Opposition to Vivisection - A Long History
As renowned pathologist Dr Bruno Fedi points out, "The abolition of
vivisection would in no way halt medical progress, just the opposite is the
case. .... No surgeon can gain the least knowledge from experiments on
animals, and all the great surgeons of the past and of the present day are
in agreement on that".
"Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally acceptable to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction."
---Charles R. Magel, professor of philosophy
Opposition to animal experimentation has a long history. The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) was founded by Caroline Earle White in 1883...long before People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which was founded in 1980, and even longer than before the current debate over stem-cell research!
An editorial in the now-defunct Animals' Agenda from the early '00s, noted that animal research goes on unquestioned, while debate rages over stem-cell research, for no other reason than the stem-cells have human chromosomes. This is speciesism--discrimination on the basis of species...a term which has not caught on or become part of the American vernacular, even among progressives, the way words like "Ms." or "homophobia" have become part of the American lexicon.
"The women we recognize today as the founders of AAVS," writes Lily Santoro, "were pioneers in the world of animal welfare but not in the sphere of reform movements. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw a rise in reform movements known as the Progressive Era.
"Inspired by the new science of sociology and cultural movements like the social gospel, middle and upper class Americans increasingly engaged in reform movements aimed at uplifting the downtrodden and improving society.
"Women were central to the Progressive era reforms. In the late nineteenth century, women made great strides in reform movements like Temperance, Sunday Schools, food and drug regulation, women's suffrage, and child-labor laws.
"In a world where women were supposed to be relegated to their own 'separate sphere,' many women joined reform movements wherein they acted as the 'moral compass' of American society. Caring for the weak and voiceless in society was the focus of progressive era reforms. Animal welfare met this category perfectly."
The Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) reports that the following advances in medicine were all made without animal research:
- Discovery of the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease -- America's No. 1 killer.
- Discovery of the relationship between smoking and lung cancer and between nutrition and cancer -- the second biggest killer of Americans.
- Discovery of the relationship between hypertension and stroke -- the No. 3 killer of Americans.
- Discovery of the causes of trauma, the fourth largest killer of Americans, and the measures to prevent it.
- Elucidation of the causes of many forms of respiratory disease, America's No. 5 cause of death.
- Isolation of the AIDS virus.
- Discovery of the mechanism of AIDS transmission.
- Discovery of penicillin and its curative effect on various infectious diseases.
- Development of X-rays.
- Development of anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs.
The PCRM further reports that the use of animals in education, consumer
product testing and medical research is ineffective and obsolete. In vitro
research, epidemiologic studies, clinical research and computer modeling
yield more accurate results.
John J. Pippin writes:
There are many things wrong with the use of intimidation and violence in
the critical debate over animal research. In addition to being anathema in
our society, such tactics obscure important issues regarding animal
experiments and human health.
I am a cardiologist and a former animal researcher. I stopped experimenting on animals after I came to doubt the medical value of such research. Today, a growing number of physicians, scientists and scientific agencies believe that moving to non-animal research and testing methods is critical to advancing human health.
Numerous reports confirm very poor correlations between animal research results and human results, and the research breakthroughs so optimistically reported in the media almost always fail in humans.
Examples abound. Every one of 197 human trials using 85 HIV/AIDS vaccines tested in animals has failed. More than 150 human stroke trials using treatments successful in animals have failed, as have at least two dozen animal diabetes cures.
Vioxx was tested successfully in eight studies using six animal species, yet this anti-inflammatory medication may have caused the deaths of more Americans than the Vietnam War.
The monoclonal antibody TGN 1412 was safe in monkeys at 500 times the dose tested in humans, yet all six British volunteers who received the drug in 2006 nearly died.
Conversely, simple aspirin produces birth defects in at least seven animal species, yet is safe in human pregnancy. When even identical human twins have different disease susceptibilities, how can we think answers will be found in mice or monkeys?
The National Cancer Institute now uses panels of human cells and tissues to test treatments for cancer and HIV/AIDS, and to detect drug toxicities. And the National Research Council now recommends replacing animal toxicity testing with in vitro methods.
I can attest that animal research is inherently cruel. Animal protection laws do not mitigate this reality. Whether the debate involves humane issues or human benefits, the evidence confirms the need to replace animal experiments with more accurate human-specific methods. That's the best way to make progress and improve health.---John J. Pippin is a senior medical and research adviser with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).