No alternative to animal research

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I WAS appalled to note the untrue claims in the letter from PETA’s Ben Williamson about animal research (Letters, 11 May).

He claims there are alternative methods to animal testing, yet it is illegal to use an animal in the UK if there is an alternative. The differences between humans and animals exist, but are often irrelevant. For instance, despite differences between human and pig insulin, if Mr Williamson were to inject either, his blood sugar level would drop.

He further claims that nine out of ten drugs which pass animal trials fail in humans. In fact, this statistic refers to all preclinical research methods such as cell cultures and computer models rather than simply animal models.

It is unclear whether Mr Williamson is deliberately misleading the public or genuinely doesn’t understand what he is talking about. Animal research has given us everything from cancer treatments to the badger TB vaccine. There is very little ethical about standing in the way of medical research on the basis of spurious statistics and wishful thinking.

Chris Magee, Understanding Animal Research

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