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Animal Rights

Vivisection and animal testing should be abolished.

In its 1997 pre-election campaign New Labour made a number of promises on animal welfare issues. However, as soon as Blair's government was elected it suddenly and conveniently "forgot" its promise to consider a ban on vivisection. In fact, Blair's government now gives more support and protection to research laboratories than any previous government of the past.

Animal researchers feed the public lies designed to fool us into thinking that animal experiments are a medical necessity and that they lead to the development of drugs that heal all manner of illness. They cynically resort to emotional blackmail, asking the public "which is more important, a child's life or an animal's?." Nine out of ten people will respond without question "a child's life, of course." The reality is, however, that it does not need to be an "either or position." There are many alternative methods of conducting medical research that do not require the sacrifice of millions of innocent sentient creatures, if only researchers would use them. Vivisectors, however, are a law unto themselves and the Government puts more effort into covering up the cruelty and law breaking that goes on in laboratories than it does into enforcing regulations. The Government has also refused to implement UK and EU law that state where a non-animal or less painful alternative method exists, the traditional animal test method should no longer be allowed.

Animal experimentation involves the incarceration of animals and subjects them to poisoning, psychological distress, mutilation, severe pain and immense and chronic suffering. Dogs and cats, rodents and primates are deliberately infected with cancer cells, and in one experiment carried out by a well known research company, pig's hearts and kidneys were transplanted into the stomachs of hundreds of monkeys who were then given lethal does of imunenosuppressants in a futile attempt to prevent rejection. Notes made by observers reported that some primates died almost immediately (not surprising in the circumstances) before they could be euthanased. Others collapsed and were unable to get up, some suffered strokes, while the stomachs of others became swollen and filled with fluid, all had difficulty breathing and all exhibited symptoms of extreme distress. This research failed to achieve any of its objectives, yet it was allowed to continue for FIVE years before the research company moved overseas.

The Government admits that it has never actually conducted research to evaluate whether or not animal experiments benefit human medicine, despite serious scientific doubts over their relevance and the huge number of human deaths caused by unforeseen drug side effects. In August 2006 scientists in the US suddenly discovered that DES, a drug routinely prescribed to pregnant women from the 1940's to 1970's, can cause breast cancer and cancer of the reproductive systems in the women who took the drug and in their children and there are fears that cancer could be passed on to the third generation. We are all familiar with the effects of thalidomide, the morning sickness drug, which resulted in the birth of thousands of handicapped babies. In 1997 troglitazone, the diabetic drug was taken off the market after only three months. 6 people died and 130 suffered liver failure after taking it, yet this drug had passed all animal tests. Animal testing can never guarantee the safety of human medicines because it is plain bad science. Human cell and tissue culture, artificial organ systems, computer modelling and non-invasive brain imaging offer more reliable data, and can provide us with far more accurate information about the human heart than strapping down a marmoset and ripping its chest open. No treatment or drug can ever be considered safe until it has a proven track record of being used on human patients. Despite the millions of experiments on animals that have been performed over the years, we still cannot cure or prevent cancer and sickness and disease are increasing, and the Government, rather than concentrating on environmental causes of ill health and the massive pollution of our air, food and water, spends billions of pounds purchasing expensive drugs from the pharmaceutical industry.

Many of the medical advances alleged to have been derived from animal research when thoroughly investigated invariably show that they owe very much to the study of human beings. Animal testing can produce very misleading results TGN1412 (the Elephant Man drug) was tested on animals with apparent success, but its effect on people was horrific.

As well as for medical research, animals are used in painful testing of cosmetics, shampoos and household products. Many companies, aware of the negative PR of animal testing, arrange for horrific testing to be carried out in Europe or the US. Everything we use in the bathroom, and in our homes, every tablet we swallow to ease a headache or a bout of indigestion, has at one time or another been tested on a live sentient creature who was horribly tormented and tortured before being put to death.

The Socialist Labour Party does not support or condone violence against employees of pharmaceutical companies or against vivisectors. Equally it does not condone acts of violence and the infliction of pain and suffering on millions of defenceless creatures in the name of science. As Milan Kundera, the Czech writer said in his novel "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" 'Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view) consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy, animals'.