Examples like this show what can be achieved with sufficient imagination and motivation and clearly demonstrate that research would not grind to a halt in the absence of animal experiments. But all too often animals are regarded as mere laboratory tools whose interests are secondary to commercial considerations or career advancement. How else can we explain the continuation of discredited procedures like the Draize and LD5O tests, or the use of animals to develop “me- too” drugs which although boosting profits, are considered to add nothing to those medicines already available?35 And how else can we explain the desire to reproduce clinical findings in an ever increasing number of species? In such cases it is the animal rights movement that will have to supply the incentive for change. Pressure for reform will stem from a well informed public and Congress so it is essential we not only highlight the cruelty of animal research but stress the urgent need for a new approach to health care which relies on methods of more direct relevance and benefit to people.
The claims of the pro-animal research lobby are clearly misleading. The evidence shows that the major influences on our health - diet, lifestyle and environment - are outside the scope of laboratory experimentation. Major improvements can only be expected by giving priority to preventing ill-health. While prevention is always better than cure, there still has to be help for those who do fall sick. The question is, are animal experiments the best way to understand disease and develop treatments? Other essays in this series will demonstrate that vivisection produces such conflicting results that animals die not only cruelly, but in vain.
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