Animal tests: facts not emotion

December 25, 1998

Colin Blakemore's statement that "without animals medical research would simply stop" ("We're all scared to death", THES, December 11) clearly needs qualification. The cry of an anxious and fearful mother ("Laura lives today because of the drugs she gets", THES, December 11), while respected for what it is, is not good evidence about the usefulness or the moral status of animal experiments.

I have difficulty believing the statement that her daughter relies on a cocktail of 70 drugs a day, even when it comes from The THES. If true, then the mother, if she is to consider the evidence, needs to ask if such a cocktail has ever been tested on anything other than her daughter.

Give us reports on the fears and pain of the defenders of scientific procedures on animals and the defenders of animal rights as news if you wish, but do not ask us to view these as evidence about these procedures or urge us to sympathise with the emotions of one or the other.

Barry Horne seemed to be on hunger strike to push the government to carry out a claimed promise to set up a commission to examine the evidence about scientific procedures on animals. I would welcome such a commission and I would like to have the views of those who resist having one. That question was lost in your report and in the leader that was about the banning of such procedures, a ban not at issue in this situation.

Robert Hamilton

Retired, University of Lancaster

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