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A Publication of


From The Ark Number 187 Spring 2001:

Animal abuse damages humans too

Ark member Ann Wills deplores the abuse of animals, and notes how such abuse rebounds on human beings, to the detriment of their health.

By Ann Wills

When we abuse animals it rebounds on humans. Intensively reared farm animals are often fed antibiotics routinely with their food to stop disease spreading in their cramped, unhealthy conditions. These drugs are often used as growth promoters to make the animals gain weight quickly. When humans eat the meat of these animals they often take in tiny quantities of these antibiotics. This is one of the main reasons why human bacteria is becoming resistant to treatment with antibiotics. Many antibiotics are now failing to work in hospitals. There is only one main antibiotic which still works against hospital ‘superbugs’ and there are signs that even this is failing to work. Yet it is still being fed routinely to farm animals. It would be terrible to return to the days before antibiotics, when a minor infection could kill.

For decades governments have encouraged farmers to adopt intensive chemical farming and only a fraction of the grants they give out go to help natural organic farming. Intensive farming may appear to give us cheap food – but when the cost of BSE, salmonella, e-coli and antibiotic resistant bugs are taken into account, our so-called ‘cheap’ food is really very expensive. It is reported that it will cost 4 million pounds to remove BSE from the national blood supply.

Using live animals for experimentation is another way in which human health may be harmed. Animals react differently from humans and so tests conducted on them can give inaccurate results for humans. One in 20 hospital beds is occupied by people who have been damaged by prescribed medical drugs. Yet all these were ‘safety’ tested on animals first. The New Scientist reported on 19 September 1998 that an estimated 70,000 deaths and serious disabilities may be caused each year as a result of adverse reactions to prescribed medical drugs. Deaths due to side-effects from pharmaceutical drugs are now the fourth most common cause of death (Journal of the American Medical Association, 15 April 1998).

Animals have been used in experiments since at least Victorian times, yet cancer rates continue to rise. One in three people now contract this disease. Macmillan Cancer Relief have said that in under 20 years, half our population will get cancer. A scientist recently admitted in The Express newspaper that the way cancer induced in a mouse behaves is entirely different from the way human cancer cells behave.

Many medical breakthroughs have been delayed because of inaccurate results on animals. The book Science on Trial: the human cost of animal experiments,by Dr Robert Sharpe,* gives details of medical progress which was delayed by animal tests. Penicillin helps humans but kills guinea pigs. If this had been tried out on a guinea pig first instead of a human being we may never have had its benefits.

It is morally wrong to abuse a weaker creature. In many cases with animals no anaesthetics are used because researchers want to observe the animals’ reactions. As well as mice and rats, other kinds of animals are used for medical tests such as dogs, cats, pigs, birds, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and horses. All this animal experimentation does not seem to be very successful. Horrific military experiments are also being done on animals at establishments such as Porton Down.

There are now more reliable tests available using computer modelling and human tissue culture. The Humane Research Trust is doing excellent work on illnesses such as cancer and cataracts, without using animals. This must be the way ahead, rather than using sensitive animals who feel pain and fear.

God created animals and so he cares about them, and the more we find out about animals the more we realise how intelligent and amazing they are.

(* Available from Awareness Publishing, PO Box 533, Sheffield, S11 9YU)

For details, contact the Humane Research Trust, 29 Bramhall Lane South, Bramhall, Stockport, SK7 2DN, Tel: (0)161 439 8041


A doctor’s view

Ark readers might like to know that Dr Ray Greek’s new book (the first of three volumes) Sacred Cows & Golden Geese: the human cost of experiments on animals, foreword by Jane Goodall, is published by Continuum at £16.99 ISBN: 08264-12262.

Ray Greek is an American medical doctor who denounces the ‘animal model’ in medical research as invalid because it does not predict the human response. Animal testing in medical research has always been dangerous to humans and should be stopped immediately, he argues. It delays medical advancement and wastes £Ms of public resources and research funding. He suggests that many scientists and researchers themselves know this to be the case, but fear that their research funding would be cut and their careers jeopardised if they were to speak out against animal experiments.

For questions, comments and submissions, please contact:
Deborah Jones at The Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare

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