Scientists can end vivisection
IT WAS with dismay that I read your report on the 12 per cent increase on experiments on animals in Scottish universities (News, 15 July).
Animal Concern incorporates the Scottish Anti-Vivisection Society, founded in 1876, the year vivisectionists were given legal protection from prosecution in the UK. At that time the annual number of animal experiments in Scotland was counted in hundreds, not hundreds of thousands as it is now.
From the mid 1980s until the start of this century the number of what are now called scientific procedures on animals was steadily falling. A huge increase in the number of animals used in genetic modification research reversed that trend.
Genetically modifying animals to increase their yield of milk, eggs or meat flies in the face of consumer opposition to eating GM produce. Why subject animals to a great deal of suffering for a product people will not buy?
Producing humanised animals in which to test drugs or for the production of organs for xenotransplantation creates a very real risk of animal diseases crossing the genetic bridge to infect humans.
Nearly as old as vivisection was the quote from the university spokeswoman who claimed animal tests have made a vital contribution to the treatment of human illness. It is convenient for researchers to forget to mention the tragedies caused by drugs tested as safe on animals which then proved extremely toxic to humans. The reverse is also true. Negative results in animal tests will have condemned many useful drugs to the dustbin.
Sectors of the Scottish research community should be ashamed of themselves. Instead of increasing their use of animals they should be striving to replace them with humane alternatives with more relevance to humans.
John F Robins, Secretary to Animal Concern, Dumbarton
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