The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973


'Catholic Herald' debate (1983)Letters

Scientific expediency and vivisection

Dr Haine, May 20, says that "research on animals is essential for the advancement of knowledge". That is misleading. To take only one example, the LD50 Test (lethal dose 50%) which is widely used to test the safety of cosmetics, drugs, household products and many of the other substances mentioned by Dr Haine, is attracting increasing condemnation not only from members of the animal rights movement but from scientists themselves, many of whom criticise the scientific value of such tests.

The LD50 Test involves forced dosing of the substance under consideration, often using a tube inserted down the animals' throats, and common signs of poisoning include unusual vocalisation, tears, diarrhoea, discharge and bleeding from the eyes or mouth, and convulsions.

In addition, were many of the substances, now taken for granted, to be discovered today and subject to current animal tests, it is very likely that they would not be released for human benefit.

For example, morphine, which sedates humans, produces excitement in cats; penicillin is extremely poisonous to the guinea-pig; insulin produces deformities in the offspring of rabbits, chickens and mice; and aspirin produces deformities in the offspring of rats.

Who knows how many potentially life-saving drugs may have been rejected after extensive testing on laboratory animals?

Dr Haine feels religion should not be brought into this argument, and is "dismayed" by a world day of prayer for laboratory animals: I am dismayed by the prospect of a world in which religion, morality and ethics are to be set aside in favour of scientific expediency.

Brian Gunn
General Secretary, National Anti-Vivisection Society

I was amazed by Dr Haine, May 20, is it not the duty of Christians to pray for the persecuted, underprivileged, the exploited and the tortured, and to help by what means they can? Does this apply to humanity alone? Does God the creator of all things care alone for humanity?

I suggest Dr Haine re-reads Genesis chapter 1, and also Romans 8:19-22, bearing in mind, the beauty and harmony of creation. God saw all that He had made and it was good and He blessed it.

Man is made in God's image, that image is Love, and love is creative not destructive.

Alcohol and smoking are purely human social problems. Men drink and smoke of their own free choice. People know that both can be harmful to health.

Animals force fed alcohol with little or nothing else, suffer the effects, by having their inner organs slowly destroyed. Dr Haine says Christ would not mind us killing animals to better the quality of human life. Does drinking oneself into oblivion or tarring up ones lungs, causing respiratory problems, better the quality of human life?

The word moderation seems to have lost its meaning in men's quest for pleasure.

Man is basically made up of flesh and blood, bone and sinew, brain nerves, so are animals. Are there not enough shampoos, bleaches, weed killers etc. on the market now so as to stop these experiments?

There are cosmetics, soaps, bubble baths etc. that can be purchased. Beauty Without Cruelty sells natural products which are not tested on animals.

Dr Haine also states Sr Francis has brought religion into the argument. How can one divorce it? Is Christianity a thing one pops on of a Sunday morning, like one's best suit, goes to Mass in it, then on Sunday evening hangs it up again until next Sunday?

When men cease to see suffering, harden their hearts, killing compassion, no longer do they bear God's image, they cease to be human and have grown into monsters.

Sr Clare
Talacre Abbey

Surely others must find it shocking that a professed Christian should think it right to cause suffering to helpless animals so human beings can have stage make-up, Dr Haine, May 20.

Medicine is a far more difficult question. Yet in 1981, two doctors from the British licensing authorities concluded that research into new drugs is, "directed towards commercial returns rather than therapeutic need". (SCRIP No. 633, 12 October 1981, p.2)

If we now accept an ineffective search for cures for the bad reason of commercial profits, may we not hope to see this change to acceptance of the risks attendant upon revising our means of progress for the good reason of compassion?

C S Lewis said "And, we may feel that though objective superiority is rightly claimed for man, yet that very superiority ought partly to consist in not behaving like a vivisector: that we ought to prove ourselves better than the beasts precisely by the fact of acknowledging duties to them which they do not acknowledge to us."

If we suppose that being made in God's image gives us the right to use the methods of torture what must this say about our conception of the nature of God?

A Rodd

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