Have now got permission to post this, and I think given its length and the serious issues raised, it's worth putting it in a separate post, rather than the comments on an old post.
"I was very disappointed to learn about your blog on animal experimentation (the Wrong Way of Going about Things). Whilst I agree that the tactics used by the SHAC activists seemed to have worked counterproductive in terms of a negative public attitude towards critically questioning the utility of animal experimentation, the sentences that await them seem disproportionately high compared to other (serious) crimes committed.
The question every politician should be asking themselves is why these activists felt this was their only way of campaigning. After years of law-abiding peaceful protests, letter writing and other legal methods aimed at trying to influence public perception and policy, nothing much has changed. In fact, animal use is going up each year. How can you (and Labour) be so complacent about the effectiveness of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act?
You commented: “But when it comes to finding cures for devastating illnesses, then - reluctantly - we think vivisection might play its part.” However, ‘think’ in this context is not good enough. In order to justify animal experimentation, you have to be absolutely certain that their use will not be in vain. And this issue is usually ignored by most politicians and scientists. There is no scientific evidence that demonstrates that animal use is essential in combating human disease. To the contrary, these claims rely on anecdotes and hand-picked examples of where animal use has played a role in the development of therapeutic or diagnostic methods.
True, when doing millions of animal experiments, some will be effective; they are bound to be. But the question is whether the use of animals is efficient (as well as effective and ethical). A recent article in the ‘USA Today’ argued that this is not the case: http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/12/opposing-view-1.html (and please click on the link to ‘numerous reports’ within the article). I am attaching a draft of my latest scientific paper about alternative methods which has been accepted by a Japanese scientific journal, and will be published within the next few weeks.
Being vegan, I would have thought that you would know more about the scientific arguments that underpin the lack of utility of animals for human disease. I would urge you to read up on these arguments before deciding to defend animal research.
Finally, Animals Count would seek the following policies to be implemented by the government:
· To immediately ban the harmful use of all non-human primates in experiments.
· To ban all harmful use of animals in scientific research, toxicity testing and education.
· To establish an independent transparent scientific inquiry to thoroughly review the ethical, scientific and economic implications of scientific research, toxicity testing and education.
· To facilitate increased funding for the development, validation and implementation of non-animal alternatives.
Animals Count hopes to contest the 2009 European Parliament elections, and think we will be able to draw votes from across the political spectrum, including Labour, as has been shown by the successful Dutch political Party for the Animals, which now has 20 representatives in national and local government, and which is set to win at least one EP seat next year.
Kind regards from a fellow vegan,
Jasmijn de Boo
Chair, Animals Count"