International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

Alternative Strategies to Animal research and Testing

7: Alternatives - A Question of Attitudes

The effective drug combinations used for the treatment of some cancers, especially childhood leukemia and Hodgkin's disease, were again derived through human clinical studies and not because of animal test results. As the medical textbook Principles of Cancer Treatment (1982) explains, 'While much research has been done testing drug combinations in transplantable rodent tumours, no system with established predictability has emerged.'

Human clinical research has played the leading role in developing other forms of medical treatment such as herbalism, osteopathy, homoeopathy, acupuncture and dietary measures. One example is the use of a vegan diet to control high blood pressure in people worried about the side effects of powerful drugs.(26)Another study showed that a combination of dietary, lifestyle and psychological treatments was actually able to cure advanced heart disease. The researchers found that a low fat vegetarian diet, moderate exercise, and reduced stress led to a '... regression (reversal) of even severe coronary atherosclerosis after one year, without the use of lipid-lowering drugs.'(27)

Although in some countries the use of animals is gradually declining, alternatives still face major problems. Perhaps the greatest is the attitude of scientists who regard animals as the disposable tools of research. Those whose daily work involves the infliction of suffering and death must inevitably become hardened and desensitised, whatever their initial qualms. As one animal researcher recalls, 'When I first started, I would feel badly when we killed an animal. In the larger sense. I would think of analogous situations like executioners in a state prison or the Holocaust - being a guard in a Polish concentration camp or something. Of course, every now and then you still think, 'My god, we're killing animals here left and right, left and right. Are we getting anything useful out of it? but I find it fairly easy to recover from these thoughts now.'(28)

During a 3-year study of vivisection laboratories in New York, sociologist Mary Phillips witnessed numerous painful experiments. These included lethal poisoning tests with a toxic substance, injection of cobra venom, and cancers in rats and mice. No pain killing drugs were administered, nor were they usually given following major surgery (although anaesthetics were used during operations), yet Phillips reports that 'Over and over researchers assured me that in their laboratories animals were never hurt.'(29) Could it be that researchers simply did not perceive that any of their animals were suffering?

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