Misleading Information From BUAV

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BUAV is apparently conducting a campaign which involves wrong or misleading information. They state the UK should: “stop any animal experiment which does not claim to directly benefit human health.” According to the BUAV, these experiments represent around 87% of all animal experiments. BUAV also states:

One of the justifications which researchers give for their continued reliance on animals is the vital role that animal experiments allegedly play in medical and scientific breakthroughs. However in 2012 only 12% of the more than 4 million animal experiments carried out were to test new human medicines, and fewer than one in ten experiments were required by medical or chemical regulators. The BUAV wants to see all animal experiments end, but stopping experiments which do not even claim directly to benefit humans would enable a serious debate to take place on those which remain, and would allow funding and scientific energy to be focussed on humane and often more effective modern alternatives to animal research.

I find these statements disturbing as, in the USA at least, even biomedical experiments classified as basic or blue-sky research usually do claim to benefit humans. I have pointed out many times that this is oxymoronic but such is the reality in which we live. In our book, Animal Models in Light of Evolution, Niall Shanks and I presented many examples of animal modelers applying for grants that would normally be classified as basic or blue-sky research but which also connected the research with potential human benefits.

Jean Greek, DVM and I published a paper addressing this in Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine in 2010: “Is the use of sentient animals in basic research justifiable?” (The paper is available at .) In this paper we outlined why basic researchers, especially those who use animals, are now selling their research as benefitting humans. Again, basic research as applied research is nonsensical but, as we explain in the paper, this is how the game is now played. I have published more details in other articles, book chapters, and blogs.

So, when BUAV states or implies that 87% of all research in the UK makes no claim to benefit humans, unless the grant applications are very different in the UK, their claim is simply false even upon superficial exam. If the UK is different from the US in this respect, the claim is still false as even when basic researchers make no claim for human benefit, if their research can be even remotely linked to some advance that did benefit humans, vivisection activists will count it as “research that benefitted humans.” The studies we reference and discuss in “Is the use of sentient animals in basic research justifiable?” as well as other article we have written (see “The Development of Deep Brain Stimulation for Movement Disorders” available at and “The Strengths and Limits of Animal Models as Illustrated by the Discovery and Development of Antibacterials” available at rebut this position but vivisection activists continue to make the claim anyway.

The only way to end once and for all the perfidy of the vivisection community is for the evidence against using animal models as predictive tools for human response to drugs and disease to be presented in an open debate as outlined at Such evidence includes empirical evidence, evolutionary biology, complexity science, philosophy of science, and simple statistics. For Life On Earth (FLOE) has called for such a debate and has an EDM on the subject. If BUAV really wanted to enlighten society regarding the scientific merit of animal models, they would support the EDM and FLOE.

When asking why BUAV is not supporting this EDM one must recall that BUAV recently signed onto an article that claimed only with the publication of that article did empirical evidence exist to refute animal models being used as predictive models for drug response. I responded to this position in an article published in 2014, titled: “The Ethical Implications for Humans in Light of the Poor Predictive Value of Animal Models.” It was published in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine and can be accessed at . The claim that only with the publication of their paper could vivisection be empirically questioned for toxicity testing revealed either: 1) a profound misunderstanding of science or 2) an attempt to justify years of calling for replacements to be found for animal models before abandoning vivisection, when in fact the animal models were not effective in the first place. BUAV should have been calling for the abandonment of a failed modality all along. However, doing so at this point would hurt their donations, as people would ask why they historically supported what was known to be nonsense masquerading as science.