Many animal experiments are cruel, painful, and seem unnecessary. Yet many of them are extremely beneficial to humans. In a country in which millions of animals are killed every week to feed and clothe us, can we really be too critical of experiments which may lead to exciting new discoveries? Is it fair to wave the finger at the vivisectionist from over our Sunday roast?
Clearly, there are some very bad vivisectionists who do not care about the suffering they are inflicting on the animals they experiment on. Indeed, it would be almost impossible to do the job of a vivisectionist if you cared too much about the animals you were performing experiments on.
However, exciting discoveries are still made by vivisectionists, which are beneficial to humans, and there are many people who are suffering from diseases and live in hope of a cure being found for them through animal testing.
Do animals need to be sacrificed in order to test new cosmetics? Don't we have enough cosmetic ingredients available already? Yet if you are buying cosmetics without checking whether they have been tested on animals, then you could be guilty of encouraging further tests to be carried out.
Better regulation of animal testing is clearly the key.The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is described by the Home Office as "widely viewed as the most rigorous piece of legislation of its type in the world." Yet it was still possible for over 40 hours of incriminating video-tape to be shot secretly by an animal rights activist in the laboratory of Professor Willhelm Feldberg, a researcher licenced by the Animal Procedures Committee.
The animal rights activists and vivisectionists should work together to ensure that only sensible, productive experiments are carried out. Steps should be taken to stop pharmaceutical companies from developing "copycat' medicines (ones which vary only slightly in formula from a successful drug already produced by another company).
You cannot say that all tests carried out on animals are wrong, especially if you eat meat or wear leather shoes and clothing but at the same time it is impossible to condone the many senseless, repetitive studies carried out on substances and medicines which we don't really need anyway.
This factsheet has only been able to look at some of the information available. To form your own opinion, you would be advised to equip yourself with as much information from both sides of the argument as possible. Read them carefully, then make up your own mind. There is a list of addresses to write to on next page.