The Fellowship of Life
Your Comment of November 14 on the Queen's Speech at the beginning of a new Session of Parliament states: 'One long overdue piece of legislation should be welcomed, the Bill to impose stricter controls on laboratory experiments on animals'.
While I welcome the Government's intention to replace the
antiquated Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, I find its proposals to be
totally inadequate and they do not accord with the statement on the
treatment of animals adopted by the Methodist Conference of 1980.
Laboratory animals will continue to be poisoned to death, burnt,
blinded and scolded, and exposed to radiation; and experiments to
test cosmetics, weedkillers, household products and tobacco will
The major responsible animal welfare societies are continuing to
campaign both inside and outside Parliament to prevent the
Government's retrograde proposals from becoming law and are asking
for the following minimum requirements to be included in legislation
replacing the 1876 Act:
A ban on cosmetic, tobacco and alcohol experiments.
A ban on the Draize eye irritancy test (in which an irritant is
introduced into a rabbit's eye with the resultant inflammation).
A ban on the LD50 poisoning test.
A ban on behavioural/psychological experiments.
A ban on warfare experiments.
The re-construction of the Home Secretary's advisory committee on
animal experimentation, to exclude those who have a vested interest
in the continuation of animal experiments.
It is estimated that nearly 70,000 animals will die in British
laboratories over a period of seven days, and in 1983 alone, 15,620
experiments involving the Draize test were carried out. It has been
condemned on scientific grounds because rabbits' eyes are different
structurally and physiologically from the human eyes. An early day
motion calling for its abolition was tabled in the House of Commons
on May 15 last by Mr Mike Hancock.
A Home Office report on the LD50 poisoning test categorically
states that 'it must cause appreciable pain to the animals subjected
There are 508 premises now registered to perform experiments on
living animals in Great Britain, over 20,000 licensees and more than
3 and a half million experiments annually. To monitor these the Home
Office employs just 15 inspectors and animals are allowed to suffer
pain during experiments.
Intrinsically bound up with animal welfare is the multi-national
industry which has sprung up to supply the needs of the vivisection
laboratories and it has been estimated that the cost of purchasing
animals experimented upon in the United Kingdom exceeds £20 million
per year. In considering Parliamentary action on animal welfare it
is disturbing to discover the number of MPs who are directors or
consultants of companies involved in the use of animals.
As a former hospital chaplain I cannot disregard the need for
continual medical research and I am well aware that there are
prescribed legal requirements for the testing of new drugs and the
monitoring of medicines, but it has NOT been conclusively proved
that the only satisfactory method open to researchers is by the use
Out of the millions of experiments carried out on animals, the
figures for 1981 indicate that only just over half were for the
testing of medicines.
'Reverence for life' requires Christians to be vigilant in our
care for all God's creatures. MPs are not insensitive to their
postbags and all of us can alert them to the need for radical
changes in the proposed legislation.
One practical point: Many cosmetics and hair shampoos have been
produced and tested without cruelty to animals. Their purchase is a
small step in demonstrating our concern.
Rev Peter H Mundy
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