In defence of vivisection

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Vivisection is scientific experimentation on a living animals. Bunnies being tortured to see if shampoo stings your eyes, stuff like that – right? Ask any girl and she’ll tell you it’s bang out of order. Jerry Vlasak, the American animal rights enthusiast, recently said that offing a scientist or two would save millions of loveable animals. Protesters in the UK constantly threaten lab workers. They send letters to boffins’ neighbours saying that the white-coated puppy-fiddlers are predatory paedophiles.

london zoo 010515_0146Are the anti-vivisectionists right to be going quite so ape? We’d all step in to save a puppy from being hurt – aren’t they doing the same thing?

Fact is, no, they’re not. Animal testing in the UK should stay. Here’s why.


The treatment of diseases

charlie birthday_0119Let’s get one thing straight – in the UK animals are not used to test cosmetics. It happens abroad, yes, but not here. In the UK there are three reasons for performing tests on live animals. First is to find treatments for diseases. Second is to learn more about the workings of mammalian bodies, which often leads to the development of medical treatments and procedures. Third is to test the toxicology of household products to avoid, for example, children choking to death on furniture polish.

Testing on animals has improved treatment of multiple sclerosis, cancer, arthritis, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, Alzheimer’s and malaria. That’s just some of them. It’s very likely that my mate with cystic fibrosis is going to live longer and easier because of vivisection. For that, I’d hold the rabbit down myself.

Want a concrete example? Transplants. Without animal testing there wouldn’t be any. None. So George Best would have died long ago…. o.k., bad example, but you get the point.


Animals and humans are dead similar

charlie birthday_0121It’s argued that animals are too different from humans to be useful as test models; it’s like drinking lucozade to test the effects of harmfully strong lager. This is rubbish. If you put the nerve cell of a human and a day old chicken under a microscope, not even the most skilled anatomist could tell them apart because they are basically identical. Puppies and chimps make great models for the human brain. I’m sorry that they look cute, but if they have to die to prevent the autumn of our lives dissolving into incontinent misery, so be it.


It’s well policed

charlie birthday_0122Here’s an experiment from the US in the seventies. Baby monkeys were given dummy mothers, which they clung to until spikes shot out, lacerating the baby and flinging it across the cage. The bleeding infants would return nervously to their ‘mothers’ and cuddle them until they got spiked again. Then they’d crawl back. All this was to test the psychology of rejection and devotion. It was unnecessary and, arguably, evil.

Experiments like these don’t happen in the UK. Vivisection labs are very closely monitored. In four years the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Committee, which enforces the very strict rules, made 121 visits to Huntingdon Life Sciences alone.

To ban vivisection here would be to drive it to places like Poland, where things would not be so nice for Mr Bunny.


Animals benefit

charlie birthday_0123Vivisection often researches veterinary medicine directly, and treatments and procedures developed for humans often benefit Fido too. Vaccines for feline leukaemia, for example, came directly off the back of AIDS research, saving the lives of thousands of cats. Probably the best anti-inflammatory drug around was available for animals two years before the human version was approved, becaue of live animal testing.


They don’t use chimps

charlie birthday_0125A major argument against vivisection is that great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orang-utans and bonobos) are used. These are creatures with brains equivalent to three year old human kids. Not great that they’re being tortured for science, then? In fact they’re not. Not since 1986 in the UK.

Monkeys are used when there is no alternative – in 0.14% of UK animal tests. 82% of testing is done on mice and rats, creatures that you’re happy to murder when they build a home in your skirting board.


Why do it at all?

charlie birthday_0129Vivisection is not done on the twisted whim of scientists. The government demand it, because we demand that products like drugs, household cleaners and medical procedures are safe. Other viable ways of testing these things are being researched, but none have yet been found.

So Mr and Mrs Animal Activist, why not satiate your bubbling rage on a proper target like the regime in Zimbabwe and stop bullying those poor scientists? These gentle geetks had a hard enough time at school already.