Animal rights and wrongs

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A Nature survey shows the pernicious impact of activism on biomedical scientists. More institutions must offer researchers the training they need to stand up for their work.

The results of a Nature poll of scientists involved in animal research reveal that nearly one-quarter of respondents have been negatively affected by animal-rights activists, or seen it happen to someone they know. In some places, including the United Kingdom, the figure is higher than one-third. The large number of people affected will surprise many of Nature's readers. Researchers have suffered fire bombings, physical attacks, destruction of personal property and campaigns of harassment. But the statistics do not necessarily reflect the current prevalence of violent activist behaviour — rather, they reveal how such activity instils a lingering fear that is difficult to forget (see page 452).

The survey shows how corrosive animal-rights extremism can be. It is clear that many of those who perpetrate it remain unrepentant and determined to continue their efforts to terrorize researchers, but there are positive signs. Little more than 15% of poll respondents who were affected by activism said the tactics drove them to change the direction or practice of their research, and several who did make changes said that they mostly became more selective about who they talked to or how they presented their work on the Internet.

“There is no excuse for institutions not to explain what goes on within their walls.”

There are welcome signs that the tide of violent activity may be turning, especially in the United Kingdom. Several factors could be at work. Tougher legislation might be having an effect; in the past few years, Britain and the United States have both introduced laws that reinforce the seriousness of acts of vandalism intended to bully and blackmail those connected to animal research. Groups in favour of such research have also helped to calm the violence. Pro-Test, an organization based in Oxford, UK, which this week celebrates its fifth anniversary, has managed to counter a campaign of misinformation and intimidation that almost scuttled plans to build a biomedical research facility at the University of Oxford (see page 457). Other groups have begun to follow Pro-Test's lead, including an offshoot at the University of California, Los Angeles, which has been repeatedly targeted by activists. Proactive campaigns and pressure on lawmakers to protect the public's investment in research have aided the backlash against extremism. But these are only part of the solution.

Scientists regularly face the dilemma of how open to be about their animal research. Non-disclosure, even in the scientific literature, is common, according to a recent survey by the UK National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research. Such a lack of openness, it added, could impede reproduction and replication of previous work (C. Kilkenny et al. PLoS ONE 4, e7824; 2009). Findings such as these have led many journals, including Nature, to adopt more-explicit rules about what is to be reported in the literature (see

Talking to the public remains crucial. Sometimes, the threat of violence means that individual researchers will not wish to engage directly with the public and should even be cautioned against doing so. But there is no excuse for institutions that house animal research — including most research universities — not to have vigorous and well-defined programmes to explain what goes on within their walls. Institutions should publicize the high standards that they are required to meet before they can use animals. They should also discuss their strategies to replace animals with more sophisticated research tools, refine research practice and reduce the overall number of animals used. If they have no such strategies, institutions should develop them as a priority.

Some scientists who work with animals are already willing to explain the importance of their research. Others should follow their lead. Nature's survey found that more than 50% of researchers were encouraged by their institutions to engage with the public, yet not much more than one-quarter felt they were given the necessary training or support. This is unacceptable: the resources are out there, including tips on how to communicate effectively and how best to respond to personal threats.

Activists often attempt to marginalize researchers, isolating them from their institutions and the wider community. If researchers build better and stronger bonds with both, they can ensure that it is the extremists who are marginalized.


  1. Report this comment #18265

    Paul Browne said:

    Anyone interested in learning more about Pro-Test for Science can visit the website at and the associated national Speaking of Research campaign at

    Pro-science organizations such as Understanding Animal Research, Seriously Ill for Medical Research and Pro-Test showed what can be achieved if scientists and supporters of medical science engage with the public and face down the extremists, that is a lesson that needs to be learned by scientists in other countries that now face the extremist threat.

  2. Report this comment #18271

    Dario Ringach said:

    Talking to the public is not only essential but an obligation.

    Extremists will be more easily marginalized if the public sees a willingness from scientists to discuss the importance of their work, the care that goes into performing animal research, and engages with those that have a legitimate concern about the ethical nature of such studies.

    Yet, the responsibility of engaging with the public does not only falls upon our scientists, but also on the academic leadership of our universities, public health officials, patient advocacy groups and the funding agencies that establish the scientific directions of the country.

    The probability of any one scientist being the target of violence is small to begin with and inversely proportional to the number of scientists speaking up.

    Yes, it is time to speak up...

  3. Report this comment #18274

    Jacquie Calnan said:

    Nature's editorial is absolutely correct – there's an abundance of tools, resources and guides available for institutions and individuals striving to stand for research. For over two decades, numerous nonprofit organizations – including my own, Americans for Medical Progress – have served to prepare scientists, administrators, advocates and other leaders to take responsibilty for building public appreciation of the importance of animal research. Following are a few links (by no means a complete listing). Call on us to get started. We'll work with you to put together the right package of resources, information and training for your needs.
    Americans for Medical Progress
    States United for Biomedical Research
    Foundation for Biomedical Research
    Pro-Test for Science
    Speaking of Research
    Understanding Animal Research

  4. Report this comment #18279

    STEVE COXON said:

    The article fails to consider the difficulties in relating research conducted on non-human animals to humans; the long history of animal neglect, abuse, and suffering in labs and laboratory animal breeding facilities; and the possibilities of moving to human tissue samples and computer modeling. Among other issues, the author commits the logical fallacy of appealing to fear instead of constructing a point-by-point argument. By disregarding the concerns of the opposing side, the article is left severely biased. In fact, few animal rights activists are violent. The same cannot be said in regards to the injuries caused by vivisectionists.

  5. Report this comment #18291

    veronica new said:

    Violence is obviously a problematic way to enter the debate over animal experimentation. It's this violence--and articles like this that focus only on the few violent protesters--that obscure the real issues surrounding animal experimentation. It's not just these violent activists who find problems with animal research--a growing number of researchers themselves have moved away from animal research after realizing the results weren't translating to human benefit. And that animals really do feel pain and suffer psychologically from experiments and from being forced to live in harsh lab conditions. We should not tolerate violence against animal researchers, but we also must work together as a society to move away from animal research in the interest of both animals and humans.

  6. Report this comment #18292

    Andrish Reddy said:

    I understand why people would want to experiment with animals. Man has made advances in medicine and surgery from what we learn from animal experimentation. People suffering with diseases for which there is no current cure would also be pro-animal experimentation because they desire an end to their suffering. The debate is complex because we do not have a simple 'fix' to the problem. Currently, cell models and computer models cannot capture the intricacies of what goes on inside an animal body. That being said, we humans share this earth with the animals. To simply carry on animal experimentation without considering other alternatives, or how we could potentially phase out experimentation, is inhumane. We have made advances already with laws that stipulate the humane treatment of animal test subjects. This is a good start, but we should not be afraid to go further. I am not condoning extremism – which does not help. It is only a conscientious change in the individual that will help to alleviate the suffering of our animal friends.

  7. Report this comment #18305

    Ben Boardman said:

    Violence is unacceptable, but it's disturbing to see Nature's survey and editorial copy lumping together illegal activity and peaceful opposition to animal experiments. When citizens write letters or e-mails, gather for peaceful protests outside laboratory facilities, or otherwise legally express their concerns about the use of animals in testing and experimentation, they are exercising their natural and legal rights to free speech and assembly. Such peaceful activism also provides a powerful alternative to the kind of illegal activity that Nature correctly abhors. Scientists who use animals deserve to be safe and secure in their persons and properties--but they are not entitled to be shielded from reasonable scrutiny and peaceful opposition to their use of sentient beings in invasive experiments.

  8. Report this comment #18313

    Hope Ferdowsian, M.D. said:

    As a physician who is concerned about the prevention and alleviation of suffering in humans and nonhuman animals and a proponent of nonviolence, I was concerned about how these important issues were examined in this issue of Nature. Violence targeted against researchers or other individuals cannot be condoned. But, the ethics surrounding the use of animals in research must be examined separately and objectively. An increasing number of people are concerned about the morality of the use of animals in research and other areas of society, particularly as we have learned so much about animals’ emotional and cognitive capacities — especially their capacity for suffering. All of these issues deserve adequate attention. I hope that future articles will pursue a more thorough examination of the issue surrounding the ethics of animal research.

    -Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Research Policy with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

  9. Report this comment #18319

    John J. Pippin said:

    It is appropriate to decry the extremes, but not only the extremes of a few of those who oppose animal experimentation. The experimenters themselves are also a heterogeneous lot, and too many are focused laser-like on their "right" to harm and kill sentients for no greater purposes than career advancement, employment, prestige, curiosity, or institutional funding.

    Researchers can no longer skate by claiming an essential role for animal experimentation in medical advances. That claim has been rubbished, perhaps most effectively by Robert Matthews (JRSM 2008;101:95-8). Nor can they summarily disregard the animals used in their almost entirely non-translatable research, performed primarily on the public dole and thus with expectation that the public will benefit from the research.

    Though it can't be discerned from this editorial, there are of course two sides to the claims of unnecessary violence. No consideration is given here to the unnecessary violence suffered by experimental animals and opposed by those who would protect them. Viewed that way, and considering that nearly all animal experimentation opponents operate peacefully, just who are the extremists and villains here?

  10. Report this comment #18326

    Nitin Gandhi said:

    Animal Experiment or no? is a very big question and may not have answer very clear and unambiguous.

    Whenever I do the experiment on mice I feel pity on the mice for one reason that the experimental animals -male and female are kept separate and may remain separate for pretty long period, I do not know for sure -but it may be a big emotional torture to the animals? also considering that the rats/mice are nocturnal animals -all my experiments done in day is the night for the animal? and is it not torture that one is woken up at middle of the night?

    The men is not mature enough to understand that the men is NOT the center of the universe, so the argument that "animal use is for the good of the human kind" is very narrow minded attitude.

    Finally it is the scientist conducting the experiment on animal has to decide from case to case basis the worthiness of using the animals.

  11. Report this comment #18327

    Igor Makasyuk said:

    Obviously, there are all kinds of people among activists and there is no excuse for extremism. However, there is absolutely NO excuse for animal experimentation. I will save my breath preaching that animals feel pain and that they suffer. Yes they do. Anyone who ever interacted with animals know that. Animals display a complete set of features and behaviors that humans believe is typical only for humans. How do humans know, anyway? They do not know much about how animals communicate.

    Experimenting on animals equals medieval ignorance and cruelty. It is a deeply flawed mindset that allows for that; the entire paradigm has to change. I completely agree with the statement above: many – oh, so many – researchers conceal their ambitions, scientific curiosity, and the competition for funding behind the hypocritical declarations of working for the humankind and healing the ill. Ethical treatment of lab animals and humane euthanasia is a bogus; I am ashamed to hear those words in one sentence. And note – that is in the ideal situation when the "ethical" treatment regulations are followed. Thanks to animal rights organizations it sometimes comes out in the open what is actually going on in some labs where ignorant and heartless operators are allowed to commit incomprehensible things. That helped to shut down some of the research facilities. As comforting as it might be, it is not.

    My degrees are in a different field, so I refrain from speculating on how human tissues or computer simulations can be used instead. All I know is: it is immoral to be using those who are not as strong as we are as conveniently voiceless victims, to be torturing and "humanely" killing them just because we can. Who gave humans the right to decide who is to live and who is to die? No matter how you look at it, the only species living by the "jungle law" is humans. There is no reason to look down on animals; we are inferior to them – we kill for an experiment. Oh, yes, we "sacrifice" them. There is only one way to think of it without falling in a hypocrisy: it is a mass killing for an obscure reason. But I am certainly forgetting here that hypocrisy is the feature of no animals but humans.

    At some point my life can happen to become dependent on the medications or procedures tested on animals. I am fully aware of that. Would I give it up? Yes, no doubt I would. Is that extremism, too?

    If the journal is taking on a difficult job to deliberate on ethical issues, it would be nice to consider giving an opportunity for both sides to speak, to begin with.

  12. Report this comment #18337

    Daniel Lyons said:

    Unfortunately, the commitment to openness from animal researchers appears to be merely a PR exercise. In the UK, published 'abstracts' of animal research projects provide an opportunity for reearchers to assist public understanding of their practices. However, for the most part they choose not to disclose the most ethically/legally relevant aspects of the project licences which detail:
    1) The procedures to be performed on animals and the likely adverse effects
    2) The scientific case for the project
    3) How they have considered non-animal alternatives
    The Information Tribunal commented:
    "... the abstracts appear generally to adopt a style and tone intended to persuade the reader as to the value of the proposed experiments. This is in contrast to the style of the licence applications, which are more neutral in tone. This perception of a positive spin having been applied to the published information was increased by the absence from the abstracts of the detail about the experiments themselves."
    As our agreement with Novartis shows, it is possible to publish reliable primary data about animal experiments and how it is regulated:
    Despite the fact that in the UK, for example, animal experiments can only take place with a licence issued following scrutiny from authorities acting (in theory at least) on behalf of the public, the public has been systematically excluded from these decisions through a combination of secrecy and a decision-making process dominated by animal research interests.
    All this talk of the need for institutions developing 'programmes to explain what goes on within their walls' does seem rather contrived given the selfsame institutions have gone out of their way to conceal relevant information. Such clear inconsistency does little to engender trust in their integrity. Researchers need to develop a less elitist attitude and accept the public has an ethical and democratic right to ultimate control over their activities.
    Dr Dan Lyons, Uncaged; Honorary Research Fellow, Dept of Politics, University of Sheffield

  13. Report this comment #18352

    Yoav Kashiv said:

    It's about time Nature will abandon its support for experimentation on animals and will lead the way to abolish it. Not only that this research is unethical, but as a medical research tool, it's simply bad science.

  14. Report this comment #18353

    Roey Angel said:

    It's appalling to see how one-sided Nature is on this highly disputed issue.

    Seems like all claims for the need to be unbiased and critical which Nature expects from the scientists who wish to publish in it do not hold much water when scientific practices themselves are at the focus.

    As others have pointed out before me, such a cardinal bioethical issue deserves a more respectful treatment than simply throwing mud at animal-rights activist. There are people out there who are seriously committed to this political-philosophical subject on virtually every spot on the spectrum and they should have been invited to contribute.

  15. Report this comment #18378

    John Janczy said:

    As a cellular immunologist, my work would not exist, if not for animal models. The mice I use are the best tools I have for probing the intricate workings of the mammalian immune system. My work studying the mice, will hopefully yield valuable insight into the workings of the human immune system and help relieve the suffering of someone. Whenever, we perform experiments in our lab we do it with the utmost respect for our mice, and to be quite honest the mice in our facility are treated better than most pets. We also work to ensure that any potential suffering of the animal is minimized, through the use of pain killers and such things.

    For now, and for the foreseeable future, the use of animals in our experiments is needed. The use of cell lines and tissue culture are invaluable tools when performing research, but they cannot provide all (or in some cases even most) of the answers to our questions. Cell lines have problems, because they are by definition messed up cells, and therefore we need to verify our results using primary tissue. Furthermore, and experiment performed in vitro must be performed in vivo to ensure that the phenomenon we observe actually happens within the body. At this point in time, we cannot simply use computer models to dissect the pathways that our cells use; computers cannot even reliably predict how proteins fold, so how can we write programs to help us decode interactions between proteins?

    We simply need to ask ourselves which is more offensive: suffering of our fellow human beings, or the suffering of animals that can lead to lessening the suffering of people, and the betterment of the whole world?

  16. Report this comment #18381

    Igor Makasyuk said:

    "my work would not exist, if not for animal models."
    "My work studying the mice, will hopefully yield valuable insight into the workings of the human immune system and help relieve the suffering of someone."
    "We simply need to ask ourselves which is more offensive: suffering of our fellow human beings, or the suffering of animals that can lead to lessening the suffering of people, and the betterment of the whole world?"
    "We also work to ensure that any potential suffering of the animal is minimized, through the use of pain killers and such things."

    You see, that is it. Your work ... Try to understand that life, pain, love, suffering, morality, ethics, and death are not exactly equal to your work. These are different things and they are beyond your control. You certainly want to do your work ... But you do not do a work of God. I am not religious, by the way.

    "Hopefully yield valuable insight" is not good enough for me, you see. It is not good at all and is not worth a sacrificed life.

    Suffering of people and suffering of animals are both equally offensive. Try to ascend above your own species bias. Before you do that, there is no point in having a discussion. There is a difference; the sufferings of humans are inflicted through mostly natural causes but often through improper life-style, lack of exercise, and bad habits; ultimately – by natural aging. Sufferings of animals you are advocating are caused by "our fellow human beings". Don't you see how different and wrong that is?

    Do "painkillers and such things" include euthanasia drugs? I am sure they do.

    It is really saddening that you do not see how flawed is what you, I am most sure, firmly believe in? They are "animal models" for you but they are living beings, they have souls – even those who have been bread in your labs for experimentation. Pick up a tiny mouse kid and look in her eyes ... She does not know that she was born to suffer and die. I am not religious but I believe there should have been a different plan for her to be born. Do you?

  17. Report this comment #18382

    Stephen Bant said:

    Yes, Dario Ringach. I absolutely agree. Let's open all the locked doors and have the scientific community become completely transparent so that the public can see and know everything that goes on. I've been waiting for this for a long, long time. Please, go right ahead and begin this new era of openness as soon as you can.

    I also look forward to you and your colleagues, as ethical scientists, denouncing the heinous practice of animal testing for human vanity products, which of course most of the public considers to be unjustified and disgraceful. Are there many scientists working to halt the shameful use of animal testing for the cosmetics industries? I'm sure, like yourself, there must be. Please let them know they should not hesitate in coming forward in this new era of openness.

    Please speak up as a matter of urgency....

  18. Report this comment #18390

    Benjamin Moore said:

    To generalise on the above comments: those in agreement with this article are working professionals, active in research and well-informed on this subject; those against are making emotional arguments without offering realistic alternatives, let alone providing any facts or scientific basis for their viewpoint.

    Animal testing is, undeniably, a 'necessary evil' - though, of course, we can continue to debate endlessly on the application of 'necessary' and/or 'evil'.

  19. Report this comment #18398

    Olga Tkachenko said:

    I have to agree with Benjamin on this topic. It seems all too easy to suggest ceasing all research using animals without suggesting viable alternatives. Of course, work on bettering these alternatives and making them better models for research is necessary, but it seems that it isn't possible to completely eliminate animals from labs. Also, I find it hard to believe that one suffering from a life-threatening illness requiring drugs or therapies tested on animals would refuse them in the name of ethics. It is all too easy to say so when you aren't in fact faced with such a decision. Being human means that most of us are humancentric, and those who say they aren't are probably lying.

  20. Report this comment #18411

    Daniel Lyons said:

    Raising ethical objections about the use of nonhuman animals in research is no more 'emotional' than ethical objections to the non-consensual use of humans in experiments. Indeed, some of the more open and honest defenders of animal research acknowledge that the animal protection position is the one based on analytical ethics which is founded on logic and consistency, whereas the denial of moral standing to animals is based on ‘religious and ethnic traditions that draw on an array of sources such as canonical texts, authoritative readings, overlapping (even contradictory platitudes), community norms’. (R.Vance, Journal of the American Medical Association, 1992, Vol 268: 1715-1719)
    Very factual and scientific! But don't let that get in the way of a spurious generalisation.

  21. Report this comment #18412

    Igor Makasyuk said:

    Here we go. The real scientists' and working professionals' opinion is certainly going to prevail above all ethical and other nonsensical considerations of not well-informed lay public. There are good reasons to keep it not well informed and maintain the "blind with deaf" dialogue.

    Thank you for the "necessary evil" and the vague definition of it! What is moral and what is not of course is a historical matter. It changes with time as the human species matures. Some phenomena, like war, are still in the humans tool-box; there is no indication in sight when it will be eliminated. Another necessary evil. Just a few centuries ago it was considered to be appropriate and all-in-all a good practice to burn people and drown them alive because they thought differently and did not believe in the same god. The humans grew out of that one, luckily.

    I do believe that we will grow out of the "necessary evil" approach to the issue. Other – maybe cheaper – ways will be found and we will come to realize that it is not a right thing to do. In that order, unfortunately. For now, we remain on a lower level of brute force.

    "Humancentric" - well put. My point,exactly. Now, wait a minute, a "liar" label has been tried. Way to go, so human of you. When we realize that someone has a point which is valid and moral at the same time (damn!) it is so-o-o easy to mutter "Nah, he is most probably lying".
    You do not believe? Perhaps you should ...

    When I realized that part of what I was doing required animal experimentation, I quit and lost half of my funding. Not much to be proud of, yet I am not ashamed of that part. My fellow scientists – the giants in my field that were superior to many of us now – got very concerned about the applications at some point. Too late, two Japanese cities full of people have been sacrificed. Was it a necessary evil? I am most sure many people thought it was. Too many of them were wearing uniforms and were allowed way too much playground. But that was about humans, so that was of course a different story. But was it? Who even remembers those who died there? And here I am talking about mice.

    It may not be the time. Some more evolution is required. But not to be distracted by moral issues, there will be a paradigm change and we must be working towards it. Do not want to dwell on the running for cures in an hour of doom ... Three of my closest family had cancer. In all cases the only available method was deep resection. Chemo, radio? For the sake of heaven, those were experiments on humans.

    No offense, I know it takes time; it is research. However, I would try to avoid professional elitism, in particular when it comes to bio-medical sciences. Yet so much to be achieved.

  22. Report this comment #18413

    Molly Jones said:

    To John Janczy,

    You said "We simply need to ask ourselves which is more offensive: suffering of our fellow human beings, or the suffering of animals that can lead to lessening the suffering of people, and the betterment of the whole world?"

    Betterment of who’s world? This isn’t just ‘your’ world or an anthropocentric world. This world belongs to ‘all’ life. You would not exist without insects pollinating plants for example. The whole planet works in a natural symbiosis with all life contained upon it. How dare you assume you have priority over any other living creature! Your work is anti-life and you are desperately seeking to justify and substantiate your life’s work. It must be very hard living with your contradiction of conscience, living a lie. To face the truth about the heinous practices you attempt to justify on a day to day basis would be the most frightening thing you would ever do. However, you could bravely turn your talent and skills to working with nature rather than against it and then look at yourself in the mirror in peace.

  23. Report this comment #18420

    Robert Phair said:

    It should be obvious from the longevity of this issue that there are strong points to be made on both sides of the debate. As with all such debates, there is no absolute right and wrong and most of us are trying to find the middle way. Each community or nation has, implicitly at least, put the question up for debate and has sanctioned behavior it finds right enough. I have only two points to add: 1) The vast majority of human use of non-human animals consists not of biomedical research, but of killing them and eating them. 2) The Nature editorial is, in my view, completely wrong to suggest that institutions should "...discuss their strategies to replace animals with more sophisticated research tools." I'm very much in favor of reducing animal use, but I have done experimental animal surgery, I have studied perfused isolated organs, I have done experiments on cultured cells, and I have built enormously complex computer models covering the entire range of processes from molecular cell biology to human physiology, and there is, in my view, no research tool more sophisticated than a living animal. Nor any more beautiful. Each human society can decide to stop eating animals and stop using them in biomedical research, but there is no hope of solving the complex diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, dementia) without the help of living, and dying, animals. It's not an easy choice. It's not an obvious choice. It's just a choice the human race, and each individual human being, has to make.

  24. Report this comment #18432

    Nicky Nagy said:

    And yet, Robert Phair, those of us who would choose NOT to eat or experiment on animals are usually unable to stop those who WOULD. Thank god for those true scientists, few and far between, who take the moral high ground, such as Igor Makasyuk. What an angel. As for the rest of you, with your enormously complex models that haven't yet solved any of the complex diseases you listed (after decades of research on animals) - what is taking so long?? Consider, would you still use an animal if it could speak your language and say to you, 'Please stop?' Of course animals can't speak your language – but can YOU speak THEIRS? I thought not...

  25. Report this comment #18433

    Nicky Nagy said:

    And yet, Robert Phair, those of us who would choose NOT to eat or experiment on animals are usually unable to stop those who WOULD. Thank god for those true scientists, few and far between, who take the moral high ground, such as Igor Makasyuk. What an angel. As for the rest of you, with your enormously complex models that haven't yet solved any of the complex diseases you listed (after decades of research on animals) - what is taking so long?? Consider, would you still use an animal if it could speak your language and say to you, 'Please stop?' Of course animals can't speak your language – but can YOU speak THEIRS? I thought not...

  26. Report this comment #18436

    Molly Jones said:

    To Robert Phair

    You said “As with all such debates, there is no absolute right and wrong and most of us are trying to find the middle way”

    There is undeniable, inexcusable absolute wrong' about animal experimentation. It is anti-life. It inflicts pre-meditated suffering on animals. Just because it is historically conventional in modern times to ab-use animals in a quest to discover cures for largely self inflicted human illness, you, and others like you, are entrenched in a blinkered view of how research into human health should be conducted. Research must turn away from brutal crude methods of gaining knowledge and make a concerted effort to think outside the conventional box.

    You said “there is no hope of solving the complex diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, dementia) without the help of living, and dying, animals.”

    Absolute rubbish! Face the truth and stop making excuses for your unnecessary continued barbaric torture of innocent non-consensual creatures. Use your intelligence to focus on humane health research. Science needs to focus on what creates health for all life on this planet not the myopic persistence in artificially creating disease in non-humans. No animal should endure a pin prick of pain or the slightest discomfort because some human has chosen self-abuse above responsible self preservation. Or because some industry collective of humans have manufactured toxic wastes, harmful chemicals or foods known to cause disease. Devise and conduct tests on consenting healthy humans and investigate why they are healthy. Test consenting diseased humans to discover accurate findings about the reality of human disease. The time to move on is long overdue!

  27. Report this comment #18448

    Igor Makasyuk said:

    "I have studied the question of vivisection for thirty-five years and am convinced that experiments on living animals are leading medicine further and further from the real cure of the patient. I know of no instance of animal experiment that has been necessary for the advancement of medical science; still less do I know of any animal experiment that could conceivably be necessary to save human life."
    -H. Fergie Woods, M.D.

    How many animals are used for laboratory experiments every year in the US?
    - No one knows. Because the AWA (Animal Welfare Act) does not cover mice or rats, these animals go unreported unless the experiments lead to published research. Estimates range from 17 million to 70 million to 100 million.

    I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the subject that is very sensitive for me and for so many others; I am happy to see that many think the way I do. I can also see that many researchers who are involved in animal experimentation are not indifferent; it also bothers them. Not the reaction of the public or extremists but their conscience. I know personally biologists who are not at ease. The thought is there, it is lingering; they suppress it because they could not be working, otherwise. Many of them believe that experimenting on animal is wrong. That is why we are here and that is encouraging.

    It may look like we are two antagonist groups but that is not so. Fellow researchers, do trust that no one is trying to put you out of business or doubt your talents. You can do what you are doing differently and better; we will find the ways. Most of you want it to happen because it is damaging you. We need to start working on it from both ends. It is overdue, I agree. That is why we are here.

    There will be always individuals so self-centered and self-righteous that we’ll never hear anything different from them than “Were killing, are killing, and will be because we are humans and they aren’t; they are just models”. Some will say that because that is how they silence their doubt and their conscience. Eating animals and killing them for fur and skin, hunting and fishing for the sport of it – yes, it is way worse. But we are not talking about that now, are we? We could on a different forum. Hardly can we use one injustice to justify another...

    So many bad things have happened in the history of humans simply because they did not know any better back then. It is the matter of the mindset and overall maturity, no more than that. It takes so long to get there. There were ages of inquisition and slavery and brutal conquest when millions of humans have been killed and abused by humans. Remember? There were times when it was considered perfectly normal and simply no way around using other nationals for hard work and having unlimited rights over them. It took centuries to come to where we are now which is the simple understanding that all humans have equal rights. It will take a few more generations to completely disassociate with that but it will happen. Only scholars will remember what a slave is, for example. The time will come when no one will even remember that animals were allowed to be used for experiments.

    Some will think right now: “OK then. It is not going to be my problem; I will not be around”. Perhaps I will not be, too, but it is the only right way – to do something to help it happen. It helps to sleep a little better at night. My time has not been wasted if at least a few of the hundreds of thousands will start thinking about it. That is how mindset changes.

    Please do not stop reading and speaking. Lastly, there are countries, like New Zealand and the EU, that are ahead on the matter.


  28. Report this comment #18460

    Nicky Nagy said:

    I agree with Molly Jones's sentiments completely.

    I wanted to add my 2 cents' worth (I wrote it yesterday, but couldn't post for some reason):
    Robert Phair, those of us who would choose NOT to eat or experiment on animals are usually unable to stop those who WOULD. Thank god for those true scientists, few and far between, who take the moral high ground, such as Igor Makasyuk. What an angel. As for the rest of you, with your enormously complex models that haven't yet solved any of the complex diseases you listed (after decades of research on animals) - what is taking so long?? Consider, would you still use an animal if it could speak your language and say to you, 'Please stop?' And yet of course that is what they are saying, when they squeal or scream or squirm in pain, but you choose to go ahead anyway, feigning incomprehension...

    (Of course animals can't speak your language – but can YOU speak THEIRS? I thought not...)

  29. Report this comment #18569

    Eric Tulson said:

    My wife is a DMV, while she was in school ( Glasglow/ISU), I had huge issues with her 'fatal' surgery of 'pound puppies'; however after her years in practice, I realize the greater good that she has giving to animals that she sees and the owners of the animals that she sees is derived from the the time she spent with the terminal surgery that she had to endure. Sometimes you just have to take what you are dealt and play your hand...might pay off in the end. People have to realize that as long that no one suffers, get what ever information you can get as long as the end goal is

  30. Report this comment #18892

    Brett Lidbury said:

    The right approach to animal research
    Nature’s poll of the effects of animal rights activists reveals that acts of violence and intimidation have a persistent negative impact on research, but it also suggests a way forward. The poll found that many researchers have ethical concerns about using animals in their research and that they strive to reduce pain and minimize animal use. Many non-researchers share these concerns and almost all denounce the violent actions of a few extremists. This common ground provides an opportunity to replace damaging confrontation with a cooperative approach that aims to both reduce the use of animals and increase the impact of medical research. The Medical Advances Without Animals Trust (MAWA) and The Australian National University have formed a partnership to discover and develop alternatives to the use of animals in fundamental biomedical research through a collaborative approach that relies on dialogue with established biomedical researchers who have used animals in their work. The direct engagement of active researchers ensures that realistic alternatives are developed that are at least as useful as the animal-based approaches they are intended to replace and which thus have an improved chance of being adopted. Pursuit of effective replacements will necessarily involve some shift of focus towards the direct study of human biology, which has been neglected. It provides an incentive for innovation in this area, including development of new technologies and laboratory and computational approaches to the study of molecules, cells, tissues and organs, theoretical developments in systems biology, closer engagement between researchers and clinicians and greater community engagement in research. These developments, in turn, should improve translation of research findings into health outcomes, which has often proved difficult for animal-based research. This and other similar initiatives around the world demonstrate that the goal of replacing animals in medical research can be pursued constructively to enhance the wellbeing of both the animals themselves and the humans whose biology they have been used to model. (Thanks to Simon Easteal, Sharyn Watson & Simon Bain).

    For more, please see the MAWA website

  31. Report this comment #27494

    Frank van Helden said:

    Animal testing always makes for good heated discussions. And for the most part i totally agree. If at all possible animals should be left alone.

    However i am intrigued by people like Igor Makasyuk for example. He states he would gladly refuse, should he ever become dependent on medications developed or tested on animals. For himself i can even understand this a bit and might even applaud him for sticking to his beliefs. You do (or better, should) have the right to make your own decisions. However should for example (which i certainly hope it will never ever happen) his son or daughter get dependent on such medicine... would you prevent this? I for one would do anything in my power to keep my son or daughter safe no matter what. And i really believe this to be the obligation of all parents or you should not have become a parent. Decisions like that come with responsibilities. By the way did you ever take antibiotics? If i was a betting man ... :)

    But i do wonder what would have been the alternative... we might have died off ages ago or got stuck on medical advances like that at around 300/400 BC. (earliest references to animal testing). I do not fancy that thought. I like anesthesia especially during operations or dental work. (yes, animal testing)

    I know this is oversimplifying things a bit, but interesting questions nonetheless.

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