THE BBC1 programme, The Monkey Lab, which was about animal-testing, specifically using primates for vivisection, had seemed likely that it was going to be the usual biased approach, going by the Radio Times (September 30), which had stated that “... many scientists argue that it remains essential in medicine testing, but could new advances mean that research monkeys will no longer be needed?”

This is not a neutral statement. It presupposes and so encourages the reader to accept that animal testing and vivisection were once necessary, but may no longer be in the future, whereas many believe — and there is ample evidence available — that such methods never were necessary and that millions of animals have needlessly suffered.

The programme itself continued with more of the same. In the first sentence, the presenter stated that using animals was done “for our benefit” and later proclaimed, “in order to protect human life”. These are opinions but we were invited to accept them as facts.

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Nearly all of the programme’s time was taken up with pro-vivisection opinions. The BBC tell us that their programmes don’t take sides, but this was yet another example of the opposite. Their bias is nowhere more apparent than when it comes to programmes concerning animal rights or animal-related issues, such as diet or health. Where were the many doctors, scientists and other health professionals who are totally opposed to vivisection and the use of animals in medical research and could have explained to a non-medical audience why animal research doesn’t work? There are many reasons for this.

It is simply not possible to reliably transfer the results from animal experimentation on to humans. Animals react differently to drugs from humans. It is well known that drugs that suit some humans don’t agree with other humans; if the reactions to drugs are not even the same among animals of the same species, ie humans, then it is foolish in the extreme to rely on findings on other species, ie non-human animals, to rely on what will happen when humans take them. It works, or rather, doesn’t work, the other way round too. Some drugs that are toxic when taken by non-human animals are not dangerous when taken by humans.

There are also many things that cause animals’ reaction to drugs to vary enormously. For example, the temperature can effect how an animal may react to a drug. Stress is another important factor. All animals in vivisection laboratories are severely stressed and it is known that stress alters the way they react to drugs, so this, alone, makes findings unreliable.

There are many scientists, including former vivisectors, who say that using the result of testing on animals is about as reliable as tossing a coin in the air and basing the benefit and safety of a drug on heads or tails. In other words, animal testing isn’t even remotely reliable and therefore relying on the results of animal testing can often be dangerously misleading.

People have raised enormous amounts of money for various charities, including those looking for a cure for cancer, etc, but wouldn’t it be a good idea if these well-meaning people did some research to find out if their money really is going to a good cause or if the money they raise will be wasted? The first thing they would be wise to do is find out if the charity they are planning on raising money for uses animals. It is important to be careful how the question is asked. If one asks a company if animals are used for for testing, they can be honest, yet still be misleading, by saying no, if another organisation carries out the testing on their behalf. Ensure that the charity does not use animal testing either directly or indirectly.
Sandra Busell
Edinburgh