Animal experiments Q&A

On World Day for Laboratory Animals (24 April 2004) Animal Aid hosted a Live Q&A session on this website. Answering questions were Animal Aid's Scientific Consultant, André Menache, and Kathy Archibald, Director of Europeans For Medical Advancement (EFMA).

In a two hour session they answered a total of 35 questions put to them by the public about animal experiments. The proceedings make informative reading, and are available in full below (see also our Introduction to Animal Experimentsand Animal Experiments FAQ).

Question:If one rat could save 100 children, surely that would be okay?

Phillip from Nottingham

Answer:Whereas killing a wild animal in self-defence could be considered as a legitimate act of self preservation, the same cannot be said when it comes to animal experiments. Laboratory animals are purpose-bred in their millions to be deliberately harmed and killed, supposedly for human benefit. The evidence shows clearly that this activity produces no benefits for people but even if it did, using animals in this way might be expedient and it is to be expected that people in need would endorse such an activity – but that would not make it moral. Equally, some people would willingly sacrifice 100 other children to save their own – this too might be expedient but not moral.

André Menache, Animal Aid

The truth is that rats do not help sick children – in fact, history shows that data extrapolated from rats and other animals has harmed and killed children (and adults) in their hundreds of thousands.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q1. Posted at 16:00 BST

Question:Are you saying that nothing good has ever come from animal experiments?

Sandy from Peterborough

Answer:Animal experimentation can be described as being something of a lottery. A substance can be tested for safety and effectiveness in, say, a rat and the result might correspond – on that occasion – to what would happen in people. However, such a positive outcome is the result of chance. This is because, while there are certain similarities between human and animal body systems, they are still sufficiently different for animal tests to not be predictive and therefore unreliable for humans. In the words of Dr Ralph Heywood, past scientific director of Huntingdon Research Centre (a major user of animals for research), “the best guess for the correlation of adverse reactions in man and animal toxicity data is somewhere between 5% and 25%”. In other words, animal tests, at best, will reveal one in four human drug side effects. However, we will not know which of the four occurs in people until we have tested the drug on several people and damaged some of them!

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q2. Posted at 16:02 BST

Question:Does Animal Aid agree that some animal research is useful, and that if the use of primates in AIDS research resulted in an effective vaccine or treatment, you would support it? If not, why not?


Answer:We are opposed to all animal experimentation, both on moral and scientific grounds. Animal Aid supports science-based, species-specific medical and veterinary research, based on the fundamental principle of primum non nocere(first do no harm). This essentially precludes the use of healthy human individuals as well as animals in medical research.

The question on the use of primates is as hypothetical as it is oxymoronic – oxymoronic, because animal experiments can never be regarded as predictive.

Regarding the specific question of HIV vaccine, no animal immune system responds to HIV in the same way as a human’s. In fact, chimpanzees – our closest genetic kin – are essentially immune to the virus (as well as to hepatitis B and common malaria). Although there was great fanfare in 1998 when an HIV vaccine (which was declared a success on the basis of animal tests) was approved for clinical trials, it was recently announced that the vaccine had failed to show any significant protection in a group of 8 000 human participants.

André Menache, Animal Aid

EFMA: Everything we know about HIV and AIDS has been learned from studying people with the disease. But that has not prevented millions of pounds and animals’ lives from being wasted in a fruitless search for an animal ‘model’. Equally, many medical advances have been delayed by misleading animal experiments.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q3. Posted at 16:05 BST

Question:If it has been proved that cancer and other diseases in humans are totally different in animals, why are cruel animal experiments still taking place?

Alice from Berkshire

Answer:Because of blinkering by tradition and by money – but it is worse than futile; it is actually killing people. The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse – yet none of those cures has been successful in humans. The truth is, by using animals as surrogate humans we’re not only hurting animals, we’re hurting ourselves.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q4. Posted at 16:09 BST

Question:How can we carry out safety testing of toxic substances if we don’t use animals?

David from Liverpool

Answer:Once again, it must be said that animal tests are unreliable for predicting human toxicity. There are even huge variations in toxic risk between babies and adult humans. In any case, it is much more reliable to test chemical toxicity using cell cultures. Human cells can help predict human toxic risk far more accurately than can animal tests. The use of species-specific testing is referred to as science based toxicology.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q5. Posted at 16:12 BST

Question:Animal Aid professes to care about animals. Surely it’s acceptable to experiment on just a few dogs in order to save thousands of other dogs’ lives?

Margaret from Southport

Answer:From a moral perspective, we have no right to deliberately harm healthy animals supposedly for the good of the many – especially since there are sick dogs available who could be studied clinically. However, even from a scientific perspective, it does not make sense to contain dogs in a hostile laboratory setting and deliberately harm them by making them ill. They would inevitably become stressed and immune compromised, leading to misleading results, which would invalidate the study.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q6. Posted at 16:16 BST

Question:Would you accept an animal organ to save your child’s life? And remember that pig heart valves have been used successfully for decades?

Peter from Penrith

Answer:Whole organ animal-to-human transplants have always failed, due to the problem of rejection. Citing the use of pig heart valves is misleading because this is simply a piece of dead tissue, having been thoroughly sterilised before being put into a human heart. By contrast, a living pig or monkey heart or liver is teeming with viruses and prions (some known, some unknown), which cannot be destroyed. This would be an ideal way for dangerous animal pathogens to bypass the human body’s natural defences. And remember that, prior to receiving an organ, the patient first receives immuno-suppressive drugs in order to counter rejection. This means that any animal germs present have a particularly hospitable environment in which to flourish. Worldwide epidemics started by animal viruses have killed millions of people, from swine flu to SARS.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q7. Posted at 16:20 BST

Question:If animal experiments don’t work, why are scientists still using them?

Nigel from Lewisham

Answer:More and more scientists are beginning to question the validity of animal experiments – but these same scientists often do not want to publicly admit it, because their livelihoods and prestige depend on animal based research. Other scientists have allowed themselves to become “victims of the system” by blindly following in the footsteps of previous animal research workers.

Overall, there is an awakening within the scientific research community that animal experiments don’t work.

In fact, most pharmaceutical companies openly state that they do not like performing animal experiments and that they would much rather test their products using non-animal methods, but that they are obliged by law to use animals. And so, animal tests are done for legal rather than scientific reasons.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q8. Posted at 16:23 BST

Question:How will medical progress take place in the absence of animal experiments?

Sheila from Aberdeen

Answer:We want to see researchers using only human-based studies before trying out new drugs and medical procedures on people. In other words, based on the principle of primum non nocere, (first do no harm), scientists will do everything humanly possible to make sure new drugs and procedures are safe and effective before they try them out on actual patients. This will include cell and tissue culture tests, molecular studies, computer modelling, non-invasive clinical procedures, and any other method relevant to humans. Once such evaluations have been successfully completed, only then should researchers involve actual patients. It is to be hoped that regulatory bodies and ethical committees would approve clinical testing only of those new drugs and procedures that show promise of being significantly safer and more effective than their already existing counterparts.

André Menache, Animal Aid

The abolition of animal experimentation does not mean that society will have to give up medical progress. On the contrary, we can begin to look forward to scientific excellence in medical research, greater safety in clinical trials, greater expectation of sound results and a higher probability of cures for human illness. Many non-animal based methods have proved dependable and new ones are being developed all the time. It is these tried and tested methods and new technologies that are truly serving medical research, yet many are starved of funds while animal experimentation is by contrast highly funded. The animal experiment lobby maintains that using animals is an expensive business – it is. But it is not just costing society enormous sums of money, it is costing us far more in terms of human health.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q9. Posted at 16:27 BST

Question:Do people who object to testing on animals refuse antibiotics, anaesthetics and other pharmaceutical products that have to be tested on animals? If not, why not?

Mark from London

Answer:If a drug proves successful in treating human illness, it is despite, and not because of, the fact that it has been tested on animals. That it has been tested in this way is something that should be resisted, not accepted. After all, water has been used in drowning experiments. Does that mean that we cannot drink water? Equally, dyes and other chemicals in carpets have been tested on animals. Are we not supposed to walk on them? The answer is to resist such cruel and scientifically irrelevant activities.

André Menache, Animal Aid

It is to previous patients and volunteers in clinical trials that we owe our gratitude for ensuring our likelihood of safety in taking a drug. If animal tests were eliminated, drugs would be safer for us all.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q10. Posted at 16:30 BST

Question:As the non-reliability of animal testing of drugs is glaringly obvious, what attracts the UK Government to continue its support for this dangerous and discredited feature of drug development?

David from Canterbury

Answer:The Department of Health has been approached on several occasions with precisely this question. The answer has always been that the government does not oblige the pharmaceutical industry to perform animal experiments, but that it is the decision of industry to carry out animal testing. Conversely, when the pharmaceutical industry is approached, it insists that animal tests are carried out simply to satisfy regulatory requirements, as laid down by the government. One should remember that the laws regulating the animal experiments of today are based on the out-of-date science of 50 years ago. And although it takes a lot to change such legislation, it is not an impossible challenge. A point in case is the fairly recent amendment made to the Helsinki Declaration. Whereas the original document of 1964 contained a clause mandating animal tests prior to clinical trials, the amended clause, adopted by the World Medical Association in 2000, allows for non-animal methods to be used instead.

André Menache, Animal Aid

There are many reasons for the continuation of animal experiments:

1) It is tradition. Individual scientists do not question the practice because it’s how they were taught, it’s what their professors have always done, it’s what most research is published about – it’s very deeply ingrained.
2) Vivisection is very big business. The pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable industry in the world and its interests are strongly protected by governments. Animal experiments are cheap and fast compared to human trials, so a drug company can speed the drug to market.
3) – most importantly – they provide a legal defence (liability protection) for pharmaceutical companies when people are injured or killed by adverse drug reactions.
4) It keeps people employed so many have a direct or indirect vested interest in the process.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q11. Posted at 16:34 BST

Question:If the use of animals in experimentation is guided by the Three R’s(Refinement, Replacement, and Reduction), then surely those animal experiments still continued must be necessary? Or is it a case of lack of communication between scientists in the hope of keeping their own knowledge ‘safe’ or ‘secret’ until published?

Christina from Oxfordshire

Answer:It would be more accurate to say that we are being misguided by the Three R’s. How can we continue to justify extrapolating the results of animal experiments to people, at a time when medical scientists tell us that it is no longer safe to extrapolate the results of drug tests from adults to children? Let us remember that adverse drug reactions are now the fourth leading cause of death after heart disease, cancer and stroke, despite massive animal safety testing.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Our group does NOT support the principle of the ‘3Rs’. The 3Rs are promoted by those involved in research using animals. Based on the (erroneous) assumption that experiments on animals, though unpalatable, are scientifically valid, leading to cures and treatments for human disease, proponents of the 3Rs advocate reducing, refining and replacing animal experiments with ‘alternatives’. The principle makes no scientific sense because if a practice does not work, there is little point in reducing or refining it! The 3Rs have unfortunately become a smokescreen, which allows the continuation of animal experiments to seem acceptable – as long as the 3Rs are applied. The industry could not have dreamed up a better PR campaign!

Those who endorse the 3Rs promulgate the ‘necessary evil’ view of animal experiments and say that they cannot be abolished until all such experiments, of which there are millions, are replaced by ‘alternatives’. This would be a never-ending process. Animal experimenters claim that that each and every experiment must be assessed on a case-by-case basis for scientific validity and justification. However, they are not willing to justify animal experiments on a case-by-case basis.

EFMA promotes only one R – Remove (animal experiments). A scientifically invalid practice cannot be replaced with an ‘alternative’. Science already has a wealth of better (not ‘alternative’!) methods at its disposal.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q12. Posted at 16:37 BST

Question:Should animals be used to research drugs for use in veterinary medicine?

Bob from Bradford

Answer:Of course animals should be used to research drugs for use in veterinary medicine. There is no substitute for what is known as clinical experimentation. However, research in dogs should be applied to dogs and not to cats, i.e. It must be species-specific, so as not to repeat the huge mistake of applying animal research to human beings. In addition, research should focus on helping already sick animals to get better, and not on making healthy animals sick in order to create an artificial model of the disease in question. Not only would this be unethical, but studying these once-healthy animals under stressful laboratory conditions is scientifically questionable, because of the effects of stress on body systems, which would impact on the results of the research.

Before commencing any research on the species in question, one would perform all relevant pre-clinical studies. This would include in vitro research, involving cell and tissue culture (ideally, one would study cells of the animal species in question), computer modeling, and all other minimally-invasive methods of research which would yield as much information as possible.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q13. Posted at 16:41 BST

Question:Deep brain stimulation has enormously improved the lives of over 20,000 people with Parkinson’s Disease. It was developed and tested using monkeys. How could such a potentially dangerous but ultimately successful operation have been developed without using living animals?

Anon from Manchester

Answer:In reality, deep brain stimulation was discovered serendipitously in patients in the 1940s. Subsequent “training” (for surgeons) in monkeys was utterly irrelevant. Such is the case with virtually all medical advances, which were made through careful human observation – not through experiments in animals, which invariably came later.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q14. Posted at 16:43 BST

Question:Why don’t you include real scientific experts on your panel? Your two so-called experts are biased, having a vested interest in the premature discontinuation of animal research.


Answer:How can one have a vested interest in making oneself redundant? EFMA has many expert scientific advisors, who receive no reimbursement for their services and thus have no vested interest in the discontinuation of animal experimentation. Many of them do not wish their names to be made public as they fear for their jobs if their employers knew their position. We respect this as we have witnessed extreme pressure on people that have spoken out.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q15. Posted at 16:48 BST

Question:The use of animals currently in all research carried out in the UK is covered by an act of parliament, the animals are treated incredibly well in this country. Are you not concerned that work done in other countries is not carried out to the same high standard of husbandry and care that we have. Should organisations like yours be causing so much aggravation in the UK when there are other countries that really need to be pushed to follow our lead.

Nige from UK

Answer:The animals used in the UK are not treated incredibly well, if you look at the actual experiments performed on them. These include deliberate poisoning and inflicting serious head injuries, some of which cause the animals to die before the experiment has even begun. Another cause for concern is the fact that, while the number of home office inspectors (21) has remained the same between 2001 and 2002, there was an increase of 110 000 experiments in that period. Research work done in some other countries may be worse than that done in the UK, but that in no way can justify the extreme suffering inflicted on our laboratory animals. It also does not counter the fact that animal experiments are scientifically invalid, with respect to human medical research.

André Menache, Animal Aid

If animal tests do not provide useful information for humans they should be abandoned on that basis alone. The fact that other countries might still be using a discredited and dangerous practice does not mean that the UK should pursue such a mistaken strategy.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q16. Posted at 16:50 BST

Question:Can you give me some idea of the number of researchers in the UK and other related statistics?

Colin from London

Answer:Statistics for year 2002:

Number of scientific procedures commenced: 2.73 million (a rise of 110 000 on 2001).
Number of home office inspectors: 21 (same as for 2001).
Number of licensed premises: 296 (1999 figures).
Number of licence holders: 13,700 (1999 figures).

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q17. Posted at 16:52 BST

Question:Wouldn’t you say that fewer people are dying today from cancer, thanks to animal experiments?

Gerald from Bristol

Answer:Cancer has now overtaken heart disease as the number one killer in the UK – and younger as well as older people are increasingly falling prey to this disease. There are 11 600 drugs which can cure cancer in mice. Not one of them cures cancer in people. Conversely, there are about 32 drugs used to treat human cancer. Virtually none of these drugs are effective in treating cancer in mice! The biggest tragedy about cancer is that it is 90% preventable in the first place.

André Menache, Animal Aid

The US National Cancer Institute has admitted that we have lost cures for cancer because they didn’t work in mice.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q18. Posted at 16:55 BST

Question:Why don’t they experiment on humans murderers and maybe the children’s parent would be happier to know that they are suffering instead of three meals a day and get what they want. I am a good person but the poor animal have done nothing to suffer like this and they don’t not know why it is happening. At least the bad person knows why.

Agnes from Scotland

Answer:While it’s tempting to seek vengeance on this sort of trangressor, Animal Aid opposes the violent treatment of any sentient being – human or non-human animal. Our view is that, as a culture, we would be debased by treating any category of human in the way suggested by the question.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q19. Posted at 16:57 BST

Question:Can I ask why there are millions of people all over the world, who are very intelligent, educated and caring, are involved in animal research, and that you, a vocal minority, from a few ‘rich’ countries think that they and their science is wrong? Do you know more about the work the millions do? And why they are choosing to ignore you?

Mark from London

Answer:When scientists first started using animals in an attempt to learn about human disease and health, it made sense in a way, and some basic things were learned from animals. Grossly, animals and human have things in common: both are composed of cells, are affected by viruses and bacteria, respond to vaccines, have circulatory systems, lung, livers, etc. So the initial idea of extrapolating results from animals to humans appeared valid.

But times change. Science has moved on. Today, the animal model is inadequate for answering our questions about human disease, which are focused on the level of differences between individual people. Unfortunately however, scientists and institutions are resistant to change. People used to believe the earth was flat, or that Newton’s theories were right and therefore, Einstein’s must be wrong.

Animal experimentation has been practiced for centuries and is very deeply ingrained. There is now sufficient evidence that we have reached a point where it is doing much more harm than good in terms of human medicine. But the whole system is geared up to it and so a major change in practice will not happen overnight and is bound to be strenuously resisted. There are many reasons for this, including academic tradition as mentioned, but the driving factor is money. Those with a vested interest in animal experiments have well-organized lobbies and tactics. It will take time for society to see beyond the propaganda of the vested interest groups.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

We would simply add that the scientific and cultural certainties of one age often turn out to be the grand follies of another.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q20. Posted at 17:01 BST

Question:We are assured that animals in British labs are kept in the best possible conditions and that everything is done to ensure that they do not suffer. You have to admit that is the case.

Terry from Weymouth

Answer:To begin with, the animals suffer from the artificial conditions imposed on them in the laboratory. Keeping rats or mice in small cages with little opportunity for normal interaction with natural surroundings; or keeping highly sociable animals such as monkeys in isolated cages, causes severe stress – both physiological and psychological. The actual experiments performed on animals range from deliberate poisoning (toxicity tests) to major surgery (brain damage experiments). Many of these animals either die during the experiment, or are kept alive and allowed to recover from some of these experiments. Much of what is allowed on animals in the name of research would be considered as unacceptable and unlawful cruelty if it were done to domestic pets by their owners.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q21. Posted at 17:05 BST

Question:Isn’t it a fact that, in order to make sure new drugs are absolutely safe, they need to be tested on a whole body? And testing untried drugs on people would be dangerous and unethical.

Emily from Sedgeley

Answer:This is a confused question, because it does not define what is meant by ‘a whole body’. Whose ‘whole body’ are we talking about; a dog’s, a parrot’s or a human being’s whole body? The whole body of any animal or human being is a unique and extremely complex sum of organ systems, each of which is species-specific. To use whole body animal data because we can’t use whole body human data is like saying that a wrong answer is better than no answer at all, and that does not sound very scientific. No animal species can be used as a substitute for studying humans. Human-based research is the only scientifically reliable way to study people, beginning with the study of human cells and tissues and slowly moving up the ranks to the point where there is no alternative, but to test on a whole, living human. At this point, the first human participants in such a clinical trial should be carefully selected on the basis that they stand to benefit from the trial, i.e. only sick people, who have provided informed consent, and not healthy people, should be selected.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q22. Posted at 17:07 BST

Question:The answers you give are all very pat but they sound like to me like you’re exaggerating you’re case to suit your own purposes.

‘Cheddar’ from Basildon

Answer:More and more medical scientists are beginning to challenge the questionable scientific validity of animal experiments with respect to human health. This is becoming apparent in the media and also in respectable medical publications such as the BMJ (see the recent article by Pandora Pound et al, and the responses). But besides this, it was an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (April 1998) and not Animal Aid, which ranked adverse drug reactions as the fourth leading preventable cause of death in western developed countries. These prescription drugs had all been massively safety tested on animals, otherwise they would not have been allowed on the market.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Here are a few quotes from scientists just to confirm we are not exaggerating:

“What good does it do you to test something [a vaccine] in a monkey? You find five years from now that it works in the monkey, and then you test it in humans and you realise that humans behave totally differently from monkeys, so you’ve wasted five years” – Dr. Mark Feinberg, leading AIDS researcher.

“Work on [the polio vaccine] was long delayed by the erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease, based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys” – Dr. Albert Sabin, inventor of the polio vaccine.

“Animal model systems not only kill animals, they also kill humans” – Dr. Irwin Bross, former Director of the largest cancer research institute in the world.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q23. Posted at 17:14 BST

Question:Because I oppose vivisection some of my friends tell me I care more about animals than people? How would you answer them?

Rebecca from York

Answer:Being caring or compassionate about animals in no way excludes being compassionate about other people as well. We should all strive for non violence, both towards our fellow human beings and towards other animals and the environment. But in opposing animal experiments on scientific and public health grounds, we are actually protecting people from the harm caused to so many individuals by the misleading results of animal tests.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Indeed, it is perfectly logical to oppose animal experiments from a human health perspective, even if you don’t care about animals at all.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q24. Posted at 17:16 BST

Question:Animal experiments have been proved over time to be essential for medical progress – with most, if not all, major breakthroughs like anaesthetics, antibiotics and vaccines, etc. depending on them. Thanks to safety testing on animals, we have never had another thalidomide. How can you deny these facts?

Richard from Uxbridge

Answer:The common claim that “all medical breakthroughs relied on animals” is a myth. Anaesthetics, antibiotics, aspirin, beta-blockers, pacemakers, vaccines and many others owe nothing to animals. Heart-valve replacements, penicillin, the polio vaccine and many other therapies were delayed because of misleading test results in animals. People died as a result of these delays. Now millions of women on HRT are at twice the risk of breast cancer and heart disease, thanks to tests in monkeys which predicted the opposite.

We are constantly suffering ‘another thalidomide’: around 70,000 people die every year in Britain alone from side-effects of their animal-tested medicines: prescription drugs are now the fourth biggest killer in the western world. Tossing a coin would predict drug safety better than animal tests – even a former Director of Huntingdon Life Sciences admits that! Drugs would be much safer for patients if they were tested not in animals but in human tissues, human DNA chips, computer models of human organs and finally in risk-free micro-dose studies in human volunteers.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q25. Posted at 17:21 BST

Question:Why do drug companies insist on using animals when there are plenty of people like me who would volunteer to test brand new drugs… and if animals in testing are so ‘great’ and reliable why do we still use the same techniques we did in the 40’s?

Sarah from Nottingham

Answer:Drug companies use animals for ‘safety testing’ because it covers them (gives them liability protection in court) when their drug injures or kills people – as all drugs will. The tests are not done for scientific reasons but for legal reasons – the drug companies know that and often admit it in private, occasionally even in public!

In court, they can say they tested on rats, mice, rabbits, dogs, monkeys – i.e. they ‘did all they could’. That’s how they avoid billion-pound fines.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Actually drug companies use animals AND people! The animal tests are done more for legal reasons than scientific ones. Nobody, including the drug companies and the Department of Health, really believe the results of the animal tests. That’s why human volunteers are needed to produce human data. However, these human volunteers are endangering their health needlessly by being exposed to unknown risks. Healthy people should not be used to test medical drugs and devices – they have nothing to gain, and could be seriously harmed. Instead, only sick people should participate in clinical trials, once they have provided informed consent, since they could benefit from the new treatment.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q26. Posted at 17:24 BST

Question:Why is it acceptable to use genetically modified animals in experiments but when we talk about GM crops it causes uproar….the world must have gone mad!!

S Gee from Essex

Answer:Even traditionally sceptical media commentators seem to get the vapours and lose their critical faculties when the powerful pro-vivisection lobbyists start issuing promises about imminent cures for terrible conditions afflicting the ones we love. Whereas they will ask hard questions of politicians, business leaders etc with a contentious line to peddle, medical researchers typically get an easy ride. What we want and what the general public requires is for such promises to be tested against verifiable facts. Such a process will always leave animal experimentation seriously wanting.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q27. Posted at 17:26 BST

Question:I am an Animal Care student and do not believe in using animals for research. I would like to know if all the animals are put to sleep after the research and if not if there are any sanctuaries or chance of rehabilitation for them?

Jennifer from Fife, Scotland

Answer:Some animals are tested deliberately to the point of death, e.g. in toxicity tests; some animals die because of the severity of the experiment, eg brain surgery in marmosets; some animals are euthanised before they recover from anaesthesia; some are allowed to recover from anaesthesia, and observed for varying periods of time before being killed. Probably very few animals would be in a fit state to be re-homed, and those with infectious diseases definitely would not be allowed out of the research establishment.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q28. Posted at 17:29 BST

Question:We breed animals and eat them, why not experiment on them?

Robert from Chichester

Answer:Animal Aid also opposes farmed animals being mass produced, slaughtered and eaten. Because our culture treats farmed animals in this way, it is no justification for abusing animals in labs. We encourage people to adopt an animal-free diet, but are nonetheless encouraged by meat-eaters who select – for moral and scientific reasons – to oppose animal experimentation.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q29. Posted at 17:31 BST

Question:Why are the government not properly funding research into other ‘Alternative’ methods to animal experiments and how can we persuade them to?

Becky from Stoke-on-Trent

Answer:It is easier to get grants to conduct animal research than human-based research – this has to change. The Medical Research Council and other funding agencies must prioritise clinical (patient-oriented) and translational (from bench to bedside) research over animal research. The money they allocate comes from the taxpayer, so we have a right to demand accountability of research spending.

There is currently no evidence that animal experimentation is beneficial to clinical research and yet it is clearly funded in preference to clinical research – which is in crisis. This situation is evidently not in the best interests of patients.

It is imperative that evidence is produced to support the value of animal experimentation before further valuable and scarce resources are allocated to it, when they are clearly needed for clinical research.

There should be an independent and transparent scientific assessment of the efficacy of animal experimentation, conducted by individuals and institutions without any vested interest in the animal model. This should take place as a matter of urgency.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q30. Posted at 17:34 BST

Question:Why do the big research charities on every high street continue to fund vivisection? And do you think if the public realised what they were funding they would continue to visit these shops?

Luke from Harrogate

Answer:The driving force for these sorts of charities are often people who have lost loved ones from disease and feel desperate to do something constructive. They are, frankly, conned into imagining that the animal-based research projects will yield something beneficial when the evidence shows they do not. Such research charities are in the Promise Business. But those who work in the shops (often as volunteers) typically do so for the best of motives. And yes, if the public knew the truth they would not support them – certainly not to the the extent they do now.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q31. Posted at 17:39 BST

Question:On a recent discussion in which Kathy took part, one of the pro-vivisectors claimed the increase in the use of animals for research was purely because there were now more establishments carrying out research. Do you accept this as the reason for the increase last year?

Cathy K from Merthyr, S Wales

Answer:Not at all! Most of the increase is because of the rapidly-spiralling numbers of experiments on GM animals. Many animal researchers claim that genetically modified animals make better models of human diseases but this is fallacious. Such claims fail to acknowledge the enormous influence of the genetic environment of individual genes, i.e. the networks of interactions between genes. Simply adding a human gene or two does not make a human out of a mouse.

For example, mice with added human cystic fibrosis genes fail to model the human condition correctly; suffering principally from bowel disorders rather than lung disorders, which is the major problem for human sufferers of the disease.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q32. Posted at 17:43 BST

Question:Should the pressure to end animal experiments be done mainly on the EU, government, companies or consumers?

André from Porto – Portugal

Answer:The pressure needs to be applied at all the levels you mentioned. Ultimately, it will be public opinion that will bring an end to animal experiments, because once the public realises that animal experiments are false science, which endanger human health, it will no longer be tolerated. An important way to speed up the end of animal testing will be any legal challenges to government and industry. A good example is the recent legal challenge by Sweden against the EU for its continued approval of the herbicide, Paraquat. Paraquat is highly toxic to humans, but much less toxic to some laboratory animal species. If we believe the animal tests, paraquat may remain on the market. If we test paraquat on human cell cultures, the EU will be forced to remove it, or face legal action to remove it.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q33. Posted at 17:50 BST

Question:I am at vet school and we are expected to dissect a dog and a goat between 10 of us in the final year. I cannot leave vet school or I wont be a vet as I cant get into any other school. I object to all uneccessary animal death, the dogs are ones that have already been put to sleep from the vet hospital and donated from the owners but I’m not sure about the goats. What do you think about this matter?

Sam from Kiddderminster

Answer:You should discuss the matter with like-minded students, with a view to forming a student group, and then approach your lecturers about the feasibility of only obtaining animals who have either died of natural causes or were euthanised for animal welfare reasons. I strongly suggest you also contact the US group Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, who have quite a lot of experience in this area.

André Menache, Animal Aid

Q34. Posted at 17:55 BST

Question:What progress has been made in using non-animal tests and is anyone investing significant financial resources in this area?

Liz from Guildford

Answer:Enormous progress has been made in using non-animal tests. Many biotechnology companies are investing significant financial resources in this area – because this is clearly the future for drug discovery and development.

Non-animal methods, i.e. human based methods are the only way to find cures and treatments for human diseases, or to assess toxicity to humans of new drugs or chemicals.

Research involving in silico, in vitro, microdosing or neuroimaging have virtually unlimited potential – which will only increase with improvements in technology.

In vitro techniques have a long and illustrious history, even changing the course of drug discovery with Sir Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928.

Screening that has taken weeks using cell-based assays can now be accomplished in a computer model in less than a minute. Today, a huge range of human-predictive software is available, from a large and rapidly growing number of companies. Clearly there is so much good human-based data that relying on animal-based data is a waste of precious time.

Kathy Archibald, EFMA

Q35. Posted at 17:59 BST