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Subject: Animal Rights Myths FAQ v1.2 (2/2)

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:23:06 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: politics/animal-rights/myths
All FAQs posted in: talk.politics.animals, uk.politics.animals, sci.bio.misc
Source: Usenet Version


Archive-Name: politics/animal-rights/myths/part2 Posting-Frequency: Monthly
MYTH 2.11 "There are no laws or regulations protecting lab animals. " In the UK, the use of animals in research is governed by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1996. This has been referred to several times in this FAQ and is worth looking at in more detail (1). The Act requires that animal procedures: *take place only in laboratories which have appropriate animal accommodation and veterinary facilities, and have gained a certificate of designation *are part of an approved research or testing programme which has been given a _project licence_ * are carried out by people with sufficient training, skills and experience as shown in their _personal licence_ Licences are only granted if: *the potential results are important enough to justify the use of animals * the research cannot be done using non-animal methods *the minimum number of animals will be used *dogs, cats or primates are only used when other species are not suitable *any discomfort or suffering is kept to a minimum by appropriate use of anaesthetics or pain killers *researchers and technicians conducting procedures have the necessary training, skills and experience *research premises have the necessary facilities to look after the animals properly (laid down in a Home Office Code of Practice) The Act is enforced by a team of Inspectors (all qualified vets or doctors). They visit each establishment an average of 8 times/year, often without prior notice. In addition, a named vet must be on call at each establishment at all times. Animals must be examined every day and any animal in severe pain or distress that cannot be relieved must be painlessly put down. Other countries in Europe and North America have similar laws and regulations governing animal research. for example the US Animal Welfare Act and the 'Guide for the care and Use of Laboratory Animals' of the Public Health Service. 1) Description taken from 'Facts and figures on animal research in Great Britain' (1995) RDS ***** MYTH 2.12 "Researchers don't care about the well-being of animals." Like most people, most researchers love animals and care about their well-being. Many have family pets, and unlike animal rights organisations they do not wish to see domestic animals eradicated. That's why scientists and doctors support the principle of the 3 Rs -Reduction, Refinement and Replacement - a principle first established by scientists themselves (1). Scientists, like everyone else, will be happy to see the use of animal in research stop. However this can only happen when it is no longer necessary to advance science and medicine - and this will not be possible in the foreseeable future. 1. Burch R & Russell W The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique (1959) ***** MYTH 2.13 "Animal rights is a 'progressive' philosophy" There is nothing 'progressive' about depriving the seriously ill of medical advances. Opposition to the AR cause cuts across traditional the traditional left-right divide. Indeed, the only modern regime to enact the type of legislation demanded by the AR movement was Nazi Germany. The Nazis enthusiasm for animal rights is illustrated by the news article reproduced below (taken from the Animal Research Database cited in Section 3): The following is a translation of document #186 in Medizin im Nationalsozialismus by Walter Wuttke-Groneberg (Rottenberg: Shwaebische Verlagsgesellschaft) 1982. Translator's remarks and literal German words in {}. Vivisection Forbidden in Prussia! The New Germany leads all civilized nations in the area of animal protection! The famous national socialist Graf E. Reventkow published in the Reichswart, the official publication of the "union of patriotic Europeans", the lead article "Protection and Rights {Recht} for the Animal". National Socialism, he writes, has for the first time in Germany begun to show Germans the importance of the individual's {italics} duty toward the animal {end italics}. Most Germans have been raised with the attitude that animals are created by God for the use and benefit of man. The church gets this idea from the Jewish tradition. We have met with not a few clerics who defend this position with utmost steadfastness and vigor, yes one could say almost brutally. Usually they defend their position with the unstated intent of deepening and widening the chasm between man who has soul and soulless (how do they know that?) animals... The friend of animals knows to what inexpressible extent the mutual understanding between man and animal and feelings of togetherness can be developed, and there are many friends of animals in Germany, and also many who cannot accept animal torture out of simple humanitarian reasons. In general however, we still find ourselves in a desert of unfeeling and brutality as well as sadism. There is much to be done and we would first like to address vivisection, for which the words "cultural shame" do not even come close; in fact it must be viewed as a criminal activity. Graf Reventkow presents a number of examples of beastial vivisection crimes and affirms at the end, with mention of Adolph Hitler's sharp anti-vivisectionist positions, our demand that once and for all an end has to be brought to this animal exploitation. We German friends of animals and anti-vivisectionists have placed our hopes upon the Chancellor of the Reich and his comrades in arms who are, as we know, friends of animals. Our trust has not been betrayed! The New Germany brings proof that it is not only the hearth but bringer of a new, higher, more refined, culture: Vivisection, a cultural shame in the whole civilized world, against which the Best in all states have fought in vain for decades, will be banned in the New Germany! A Reich Animal Protection Law which includes a ban on vivisection is imminent and just now comes the news, elating all friends of animals, that the greatest German state, Prussia, has outlawed vivisection with no exceptions! The National Socialist German Workers' Party { NSDAP } press release states: "The Prussian minister-president Goering has released a statement stating that starting 16 August 1933 vivisection of animals of all kinds is forbidden in Prussia. He has requested that the concerned ministries draft a law after which vivisection will be punished with a high penalty *). Until the law goes into effect, persons who, despite this prohibition, order, participate or perform vivisections on animals of any kind will be deported to concentration camps." Among all civilized nations, Germany is thus the first to put an end to the cultural shame of vivisection! The New Germany not only frees man from the curse of materialism, sadism, and cultural Bolshevism, but gives the cruelly persecuted, tortured, and until now, wholly defenceless animals their rights { Recht }. Animal friends and anti-vivisectionists of all states will joyfully welcome this action of the National Socialist government of the New Germany! What Reichschancellor Adolph Hitler and Minister-president Goering have done and will do for the protection of animals should set the course for the leaders of all civilized nations! It is a deed which will bring the New Germany innumerable new elated friends in all nations. Millions of friends of animals and anti-vivisectionists of all civilized nations thank these two leaders from their hearts for this exemplary civil deed! Buddha, the Great loving spirit of the East, says: "He who is kind-hearted to animals, heaven will protect!" May this blessing fulfil the leaders of the New Germany, who have done great things for animals, until the end. May the blessing hand of fate protect these bringers of a New Spirit, until their godgiven earthly mission is fulfilled! R.O.Schmidt *) As we in the meantime have learned, a similar ban has been proclaimed in Bavaria. The formal laws are imminent - thanks to the energetic initiative of our Peoples' chancellor Adolph Hitler, for whom all friends of animals of the world will maintain forever their gratitude, their love, and their loyalty. From: Die Weisse Fahne {The White Flag} 14 (1933) : 710-711. This support for animal rights is also found in today's fascists. German neo-Nazis have used the slogan "Stop animal experiments - use Turks instead" (1). In the UK, the animal rights policies of fascist groups have been documented by the internationally-respected anti-fascist journal Searchlight (2). A leading Green Party member was sufficiently to concerned to say that "Eco-fascism is on the march" and noted that "Despite their hatred of other races the far right have become animal lovers" (3) A group of UK fascists aligned with Italy's neo-fascists established an AR organisation called Greenwave. Its aims include: "Total ban on all animal experiments Total ban on the use of animals in ANY form of entertainment Total ban on ALL hunting or shooting of animals" In its 4th issue, the UK AR magazine Arkangel published no less than 5 letters from members of this group and other fascists, defending the rights of fascists to take part in AR groups and spelling out their AR credentials(4). None of this is intended to imply that *all* AR supporters are card-carrying fascists. However, it does make it clear that support for AR is certainly not 'progressive' and in fact is confined to the political fringes. No major political party of the left or right supports the AR agenda. 1) Searchlight (1988) no.161:19. 2)'The Greening of the Brownshirts' Searchlight(1989) no.165 3)' The Green Shirt Effect' Searchlight(1989) no.168:4-5 4)'They're no Arkangels' Searchlight (1991) no.189:12 ***** MYTH 2.14 "Animal rights groups' propaganda is truthful." AR propaganda routinely makes fictitious claims, in order to win support, and of course money, from people who have no access to other information. In the UK material produced by AR groups has repeatedly fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Authority. Aside from the examples cited elsewhere in this FAQ, the following AR claims (by the National Anti Vivisection Society) were found not to meet the ASA's 'legal, decent, honest, truthful' standard in 1994 (ASA ref. B93-00281): "Animal experiments are...misleading and unproductive" "Animal experiments are bad science" "They [animals] suffer from different diseases [to humans]" PETA have also fallen foul of the ASA with their claim that thalidomide passed animal tests with 'flying colours' (1) When the group Anti Vivisection Agency placed an advertisement in several UK newspapers in December 1992. Virtually every sentence was found to be in breach of ASA standards(2) ! However, first prize for dishonesty has to go to the group Plan 2000. This AR group produced fund-raising leaflets in which nearly every claim was found not to meet the ASA's standards(3). These are all examples of an independent body finding that claims made by AR groups are dishonest and misleading. In fact, such misleading material tends to be the rule rather than the exception, leading to the conclusion that it is a deliberate tactic rather than an unfortunate accident. 1) ASA Monthly Report no. 65 October 1996 2) ASA Monthly Report no. 19 December 1992 3) ASA Monthly Report no. 43 December 1994 ***** MYTH 2.15 "Animal rights groups should be supported by animal lovers." In fact AR groups such as PETA have many extreme proposals that pet-lovers in particular should be shocked by: "Pet ownership is an abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation" (Ingrid Newkirk, PETA founder Washingtonian Aug. 1986) "In the end I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether" (Ingrid Newkirk Newsday, Feb. 21 1988) "One day we would like an end to pet shops and breeding animals [Dogs] would pursue their natural lives in the wild" (Ingrid Newkirk, Chicago Daily Herald Mar 1, 1990) "Eventually companion animals will be phased out...." (Ingrid Newkirk, "Just Like Us? Toward a Notion of Animal Right" (symposium), Harper's, August 1988) "Let us allow the dog to disappear from our brick and concrete jungles- from our firesides, from the leather nooses and chains by which we enslave it." (John Bryant, _Fettered Kingdoms: An Examination of A Changing Ethic_ (Washington D C, PeTA, 1982). p. 15) "The cat, like the dog, must disappear..... We should cut the domestic cat free from our dominance by neutering, neutering, and more neutering, until our pathetic version of the cat ceases to exist." (John Bryant, _Fettered Kingdoms: An Examination of a Changing Ethic_ (Washington, D.C.: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 1982), p.15) From the above, it is clear that pet-lovers have a great deal to fear from the AR movement. People who describe themselves as supporters of 'animal rights' are often shocked to discover the real agenda of the AR organisations. This is because being an animal lover is not the same as supporting animal rights. Most people who describe themselves as animal lovers, including most scientists, are in fact supporters of _animal welfare_ rather than animal rights. ***** MYTH 2.16 "Many scientists and doctors support the AR position." Doctors and scientists involved in biomedical research are overwhelmingly in favour of the continued use of animals in research. In 1988 and 1989 the AMA surveyed 500,000 active physicians, both members and non-members. 97% supported the use of animals in medical research. A survey of the attitudes of UK doctors was carried out by the British Medical Association in 1993(1). Over 94% agreed with the statement that "animal experiments have made an important contribution to many advances in medicine". Only 2.3% disagreed. 83% agreed that "animal experiments have an important role in developing new treatments. The BMA produced an official statement on animal research: "The BMA believes that animal experimentation is necessary at present to develop a better understanding of diseases and how to treat them, but believes that, wherever possible, alternative methods should be used." Section 2.6 of this FAQ describes the British Association for the Advancement of Science's Declaration on Animal Experiments and its overwhelming support among eminent scientists and doctors. The most recent survey is that of all living Nobel Laureates in medicine and physiology, carried out in 1996 to commemorate the centenary of Nobel's death(2) 39/71 Laureates replied and their responses are instructive: 100% agreed that "animal experiments had been vital to the discovery and development of many advances in physiology and medicine". 100% agreed that "animal experiments are still crucial to the investigation and development of many medical treatments". 100% agreed that "Because there is no complete alternative yet, a total and immediate ban on animal experiments would hamper much medical progress". From all of the above it is clear that the overwhelming majority of scientists and doctors support the use of animals in biomedical research. More specific myths involving individuals are dealt with below. 1) BMA News Review, June 1993 (Representative sample of 800 surveyed/350 replied) 2) Centenary Survey of Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine (1996) SIMR ***** MYTH 2.16.1 "Charles Darwin opposed animal research" In fact, he was a strong supporter of it. In a letter to a Swedish professor of physiology in 1881, Darwin wrote (1): "I know that physiology cannot possibly progress except by means of experiments on living animals, and I feel the deepest conviction that he who retards the progress of physiology commits a crime against mankind." 1. The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (1959) Darwin, Francis, ed. New York: BasicBooks, Inc., 382-383. ***** MYTH 2.16.2 "Albert Schweitzer opposed animal research" In fact, he had the same attitude as today's scientists. In a letter to the New York Times (1), James A. Pittman, M.D., recalled visiting Schweitzer in 1957 in French Equatorial Africa; "At that time, I asked him specifically about his views on the use of laboratory animals for biomedical research. His response (as translated from the German) was: 'It is necessary for the advancement of medical understanding.' There was absolutely no equivocation in his statement." Schweitzer's own words on animal research can be found in The Teaching of Reverence for Life (Holt, Rinehart, Winston; 1965). Schweitzer makes the same moral distinction made by the research community: while all life is meaningful, the goal of improving human and animal health requires the sacrifice of some life in order to preserve others. 1. Letter from James A. Pittman, M.D., Dean, University of Alabama School of Medicine, to the New York Times, May 26, 1990, p. 22. ***** MYTH 2.17 "Many lab animals are used in testing tobacco products." In fact, just two project licences for procedures connected with tobacco were issued in the UK in 1995 (1). Both were concerned with investigating the link between smoking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The experiments did not use dogs, as AR literature likes to imply, but embryonated chicken eggs . 1. Report of the Animal Procedures Committee for 1995 (1996) HMSO, London ****** MYTH 2.18 "The number of animals used in research each year is 100 million/250 million/ a billion" AR groups make a habit of exaggerating the numbers of animals used in research. The UK AR group Plan 2000 fell foul of the Advertising standards authority for that very reason (see Myth 2.14 above). The true world figure is around 50 million. In other words, one rat, per person, per 100 years. That breaks down as follows (figures in millions): USA 22 (1) EU 11.8 (2) Japan* 2.5 Canada 2.1 (3) Switzerland 0.86 (4) Australia 0.75(5) others* 10 total 50.01 * Estimated on the side of caution NB UK figures have shown a steady decrease over the last 20 years and in line with that it is likely that the world total is now considerably lower that 50 million. 1. US Congress Office of Technology Assessment (1986) 2. Commission of the European Communities (1994) 3. Canadian Council on Animal Care (1995) Resource 18 4. Swiss Federal Office of Veterinary Care (1993) 5. Report of the Australian Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare: Animal Experimentation (1989) *********** 3 WHERE TO GET RELIABLE INFORMATION ABOUT BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH Americans for Medical Progress AMP is a wonderful organisation that campaigns on behalf of the seriously ill and others who benefit from medical progress (i.e. all of us!). Many will be familiar with their successful "Hollywood Hypocrisy" campaign and other actions in support of AIDS sufferers. The AMP WWW pages have a great deal of information about the AR movement's aims and tactics, the benefits of biomedical research, AMP campaigns and much else. Why not visit them and join in their fight to stop AR supporters halting medical advance. Their URL is: http://www.ampef.org/ Research Defence Society The RDS is a UK association of doctors and biomedical scientists. It produces a great deal of carefully researched information showing how the use of animals has been essential in biomedical advance. The RDS also runs proactive campaigns to bring this home to the public. The RDS WWW site is an invaluable resource for all those interested in defending biomedical research. Their URL is: http://www.uel.ac.uk/research/rds/ Biomedical Research Education Trust BRET produce excellent material aimed at schools and non-scientists. Their material explains the need for animals in research in an informative but jargon-free way. Recommended. URL: http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~bret/ Foundation for Biomedical Research The FBR is a sort of American RDS and produces an impressive selection of education and publicity material. If you are interested in the truth about the use of animals in biomedical research, this is another URL you should have in your bookmarks file: http://www.fbresearch.org/ European Biomedical Research Association This site contains a wealth of detailed information about animal use in the EC, and the EC regulations governing it. You can find it at http://www.uel.ac.uk:80/research/ebra/ Other useful WWW resources: The Animal Research Database, compiled by Greg Popken, can be accessed at: http://www.fcs.uga.edu/~mhulsey/GDB.html This contains a great deal of useful material, including information about Nazi support for animal rights, from which the translated document reproduced in 2.13 was extracted. The Mouse and Rat Research Home Page This is the place to go for scientific information about how 85% of lab animals are used. The URL is http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~mercer/htmls/rodent_page.html I am always happy to hear about other resources - if you know of any you think should be included, please send me the details. ****** 4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The material collected here has been compiled from a number of different sources. A significant amount was taken (with permission) from material produced by the Research Defence Society, much of it by Dr J. Botting. Material was also taken from the web sites of Biomedical Research Foundation and Americans for Medical Progress. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who work for these fine organisations, often at some personal risk. Their activities are helping to make this world a better place. I take responsibility for any mistakes and the overall compilation. COPYRIGHT NOTICE The author of this FAQ is Kevin O'Donnell (kevin@embra.compulink.co.uk). Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute this FAQ providing it is copied in its entirety, including the Acknowledgement and copyright notice and provided no charge is made.