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More on animal experiments:

Eddie Mair | 16:06 UK time, Friday, 27 July 2007

PA reports: "The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection today won its High Court claim that the Government is failing in its legal duty to ensure animal suffering is kept to a minimum in UK laboratories."


  1. At 05:22 PM on 27 Jul 2007, Glyn wrote:

    surely the research scientist interviewed misses the point; replacing dishonesty with honesty isn't just about changing a few words. the lady from buav quoted the definition for moderate and clearly, from any objective perspective, sawing the top off a primate's skull and deliberately messing up their brain is not 'moderate' and the research industry shouldn't be allowed to pretend to the rest of us that it is.

  2. At 05:29 PM on 27 Jul 2007, Adrian Appley wrote:

    As an anti vivisectionist who sees animal experiments a complete waste of time and life I was delighted to learn the BUAV won their case against the Home Office - this is long overdue. True to style, of course, they have to challenge this decision as did the infamous Colin Blakemore. How could anyone trust an individual like him who, for example, is happy to sew kittens eyes up for yet another pointless experiment. I can't wait for the day when the govt. is forced into an investigation into this vile subject and as a result all animal tested drugs have to be withdrawn. Only then will the nation's health improve.
    Adrian Appley,
    Bromley, Kent.

  3. At 05:35 PM on 27 Jul 2007, Adrian Appley wrote:

    Glyn's comment about replacing dishonesty with honesty is spot on. Well done Glyn.
    Adrian Appley,
    Bromley, Kent.

  4. At 05:39 PM on 27 Jul 2007, Noeleen Macnamara wrote:

    I was horrified to hear Prof. Blakemore assert that only scientists can define the degree of pain caused to an animal. How arrogant.

    His argument that a doctor was an appropriate person to assess pain for a patient rather proved the case. I know if I am feeling pain and if a doctor told me otherwise I should leg it out of the surgery SAP.

    I am pretty much against animal testing and feel it is often carried out gratuitously. But it is a big industry here in the UK so have not got my hopes up for a change anytime soon.

    Much respect to Eddie Mair for being about the only person on the BBC to air this subject

  5. At 07:24 PM on 27 Jul 2007, bdavies wrote:

    PA has fallen hook, line and sinker for BUAV spin. I don't know yet exactly what the ruling said, but it sure as hell wasn't what PA reported.

  6. At 07:33 PM on 27 Jul 2007, bdavies wrote:

    Glyn, you may be taking an objective view on BUAV's description of an experiment, but that description in itself is highly subjective and inaccurate. The only people in this case who are 'pretending' anything are BUAV. They want animal experiments abolished, so they would say what they say, wouldn't they?

    I don't think the ruling will have much real effect on animal research, so whatever your view of the rights and wrongs, this case is an enormous waste of tax payers money.

  7. At 09:14 PM on 27 Jul 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Noeleen Macnamara @ 4:

    "I know if I am feeling pain and if a doctor told me otherwise I should leg it out of the surgery SAP."

    Too right! I also resent "you may feel some discomfort" when what is meant is "This is going to hurt so much that you are likely to pass out."

    bdavies: on a previous thread, Animal Experiments, you made two statements:
    @ 19:
    "We do not test cosmetics and toiletries on animals in the UK"
    @ 42:
    "If we need new household products (or more likely ingredients) then, like everything else, they need to be safe - for consumers and their families, for the environment, for production workers, for transportation. At the very least, information about antidotes to accidental exposure is necessary. Some animal tests will be required."

    The implication of these two statements is that since no new cosmetics or toiletries are tested on animals in the UK, either all new varieties of such products are potentially unsafe or they are being tested on animals elsewhere.

    (If they are neither, then the absolute necessity for animal research is somewhat discredited, isn't it, so you can't have meant that to be understood from the statements.)

    You know, I don't think any manufacturer would quite dare to sell products they knew might be unsafe... they might get sued, not to mention losing sales if it became known that their mascara made people's eyelashes fall out.

    So can we be sure that the testing of cosmetics and toiletries carried out on animals abroad is carried out to standards we would accept for such testing here? I don't mean in terms of animal suffering, I mean in terms of reliability of results.

  8. At 12:30 AM on 28 Jul 2007, Toast wrote:

    Much of the reporting has missed some of the details and nuances of the current licensing system, and the implications of the High Court ruling today.

    Protocols, that is to say individual descriptions of experiments within an overall project, are given "severity LIMITS".

    Projects, the sum total of the work involving regulated procedures on protected animals using a number of protocols, are given "severity BANDS".

    A severity LIMIT is a degree of suffering that may not be exceeded for a particular protocol (or experiment, roughly speaking) within a programme of work.

    A severity BAND is an assessment of the overall degree of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm that an entire project causes. It takes in to account the severity and duration of suffering occasioned to each animal, to give an average descriptive indicator of the severity of one project against another. In simple terms it could be considered to be the average suffering caused by all of the protocols within a project.

    The High Court ruling relates to severity BANDS, not severity LIMITS. Severity bands are a descriptor, a tool used largely for reporting purposes. Severity limits, by contrast, are the mechanism by which any animal suffering is reduced to the minimum level necessary to achieve the purposes of the work. It is possible therefore, to have a project composed entirely of substantial severity LIMIT protocols, but an overall severity BAND of mild, because the occasions on which any animal may experience substantial severity are very few and far between.

    It is really important that the distinction is understood. Look here - http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/hoc/321/321-05.htm - for the official guidance.

  9. At 12:55 AM on 28 Jul 2007, mac under yet another pseudonym wrote:

    For democracy.

  10. At 10:13 AM on 28 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Toast (8),

    Reducing pain and suffering of sentient beings to statistical manipulation, whether in terms of 'limits' or 'bands' presumes that pain and suffering can be meaningfully assigned numerical 'values'. To presume that such values can be determined for creatures with whom we have no ability to communicate rationally defies reason.

    As well as morally repugnant, these presumptions are absurd.

    This is akin to the process by which soldiers must be taught to de-humanise 'the enemy' in order to enable them to be shot, napalmed, blown to bits, or tortured without remorse or other moral qulams.

    Apparently such a de-moralisation is a pre-requisite for animal researchers.

    In sadness,

  11. At 03:03 PM on 28 Jul 2007, Paul wrote:

    PRofessor Blakemore suggests that scientists alone are in a position to define the degree of pain caused to an animal. I disagree, I would imagine that in some cases scientists turn a blind eye to such suffering if the situation warrants it.

    Many animal experiments are performed to highlight any potentially harmful effects of newly developed medicines and substances on humans. It seems to me that the deleterious effects of any newly developed medicine comes to light only when it is put on the market, as we see periodically when medicines have to be withdrawn because of side effects. The reason being that testing on animals can only show how animals not humans react to the ingredients of any particular medicine.

    As for chemicals, isn't it the responsibility of the user to take precautions by using gloves etc,
    Again, there are many animals which tolerate certain chemicals which we don't tolerate. I fail to see the logic or justification for vivisection.

  12. At 07:32 PM on 28 Jul 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Paul @ 11, I am broadly in agreement with your points, but have one small caveat.

    You wrote "I would imagine that in some cases scientists turn a blind eye to such suffering if the situation warrants it."

    One of my main difficulties in considering the business of animal experimentation is that I find it hard to accept that there are many situations that warrant turning a blind eye to suffering.

    On the subject of "does the animal suffer if its skull is trepanned and then put back together", I am absolutely certain that the answer is "Yes". Anyone who has had surgery will affirm that actually, it *does* hurt, from the moment that the anaesthetic wears off. Being able to understand the explanations of why the surgery was necessary, and roughly how long the pain will continue, makes the pain tolerable; neither of these comforts is available to a primate other than the human, and explaining to *me* in a language that I don't understand, "We did this to you without your consent so that we can maybe stop nasty things happening to someone you have never met and who hasn't actually been born yet, even though you didn't need it to be done at all," wouldn't really make me feel a whole lot better, nor reduce my pain and fear by one iota.

    I want certainty that the suffering of the experimental animals has some meaning, some point, some proper reason, and reiterated bland assurances that it is necessary do not always convince me. In fact, after a while they make me angry enough to incline me away from any other argument that is put forward by anyone using the "It stands to reason that of course..." approach. It *doesn't* stand to reason. It is simply that it has been done that way for a long time, and asking "Why?" or "Yes, but is it the best way to do things?" is unwelcome to those whose expertise is in doing it that way. (And they almost always evade the question, and "answer" only things they think they have irrefutable evidence for -- but don't cite their sources. Bah. Assertion: "The evidence that animal resercah is essential for medical progress lies in practically all the major medical advances we all benefit from - vaccines from polio to cervical cancer[etc]" Question: "I'd also like to have facts about the animal testing that was involved in developing the polio vaccine: what species were involved?" Answer: not forthcoming, other bits of the same post disputed or disparaged. Bah.)

  13. At 01:00 PM on 29 Jul 2007, Paul wrote:

    The use of animals in Experimental Psychology aims to create understanding of how the brain works and the implications for when it goes wrong in diseases and mental disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, stroke, shcizophrenia, anxiety. So, it is argued that experiments with living animals remains essential.

    In Alzheimer's disease it is now known that there are many contributing factors both risks and protectors which may determine whether or not people develop Alzheimer's. one of the problems I have with this research is that these factors which include lifestyle and genetic factors, cannot possibly relate to animals in any way. The other problem I have is in the application of research findings. A significant number of people with Alzheimer's are given psychotropic (chemical cosh) drugs to control their symptoms and behaviour, because of lack of resources. This results in the early deaths of some patients. So how is animal experimentation helping in the field of Alzheimer's disease.

    In Shizophrenia people who are African Caribbean are 6 times more likely that whites to be diagosed with Schizophrenia but research shows this is nothing to do with biology. Research also, shows that being singled out in childhood as inferior has major psychological implications in adulthood. Recent reports describes how staff in the education system may be guilty of 'largely unwitting, but systematic racial discrimination'. against Afro Carribean children.

    Recent reports show how the system is 'failing childre in care' I mention this because these children are at high risk of developing anxiety disorders and depression in adulthood.

    How is it possible for animal experimentation to inform any of the issues raised above?

  14. At 01:10 PM on 29 Jul 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Because the subject has been in my mind this weekend I have been talking about it with various acquaintances in this field. I am told by one of them that some of the people doing medical research are working on producing computer 'models' of the human body that will make research on animals redundant; my informant says that they have very nearly got the kidney sorted to the point at which they believe they will be able to 'add' chemicals to the model and 'see' the results those chemicals will have on a living human being's kidney.

    If true and practicable (and I have *no idea* how much this might be wishful thinking nor how far advanced it actually is) this would mean that eventually there will be no need for testing any new drugs on animals.

    So I have another question for bdavies: is this research also within the remit of the RDS, or do those initials really mean "Research [on living animals] Defence Society"? If the latter, ought not the initials of the group to be ROLADS? That actually *is* an acronym, and would have the merit of being unambiguous and accurate as well as easy to say.

  15. At 12:22 PM on 31 Jul 2007, Eric Ceilio wrote:

    bdavies elsewhere in these recent threads on animal experimentation has made the claim that unnecessary experiments on animals are illegal so could not take place. I suggest he/she reads the "Guidance on the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986", link above.

    "Applications for regulatory toxicity and safety testing are generally premised on the need to facilitate scientifically sound regulatory decisions for the protection of man and the environment, rather than on the utility or benefit of the end-product."

    So the testing of a food colourant, even if many equivalent products already exist, none of which can be said to be necessary, would be perfectly legal.

    So does bdavies/RDS wish to revisit their statement that unnecessary experiments are illegal? I'm not holding my breath.

  16. At 12:57 PM on 31 Jul 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Eric @ 15, bdavies is a spokesperson for a lobby group. This story was last week's news; discussion that doesn't offer an opportunity to make prepared statements that support the lobby group's objectives is not productive for the lobby group's aims, and serves only to keep the story in the public eye, which is probably the last thing the lobby group want. We are not going to get answers to our questions at this point, would be my bet. We are simply not important enough to merit reply, Glyn, Adrian, Toast, Noeleen, Ed, Paul, you and I.

    I wasn't strongly opposed to all animal research under any circumstances when this discussion here started, and I am now a great deal more inclined to that stance, entirely as a result of the work here of this lobby group and the attempts in these threads to flannel and to browbeat me on the subject, and the apparent inability or unwillingness to answer direct questions. I object strongly to much of the pro-animal protesters' behaviour, and was biased against them; now I begin to appreciate their frustration with the way the pro-research people present their arguments, and to sympathise with the sometimes-violent and intimidatory reaction of eg the A.L.F. This probably wasn't what bdavies intended. What a pity.

  17. At 11:13 AM on 02 Aug 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    See what I mean? Two days later, and the whole subject is as dead as 3,000,000 dodos per annum.

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