grow on certain areas of certain petri dishes in his lab. Upon testing these areas, he found that those areas contained penicillin.
Just because a drug or treatment was developed using animal research doesn't mean it couldn't have been developed *without* animal research. Furthermore, almost *every* drug, cosmetic, cleanser, etc. has been tested on animals by someone at some point, even natural ingredients and ingredients we would consider to be foods. That doesn't mean that we need to thank animal research for oatmeal soap or kohl eyeliner.
(Source 4)One sad example comes to mind right away of drugs (extensively tested) gone wrong. In 1995 Christopher Reeves was treated with sygen, a drug that was supposed to help his spinal cord damage, but instead shut down his lungs.
(Source 5)The book "Brute Science" by LaFollette and Shanks has been recommended as having a balanced view of the scientific (pro and con) arguments to animal experimentation
(Source 6)There are many documented cases of extreme cruelty in animal
testing. There are several books and many documents that have accounts of
this occurring. There is anecdotal evidence reporting that many times anesthetic has not been used. Typically, however, when this is the case, animal's screams are not a concern. As long as the experiment is not impaired by the noise, it is, as far as I know, simply ignored.(References available)
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