World Day for Animals in Laboratories is over 40 years old. The day was founded by the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) in 1979. Throughout the 1980s there were demonstrations and protests to mark World Day by anti-vivisection organizations in the UK and overseas. Among the targets were the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down laboratory, Cambridge University and Shamrock Farm primate breeder.
In 1987 Oxford University was chosen by Animal Aid as the target for its Blinded by Science campaign and nearly 3000 people held a march and rally. The target was sight deprivation experiments carried out by Colin Blakemore including sewing up the eyes of monkeys and keeping kittens in the dark.
Ten years later in 1997 hundreds took part in the World Day Oxford Liberation Tour - marching around the city centre, then converging on the homes of Blakemore and the head of physiology. The City’s main museums, all the science departments and the science library closed for the day.
One of the main campaigns of the late nineties targeted Hillgrove Farm in Witney, Oxfordshire. When a five mile exclusion zone was thrown around the laboratory cat breeder, national demos went ahead instead in Oxford, against the University’s department of psychology which used cats from Hillgrove, causing traffic chaos. Hillgrove closed down in 1999.
In 2004, Speak – the Voice for the Animals was founded to a new animal research facility being built by Oxford University. Protests were held regularly, including for World Day, and construction of the new facility ground to a halt for 16 months. It eventually opened in November 2008 but the Speak campaign went on and in 2013 World Day returned to Oxford for a noisy march against animal experiments there.
Animal Justice Project
Each year inside British laboratories, almost 4 million animals are forcibly experimented on. Every 8 seconds, one animal dies.
Included are experiments on more than 600,000 animals which were categorised by researchers as causing “MODERATE” or “SEVERE” suffering.
Objections to animal experiments fall into two categories, moral objections and scientific objections.
We have no right. Animals are not ours to do with as we please.
The extremity of the suffering. Vivisection puts feeling creatures through about as much suffering as it is possible to put a feeling creature through, from surgical procedures without anaesthetic to drownings, from electric shocks to foreign object implants.
Consistency. It's now (since 1998) illegal to vivisect gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos in the UK. If it's wrong to forcibly compel a chimpanzee to undergo painful experiments, then it's wrong to forcibly compel a mouse to.
The public is increasingly against it (especially the younger generation).
For example, according to Ipsos Mori, a clear majority of under 21s they surveyed responded that 'Experimenting on animals is always morally wrong'
Malpractice and failing regulation. Undercover investigations have revealed appalling breaches in what little protection exists in vivisection laboratories.
For example, workers at HLS (one of the biggest contract test laboratories in the UK) were filmed punching beagle puppies in the face. As another example, workers at the Royal College of Surgeons found it amusing to tattoo the word "crap" on a monkeys forehead (for this breach the laboratory was fined a mere 250 pounds and even this was subsequently overturned on appeal).
It is not just the animals that suffer and die in the laboratories. Millions are additionally killed every year in squalid breeding facilities and as "surplus stock".
Violence leads to violence. People who train themselves to "not be squeamish" about inflicting extreme suffering on animals, are capable of anything. This can only be detrimental to society's moral progress.
Reliability. A research methodology must be reliably predictive, not just occasionally right.
Animals are poor model for humans.
Paracetamol is toxic to cats.
Chocolate is toxic to dogs.
Penicillin is toxic to guinea pigs.
Chimpanzees (one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom) are essentially immune to AIDS, malaria and hepatitis B.
Learning about the wrong diseases. For example, we are wasting resources studying (artificially created) mouse cancer instead of human cancer. Data from mouse cancer studies has proven itself not reliably predictive of human response.
Life saving human cures may have been thrown away because they failed animal tests (for example we nearly lost the useful cancer drugs Gleevec and Tamoxifen in this manner).
Testing on animals does not safely screen drugs that are harmful to humans.
Examples include Vioxx (which caused heart attacks and strokes), Thalidomide (which caused birth defects) and TGN 1412 (which caused multiple organ failure!). In fact 9 out of 10 drugs tested safe on animals prove harmful to humans.
Decades of cruel animal experimentation has glaringly FAILED to find cures for the most feared human diseases like cancer, aids and alzheimers.
More reliable alternatives exist. These include cell and tissue studies, computer modelling, micro-dosing and autopsies.