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Animal Experimentation – Indispensable or Indefensible?

July 2012

Leading campaigners for and against animal testing for scientific research dispute both its efficacy and ethics in Speakers’ Corner Trust’s latest online debate, Animal Experimentation – Indispensable or Indefensible?

Tom Holder, founder of Speaking of Research which promotes the importance of animal testing in medical and veterinary science, argues that “the history of scientific discoveries made possible by animal research is exemplary: insulin (dogs and rabbits), polio vaccine (monkeys), anaesthetics (rabbits), blood transfusion (monkeys, dogs), antibiotics to cure tuberculosis (guinea pigs), asthma treatment (frogs and guinea pigs), meningitis vaccine (mice), deep brain stimulation (monkeys), penicillin (mice) the list goes on…It is compassion for our fellow human being that necessitates a continuation of animal research.”

But Michelle Thew, chief executive of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, counters that while strongly in favour of humane, evidence-based science, she does not accept that the rights of humans trump those of animals when it comes to the infliction of suffering. She also disputes that experiments on animals have led to the medical breakthroughs claimed for them and criticises the secrecy surrounding animal experiments, the poor regulation and take-up of alternatives and concludes that “we experiment on animals not because it is ethically justifiable but because we have the power to subjugate them. Humankind really should have moved on from ‘might is right’ as a guide to behaviour.”

Read the debate.