As the UK Home Office publishes its Annual Statistics on Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, AIA Director, Dr Andre Menache comments on the need to replace them with 21st century human based test methods.
Dr Andre Menache
Animal experiments have been cleverly sold to the public as a “necessary evil” by some in the scientific research community. For about a century, this argument was accepted in good faith as being truthful, both by the public and the government. However, based on our current scientific understanding of living organisms and the complexity of living beings, it is painfully obvious that animal experimentation constitutes a perversion of science in the present day.
How are animals used in science ?
The above pie chart indicates roughly how animals are used in science :
- Education and training (undergraduate and post graduate university studies) : 5%
- Regulatory requirements for marketing purposes (animal testing of pharmaceutical drugs, industrial chemicals, etc.) : 25%
- Scientific research (basic aka fundamental research, which in simple terms refers to scientific curiosity ; and applied research, which in simple terms means goal oriented research) : 70%
- The replacement of animals in education and training is a huge success story. Most, if not all animal use in this category can and has been replaced with humane alternatives (see for example the work of www.interniche.org).
- The replacement of animals in the context of regulatory testing is an area where progress can happen very rapidly once public opinion and consumer awareness are mobilised. For example, shareholders in the pharmaceutical industry need to be made aware of the fact that animal tests are conducted more for legal reasons than scientific ones AND that the pharmaceutical industry has the means but simply lacks the political will to replace animal testing with 21st century human based test methods. Just as shareholders in the energy industry are demanding an end to the use of fossil fuels, so too we can expect a shareholder revolt within the pharmaceutical industry once the facts on animal testing are exposed.
- The replacement of animals in scientific research (basic and applied research) remains the biggest challenge to overcome because our current research paradigm is still based on 19th century scientific dogma. However, once the transition to human based test methods becomes established in the field of regulatory testing (as soon as 2025), this will greatly accelerate the end of animal research in general.
The following short video shows the procedure that beagle dogs endure up to three times a day for up to 90 days as part of the regulatory requirements for testing new pharmaceutical drugs. The drug is passed directly into the stomach via a tube. The dogs receive no anaesthetic or analgesic. It sometimes happens that the drug accidentally passes into the lungs instead of the stomach, which can result in pneumonia. At the end of the 90 day test period, the dogs will be killed and their organs examined.
If you are a shareholder in a pharmaceutical company which still hasn’t changed to human relevant test methods, please raise this issue with them. You may consider making other shareholders aware of this and proposing a resolution to end animal testing at their AGM.