To many animal lovers, it may seem like a no-brainer research on animals should be banned. And this is the stance of over one million Europeans who signed a petition that the European Parliament is currently considering. To many animal lovers, it may seem like a no-brainer research on animals should be banned. And this is the stance of over one million Europeans who signed a petition that the European Parliament is currently considering. However, researchers in Britain are rightfully concerned that in the face of such a ban health-related scientific research would grind to a halt. A Wellcome Trust policy advisor worries that New medicines for Alzheimer s, heart disease, cancer and other conditions could no longer be tested. Similarly, new drugs for animals would also be blocked.
It s likely that most citizens of Europe (and the US) don t really understand the importance of animal testing. Without testing on dogs, for example, the discovery of insulin (1922) may have been substantially delayed, resulting in the death of many thousands of diabetic children. Some animal rights activists opine that the historical data are all well and good, but we should be able to move beyond that now. We beg to differ. As we have said for many years:
Toxicity testing using animals plays an essential role in the development of drugs, industrial and agricultural chemicals, consumer products, food additives, and cosmetics. When properly conducted and interpreted, animal testing will continue to be a valuable source of information on the potential toxicity of chemicals to humans.
Sometimes, the lack of animal testing has resulted in great harm to humans. In the late 1950s and early 60s, thousands of children were born with deformed or missing limbs because their pregnant mothers had taken the drug thalidomide. Those tragedies could have been avoided had the drug been tested in pregnant animals.
Beyond the testing of chemicals for toxicity, it s also important to carefully test new medical devices as well as incremental changes to those currently in use. Would you want your grandfather to be the recipient of a new prosthetic joint one that has never been tested in animals for safety or durability?
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava had this to say: It is crucial that animal research not be eliminated either in Europe or the United States or anywhere. The use of animals as research subjects is highly regulated, and deservedly so. Research animals must be treated as humanely as possible within appropriate research protocols, and the protocols themselves are subject to stringent reviews. We hope that the European Parliament will recognize that health-related scientific research requires animal testing, and will rule accordingly.