Tales From the Front Lines in The Animal Research War

The Animal Research War

by P. Michael Conn and James V. Parker

Palgrave Macmillan: 2008, 224 pages.

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i-0269d1799056eab3222bf6ea0315835d-animalresearchwarside.gifIn a dark room, buried in a nondescript building somewhere in London, an orderly array of new trainees sits silently, listening intently as a senior police official delivers a security briefing. Clicking through slide after slide of photos of activists, extremists, and terrorists, the official carefully explains who each person is, what organization(s) he or she is associated with, and what level of threat that person poses. All of this would probably look like business as usual if security is your day job. But, this audience isn't made up of new police recruits: these are first-year graduate students, attending a course that's mandatory to conduct animal research in the UK.

Of course, this security briefing is just a small part of this course, which in part fulfills the requirements set by the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act. More fundamental to its mission is the training these students will receive in animal handling and welfare--one of the many safeguards put in place in the UK, like in the US and elsewhere, to ensure that animal research is carried out as humanely as possible. However, if one considers that just 60 miles down the road, in Oxford--where many of these students will be carrying out their graduate research--animal rights extremists are a real threat to animal researchers and anyone associated with them, this whole endeavor seems a little less outlandish.

Until it was completed just a few months ago, construction workers at the new biomedical research building in Oxford arrived and left each day by secret convoy and wore full face masks to protect their identities. The menacing grey barrier that they worked behind--complete with razor wire and anti-climb pain--still stands today, long after completion. Throughout the work, the identity of building's contractor was a closely-guarded secret (the original contractor had pulled out, stalling construction for 16 months).

As reactionary as this may appear, it's just a rational response to a constant barrage of intimidation at Oxford that has at times escalated to arson and letter bombs. And, although Oxford has become a focal point for the animal rights movement, it's far from unique, as demonstrated by the tales told in The Animal Research War, coauthored by P. Michael Conn and James V. Parker. "War" might sound like a strong word to use here, but after reading account after account of intimidation and destruction, it's clear that the animal rightists are fighting a one-sided campaign of terror--publicly painting animal researchers as profit-driven sadists and destroying reputations, lives' works, and millions of dollars of property in the process.

Delivering this narrative are scientist P. Michael Conn and communicator James V. Parker, both of the Oregon National Primate Research Center. Conn opens the book with his own tale of intimidation faced at the hands of animal rights extremists. As associate director of the Primate Research Center, he has been a constant target of animal rightists. In the opening vignette, he is rushed onto a plane after being followed to the boarding gate by angry activists. These same activists had just launched a coordinated campaign of lies and intimidation that had derailed his finalist interview for an administration position at the University of South Florida. As the authors go on to demonstrate, Conn's experience is not unusual and is even relatively minor compared to some.

A common tactic of the animal rights extremists is to take the fight to the researchers' homes, involving their families and neighbors. They publicize the scientists' personal information, target their neighbors with misinformation designed to turn them against the researchers, hold disruptive demonstrations in front of their houses, and even deliver death threats to them and their families.

These actions have consequences, and the activists have sometimes succeeded in getting researchers to drop promising avenues of research--in hopes that they can once again lead normal lives. Each of these might be a "victory" for the animal rights movement, but each is a loss for the countless others who might have one day benefited from that research, from AIDS patients to stroke victims and everyone in between. And, this is isn't even as bad as it gets, as UCLA researcher Edythe London found out this year, when in the span of less than four months her house was attacked twice--first by flooding then by arson.

These aren't the actions of a few isolated individuals, but are instead the product of an intricate and interconnected web of different animal rights organizations. The authors devote a significant portion of this book to making sense of this web, and they show that the web sometimes reaches into high places--like money flowing directly from PETA to the ecoterrorist organization ELF (Earth Liberation Front), for example. And, I believe that it is here and in the stories of the researchers targeted by these organizations where the true value of The Animal Research War lies. Scientists need to know what they're up against, and any potential sympathizers of these organizations should be aware of just what they're supporting.

Another important contribution that this book makes is that from the outset, the authors make the very important distinction between animal welfare and animal rights. Although these two terms are all too frequently used interchangeably (and I'll admit that I've even fallen into this trap on occasion), they have very distinct meanings. Animal welfare describes our responsibility to care for animals in a way that minimizes pain and suffering. This is a fundamental value in our society that only true deviants would stray from. Animal rights, on the other hand, describe an extreme ideology postulating that animals possess inherent rights and that humans should not use animals for any purpose, including for food, clothing, transportation, or research. Although I haven't stressed the importance of language and terminology as much as I should, in my previous writing I have made the related point that animal rights activists are not concerned with improving the conditions of laboratory animals, but instead their goal is to eliminate animal research altogether. It's not that they place a particular significance on animal research as opposed to the use of animals for food--it's just that animal research is an easier target. Regardless, confusion of animal rights and animal welfare plays into the hand of the animal rights activists, equating their extreme goals with values we all share. The authors made a good choice in emphasizing the importance of language and terminology from the start, and it's certainly something that all of us--myself included--should be cognizant of.

Beyond this, The Animal Research War goes on to explore the philosophical underpinnings of the animal rights movement, to make the case for animal research, and to tackle some common misperceptions. Interlaced throughout is commentary that at times seems unnecessary--especially in the discussion highlighted above about the tactics of the animal rights extremists, where their actions tend to speak for themselves. Despite this, the book is still well-worth a read, especially if you're interested in some of the topics often discussed here. And, if you're not so familiar with the topic, hopefully at the very least a picture will emerge of researchers motivated dually by a love of discovery and a desire to alleviate human--and animal--suffering being unfairly targeted by an organized and underhanded movement that destroys reputations as well as property and at times severely hinders important scientific work.

Although there are few positives in a discussion of animal rights extremism, the authors end on an optimistic note: Pro-Test. In response to the intimidation described at the beginning of this post, the grassroots organization Pro-Test rose up in 2006 and has organized several successful and effective marches in support of animal research. It certainly helped change the tide against the animal rightists in a very palpable way here in Oxford, and hopefully it will serve as a model elsewhere. Although the authors of The Animal Research War focus only on Laurie Pycroft, the founder of Pro-Test, I think it's important to acknowledge that there were many people that helped make Pro-Test a success. Among those were Tom Holder, who's now advocating for animal research in the US and many, many others, including several students and a handful of Oxford scientists (you can see the bios of the current committee here). If there is a bright spot in the animal research war, it's what Pro-Test has done in Oxford, and just as Conn and Parker ended their book there, hopefully similar actions will help bring the conflicts elsewhere a little bit closer to peaceful resolution as well.


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A timely piece Nick considering some of the recent attacks on scientists in the USA.

It's worth noting that in the UK AR extremist attacks have dropped sharply in the past few years. This is perhaps mostly as a result of the police, courts and lawmakers getting their act together, but also I suspect because organizations such as Pro-Test, and the favorable reaction they got from press and public, showed them that extremism would backfire and hurt their cause.

Anyone who wants to do something to remedy the situation should consider contacting Speaking of Research http://www.speakingofresearch.org/. While the gut reflex to terror and extremism may be to go out and buy a gun, a far better response would be for scientists and supporters of science to back the scientists who are being targeted by the extremists, not just in private but on the streets, in newspapers and on the web!

A fascinating book by all accounts. However, I think it is worth pointing out that the problems that scientists face from extremists in the USA are no longer prevalent in the UK. A combination of better laws, improved policing, prosecutions of hard line activists, as well as communications and support activities that have helped to bolster resilience within research institutions, means that animal rights extremism has all but faded in the UK. I say 'all but' because if you are in Oxford there is still some extremist activity there.

Thank you very much for a quick look at this book. It seems interesting and impacts me directly, so I look forward to reading it and spreading the message.

I've read and enjoyed "the animal research war" - an interesting looks at many components of the animal rights movement including an in depth look at some of the key players and organisations.

Good article. It does show that violence and intimidation can be beaten by standing up to the thugs. Many people support animal based research, but have been threatened into silence. Hopefully more can speak out in favour of research in the future.

What a great book. A call to action. I ordered one for each of my kids school libraries! More should speak out.

THE ANIMAL RESEARCH WAR book and the organization, SPEAKING OF RESEARCH give me a sense of hope.

I think this book tends to forget the victims here are the animals! Period.

By Linda Carey (not verified) on 08 Jul 2008 #permalink

This article is completely disingenuous. The book cover art shows the Garden of Eden. Please have the decency to call a spade a spade, show a picture of an animal in a lab.

Most of this research if futile and ineffective, wasting precious resources on wanna-be doctors egos and fears. Publish of perish; at any cost, especially to animals. Those researchers with an inch of compassion will be ashamed of what they have done.

Put live cams in these labs, let us see the animals and how they are treated. Then I will believe a word of the supposed humane treatment; because all images I've seen so far show Auschwitz for all those unfortunate enough to be non-humans at the hands of 'scientists'.

I thought scientists were cerebral. That should mean you question everything, and then question the answers. Surprisingly, all I see is the young following in the footsteps of the old, making no improvement or innovation. For shame.

This whole article lives in the past. Look for solutions that benefit all, going forward, instead of sinking money into an antiquated system of nonchalant cruelty.

The new testing movement for non-animal based research is already underway and many methods have already been approved in the EU (http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/epaa/). The US is significantly behind with approved alternatives, but there are signs of hope. Furthermore, this will provide real solutions faster to those sick and in need. There are many alternatives if there is a will and desire to do better. Efficacy and efficiency will be served, with the added benefit of not sacrificing compassion.

It's time scientists learn to think for themselves. Preferably with a heart.

If the research was so futile and ineffective then how do you suppose all the research breakthroughs have come about? Are you suggesting that all of biology is null and void due to its reliance on animals as subjects of study?

By the way, I would gladly show anyone how I treat my animals because I know I take very good care of them. Hell, they probably get better treatment from me then most children do from their parents in this country.


You'd apparently sacrifice several human lives just to save an animal.

Get your fucking priorities straight.

This is a really intense issue for me. I feel extremely strongly for both sides here. On one, I've been a vegitarian for over ten years now and see the current treatment of animals in our societies as an extension of the long tradition of seeing other creature as merely SUB-human in every way. On the other hand, I can't tell you how dissapointed it makes me to see activists resorting to violence and tactics that may lead to MORE overall suffering (ie that of the researchers, and those who would benefit from thier potential breakthroughs).

I think I feel guilty and disillusioned twice at the same time. For being willing to cause non-human animals suffering for POSSIBLE future net-benefits, and for strongly sympathizing with the animal right's supporters. In reality, I would need to do much more study to flush out these beliefs and my stances more fully. Like how much of the research really leads to ending human (or animal) suffering? And what kind of suffering do these lab animals have to endure?

By the way, I don't think the distinction between "animal rights" and "welfare" is nearly as clear-cut as the author would make it seem. Everything is shades of gray. Also, I love Neda's idea of putting cams in all slaughter-houses and research facilities, its occured to me too. And even if it would reveal trade-secrets, how about a just a government entity to review the footage and regularly release their findings?

Many people decide they are for experimentation without thinking about it in any great detail. Are you pro vivisection or only drug research? Are you pro cosmetic tesing? Do you know the differences? What if we were the ones being forced to smoke or having 3rd degree burns inflicted on us to study a new ointment? Then would we want alternatives? How would we feel confined with no hope of ever feeling the sun or the wind on our faces? Animals have a nervous system and a brain too. They have adapted over millions of years to run and play and form social groups. Animals are capable of pain and of love. Anyone who has ever loved a pet knows that animals recognize those they trust and those who have harmed them and they feel happiness as well as loss and sadness. Immagine being a living feeling creature in a cage with no hope of escape,with only the certainty that someone who does not care will come every day to hurt you again. Isen't this really the issue? The scientists say they minimize pain for the animals but how much pain would you be willing to endure? How many electodes implanted in your brain to study motor funtion would be ok? Have you read some of the stuff they do? Deprive puppies of a balanced diet to study the effects of malnutrition. Is there anyone still out there who does not know a deficient diet is harmful? When will it have been studied enough? We humans fear getting a vaccination or a blood test because it might hurt; immagine if we had to endure sleeping in a stainless steel cage with no other living creature to cuddle up to and with nothing to think about except pain and fear? Dogs cuddle together, so do cats, so do rats, they seek companionship and a feeling of safety. Mental and physical torture that is what experimentation is for the animal. As humans we are capable of feeling empathy, why is it that so few of us do? If you were waiting all alone for the next forced feeding or invasive proceedure with no hope for escape would you really think that it was worth it? Ask yourself honestly, if you were the one who had to pay the price of pain and suffering would you still think it was so great? I hope more people will read up on the unnecessary repetition of experiments, on the fact that many drugs are harmless to animals and then go on to harm people. We have evolved, we can use better alternatives, we just have to be willing to let go of old outdated practices. I think everyone owes it to themselves to look at this issue from both sides with an open mind and ask themselves the difficult questions. I leave each of you to your own conscience.

By Think about it (not verified) on 08 Jul 2008 #permalink

In regards to Eloheim's comment, the placement of camera's in animal research facilities would certainly be an extreme and unusual step, although it's not an idea without some merit, I suppose. However, you have to realize that these facilities already undergo inspections to insure that they are operating within the current law.

Thanks for the review, I'm going to put this book on my amazon wishlist.

I'm an animal welfare activist myself, and I absolutely hate being lumped together with people like the ALF or PETA. While the latter doesn't engage in terrorism, I still find a lot of their propaganda tactics pretty vile - for example, still using that stupid "animal testing for cosmetics zomg!!!" strawman, even though that's been outlawed over here since 1998 (I live in Germany, and yes, this tactic has been used by the German PETA).
I'm quite proud of the fact that over the years, I've managed to turn a number of people away from those shrill, sensationalist extremists and towards organizations that have a more balanced view of the issues at hand, be it animal testing, farming, zoos, or conservation efforts.

By Darwin's Minion (not verified) on 08 Jul 2008 #permalink

Neda, your missing an important point. Most "vivisectionists" actually spend most of their time using non-animal methods, human clinical studies, genetic research, cell and tissue culture based methods etc. Animals continue to be used because they can provide important information that the other methods can't provide (the opposite is also often true). When non-animal methods can replace animal methods in research they do so, though of course as with any new scientific method there is often a period of debate while the capabilities and limitations of the new and old method are compared, complete replacement is often not possible.

Animal research accounts for about 10% (perhaps less) of the total biomedical research effort in the UK, but surveys indicate that over 90% of doctors and scientists believe that it makes an important contribution to medical advancement.

On the issue of toxicity/safety testing (which accounts for about 15% of animals used) there is no doubt that much more will be done in vitro in future, the knowledge and technology to allow this is advancing steadily, though some animal testing will almost certainly be required for some decades yet. What is important is to not confuse such regulatory testing with research; research is by its nature far more open ended and due to the uncertainties involved far more difficult to replace with in vitro testing.

Believe me scientists do have hearts, it's one reason why many of us choose a career in medical research. If we really were heartless law would have been a more lucrative career choice.

Linda Carey. Absolutely. I have never heard a pro consider the suffering of the animals. I think that speaks volumes.

Steve. Neda is perfectly right. Testing on animals has repeatedly shown to be futile and ineffective. What about all the drugs that keep being withdrawn after passing as 'safe' on animals? Animals are completely different to us in many ways. There are always regular reports of very serious side effects caused in humans by relying on the way animals responded, The drug Vioxx and the ongoing court cases is just one example. I would call that ineffective. In fact I would call that very worrying. People have been maimed because of animal tests.

It depends on what your idea is of 'taking care' is, doesnt it? Keeping an animal imprisoned in a cage and removing it to experiment on it and killing it at the end of the process is far removed from taking care of it! To state that any animal held in a lab and experimented on is taken care of, is an insult to a persons intelligence. Or maybe confirmation of yours if you think that everyone will believe that ridiculous idea.

Katharine, bit of a knee jerk reacion?

I didn't see where Neda had said she/he would "sacrifice several human lives to save an animal". That's just your perception as she/he spoke of non animal testing and about other testing methods that are already underway. That is perfectly true, some intelligent and innovative scientists have found better, more accurate and relevant methods of testing instead of using animals.

I don't believe that it is even logical to consider using a different species let alone think that we have the god given right to do so just because animals do not have the power of speech. I don't think it would ever have begun if animals could talk. I think it is such a low act of mankind. It has been called a 'necessary evil' by pros (if anything can ever be called that) but it is being proven more and more to be not necessary just evil.

Incidentally, it's a pity you chose not to comment on the interesting facts in Neda's posting.


Consider, for a moment, the aims of most of those experiments. Most of them attempt to learn about some aspect of the human body or animal body that we would not know without these animals.

There are methods of experimentation that are possible without animals. However, in some experiments, an in situ test is required, and rodents, for example, are the most genetically similar animals to humans without experimenting on primates (I am pro-animal experimentation, but I do not like experimentation on great apes). The issue is far more ethically complex than most animal activists seem to be aware of - the IRBs at my university, for example (we have multiple IRBs to oversee animal care) are extremely strict about maintaining proper animal care. (The Harlow Primate Laboratory, however, is a special case, and one that I'm not completely familiar with, but pictures I've seen of the inside of the lab seem to indicate that the rhesus monkeys are getting along fine)

How much have you read of institutional protocols for animal research? How much have you read of what we science people have accomplished by doing animal research?

Neda had absolutely no interesting points. We're already developing what alternatives we can develop, but nothing replaces organisms.

Your comment that "The issue is far more ethically complex than most animal activists seem to realise" is typical and fails to recognise that activists include scientists, doctors, surgeons, professors, ex-vivisectors and various other experts in the field who have got facts and information from being directly involved. It is a misconception that animal activists are made up of the general public who do not possess any factual evidence. This could not be further from the truth. In any case any individual can search on the internet and find factual evidence for themselves from a whole array of sources including scientific journals. A Director of a testing facility stated that animal testing was only accurate 5 -25% of the time. I don't like those odds.

Of course they are not getting along fine. Confined in a cage instead of in their natural habitat, and being experimented on and you describe that as fine? It only takes a little common sense to know that that is impossible for them to be fine! Would you like it? would you be getting along fine? That's absurd. When you say things as ridiculous as that I am afraid it does not inspire any confidence about anything else that you have to say.
You seem somewhat detached to say the least.

Let's talk about some failures of vivisection. There are some very interesting sites about that. Thalidomide was devastating and maimaed people after 'passing' animal tests. It is extremely worrying that you don't acknowledge that there can be very real dangers to the public from animal testing. You appear to be completely ignoring the negative side of animal testing.

I have looked into this subject thoroughly and I have found information that 'researchers' (I do not regard testing on animals as research or science for that matter) have claimed successes from animal testing when in fact the discovery had been found in other ways. I believe that it is inevitable that we will abandon animal testing, it has already started to happen in some forward thinking areas.

Incidentally, have you seen any animals cry, struggle, bite, fret, shake, scream, vomit, become violently ill etc etc? Do you restrain them in devices to stop them from moving while you 'work' on them? Sounds lovely.

I am afraid Neda did make very good points, thats why you lost your temper and resorted to abuse and swearing.

Lindy, just because animal testing can't identify all toxicities it doesn't follow that the testing is futile. Phase I and phase II clinical trials (and even Phase III) don't identify all toxicities, so should we scrap them too?

Vioxx is a good example, it lead to an increase in heart attacks, but overall the number of heart attacks among trial participants was still low, if I remember correctly the instance doubled from just over 1% to just over 2%, a difference that's highly unlikely to show up in pre-clinical animal testing. Rather ironically the earliest evidence for a cardiovascular risk associated with COX-2 inhibitors came from studies published in 1997 which showed that deletion of the prostacyclin gene in mice was associated with increases thrombosis, which was a concern as one of the main effects of COX-2 inhibition is to lower prostacyclin levels. By 2003 several animal studies had indicated that COX-2 inhibitors could increase the risk of heart attack e.g.
Hennan J.K. Et al. Effects of selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition on vascular responses and thrombosis in canine coronary arteries.Circulation. 2001 Aug 14;104(7):820-5. PMID: 11502709

"In celecoxib-treated animals, vasodilation in response to arachidonic acid was reduced significantly compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate important physiological roles for COX-2-derived prostacyclin and raise concerns regarding an increased risk of acute vascular events in patients receiving COX-2 inhibitors. The risk may be increased in individuals with underlying inflammatory disorders, including coronary artery disease."

Of course by then the COX-2 inhibitors had been in widespread use for some time. With the benefit of hindsight it would have been useful to test the COX-2s in animal models of heart disease (where their tendency to increase the rate of heart attacks would have been clear), but hindsight is a wonderful thing. I certainly think that it's foolish to blame tests that were not performed for not identifying a problem. I'm also not aware of any in-vitro tests that could have predict the prothrombotic effects of the COX-2s, at least not without the supporting evidence from animal studies that linked low prostacyclin levels to heart attacks. At least now new anti-inflammatory drugs can be screened for their effect on the cardiovascular system prior to human trials.

None of us on the "Pro-Test" side think that animal testing is magic, like all scientific techniques it has its strengths and weaknesses, and is dependent on good experimental design. We also do care about animals, I'm a member of several conservation charities and support better welfare for laboratory animals, it's got a lot better in recent decades but there's still room for improvement.

Lindy, I find your latest comment particularly inaccurate. I have had quite a bit of face time with both scientists and animal rights activists. During those many, many encounters, I have never--I repeat, never--personally come across a person belonging to both groups. Now, I don't mean to say that there don't exist any scientists who are animal rights activists--I'm sure they do exist. However, they must be exceedingly rare, and they certainly do not exist in the numbers that you imply.

Also, you say that "animal testing was only accurate 5-25% of the time." What does that even mean? You need to provide some context and some references, rather than just throwing meaningless numbers around. Besides, this focus on "animal testing" that animal rightists generally adopt misses the point and displays their fundamental misconceptions about the scientific process. Sure, drugs are "tested" on animals, but that's not the main contribution of animal research. Instead, it's in unlocking the basic biology. This is a very significant factor, and it means that for virtually any drug on the market, animal research at some point contributed significantly to its development. And, this would make even more irrelevant whatever numbers you're throwing around about animal testing being inaccurate.

Lindy "Let's talk about some failures of vivisection. There are some very interesting sites about that. Thalidomide was devastating and maimaed people after 'passing' animal tests. It is extremely worrying that you don't acknowledge that there can be very real dangers to the public from animal testing. You appear to be completely ignoring the negative side of animal testing."

Thalidomide did initially pass safety tests in animals but this was because the proper tests were not performed: thalidomide was not tested on pregnant animals. If a thorough battery of tests had been performed in animals, the teratogenic effects would have been caught. Thalidomide was never approved for sale in the USA because the Food and Drug Administration felt that not enough testing had been carried out. After its withdrawal from the market, thalidomide was tested on pregnant animals and found to induce birth defects in mice, rats, hamsters, marmosets and baboons if administered during the sensitive period (see citations below). If these tests on animals had been carried out, the disaster would have been averted. So the thalidomide example so beloved of anti-vivisectionists turns out to be an argument in favour of more animal testing, not less -- which is why it is now a legal requirement to test all drugs on pregnant animals. It was the absence of rigorous animal testing that led to this human tragedy. Banning animal testing would create similar disasters on a staggeringly frequent basis.

Despite decades of research there is still no in vitro test available that can demonstrate the teratogenic effects of Thalidomide!

Further reading:
D. A. Blake, G. B. Gordon, & S.P. Spielberg, 'The role of metabolic activation in thalidomide teratogenesis', Teratology 25: 2 (1982), pp. 28A-29A.
J. A. DiPaolo, 'Congenital Malformation in Strain A Mice: Its Experimental Production by Thalidomide', Journal of the American Medical Association, 183 (1963), pp.139-141.
F. Homburger, S. Chaube, M. Eppenberger, P. D. Bogdonoff & and C.W. Nixon, 'Susceptibility of Certain Inbred Strains of Hamsters to Teratogenic Effects of Thalidomide', Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 7:5 (1965), pp. 686-69.
W. J. Hamilton & D. E. Poswillo, 'Limb Reduction Anomalies Induced in the Marmoset by Thalidomide', Journal of Anatomy 11 (1972), pp. 505-50.
A. G. Hendrick, L. R. Axelrod & L. D. Clayborn, 'Thalidomide Syndrome in Baboons', Nature, 210 (1966), pp. 958-95.
C. T. G. King CTG & F. J. Kendrick, 'Teratogenic Effects of Thalidomide in the Sprague Dawley Rat', The Lancet vol. ii (1962), p. 1116.
S. V. Rajkumar, 'Thalidomide: Tragic Past and Promising Future' Mayo Clinic Procedures 79:7 (2004).

Very convenient for the old cognitive dissonance that animal research turns out to be of no benefit to human health, and that evil scientists are engaged in a conspiracy to hide this truth.

Otherwise we'd be forced to face the more nuanced ethical dilemma of weighing up human health against animal suffering.

I read "The Animal Research War" and loved it-- both for the writing style and the extensive referencing. It debunks, with references, the claims that animal research is valueless and shows how words taken from context can be made to lie. It discusses oversight and regulation of research and explains the steps that researchers MUST go to in order to minimize the use of animals and their pain in research. Lastly, the cover is not the GARDEN OF EDEN as suggested above --but a painting in which the artist shows the fallacy of the unrealistic "perfection" of nature. Its time a book like this was written-- I am sick of the PeTA garbage that they are giving out in schools. Maybe a ittle balance would be good!

Nick Anthis, it is not inaccurate, I think you misinterpreted it. When I spoke of scientists, doctors, surgeons, professors, ex-vivisectors I wasn't meaning in BOTH fields at the same time. They are far from exceedingly rare, you know that, I think you are trying to fool us. There are professional organisations that exist that consists of all these professional and knowledgable people. Europeans for Medical progress, Dr Hadwens Trust, Lord Dowding Fund, Safer medicines etc etc... Respectable organisations working towards a better future where mankind does not abuse sentient animals. These knowledgable experts state that animal testing is not only MISLEADING but that it has DELAYED medical progress. The facts on this can be found on the internet. See Vivisection is Absurd for a comprehensive listing.

The facts about the following and more, can all be found on reputable sites on the internet...

Less than 2% of human illnesses (1.16%) are ever seen in animals. Over 98% therefore never affect animals.

(When diseases are reproduced in animals they are artifical).

95% of drugs passed by animal tests are immediately discarded as useless or dangerous to humans.

When asked if they agreed that animal experiments can be misleading "because of anatomical and physiological differences between animals and humans" 88% of doctors agreed.

Rats are 37% effective in identifying what causes cancer to humans. Flipping a coin would be 50% effective, and therefore more accurate.

Rodents do not get carcinomas, the human form of cancer which affects membranes, (eg lung cancer) Their sarcomas affect bone and connecting tissue, the two are completely different.

The results from animal experiments can be altered by trivial factors such as diet and bedding and stress.

Attempts to sue the manufacturers of the drug Surgam failed due to the testimony of medical experts that "data from animals could not be extrapolated safely to patients"

Lemon juice is a deadly poison, but arsenic, hemlock and botulin can be proved safe by animal tests.

According to a far reaching study, 88% of stillbirths are caused by drugs which passed animal tests.

A World Health Organisation study showed children were 14 times more likely to develop measles if they had been vaccinated.

In America 100,000 deaths a year are attributed to medical treatment. In one year 1.5 million people were hospitalised by medical treatment.

40% of patients suffer side effects as a result of prescription treatment.

"The discovery of anaesthetics owes nothing to experiments on animals" The great Dr Hadwen noted "had animal experiments been relied upon ... humanity would have been robbed of this great blessing of anaesthesia"

Aspirin fails animal tests, as do digitalis (heart drug) cancer treatments, insulin (which causes animal birth defects) penicillin and other safe medicines, They would be banned if vivisecionn were heeded.

When the producers of Thalidomide faced court, they were aquitted after numerous experts agreed animal tests could not be relied upon for human medicine.

At least 450 methods exist with which we can replace animal experiments.

At least 33 animals die in labs per second worldwide.

The Director of Research Defence Socety (which serves to defend vivisection) was asked if medical progress could have been acheived without animal use. His written reply was "I am sure it could be"

Source: Vivisection information network

This is a small sample of facts. I urge every member of the public to look into it thoroughly. It's vitally important to you. I stay away from the medicines that are developed this way. I support reseach that is relevant to humans.

You wouldnt go and see a vet about your illnesses, would you?

Animal testing will definitely be banned. Too many learned people are speaking out against it and I believe that it will not go ignored. It's not wise to ignore it and continue with what is basically an archaic practice.

Why doesn't anybody write and let us all know in detail what it is exactly that you do the animals? It is never spoken about, why is that? Be open about it and let the public judge your 'work'.

Oh and you got this wrong as well, It wasn't ME that said it, I did put that I was quoting (Actually it was a former scientific executive of Huntingdon Life Sciences who said animal tests and human results agree "5 - 25% of the time")

Isn't Merckk, that developed Vioxx, facing court cases from approximately 60,000 people? That is your idea of a good example of how animal testing is working?

Paul, You said "the proper tests weren't performed" for thalidomide. ha ha ha
Yes, I have heard that response a few times, Is that supposed to be a reasonable and acceptable explanation for the tragedy?

If there is a difference in how species react, which there clearly was, testing should be reviewed, not increased or done differently because you will still be doing these other 'proper' tests on the same animal that has already shown to react differently than humans do in the first place. Where is the sense in that?

I wonder if any of you would feel differently if someone in your family had been deformed by it?

Nick anthis - So.... and your point is? I get my factual information from people that do have a great deal of knowledge, and that is perfectly adequate. some of them may have more knowledge than you..... how about that!

So.... and your point is? I get my factual information from people that do have a great deal of knowledge, and that is perfectly adequate. some of them may have more knowledge than you..... how about that!

It sounds to me like you're working off a collection of "facts" and cheap shots that you've received via email forwards. Why not post your sources for your claims, as other commenters have done?

That's what I thought. Looking at what you write from a scientific viewpoint, all I see are a list of disjointed numbers and statements, none of them cited, taken out of context and clearly not evaluated critically. That doesn't make for a convincing argument or one worth engaging with.

Nick Anthis -
I would imagine that there will be subjects that you do not have a background in, does that mean that you can not be aware of things about that subject? There is an element of common sense, morality and ethics too. I am disturbed that some people consider that they have the right to inflict suffering on animals simply becasue they do not have the power of speech and are helpless to stop them. What does that make us? I find it all despicable to be quite honest and to think that experts are saying that it is totally unnecessary makes the business even worse.

Dzd - I have listed the source also......

Nick Anthis - well that is one way to avoid answering isnt it?

It has been said that there are two kinds of people that support vivisecion, those that have a vested interest and those that do not know enough about it.

I am neither...


I'm not going to go through all of your disjointed statements point by point, because (1) you don't source any of your statements, (2) these have all been countered before, and you're not saying anything new, and (3) I actually have better things to do, believe it or not (like writing my PhD thesis!).

In fact, this comment thread is starting to sound increasingly like an ALF press release. You don't happen to be an ALF press officer, Lindy, do you?

Lindy- please comment on your view of this statement made by your colleague, Jerry Vlasak. Do you agree? It helps to put your view of human life in prospective.

"And I don't think you'd have to kill � assassinate � too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on. And I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human animals."


did you read it properly? I did put the source!

yes, amongst other things I do receive emails. They contain valid newspaper reports, scientific journals, info from government sites, information from the FDA, NICE, notes from discussions and debates, doctors, professors, etc, etc. So what on earth is your point about emails and why do you assume that it debases the information? Cheap shots? its from perfeclty valid sources. same old same old.....

I am nothing whatsoever to do with the Alf. Talk about cheap shots! I am just a concerned citizen that uses her own mind to find things out. Funny how the topic has turned isnt it? with nothing said about the actual tests. I have come to learn that pros don't like to discuss this subject in any detail and the reasons for that seem clear. I repeat myself again, I DID put the source. VIN

Lindy, that list you have is mostly rubbish. Some of the claims are nicely duebunked at http://www.pro-test.org.uk/MythsJan2008.doc. I daresay others are debunked elsewhere, though a few appear really obscure!

Oh and Lindy the point about Thalidomide is that the only way that the teratogenic effect could have been observed before it was given to pregnant women was by testing it on pregnant animals, there neither were nor are any other tests available that could identify the problem. As a consequence of the Thalidomide tragedy the regulations were changed to require that drugs are tested on pregnant animals (following a review of the testing procedure). While the animals are not identical to humans they are a lot better than nothing, which is what you're proposing!

If any of my family had been deformed by Thalidomide I'd be very angry at the fact that it was not tested on pregnant animals before it was given to pregnant mothers!

p.s. I love the little bit of anti-vaccination that crept into Lindy's list;-)

It's not that surprising given that one source listed is "the great Dr. Hadwen". You can find out a little more about this leading light of the campaign against germ theory and vaccination at http://www.pro-test.org.uk/MythsJan2008.doc

The quote about less than 2% of human illnesses being found (naturally) in animals also strikes me as complete cobblers, though it perhaps it might be explained by the inclusion of many rare diseases that have been documented in humans but never looked for in animals.

The issue here is not the absence of a source, but the source that you used. Is this "VIN" peer-reviewed? Open to editorial? Or is it merely a laundry list that every Tom, Dick, and Harry can use to create verbal or writing sound bites?

As a private citizen, it is your right, and in effect, your duty to question the effectiveness of these experimental models. But know this...every model has been reviewed and questioned by the scientific community. Thousands of submitted proposals go through the questioning process you yourself are undertaking. And even before those proposals see the light of day, if the experimental techniques do not pass the internal review boards of the home institutions, they do not continue. The peer review process in any field is difficult, as it is "easier to squeeze water from a rock" than it is to get funding in this frugal time. So though you may question the role of animals in experiments, those experiments are not done without specific goals and detailed humane treatments outline in advance.

Yes, humane. Possibly a foreign thought, but the animals that I deal with are treated humanely. Clean cages, plenty of food and water. Twelve hours in which they are not to be disturbed. Any surgical treatments are done with anesthesia, and postoperativly administered drugs for pain treatment and to prevent infection. We constantly work to prevent undue stress or harm to these animals.

Finally, your comment about the lack of "proper tests" is missed. Prior to the mid 90's, few if any tests were preformed on females. What could be a horrid mistake was the assumption that any and all effects seen in male rats/rabbits/etc. would be similar in female. Thusly, your thalidomide effects. The FDA assumed such a problem, as pointed out above. The point here is that without gender specific animal testing, it would be impossible to predict if any drugs, or any pathophysiological condition, existed separately in males and females and if treatment regiments need to be altered in concert with specific gender groups.

For clarity, I have a PhD in Neurophysiology.

For a VIN that _is_ peer-edited, try Veterinary Information Network.
And I'm sorry, but whatever random source from where you plucked the only 2% of disease being comparable from non-human animals to humans is grossly mistaken. Just ask every major medical university that trains comparative pathologists or veterinary pathologists. Do humans not get influenza? Bacterial meningitis? Pancreatic cancer? I think they do.
All this arguing gets a little ridiculous. You kids who claim to not want to take any drug that's been through animal testsing, well, go take your non-FDA-approved vitamins and nutraceuticals because, as a veterinary student, I can guarantee you that every other drugs has been through animal testing.
You'd probably sleep better at night if you stopped imagining that animal labs are like abattoirs. Every animal testing facility I've been to has been like paradise for the animals, especially in Europe... almost a Garden of Eden you might say. They get more play time and better veterinary care than most pets in the U.S.

By Meredith M. Clancy (not verified) on 09 Jul 2008 #permalink

What can we get from animal test that we can't do with other tests?

Ask a researcher:

Why do you test on animals?
Because they are like humans.
Why do you not give animals right?
Because they are not like humans.

Fucking contradiction. It's an industrial complex just the same as the military or prison industrial complexes.

I agree that there are different types of research, such as ones for cancer and ones for cosmetics (the latter really makes my blood boil), but all these tests can be replaced with ones that don't involve animals. But wait, the breeding companies which basically own these labs would lose a lot of money and stop funding (it's more complicated I know, but this is it in a nutshell).

XVX for life, R.A.S.H. 'til death.

That's right Hann, all the doctors and scientists just do research on animals because they want to maintain the profits of animal breeders. Of course, it's all so obvious now. I also like the argument that a handful of scientists and doctors opposed to animal research is supposed to bolster the anti-vivisection case, but the vast majority that support animal research are just dupes or vested interests and don't count.

I'm curious as to how our anti-vivisectionist friends think something like the deep brain stimulation techniques of Tipu Aziz (boo, hiss) could have been developed without using animals (scroll down to the bottom of this post).

For me, and for many other scientists, studying animals, whether in laboratories, breeding colonies, zoological gardens, or in nature, is not just about human health and certainly is not about financial gain. Such study is essential to the understanding of everything about animals and their health, as well as their behavior, ecology, and evolution. The knowledge gained by studying animals helps us to appreciate them more and to better understand ourselves and our origins. Of course, it is very appropriate to be concerned about the methods used to study humans and other animals--to ensure careful and humane treatment, and to attempt to learn as much as possible from each individual. Let us not forget that humans are primate mammals. We have much to learn from the creatures with whom we share the planet. Let us do so creatively and kindly, but let us be sure to learn what we can, for their benefit and for ours. Ignorance is not the answer to suffering.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Its really nice to see a robust discussion of this topic here.

A couple questions occurred to me and I'd like to hear anyone's response:

1) Would we all agree that non-human animals are not capable of experience the same ammount of suffering as humans are? Like we can experience more suffering than chimps, who can experience more than ants, who can experience more than protists or bacteria (if at all?). Also, would anyone agree that human infants can probably not experience the same level of suffering as adults? How about the severely mentally retarded? And if so, would experiments on babies be acceptable in any circumstances?

2) Is it worth it to cause suffering to one creature (or person) in order to prevent more suffering for others? For example, I would probably kill one person to save many (although the future affects of that act on society as a whole would have to be taken into account). Would you? Where would you all draw the lines?

3) Is there any any-bit objective way to measure suffering? I've heard of people measuring fishes responses to electric shock and finding similar plateaus of stress responses. Is this a good measure (even if the actual suffering AMOUNT is different)?

4) To those who would not can animals to suffer in any way ever, where would you draw that "animal" line? At primates? Mammals? Vertebrates? Creatures with brains? Just nervous tissue (ie some worms I believe only have ganglia)? How about single celled organisms? Or viruses?

I have a pretty simple, maybe simplistic, concept of ethics with regard to treatment of others, be they adult humans, immature or impaired humans, nonhuman apes, other primates, other mammals, other vertebrates, or invertebrates (or even plants, ecological communities, whatever....).

The concept is: Treat others with due consideration.

While that sounds simple or even simplistic, it gets pretty complecated pretty quickly. To treat others with due consideration, one must understand something about them--and the more, the better. This implies a need for reliable and valid knowledge to inform understanding and appreciation. What is our most effective way of obtaining reliable knowledge? Scientific method. Beyond that, there is a need to consider how one interacts with another from the perspective of the other. This is challenging, and it involves what is often called "empathy." Placing one's self in the position of another and imagining the interaction from that perspective is a subjective operation, not an objective "scientific" activity. Such subjectivity is open to all sorts of irrational and emotional influence, but it is essential, I think, to the process of "due consideration." Either pure objectivity or pure subjectivity is not likely to be a sufficient basis for interacting ethically with another.

So, with regard to item 1) above, where does it say that scientifically studying a human or other animal causes pain or suffering? Can we agree that interacting with humans and other animals in ways that do not involve pain or suffering is generally acceptable? Being studied scientifically can involve pain and suffering--like many other aspects of life--but it does not necessarily do so.

Some scientific research involves observations or surveys. Some involves manipulation of independent variables and observation or measurement of dependent variables. The latter kind of study is called an "experiment." If no pain nor suffering is involved in this process, it is hard to see how this is unethical with regard to human or nonhuman research subjects.

Now, if there is pain or discomfort or suffering involved, is it not relevant whether the research is intended to relieve discomfort or not? If there is the potential for pain, is anesthesia used? Or if there is pain, is it relived by administration of an analgesic?

If the study reults in a physical, mental, or behavioral change, is that change permanent or transitory? Is the change harmful, helpful, therapeutic, neutral, what?

So, there is a simple answer. Scientifically studying human and nonhuman animals is important and valuable--even ethically essential--as an alternative to ignorance and failure to act rationally when knowledge would inform appropriate action.

Now, how one acquires knowledge requires very careful consideration, and action appropriate to the organisms involved, the urgency of the situation, and other contextual issues and information.

Is the scientific study of humans and other animals ethical? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Is prohibition of the scientific study of humans and other animals ethical? No. While some methods are unacceptable under some circumstances, a blanket prohibition of scientific research is blatently irrational, unethical, and unacceptable. Ignorance is not an acceptable alternative to knowledge as a basis for ethical behavior.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I've never really got Singer's point about people with learning disabilities - to claim intellectual equivalence between, say, someone with Down's syndrome, and other animals shows a complete lack of familiarity with learning disability.

Babies, on the other hand, I guess he has a point.

And yet, within the history of scientific comparative studies of how learning occurs, it was the discovery and description of "learning sets" (that is, formation of learning strategies) that led to effective advances in educating people with Down's syndrome. That discovery was made by Harry Harlow by studying rhesus monkeys, and was reported as "Learning to Learn." This was before his classic work on emotional development called "Learning to Love." And, of course, scientific studies of human infants and people with Down's syndrome have demonstrated a number of therapeutic approaches in human development and education. Such research is not immoral; in fact, failure to do such work would be profoundly unethical.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

At the risk of prolonging a sterile and repetitive debate about whether animal research works, a good source of evidence that it does - backed up by references to the medical and scientific literature - can be found at http://www.animalresearch.info. This site welcomes contributions from working scientists. It is of course moderated to exclude the antics of the cut-and-paste antivivisection propagandists that we see above.

With regards to Joe E.'s response to my Post #50 above (with the open questions): I agree 100% with your general ideas of treating living things with respect.

In my opinion, the amount suffering of differing species and individuals must occur on a gradient. I know for a fact that I can suffer greatly (and feel great pleasure too, for that matter), and I take it as an article of faith that other people can too. However, it?s obvious, as illustrated by evolutionary history, that there is no discrete difference between human and non-human. At one point in our history there was a creature mid-way between homo sapien and our (ape) ancestor. It is possible, I suppose, that some certain gene mutation caused us to feel suffering (or just a MUCH greater amount of it) all the sudden. In other words, one of our ancestors? offspring would be capable of much greater suffering than his/her immediate parent. This seems unlikely to me though, because many non-human animals exhibit very similar stress responses and behaviors as we do.

Therefore, we are capable of more suffering than other apes, which can experience more than rodents, which can suffer more than worms, than bacteria, etc. However, this does lead to the obvious question: where do you draw the line for the capability to suffer AT ALL? I really doubt a single-celled organism suffers at all, as we know it, and a sponge probably doesn't suffer much either. But at some point in the past those single-celled organisms gradually BECAME those sponges. And to go back even farther, in the origin of life, organic molecules had to come together to become the first cells. Does this mean in some extremely small sense that even atoms and particles can suffer? I'll admit it seems absurd.

Also, by the same token, we all have gone through development from a single cell to adults within our lifetime. So I would assume we couldn't suffer when we were just a few cells, but when in that gradual development to adulthood did the capacity emerge?

Of course, I believe it all has to be a gradual scale of capability of suffering. But is there any way to quantify that AMMOUNT of suffering? I would hope someday brain scans and advances in neurology could shed some light on this. A simple way to measure amount of suffering, now, though, could be to give animals choices between different painful or pleasurable alternatives, and see what they choose. For example, if a rat had to endure either 1 or 2 Volts of electric shock to get food, I would assume they would choose the former. [Note: I'm certainly not supportive of actually doing those sorts of experiments.] This does bring up the problem, though, that the animal must act purely on their MEMORY of the suffering, so if the larger electric shock has a side-effect of erasing the memory of the suffering some how (use your imagination/other examples), then the animal would choose the 2 Volts even though it hurts more.

Another question I've always wondered, is what is the scale between pain and pleasure like? Is it with suffering on one end (-100) and total ecstasy at zero (0)? In other words, pleasure is really just the LACK OF SUFFERING (much like Buddhist thought if I remember). OR, is it pain on one end (-100) and pleasure on the other (+100), with lack of feeling in the middle (0)? This seems more likely to me because we would all go through a little bit of suffering to get a lot of pleasure. Or is there even a difference between the two scales, other than how they are described? Another possibility would be the opposite of the first idea, with pleasure at the far end (+100) and severe pain at zero (0). Of course, I think the first and last scales I mentioned would be equivalent, unless they were based upon a exponential or logarithmic function (like the [amount of blood to certain areas of the brain] = [pain^2] + [pleasure], if pain was seen as more important than pleasure). This makes some sense to me because, personally at least, there is no amount of promised future pleasure for which I would endure the worst torture imaginable, so [pain > pleasure]. I really haven't thought all this stuff out though, as if you couldn't tell.

Also, if you can't tell, I'm very utilitarian in my ethical reasoning. And even though we cannot measure pain/pleasure objectively right now, and instead have to go by the best indicators we have, I dearly hope one day it will be possible.

(One more thing I remembered with regards to the pain/pleasure scales above: If you believe that pleasure is actually good in itself (i.e. not just a lack of suffering), then you should support as much multiplication and reproduction as possible, assuming the lives of the individuals are good, right? This is so because all those lives would increase the overall pleasure (at least up until the point where over-population led to more suffering than pleasure in their lives). ON THE OTHER HAND, if you believe that pleasure is really only a lack of suffering, you would not support infinite procreation, because it could only increase the amount of overall suffering in existence. Am I right?)

I had a little time on my hands if you can?t tell. : )
And please feel free to e-mail me [eloheim7@gmail.com] with any thoughts as well.

Does the possibility of a child having a normal lifetime weigh less than the abstract principle that we cannot use animals in research?

I am the co-author of "The Animal Research War," the book that Nick mentions in the blog above. The quote in post #56 is from a recent "Science Friday / Talk on the Nation" on National Public Radio on the topic of this discussion thread.

If you wish to hear the entire show, it is available as a free podcast at:

To "Eloheim" and Michael,

First, I'm interested in your book, Michael, and look forward to reading it. We have met a time or two. One time I recall was during a site visit at the primate center some years back.

Second, in response to the discussion on the capacity to experience pain, I do not mean to be overly dismissive, but I don't think thinking about questions of this kind leads us very far. My bias is that thinking about how to obtain empirical evidence and about what such evidence may mean has some value. But, acting as if we know answers we do not, and possibly cannot know, is not very convincing to me.

I think the "hierarchy of suffering" is only slightly interesting and probably leads to incorrect conclusions. The issue is way too complex to be handled in such a manner, and there is a kind of "speciesism" that I find annoying. There are tremendous individual differences in intelligence, emotionality, and sensitivity to stimulation, within species and across species. You can't just make up answers about who suffers most or least.

Further, I think all this consideration of suffering is based on the equation of scientific research with the suffering of research subjects. I do not accept that research necessarily involves suffering. In fact, one of our goals is to ensure that suffering is always avoided or relieved. It seems to be commonly believed that a reason for studying nonhuman animals is because a procedure would be too painful to inflict on a human. I doubt that this rationale is hardly ever used these days, or that it would get past many Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees.

Basically, for nonhuman primates we ordinarily act as if whatever would be painful for humans would be painful for nonhuman primates, and we make sure pain is avoided, minimized, and relieved. The same is true, I think, of how we handle involvement of human subjects. And a criterion used with great apes as well as humans is usually whether or not an experimental procedure is likely to be beneficial to the individual involved.

As much as people would like to mislead others into equating research with torture, it simply is not true.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 12 Jul 2008 #permalink

To Joe Erwin:

Thanks for the response. I do have a bit of a problem with your pessimism at trying to measure or estimate suffering. Is that not what we all do intuitively all the time? We can all think of examples where the suffering an animal would have to endure in an experiment would not be warranted with respect to the possible benefit. Just because we can't measure suffering exactly right now shouldn't mean that we don't even address the issue.

To your point about a wide range of experience within and between species, I agree wholeheartedly when it comes to the development of an individual within a lifetime, but do you really think that any "fully-functional" adult chimpanzee can suffer more than any similar human? Or that a rat could suffer as much as an ape?

Thirdly, I'm truly not that familiar with the realities of animal research today. So you may be right about researchers not performing experiments on non-human animals just because of the pain involved. And I would certainly agree that non-human animals experience more PHYSICAL pain, versus the great MENTAL pain that we can experience when loosing family members, for example (although I'm probably still underestimating the animals' attachment to one another). In other words, painlessly killing an animal would be very different from doing the same to a human, who's family would still suffer greatly.

My question to you, Joe, though, is: if you cant quantify suffering/pleasure at all, then what do you base your life decisions on? If you were in charge of deciding which research avenues were worth pursuit, how would you weigh the possibilities. Are you really saying the possible suffering of the non-human subjects wouldn't have much of a role? And I totally get what you say about research not HAVING to involve animal suffering, but what if countless lives could be saved by it? Sure, we could wait for other advances, but isn't allowing other suffering to occur when it could be stopped just as bad as inflicting it yourself?

PS. Sorry if I misread any of your comments, btw. Different people have different interests so maybe you were just saying personally this philosophical end of the spectrum doesn't much excite you.


Eloheim, I appreciate you comments and questions, and your appreciation that different people have different interests.

I do think there is reliable and credible evidence upon which we can base decisions about the likelihood of excessive pain and suffering. But understanding the private experience of others is certainly challenging, at the least.

People often set up hypothetical situations that are not much related to reality, such as, suppose we kill a few chimpanzees or subject them to very painful procedures. Would you find that acceptable if it might save hundreds of thousands of human lives. My first objection to this is that this is not the situation people are usually faced with in deciding whether or not to conduct research involving chimpanzees.

The reality is more like this: A study can be conducted in which a small number of chimpanzees born in captivity are confined and experimentally infected with an illness at an age when the severity of the illness is very mild. This is a very common pathogen that most humans and chimpanzees get exposed to by the time they are 2 or 3 years old. When contracted before three months of age, the illness is frequently fatal, and hundreds of thousands of human infants die of it each year. It has sometimes been fatal to small infant chimpanzees. Exposing previously unexposed chimpanzees at 18mo to 2 years can help to identify strains of the virus for use in vaccines--strains that promote high immune response but low levels of mucous production. Thus, chimpanzees get exposed experimentally to something they would most likely get exposed to anyway. They are exposed at an age with the virus poses little danger to them. The individuals exposed receive some protection against future infection. Adult humans and adult chimpanzees cannot be used because they have already been exposed to the virus in almost all cases. Widespred use of an effective vaccine identified by such work could eradicate epidemics of this virus in Africa and other places. In Africa the potential exists of infection of wild chimpanzees with this virus coming from humans. Elimination of epidemics can save chimpanzees in the wild. No one involved in the research is likely to die. If the research is not done, humans and chimpanzees will continue to die. This is a real situation, not something made up for people to argue about.

More later. I have to take a break.


By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 12 Jul 2008 #permalink

Joe, I definitely see what you're sayin, lol, you live in the real world. I commend you on your detailed example. I've heard before about the stringent processes researchers must go through in order to get approval for animal experiments (especially those that will cause the subjects distress).

Thinking about all this has got me interested in the specifics of those approval mechanisms. Are there any explicitly stated plateaus of distress, perhaps indicated by certain stress responses in the animals, that suggest the experiment is worth it as long as there is a likelihood (and just HOW likely) of beneficial results.

And by the same token, are there specifically outlined levels of (proposed) success? For example, if there are 50,000 people expected to suffer from Disease X within the next 20 years, that would seem to deserve more sacrifice than Disease Y, confined to 10,000 people. But how about if Disease X rarely causes severe symptoms, whereas Disease Y is almost always mortal. Logic seems to dictate that these amounts of (possible) benefit would have to be multiplied by the chance (%) that the experiments would ACTUALLY lead to the proposed breakthroughs. Of course, I know its all but impossible to quantify an experiment's likelihood of success, but it's obvious that one could be more of a long shot than another. (And also, I know its never as simple as "making the breakthrough that cures all cancer.")

Basically, I'm wondering whether these experiment approval processes include anything towards stating such objective(-ish) quantities, verses being largely intuitive. And, btw, I know you're not an encyclopedia, Joe (that's what the library/internet's for, hehe), but I'm interested to see if you have any insights into this matter.

Eloheim, We seem to be the only one's conversing here, so maybe we should take our discussion private. In answer to your last post, though, the approval process varies from place-to-place, but for many projects there are multiple levels of scrutiny. Such as, approval by the institutional committee prior to submission of a grant proposal, evaluation by the granting agency, approval or not of funding, return to the institutional committee for approval of specific projects or sub-projects as the research process progresses and is refined. There is consideration of likelihood of "success," but success can be a lot more than finding what you expect or hope to find. Finding what doesn't work is pretty important too, or finding that what is accepted as "common knowledge" is not true under certain circumstances.

I think we may be talking about different levels of organization. Of course, investigators do attempt to convey to reviewers the urgency and importance of what they are proposing, by, among other things, pointing out the prevalence of particular health problems. There is a "priority score" is typically assigned by a study section based on "levels of enthusiasm" expressed by grant reviewers.

It is a terribly complex and difficult process to get funded, at least for independent researchers seeking federal funding. Less so for scientists employed by NIH to do research, but still, not easy, and subject to much review.

Reviewers and committees do consider some of the kinds of things you mentioned, and there are training workshops for people who serve on animal care and use committees and human subjects committees.

I hope this is of some help.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 13 Jul 2008 #permalink

Yea, thanks, I see what you mean. As far as the lack of other activity on here, I know what you mean. I was hoping someone else would have chimed in by now. Oh well.


I must confess to feeling a little strange having a blog conversation with "Eloheim." I seem to recall from my time, many, many years ago in theology training, that "Eloheim" is the name of the highest and most powerful element of the holy trinity. I appreciate that yours is a sort of cosmic perspective and that mine is more like merely global....

Feel free to contact me at: agingapes AT gmail DOT com

In any case, wishing you well,


By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 13 Jul 2008 #permalink

This article is absurdly slanted. It's full of loaded words like "terrorist" and "extremist." This sentence in particular: "each of these might be a 'victory' for the animal rights movement, but each is a loss for the countless others who might have one day benefited from that research," is absolutely fantastic. The far majority of human suffering on this planet comes from curable diseases, bad water and malnutrition. Anyone who is serious about improving the human condition prioritizes the things we can already fix rather than chasing after new drugs poor people won't ever be able to afford anyway.

Regarding vivisection: taking a living creature and turning it into a mere means such that some humans might benefit is manifestly immoral. The fact that the potential beneficiaries are human does not matter in the least. "Humanity" is an arbitrary category that simply means "us." Historically, it has not always included women, people of color, homosexuals and other marginalized groups. As such, membership in "humanity" is a horrible standard for moral consideration. Nonhuman animals have intentions and social lives; they wish to be free from pain and confinement. Just because researchers can take advantage of a rat's inability to defend herself doesn't mean they should. There are plenty other ways that researchers, who are obviously very smart, could be using their abilities to benefit humanity.

Hmmmm. Alex talks about "loaded words," and then throws in "vivisection" as a term to describe apparently everything of which he disapproves. The term conjures up images of animals being cut into pieces while they are alive, conscious, and screeming--a practice that on the face of it is forbidden in modern science. The fact that some people choose to learn from systematically studying animals in no way prevents them or others from also addressing issues of human and nonhuman animal suffering using other approaches. There is nothing whatsover immoral or unethical about learning from animals for their benefit and human benefit, as long as the procedures used are sufficiently humane and considerate. In fact, I believe it would be immoral NOT to learn from animals in order to better appreciate and address their needs and interests, and to inform broader biological knowledge--some of which applies to understanding and management of human health and wellness (and certainly is not limited to drug discovery). Advocating for ignorance does no favor for any animal.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 15 Jul 2008 #permalink

Have any of you that experiment on animals, that are capable of feeling pain and suffering and are petrified of human beings after being held in cages and taken out every single day of their wretched lives to have painful things done to them that inevitably make them violently ill, ever looked into Dr Hadwens Trust or Europeans for Medical Progress and so on to be able to make informed comments about it?

It is very sad that some 'researchers' are so closed minded and intransigent that they do not consider for a second
any other ways of conducting medical research other than harming animals, but not all researchers are like that, thank goodness!

In the future mankind will look back on the dreadful things that were done to animals in sheer horror and disbelief. You must relaise that much...Do you really want to be known for being associated with that? or is it time for you to move into the future and develop better methods of testing that does not involve animals..

Leave the animals in peace... have some compassion.

Katharine reacted very badly to Nedas posting, F**ing was part of her reply to what was a perfectly reasonable posting - hmm it makes you wonder what she is like elsewhere doesn't it?

Dear Lindy,

Please understand that learning from animals is not the same as harming or hurting them. I am a very strong advocate of studying animals in nature, in zoological gardens, in breeding colonies, and in compassionately designed laboratories. Humanely conducted scientific research in which we learn from animals in ways that help us better understand them and the fundamental aspects of biology they share with humans, is really important to the well-being of humans and nonhuman animals. No, scientific research isn't all about humans--it is also about the health and well-being of nonhuman animals.

So, if a research or testing procedure is hurtful or harmful to animals or humans, let's invent better, noninvasive or minimally invasive methods. If those methods involve tissue cultures, use of post-mortem tissues, etc., sure, no problem, as long as the methods are valid and reliable.

But, please, do not advocate abandoning ALL scientific research involving animals just because you imagine it to be harmful and hurtful. Your position should be to be considerate of animals, including their interests and needs and health and wellness, not to just cease giving them any scientific attention. Ignorance is not the answer to suffering.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 23 Jul 2008 #permalink

Please understand?... don't talk to me like that.

Explain what you mean by 'learning' from animals.. Where are the animals kept? What do you do to them? do you kill them after 'learning' from them?

I do not think that there is any way that conducting painful experiments on animals can ever be called humane. Would you call it humane if it was done to you? you should not consider it humane just because it is done to other living beings. We know animals are capable of fear, pain, anxiety, stress and a whole range of emotions just like us. That should be taken into consideration making it utterly unacceptable to experiment on them. Clearly all the fear, stress and anxieties are bound to have an impact on the results, so they cannot be trusted to be accurate anyway!

What about the fact that these animals are kept 24/7 in small barren cages (some for 20 or more years) with no comfort and ultimately killed after performing painful experiments on them, do you not regard that as harming them? They are driven insane with the confinement alone so they are psychologically harmed as well as physically harmed.

Why are the animals put in restraining devices then if they are not being hurt? they struggle and want to escape the pain and suffering that is being forced upon them...

I've heard and seen their struggles, their screams and the noises they make and it is hearbreaking! If anyone wants the truth, search the internet, there is more than enough evidence of the harm that is done to innocent animals!

We have had undercover exposures aired. One was showing 'technicians' that lost their tempers and were screaming and shouting and punching puppies in the face for not sitting and standing still. They are not going to sit still are they? Would you? That was as well as testing things out on them.

I question very strongly that it is 'really important' because in fact there are many ongoing reports of humans experiencing very serious adverse reactions that were not predicted by animal tests. (The current approx. 60,000 court cases over Vioxx, an artritis drug, is just one example of this as it was said to protect the hearts of the monkeys but apparently had the reverse effect in humans), and there are reports of real medical progress actually being hindered because of relying on animal tests. Diabetes in particular. There are regular reports of medicines causing harm and being withdrawn from the market so it is bad science.

There are already other methods that are relevant to humans already in existence and that is good science.

Animals are systematically poisoned, burnt, mutilated, brain damaged, have their bones broken, shot at and so on... Curare (which is cheaper than anaestethic) has been used in operations which paralyses the muscles and the animals can feel every single thing. How can you even suggest that it is not harming them? Heavens, there is more than enough video footage to confirm the cruelty.

Every painful procedure man endures an animal has endured it first and mostly without the pain relief or care.

Let us know what you do.. Let others be the judge if it can be categorised as harming them! I dare you.

"If anyone wants the truth, search the internet,"

Do you believe everything that you read? It certainly appears that way. You clearly speak as a person whose only knowledge about animal research comes from AR propagandists. I ask again, can you back up a single one of your claims?

That's absurd! Of course I don't just automatically believe anything. Same old familiar tactics... You may not know but there is lots of information out there and its not propaganda! Why would animal rights make it up anyway? Why aren't animal rights organisations sued for spreading lies then? Quite the reverse, testing institutions are finding themselves in court! In any case you don't have to be Einstein to know that testing on animals is cruel. What about keeping animals in slatted cages that cause injuries to their feet, They have no stimuation, no comforts, just systematic pain and sudffering and abject fear. Obviously, they will be absolutely bored out their minds sitting there waiting to be experimented on daily. Treated as research 'tools'! They are clearly terrifed and driven insane, that's just basic common sense.

There is an abundance of evidence from a whole range of sources including ex-workers, whistle blowers, documentation, undercover video footage, court cases etc etc.... One particular court case against a well known establishment, that fought tooth and nail for the footage not to be shown, had a judge saying that the video footage shown was 'highly disturbing'.

Everything can be backed up and much more besides but I would prefer people to search for themselves.

I will post some links later.

It would have been nice if I had reciecned a response to what I actually said instead of an attempt to discredit what I say, same old, same old.... Well I guess when your case is weak what else can you do?

Lindy has challenged those of us involved in animal research to reveal what sort of work we have done. I am perfectly at ease in describing what I have done and what I continue to do. Much of what I have been involved with is a matter of public record, in that it has been published and is listed in bibliographic services, such as PrimateLit and PubMed. If one googles "Erwin" in PrimateLit, one gets 300+ references, of which only about 6 are not mine. The number of entries is, however, inflated, because chapters written by others for books I have edited turn up on such searches. I deserve neither credit nor responsibility for the work of others, but work described in contributions to volumes I have edited is clearly work of which I am aware.

I am quite supportive of eliminating painful and inhumane and wasteful research methods. What I find completely objectionable is the claim, frequently made, that the very worst that has occurred or been imagined is TYPICAL of research involving animals, and that the existence of bad or painful research or testing means that ALL research should be banned. Such overgeneralization is terribly misguided, and is very much like what is meant by "throwing out the baby with the bathwater."

As a student I conducted many studies of learning and problem solving in various kinds of animals, including fruit flies, frogs, fish, pigeons, rats & mice, and humans. I was interested in learning, cognition, and intelligence across many kinds of animals--not so much as a model of human intelligence as to understand and appreciate how these processes differed in animals with different evolutionary histories and ecological challenges. I did expect that such knowledge would help me understand human intelligence better and might have applications in helping prevent or treat some kinds of developmental and learning disorders.

Then I was asked by one of my professors to do some observations of rhesus monkeys in a laboratory. I became fascinated with primates and studied the development and persistence of social relationships among young rhesus monkeys for my dissertation project. These animals were not dosed with anything, nor did they undergo any sort of surgery. I chose to work with monkeys already in the lab, following up on previous studies, and doing the studies in ways that ensured long-term social housing for the monkeys involved.

My post-doctoral research was as part of a project that sought to understand the causes and consequences of premature birth and low birth weight. This involved working with pigtailed macaques in a breeding colony. We studied the individual monkeys in the colony who had the best and the worst breeding records. The work was intended to assist in some practical management decisions regarding the breeding colony, and, in a sense to add value to some of the animals that might otherwise have been "culled." Further, there was a prospect that whatever was causing the problem might also contribute to reproductive problems in other kinds of primates including humans. I became involved in studying many of the practical problems that were faced in the breeding colony (especially problems related to aggression among members of breeding groups and infant mortality).

In 1976 I incorporated the American Society of Primatologists to draw together people of good will who scientifically studied primates in many different ways. In 1980 I became founding editor of the American Journal of Primatology. I taught in colleges and universities for five years, and established a community ecology center which assisted with habitat restoration projects. Then I accepted a position as Curator of Primates for the Chicago Zoological Society. A few years later I moved to the National Geographic Society for an editorial position at National Geographic RESEARCH. During that time I initiated The Sulawesi Primate Project, a multidisciplinary field research project in Indonesia, and intiated and edited a book series called COMPARATIVE PRIMATE BIOLOGY.

All through this time I was involved with working to conserve wild primate populations and to improve the quality of life for captive primates in laboratories, breeding colonies, and zoos. Some of my activities included visiting research laboratories and suggesting improvements; other activities involved serving on NIH and NAS/NRC committees on animal welfare regulations.

Eventually, I was offered a job in a laboratory that conducted biomedical research under contracts with NIH. It was my job to develop and implement an environmental enrichment plan and to do research that would scientifically document which enrichment procedures were most effective. It became clear that the traditional caging supplied by NIH did not provide sufficient flexibility to implement some of the kinds of enrichment methods that could be most effective. Fortunately, both the company and NIH were supportive of inovative change and I was able to design new housing systems. These were accepted and adopted.

Then my attention turned to a project in which I am still involved. This is the Great Ape Aging Project. It is a cooperative project across many institutions, and has involved video recordings and behavioral observations of elderly and younger great apes. When the apes die of whatever they die of, their brains are removed and sent to my colleagues who study the brains of human victims of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, autism, schizophrenia, etc. The ape brains are studied using the same techniques as are used with the human brains, and direct comparisons are made that help us to better understand great apes as well as humans. Of course, that work is entirely noninvasive, and follows all the same procedures for the great apes as for humans. Some of the findings have been really remarkable, and I think they helpfully inform discussions of the cognitive abilities of great apes versus humans.

So, what you may find missing is anything about testing the toxicology of cosmetics. Yes, that is correct. I have not been involved in toxicology work, and there is much in toxicology that bears close scrutiny.

Perhaps I should mention that I have been involved as a human subject in various research projects, including a vaccine trial for Japanese Encephalitis B. While in the Army I volunteered for "Project Whitecoat," which involved human subjects in studies that later transitioned to animal studies (mostly regarding infectious diseases). My wife volunteered awhile back for experimental heart surgery. She's fine. There were never any problems. And my brain is scheduled to be donated for inclusion in the comparative neurobiology project.

So, my life is an open book, and I apologize for the length of this entry.

Wishing you well,


By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 27 Jul 2008 #permalink

*Why oppose vivisection*

As a veterinary surgeon, I would not test drugs for parrots on racehorses. I would test them on parrots - who are already sick - not healthy ones. Here is a very brief description of the process of drug discovery.

Medical drugs can come from many sources, including fungi and plants. I would begin by looking for any interesting pharmacological activity in plants, fungi, soil samples, etc., using high throughput screening techniques (HTS), in which the new compound is compared to already known pharmacologically active chemicals. This science is already well established and is referred to as "Quantitative structure activity relationships" (QSAR). No animal experiments are involved.

Next, I would test the drug on parrot cells, obtained from ethically sourced, donated tissue - e.g. from medical biopsies (in the case of human medicine, it is possible today to obtain ethically sourced cells of just about any of the 230 different cell types in the human body). Obviously, the most important cell types that will be used will include liver, kidney, nerve cells, intestine and so on.

Using single cells can provide some idea of how safe, or how toxic, the experimental drug is to those cells.
Watch this short video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYl0QHMqyKk

The next stage would be to mimic the entire organ, which can be done using organ slices, before going on to test the drug on an interactive multi-organ system. This can be achieved today using a lab-on-a-chip and microfluidics. The drug is introduced at one end, into the first compartment, which will consist of say, gut cells. From there, the drug and its break-down products (metabolites) will pass on to the next compartment, consisting of liver cells, and so on - through blood cells, kidney cells and possibly other types of cells as well (of the species in question).

Is this system perfect ? No, but it represents good science, insofar as it is species specific (i.e. it uses parrot cells to study parrot body reactions), and does not involve deliberately harming or killing any animals.

At this point, if we have exhausted every non-invasive option, we will try our new drug on an already sick parrot who is a suitable candidate for the new drug. In humans, at this stage, a technique called "microdosing" would probably be used. This technique allows researchers to follow the path taken by the drug through the body. The drug is given at such a low dose that adverse effects are highly unlikely.

In the US today, 96% of all medical schools have stopped training students using animals. Even the Advanced Trauma Life Suppport (ATLS) course for surgeons can be taught without using animals. Instead, simulators, mannekins and specially preserved cadavers are used.

This is by no means an exhaustive explanation, but simply an introduction, to show you that there are other ways for medical progress to be made, instead of using animals. In other words, let's have good science, which consists of three things:
it should be species specific;
it should benefit the individual concerned;
and it should be evidence based.
Animal research fails on all three counts (see: Perel P et al."Comparison of treatment effects between animal experiments and clinical trials: systematic review)

BMJ, doi: 10.1136/bmj.39048.407928.BE, (Published 15 December 2006)

Medical research will always carry some risk. At present, the choice is between incomplete human data that is relevant, or complete animal data that is irrelevant.

Andre Menache MRCVS

CEO Antidote Europe


"What I find completely objectionable is the claim, frequently made, that the very worst that has occurred or been imagined is TYPICAL of research involving animals, and that the existence of bad or painful research or testing means that ALL research should be banned. Such overgeneralization is terribly misguided, and is very much like what is meant by "throwing out the baby with the bathwater.""

It is regarded as typical because there is an overwhelming and vast amount of evidence of 'the worst of it', and it is regarded as typical because of information received from undercover workers, and ex-workers who were horrified at what they witnessed and blew the whistle! Information is ongoing and comes from a whole range of sources, and it is also regarded as typical because there have been court cases of cruelty in labs! etc etc What I find completely objectionable is when all that is underplayed! The very fact that some animals can be imprisoned for years in cages is suffering enough, let alone experimenting on them. don't you consider that bad in itself? Do you not consider the restraining devices pretty grim? Monkeys can be put in plastic tubes that are little larger than the monkeys themselves. I think that seeing the row upon row of cages and the equipment used is enough to turn any compassionate person against animal testing. Don't even try to suggest that it is 'terribly misguided' because it most certainly isn't! None of these things seems to matter to you people. There is a lot more to it than you are prepared to say. Researching the subject reveals a lot.

"As a student I conducted many studies of learning and problem solving in various kinds of animals, INCLUDING fruit flies, frogs, fish, pigeons, rats & mice, and humans."

I'm curious, "including" so what animals have you left out? You don't need to study animals to learn about human intelligence, thats ludicrous. Fruit flies, frogs, fish etc? very valuable information to apply to humans?

"I became fascinated with primates and studied the development and persistence of social relationships among young rhesus monkeys for my dissertation project. These animals were not dosed with anything, nor did they undergo any sort of surgery. I chose to work with monkeys already in the lab, following up on previous studies, and doing the studies in ways that ensured long-term social housing for the monkeys involved."

I don't see how your 'research' could be regarded as valid because the monkeys wouldn't be behaving naturally as they were not in their natural environment.

"In 1976 I incorporated the American Society of Primatologists to draw together people of good will who scientifically studied primates in many different ways"

People of good will? what do you mean by that exactly?

"So, what you may find missing is anything about testing the toxicology of cosmetics. Yes, that is correct. I have not been involved in toxicology work, and there is much in toxicology that bears close scrutiny."

Well, I find a lot missing, because I havent seen details of actual animal research (drugs etc) apart from studying.. I am confused as I thought from the introduction that this was going to be open and describe your 'work' on animals. So it wasn't quite the 'open book' I was expecting.

The claim that the worst is typical is simply nonsense. The emphasis should be on eliminating painful and harmful procedures, not getting rid of carefully and humanely conducted research.

If you are interested in animals and animal intelligence, you should study it in animals, and that can be under a range of circumstances from pristine natural to highly artificial. And, after all, humans ARE animals, are mammals, are primates. There are many methods that can be used that are not painful nor damaging.

You have a very narrow view of what can be valid. You do not understand mainly because you do not wish to understand. You reject much as invalid without even making the effort to understand why it would be done. Of course, this makes discussion with you unproductive, so people then cease to attempt to communicate with you. So then you can claim that they are unwilling to talk with you. You set things up such that your expectations will be met. All this suggests that you have developed (and are committed to maintain) a paranoid personality disorder.

If you really have any interest in the work I have done you are welcome to read any of the many papers I have published. You probably won't do that, and if you do, you will probably figure out some twisted way of misinterpreting what I reported so you can believe something bizarre and untrue. I don't think anyone else is reading this thread anymore, and since you obviously only want to argue and think you have nothing to learn, I shall bid you farewell.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 31 Jul 2008 #permalink

The Independent. 2 August 2008.
Chimpanzees used for medical testing 'show signs of torture'.
By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Chimpanzees subjected to medical experiments suffer similar
psychiatric symptoms to those shown by tortured humans,
according to a study to be released next week.
An assessment of the behaviour of 116 chimpanzees who have
been involved in animal research found that 95 per cent
display at least one of the distinctive patterns of behaviour that people show when suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The chimps now live in a primate sanctuary in the United
States but their unusual behaviour is still causing concern
years after they were released from the animal-research
laboratories in which they were experimented upon.
The findings, which will be made public at an international
primate conference in Edinburgh on Monday, will be used to
press for a Europe-wide ban on the use of great apes in
medical research. Although experiments on chimps were banned in Britain in 1998, they are still legal in the rest of Europe even though the two research facilities where chimps had been kept have recently closed. However, in the US there is no such ban and about 1,200 chimps are still kept for medical research. Hope Ferdowsian, an American doctor who has treated torture patients from around the world, said that it is clear that chimps suffer many of the extreme psychological conditions shown by human torture victims.
"There are obvious differences between species but it's
obvious that these chimps are suffering chronically," Dr
Ferdowsian said.
The study involved asking the staff at the animal sanctuary in Louisiana to itemise the types of behaviour patterns shown by the chimps. The scientists then assessed the reports against criteria used to assess human patients.
Dr Ferdowsian said that as well as the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, more than 80 per cent of the chimps had the symptoms of anxiety and at least half showed the sort of behaviour associated with depression. "The patterns of behaviour we are seeing in these chimps are not normal and not seen in the wild," Dr Ferdowsian said.
The types of behaviour shown by the chimps included "floating limb" displays said to be an expression of disassociating their body with the real world, which is much like the disassociation behaviour seen in people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Other behaviours were avoidance of certain areas of habitat, such as indoor enclosures, anger outbursts, failure to socialise and inability to sleep.

Many publications have carried the story about Dr. Hope Ferdowsian's study of former laboratory chimpanzees now retired at Chimp Haven near Shreveport, Louisiana. Several aspects of this study are important. It really is true that many chimpanzees and other primates (and other animals) develop abnormal or unusual patterns of behavior when they are maintained in captivity--especially under restrictive conditions, and all the more so if they are removed from their mothers early and are reared in circumstances where they do not get adequate social exposure to conspecifics. A more accurate comparison would be with children reared in the orphanages of Romania. The behavioral patterns described resemble the artifacts of institutionalization in humans and other primates reared under restricted conditions. Mother rearing, social housing, and otherwise enriched environments reduce the likelihood of such abnormal behavioral patterns occurring.

So, one can easily observe some patterns of abnormal behavior in many chimpanzees who have been kept under restrictive conditions. Colleagues and I have had the task of designing improved laboratory environments and providing social and physical enrichment to chimpanzees and other primates. Under the improved conditions, behavior does not deteriorate and abnormal patterns of behavior are rare. So, I think the patterns observed are not attributable to "torture." They are attributable, to some extent, to improper environments and care (including, in some cases, being removed far too early from their mothers, and rearing in human-nursery-like conditions in which they did not receive species-appropriate social feedback).

Some of those individuals may also have spent some time in very restrictive conditions and may even have been isolated in quarantine enclosures. That was not uncommon 20 or 30 years ago. I think it was wrong then, and it certainly would be wrong now. Fortunately much progress has been made in ways of housing primates--in zoos, as well as breeding colonies and laboratories.

In my opinion, we should always be progressively improving the quality of life for captive animals. I do not think the choice is between housing them in ways that are damaging to them and not learning what can be learned from them. The choice is between housing them poorly or housing them well. If you can't do animal research carefully and humanely you should not be doing it, but if you can learn from animals while caring for them properly, there is much to gain.

Now, it will be interesting to see how the paper actually comes out, and who the authors are, and how the study was conducted. The author who is mentioned is Hope Ferdowsian, MD, MPH, Director of Research Policy for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a notorious animal rights group allied from its inception with PeTA. There is little doubt that the study was undertaken with the specific intention of casting the worst possible light on biomedical research.

Enduring abnormal patterns of behavior in primates are most often the consequences of rearing practices, rather than reponses to research procedures, or even later restrictive housing. There is some mention that the study involved questioning staff members. I'd like to discuss the project with Dr. Linda Brendt, the Director of the Sanctuary, who has known many of the chimpanzees at Chimp Haven for many years. She worked at a couple of the facilities where these individuals came from, and she would be very familiar with individual rearing histories, as well as research practices. She probably would also know whether the staff members were current or former staff members, and whether or not any had "axes to grind."

I am certainly not going to defend practices from the past of which I disapproved then and still do now. It is very clear that there are ways of caring appropriately for laboratory animals that do not generate the behavioral patterns that suggest "inappropriate rearing and housing" to me and "torture" to those who wish to find evidence of it. Some of us feel that restricted caging in isolation is pretty close to torture, and we should realize that keeping people in social isolation has been a part of "enhanced interrogation" and "brainwashing." When you picture the children in the worst of Romanian orphanages and notice the abnormal patterns of behavior they exhibit, please do not conclude that no provisions can be provided that are adequate to care for orphans. Let's do the best we can, and keep trying to do better.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 04 Aug 2008 #permalink

Just a note of further clarification. Many scientists who study primates do not approve of the use of very invasive or harmful procedures, especially with chimpanzees and other great apes. Some of these scientists are quite supportive of banning the research of other scientists--but usually not their own research. In 1991 I organized a conference called "Chimpanzee Conservation and Public Health: Environments for the Future" in which representatives from most of the biomedical facilities where chimpanzees were held met with zoo people and field primatologists. The proceedings of the conference were published and made widely available. I still have a few copies.

But what I started out to say was that the Ferdowsian paper mentioned above is one of several papers regarding the involvement of chimpanzees in "invasive" research--some for and some against--being presented at the 2008 Congress of the International Primatological Society (of which I am a life member), which is meeting right now in Edinburgh. Hundreds of papers are being presented (more than 800) and the program and abstracts are available to the public online. For those who wonder what kinds of research primatologists do, looking through the program and abstracts is a good introduction. You will not see any toxicology testing, but you will see lots of field work and lots of work aimed at improving the health and care of captive primates. BTW, the person I mentioned above, Dr. Linda Brendt, is 2nd author on the Ferdowsian paper.

The study involved applying human psychiatric diagnostic standards to chimpanzees based on questionnaires about behavior. These are the same disgnostic standards that identify many human children with psychiatric and/or behavior disorders. Some professionals are concerned that these disorders are being overdiagnosed and over treated in humans--and in very few cases are these diagnoses in humans considered to be evidence of "torture." The fact that some of these disorders DO occur in humans who HAVE been subjected to traumatic stress does not mean that anyone who exhibits any of the behavioral patterns has been tortured.

I hope Lindy and I are not the only people still reading this thread. I probably should not continue contributing if no one is interested. But I want anyone who is interested to know that they can easily see what primatologists do, and torturing primates is not part of our profession at all, as Lindy would apparently ask you to believe.

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 05 Aug 2008 #permalink

It's fairly obbvious at this point that Lindy is reading off a script that has been given to her, and would much prefer to continue to do so than to face the facts.

(You can't fool all the people all the time)

Fiction: Medicines need to be tested on animals.
Fact: UNTRUE! Animal tests are misleading because of the differences between species, eg. morphine sedates people but stimulates cats; aspirin causes birth defects in monkeys, mice and dogs, but not in people. Even minimal dissimilarities can spell disaster. Animal tests are performed to free the regulatory authorities from legal accountability in the event of death or disability.

Fiction: Medicines are safe, thanks to animal
Fact: UNTRUE! Despite massive animal testing and
research, adverse drug reactions are the
States and Europe.

Fiction: Using animals is the accurate way to test
Fact: UNTRUE! Animals and people react differently to
medicines - human cell, in vitro, tissue
and organ cultures, clinical investigations
and observations of patients, epidemiology
and computer and mathematical models are
the appropriate, accurate and scientific
methods for valid medical research.

Animal tests are scientific... or are they? judge for yourslef..

1. The common aspirin causes birth defects in rats,
mice, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, and even monkeys ... but
not in man!
2. The injectable contraceptive Depo-provera causes
uterine cancer in baboons and mammary cancer in dogs.
Based on these "compelling" animal tests, the American
FDA (Food and Drug Administration) banned the drug in

However, 20 years' human experience in countries, which
ignored the animal tests, subsequently convinced the FDA
that the drug was safe for humans.

3. The artificial sweetener, saccharine, causes bladder
cancer in rats, yet it is freely sold in supermarkets.

4. Cyclosporin, the wonder drug given to human
transplant patients to help prevent organ rejection, is
highly toxic to the human kidney, the liver and the
nervous system. This problem has not been observed in
the dog or the cat.

5. The drug Tamoxifen, given to women to prevent breast

Source: DLRM.org
Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine

The source of the information posted by Lindy is an organization now called "Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine," which was formerly "Doctors in Britain against Animal Experiments." The stated purpose of the organization is "Immediate and unconditional abolition of all animal experiments." Their activities include distribution of propaganda and collection of donations to support their cause. The name change signals an alignment with PCRM, the US medical analog of PeTA. So, the first message is: consider the source.

Now to the DLRM talking points:

"Medicines need to be tested on animals." Obviously, medicines do not have needs. If compounds are being considered for treatment of animals, including humans, there is a need to assess SAFETY and EFFICACY. There are many potential sources of information regarding safety, including examination of the chemical structure of the compound, comparison with similar compounds, computer modeling, information regarding possible consequences of accidental or chronic exposure of various species to the compound in natural or artificial environments, systematic exposure of varying concentrations to cell lines from various animals--including humans--, exposure of single live animals of various species to single low doses, exposure of larger numbers of animals (including humans) to larger and/or sustained dosage, etc. While one can get information about a compound from the ways individuals of various species respond/react to it, ultimately, one needs to evaluate the compound in an array of individuals of the species where it is intended to have therapeutic consequences. If the compound is to be used to medicate horses, there ultimately needs to be some testing and careful clinical trials in horses. Same for dogs, cats, elephants, chimpanzees, whatever. Humans are not alone on the planet. Of course, because we are a selfish and self-conscious species, and because there is a drive and enormous market for therapeutic compounds to address human concerns, most of the science and testing is directed toward human health. Nevertheless, there is a knowledge base and some market-driven research and testing directed toward animal health.

"Medicines are safe, thanks to animal testing." Well, clearly, putting chemicals into our bodies in varying doses and frequencies and combinations should not be taken lightly. The potential consequences are enormous. We should not assume that demonstration of safety at some dosages means that any compound is safe at all doses and in all combinations. Remember, many physicians prescribe "off-label" uses and drug interactions are often not adequately studied. There is enormous potential for misuse of drugs, and it is no surprise that problems result. Further, drug response is not only different across species, it differs across individuals within species. Successful human clinical trials do not guarantee that a specific compound or regimen will work or be safe for an individual.

"Using animals is the accurate way to test medicines." Systematic studies and tests involving live animals are important and valuable methods, especially when combined with the many other methods mentioned above. I'm pretty sure no one is claiming that animal testing is the only method that is useful.

"Animal tests are scientific." If "scientific" as it is used here is intended to mean infalible, that is an inappropriate use of the term. Some scientific research involving animals qualifies as "animal testing" of compounds or strategies for human therapeutic interventions. Much scientific research involving animals is not about human medicine, per se, but is more about obtaining knowledge and seeking understanding of how various biological systems function.

DLRM and many other organizations seek to end ALL scientific research involving animals because they disagree with the use of animals in toxicology testing in the service of human health. Of course toxicology testing needs to be done as carefully and humanely as it can be, and using any reliable alternatives to whole animal use. That does not mean that the scientific study of all animals in sickness and in health should be banned! That is simply ludicrous, and yet, that is the position of PeTA, PCRM, DLRM, and most other "animal rights" organizations.

Let me suggest that those who wish to end toxicology testing on animals focus their efforts on doing that. If you can find evidence supporting the position that safety and efficacy of compounds for human therapeutic (and other) uses does not benefit from animal testing, by all means, attempt to convince government regulatory agencies and providers of medical care of that--but don't generalize your loathing of toxicology animal testing to all other scientific endeavors. It just makes you look ignorant.

Of course, those who lead the "animal rights" movement are not really just seeking an end to TOX testing--they really are seeking to end all "exploitation" of nonhuman animals. That means, an end to all animal enterprises, including the keeping of companion animals, and, of course, captivity of animals in zoological gardens, regardless of the conditions or reasons. Of course, horseback riding is also taboo. The only diet that is permissible is absolute vegan. Any use of animals for food or fiber is to be forbidden. No sheep. No sheep dogs. No Llamas. Most of what humans do is unacceptable. We are the unacceptable species. And anyone who disagrees with this perspective deserves to be hated and, if possible, eliminated. Sounds a lot like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, doesn't it?

Can't we just all agree to be careful and considerate?

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 06 Aug 2008 #permalink

Alex: "Nonhuman animals have intentions and social lives; they wish to be free from pain and confinement."

What are you, an animal psychic? How do you know what a non-human animal wants or doesn't want?

RE: Lindy.

Right now, the only thing Lindy is using her brain for is as a stopper to keep her skull from caving in.

All she does is parrot everything she's seen and read, and thinks that "Oh-em-gee; that's so horrible it must be true" coupled with "comes from a source whose ideology matches mine" equals "critical thinking".

In fact, it's some of the most UNcritical thinking I've seen today.

Case in point: using "research" conducted by "health experts" of dubious repute as "evidence". If PCRM told me the sky was blue, I'd say they were wrong by default and then check for myself to see if the sky was, indeed, blue.

Same thing I'd do with any quack.

As to those "undercover videos", I thought that most, if not all of them were heavily edited down to the parts the group presenting it thinks is relevant [read: indicting], but when all of the footage is obtained, it's shown that what the group thinks is indictable evidence supporting their accusations was merely an incident taken out of context?

And RE the rest? It seems that, for the anti-research people, sick people are only being used as moral capital to get us to stop using animals for research, when in truth they don't give a damn about you or I getting sick. Hell, people getting sick and dying means less evil humans to plague the planet, at least to the ARs.

But when they get sick? Suddenly all that horrible animal-based medicine doesn't look so bad as they make full use of it, and then, once they're better, continue to tell the rest of humanity that we can't use animals for medicine.

It's not about the people with them, it's about the animals, and even then, I highly doubt it is about the animals so much as it is about posing as the moral superiors in today's society.

And, as a final remark for those opposed to animal based research. Here are some things you can do:

1: Reject all medicine that used animals somewhere in the R&D. Opt instead for such quack wonder drugs as Bach flower remedies and acupuncture. I've heard that you can cure yourself using nothing but water, because it's got this magical property to remember everything the doctor says it remembers, and none of the things the doctor says it doesn't [like passing through someone else's bladderyuck!].

2: Sign a formal declaration stating you do not want any animal-derived medicines and/or procedures used on you. Especially while you're incapacitated and unable to state your objections.

3: Offer yourself to be a stand-in for the laboratory animals. If research on animals is inferior and inaccurate, offer yourself as the replacement.

Joe Erwin... Careful and considerate? Where is your consideration for the animals being tortured, and yes, of course, being kept in a cage 24/7 and having harmful things done to you daily is torture.

J. Thats just good old common sense There is nothing wrong with the functioning and questioning of my brain, can you say the same? You sound a very angry individual but I have found that that is very typical in your line of work!

My opinion is based on solid information, how adbsurd to suggest otherwise. Why would anyone would lie about it anyway????? You don't make any sense.

1. I see there is no mention of the many serious side
effects and fatalities from prescription drugs..
You wouldnt get me anywhere near a prescription drug
and not for yuears either and I am doing fine. I
thought you would understand that much. Guess not.

2. In actual fact thanks to attitudes like yours
non animal tested drugs and procedures are not yet as
readily available as they should be and so we are
denied that choice. That's the whole point. Thankfully,
this is changing around the world in spite of some
closed minds. I would have thought that you would have
been aware of all the new procedures, after all, I am.
You sound very stuck in the past clinging on to an
outdated practice when better methods exist. Anyone
can search on the internet fro infromations about for
these safer and superior methods. They are being used
all over the world.

3. So obviously it is not necessary to offer myself.

Alex: "Nonhuman animals have intentions and social lives; they wish to be free from pain and confinement."

What are you, an animal psychic? How do you know what a non-human animal wants or doesn't want?

Well anyone can tell from observation of course and naturally they wish to be free from pain and confinement. Don't you understand that? How do you think wildlife experts know the habits of animals... do you think that you need to be pyschic?

...and you are directly contradicting Joe Erwins 'research??

The article posted by Lindy (#85) is worth reading. Thank you for posting it. Readers should note that the source is www.primateresearch.com which is the web site of The Primate Freedom Project--a strident animal rights organization that was born in relation to the institution where Dr. Conn worked. So, perhaps, it has some relevance here. I have had some fairly extensive discussions with one of the founders of this group, and it became clear that we did not share much common ground.

I wish to apologize here for any comments that constituted or suggested ridicule of anyone. I do not think ridicule has any place in discussions of this kind.

My research involving primates in laboratories, breeding colonies, zoological gardens, and natural settings has focused mainly on improvement of quality of life, conservation of natural populations, and learning more about various kinds of primates and specific individuals. I have never caused any primates to be brought from the wild into captivity for any reason. The closest I came to that was participation in field research in Indonesia in which capture-and-release was done.

As I have said before, I have no problem with people trying to eliminate harmful or wasteful or painful procedures. What I object to is the characterization of all scientific research involving primates as "torture," "painful," "useless," "destructive," or "sadistic." The movement to eliminate all scientific research involving animals is a terribly misleading and destructive cause that does not deserve to be supported or encouraged. It is not even in the best interests of nonhuman animals. It is often a vehicle for nutsy people to say and do crazy, destructive things.

In my opinion, there is a middle ground between a sort of libertarian commitment to treat any nonhuman animal as a mindless and unfeeling object, and the commitment not to intervene in the lives of nonhuman animals. That middle ground, which I think is the moral and ethical high ground, is to carefully and considerately learn from humans and many other kinds of animals in ways that promote health, survival, and mutual wellbeing.

We have, in my opinion, an ethical obligation to learn from animals in ways that benefit them, and to apply to them the knowledge gained to the extent possible and appropriate. Many of the things we learn from nonhumans about biological and behavioral and cognitive processes resemble the ways those processes operate in humans. Knowledge and understanding of humans can inform our interactions with nonhumans and vice versa.

Of course we must work to reduce and eliminate painful procedures on humans and nonhumans. Of course we must try to improve conditions in artificial environments and even in the wild (much of which is no longer pristine). But to ban all scientific study of nonhuman animals and to rant on endlessly against those who work with animals? That is ridiculous. That is, quite simply, "crazy."

By Joe Erwin (not verified) on 12 Aug 2008 #permalink

About #28
I disagree with animal testing, but, as a scientist, I know if I read your science facts and I didn't disagree I would be more than convinvced that your argument held no basis.
References are necessary. Although a lot of the public will not notice your lack of references, the people who you are trying to change will. I also think they will notice your spelling mistakes.
Below is a list of references I could find, and spelling corrections I would suggest that you, and everyone who has merely copied and pasted your site onto their own should make:
I hope this helps.

Firstly: "Less than 2% of human illnesses (1.16%) are ever seen in animals. Over 98% never are."
I really have no idea where you got this statistic from - it seems so exact and yet I can't find the source anywhere. I'm not saying it's not true, I'm just saying that for accuracy like 1.16% there must be an article somewhere, and I simply cannot find it.

2: "At least 50 drugs on the market cause cancer in lab animals. They are allowed because it is admitted that animal tests are not relevant."
Well, it is very true that over 50 drugs on the market cause cancer in lab animals, but I would argue that researchers have claimed they are allowed because animals are irrelevant. I think the argument would be that the risk of cancer is far less than the risks of the illness. Again, I can't find a quotation where a researcher has claimed that these drugs are allowed because cancer in animals is irrelevant (although, I think me and you would both claim this, they wouldn't)
As for the at least 50 drugs: I would direct you to http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/toc11.html
This site is a credible resource and the known list is recommended.
A similar list (if not almost identical) can be found here: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/crthall.php
I would say the most well known of the "known" substances in both lists are (and this is not only prescription drugs, but it does include some):
Arsenic, Asbestos, Benzene, Oral contraceptives, Alcohol, Formaldehyde (methanal), Epstein Barr virus, HIV, Hepatitis, Mustard gas, Nickel, Some talc, Some painkillers, Salt fish, tobacco, wood dust,
If you include groups 2A, and 2B (probably and possibly carcinogenic) the list becomes very, very long and often the reasons for a substance being on these lists instead of in group 1 is because of the faults of animal testing.
I think having this as one of the first points is a bad marketing strategy as many of the carcinogenic drugs have been withdrawn (e.g. phenacetin containing painkillers) and so it could be harder to reference/argue than other points.

3: "When asked if they agreed that animal experimentation can be misleading because of anatomical and physiological differences between animals and humans, 88% of doctors agreed."
To be honest, you would have to quote the study that came up with these results, and I can't find it.

4: "Rats are 37% effective in identifying what causes cancer in humans."
Again, too specific a statistic for me to find the reference.

5: "According to animal tests lemon juice is deadly poison, but arsenic, hemlock and botulin are safe."
I would firstly say that I had to assume you meant botulinum, not botulin, because botulin doesn't exist to my knowledge.
I found a source that sited the references below in relation to arsenic, however, I can't check these resources myself so maybe you could investigate them:
I ) O.Neubauer, British Journal of Cancer, 1947, vol 1. 192-251.
2) F.W.Sunderman Jr. in Advances in Modern Toxicology, vol.2, Eds R.A.Goyer & M.A.Mehlman (Wiley, 1977).
3) A.M.Lee & J.F.Fraumeni Jr. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 1969, vol.42, 1045-1052.
4) W.C.Heuper & W.W.Payne, Archives of Environmental Health, 1962, vol.5, 459
The website these were sited on is http://www.iaapea.com/101_page.php?id=7
I would like to point out to you that the information provided by NBII is that hemlock is usually causes respiratory failure, and deformed offspring, in many animals. Therefore, I would say, that this information on hemlock is misleading and inaccurate. My source for this is: http://sain.utk.edu/invasives/species15.shtml
You could, however, mention that recovery is possible, and that, after recovery, animals often return to feed on the hemlock plant, but I don't think this is a particularly good point.
Botulinum toxin (or botox) causes avian botulism in birds, which are animals, so I would also disregard this point.

6: "40% of patients suffer side effects as a result of prescription treatment."
Below are some side effects that were not picked up by animal testing according to http://www.iaapea.com/fatalmistakes_page.php?id=10
The references sited are
For original references see R. Sharpe, Science on Trial, (Awareness Publishing, 1994).
R. Heywood in Animal Toxicity Studies: Their Relevance for Man, Eds. C. E. Lumley & S.R. Walker (Quay Publishing, 1990).
A. P. Fletcher, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1978, vol.71, 693-696.
R. Allison, Journal of the American Medical Association, 1990, April 4, 1766.
but I would, again, point out that I haven't checked these references.
Isoprenaline aerosol inhalers
Oral contraceptives
Zimedilinepulmonary hypertension
fatalities, phototoxicity
aplastic anaemia
intestinal disease
asthmatic deaths
liver damage
retroperitoneal fibrosis
blood clots
aplastic anaemia
eye, skin and abdominal toxicity
vaginal cancer in female offspring
kidney dysfunction, side pain
However, benoxaprofen has been withdrawn, and oral suprofen has been discontinued. I cannot find "zimediline".
"Inhalers" and "oral contraceptives" are also not really A drug (which ones?), so this is very unspecific, and in fact, most drugs causes liver damage - it's a question of whether that outweighs the benefits or not.
Stilboestrol is spelt incorrectly - it is stilbestrol. Tycrynafen is spelt incorrectly - it's ticrynafen.
Overall, I think there are many side effects involved with drugs but it is hard to differentiate between the ones that were found during animal tests and considered a low enough risk, and the ones that were missed because of the inadequacies of animal testing.
Perhaps, a better approach is talking about the side effects seen in animals that were not seen in humans.
A good example of this is penicillin in guinea pigs http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1963Natur.198..712F
You may not want to site animal experiments in your text, but it really does demonstrate a point because penicillin is a well known life saving medicine, and after one dose it kills guinea pigs!

7: "Over 200,000 medicines have been released most of which are now withdrawn. According to the World Health Organisation, 240 medicines are âessentialâ."
I think a statistic like "from 1997-2007 1022 over the counter drugs and 3655 prescription drugs have had to be withdrawn or recalled." because this is shocking, recent, and you can go on the FDA website every year to refresh the statistics. Also, drug recalls seem to be increasing, so these statistics may even get more shocking over time!
I also think the fact that only 240 drugs are essential is a separate point to the one before it. If you made it separate it would increase the number of points and you could take out the ones that are slightly less accurate.

8: "Thousands of drugs passed safe in animals have been withdrawn or banned due to their effect on human health."
This is the same point as above - repeating yourself is just going to make people think you don't have many valid arguments, and they will get bored. You want to suck people in with a few shocking, backed up statistics!

â¢Aspirin fails animal tests, as do digitalis (heart drug), cancer treatments, insulin (causes animal birth defects), penicillin and other safe medicines. They would be banned if results from animal experimentation were accurate.
Aspirin does not fail animal tests - this is a common misconception.
1) Davis LE and Donnelly EJ (1968) J. Amer . Vet. Med. Ass. Vol. 153:1161
2)Wilson, Ritter, Scott and Fradkin (1977) Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. vol.41:67
3) McColl, Globus and Robinson (1965) Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. vol.7:409
4)McNeil (1973) Clin. Paediat. vol.12:347
5)Richards (1969) Brit. J. Prevent Soc. Med. vol.23:218
You also might want to correct "as do digitalis" to "as does DIGOXIN" where digoxin is the drug and digitalis is the toxic plant. Also, as "foxglove" is a better known name, I would use that. I would also suggest that using digoxin as an example is a bad idea, as foxglove is also poisonous to humans.
It is very non-specific to say "cancer treatments"
You have already mentioned penicillin, and as the deaths in guinea pigs is not the best of arguments, although it is true, I wouldn't mention it twice.

9: "When the producers of thalidomide were taken to court, they were aquitted after numerous experts agreed animal tests could not be relied on for human medicine."
Some references sited on http://www.iaapea.com/101_page.php?id=46
1) R.D.Mann, Modern Drug Use, an Enquiry on Historical Principles (MTP Press, 1984).
2) The Sunday Times âInsightâ Team, Suffer the Children - The Story of Thalidomide (Andre Deutsche, 1979).
3) T.H.Shepard, Catalogue of Teratogenic Agents (Johns Hopkins Press, 1976).
4) S.K.Keller & M.K.Smith, Teratogenesis, Carcinogenesis & Mutagenesis, 1982, vol.2, 361-374.
5) New Zealand White rabbits were sensitive to doses of 1 50mg/Kg of thalidomide (ref.6) whilst the dangerous human dose was O.5mg/Kg (ref.4).
6) R.M.Ward & T.P.Green, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 1988, vol.36, 326.
However, it might be worth mentioning not only that thalidomide had to be withdrawn but that now it is in use again. The complications in the facts caused by animals testing meant that a vital drug for people with leprosy was not available.

10: "At least 450 methods exist with which we can replace animal experiments."
The point is that, in some countries, you don't have to use them instead of testing on animals. However, in many countries you have to prove that animal testing is the only method in which your research can be done. This argument is overused, and stale, and I'm not sure how much water it holds with scientists.
1. Animals (Scientific procedures) Act, 1986
2. Animals and the Advancement of Science (1990), BAAS
I think that animal experiments are unjustified, despite the fact that they are the only method for some research. I don't think that there are alternatives for all animal research apart from the alternative of not doing the research.

11: "Morphine puts humans asleep but excites cats."
This is a skewed thing to say. High doses of morphine excite cats, medicinal doses don't.
1. Sturtevant FM & Drill VA (1957) Nature vol. 179:1253
2. Davis LE & Donnely EJ (1968) J. Am. Vet. Med. Ass. vol. 153: 1161
3. Human Pharmacology (1991) Eds Wingard LB, Brody TM, Larner J & Schwartz A. Wolfe Publishing Ltd.

12: "95% of drugs passed by animal tests are immediately disgarded as useless or dangerous to humans."
I really don't know anything regarding this point, but it may be useful to go onto clinicaltrials.gov

13: "One is six patients in hospital are there because the drug they have taken had been passed safe for us on humans after animal tests."
I can only find the top five reasons for hospital admission and none of them are related to drugs.

14: "Worldwide, at least 22 animals die every second in labs. In the UK one animal dies every five seconds."
The figure is 50 million worldwide per year. As there are 31449600 seconds in a year this is actually only 1.5 animals per seconds, still shocking though!
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)

That's all I'm prepared to do, but, as you can see, I would suggest a fair bit of reading before you copy and paste something. There are many, many good reasons against animal testing, don't make people dismiss your entire argument just because it isn't backed up!
Hope it helped,