THE BLOG

World Day for Animals in Laboratories 2014

24/04/2014 10:13 BST | Updated 23/06/2014 10:59 BST

No animal cruelty is more successfully covered up than the appalling truth about what happens to animals in laboratories. We pretend it doesn't go on, we hide it behind laws of secrecy and prohibited access and we fund the scientists in blind faith. This is the grubby unscientific side of science, the truth of which has been exposed by a number of shocking under cover investigations this year, see here and here. And the scientists are furious.

Countries like the EU, Israel and India have already banned the use of animals in cosmetic testing because animals don't predict the human response. We know this. We know that animals do not provide biologically meaningful human substitutes- and yet we continue to sustain these methods in medical research with our funds and faith. Why? Tradition, power and greed. Change is hard, indifference is easy when money and reputation are at stake. Holding onto the way that was is the hall mark of the scientific authorities and power and money its cozy bed fellows. But the people most affected by their tantrum against the new are the vulnerable and desperate. Health affects us all but the dying pay the biggest price.

It doesn't have to be this way. If, instead of investing all those billions and all those decades researching on animal models, we had used the diverse array of human relevant methods available, what would medicine look like today? Would your beloved still be with you? Would there be an anti cancer tablet? An effective vaccine against HIV? What about malaria? Parkinson's? Multiple Sclerosis? These are questions that of course we will never know the answer to. But what we do know, is that research reliant on animals hasn't delivered on any of these.

The outrage over animal research has been an ongoing one largely fueled by the stomach turning methods used on those with no voice or vote - pregnant animals deliberately electrocuted and starved, the eyes of new born kittens sewn closed, dogs left to die agonizing deaths from poisoning, emotionally abused and neglected juvenile monkeys drugged until they are nervous cripples, rodents paralyzed by broken spines, desperate mice forced to swim until drowning. However, despite the coalition government's pledge to reduce the animals used in these macabre ways, the numbers have consistently gone up year after year; pledges of openness and transparency have amounted to nothing more than a rigged sham and claims of the world's highest welfare standards have been unveiled as laughable. From broken promises and cover ups to public petitions and peaceful protest those in power do not want the truth to be exposed. No wonder they are furious. The subtext is clear: we don't talk about animal research. Or if we have to, we disguise its true, sickening and unscientific extent.

And yet animals in medical research are essential, they tell us. What rubbish: 96 out of every 100 drugs that pass animal tests fail in humans; 85 out of 85 HIV vaccines successfully developed in non human primates have failed in human trials and 95 per cent of drugs that have proven effective against cancer in animals are non effective in humans. So the scientists are wrong- there is nothing essential about the use of animals and it is becoming increasingly hard to convince the public otherwise. As public support for animal research has reached an all time low, scientists' concern only hides a guilty conscience. If they hate being found out as much as they do, then there is an easy solution- change their methods.

Every day is World Day for Animals in Laboratories (WDAIL) because day after day, in country after country, millions of animals are subject to cruel methods most of us would find hard just reading about. And every single day we remember those we have lost but, if research had kept up with the times, could still be with us. This WDAIL its time for answers for our loved ones. The only way to achieve this is to let go of tried and tested methods that aren't saving us from the same fates and instead greet new methods with joy for their promise. The big animal research question today is 'do we make the most of the potential in the latest technologies that are far more sophisticated than any animal model, that can advance global public health issues and save countless lives?' It's all very well these passé scientists being furious but all the while their mindsets remain stuck in the 20th century the answer to this is no and we all loose out. It's time to wake up, catch up and face up to 21st century methods of research.