Animal Defense & Anti-Vivisection Society of BC, CA

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Essays



ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION: ITS RELATIONSHIP TO
THE LAW, SCIENCE, INDUSTRY AND POLITICAL REALITY

Werner Hartinger, MD, Surgeon

The problem of animal experimentation is complex, many-sided and hard to fathom. The cruel and deadly use of animals has been legalised by politicians, justified by church institutions, described as unavoidable by science and industry, accepted without criticism by too many people not interested in the sufferings of others, and defended in every way by all those who gain profit from it. 

At one end of the range of opinions stand the animal welfarists and at the other end the animal exploiters. In between lies the mass of those who consider animal experiments to be justified if they themselves appear to stand to gain benefit, health or some other use from them. These people do not know - and furthermore do not even want to enquire - whether medical knowledge is really to be obtained from animal experiments and whether the results of the experiments can in fact be used to their own human benefit, in accordance with rational, scientific criteria.

The fact should not be overlooked that there is a basic difference in quality between the arguments of the advocates of animal experimentation and its opponents, inasmuch as opposition to it does not stem from professional, commercial or personal interests. The arguments of the pro-vivisectionists, on the other hand, can at best be viewed, legally speaking, as biased judgments and not as impartial evaluations. Nobody, for example, would regard the rejection of vegetarianism by the head of a butchers' association as an objective and unprejudiced interpretation of facts!

The claims of success for animal-based research can already be refuted by one outcome: the general standard of health. When people are suffering more and more from ill health despite the billions of animal experiments carried out for their alleged "benefit"; when there has for years been a three-to-four percent annual increase in malignant tumours and fatal heart diseases (these currently accounting for more than two-thirds of all deaths); when there is a constant rise in the number of adults and children suffering from incurable allergies; when the cases of childhood leukaemia and other cancers are increasing alarmingly; and when, with the waiting periods for certain operations growing, a sort of "class medicine" seems to be developing - then it is clear that the tests on the countless masses of involuntary animal victims have not produced any successful results - or else that the results were falsely interpreted!

It is nevertheless claimed that most of the existing medical procedures were discovered through animal experiments. Such statements are untenable, for the correctly reasoning scientist can glean nothing more from his experiment than the fact that a foreign substance has, under the given conditions, a certain reaction in the animal. Any transfer of the result to the human situation is pure speculation, at best a hypothesis the practicality of which cannot be evaluated. In every case, the same experiment has to be repeated on humans, with incalculable risks and unpredictable results. Only afterwards, when the results of the human "experiment" can be compared with the animal experiment can one retrospectively judge whether the animal-experiment data can be extrapolated at all to humans and, if so, to what extent. Until then, the extrapolation ratio is neither known nor capable of being calculated. An animal experiment, therefore, in no way prevents experiments on humans: in fact, because of its lack of useability, it inevitably leads to experiments on humans.

Any knowledge of the reactions, effects and tolerability of substances in the human organism has only been acquired via the human organism and not via that of various animals. Even the lawmakers are of this opinion and consider the simple transference of any experimental result as an unacceptable risk. They therefore demand evidence of the effects, safety and harmlessness of any medicine and medical procedure on HUMANS before its use is authorised! This evidence is, in accordance with medical law, provided by means of the standard "clinical testing". Contrary to the many statements which indicate otherwise, neither the authorisation of medicaments, nor their so-called relatively harmless dosages, nor the application of other procedures or operation techniques in the field of medicine are based on animal experiments - they depend solely on the subsequent essential and legally prescribed tests on humans.

It is repeatedly stated that substances for use in new medicaments cannot be tested immediately on humans but have to be pre-tested on animals 'for safety reasons'- as if there were no evidence of the uselessness of animal experiments for predicting the human tolerability or the safety of medicaments. But the public-relations effect of this ill-considered assertion stands in direct opposition to the pharmacological truth. In such cases, the substances are judged as to their tolerability and effects on the basis of tests on ANIMALS and are then either excluded from further enquiry or are tested on humans.

The fact that the substances are non-toxic, effective and tolerable when tested on animals in no way, however, means that they would also be so in the case of humans. Experience shows that - regardless of whether the effect is quite different, non-existent or even exactly the opposite - they can be unpredictably toxic and intolerable for human beings. Given these circumstances, it is baffling to know how one is to obtain any assurance of safety in use, or foreknowledge of the effects on a human being, from this so-called "safety" animal pre-screening. The 'safety in use' arises only at the legal level, by eliminating the manufacturer's liability in the event of side-effects - this being, however, at the cost of the consumer.

It is often accepted, with an astonishing lack of criticism, that it is vital for a surgeon to learn and practise on living animals, since he cannot gain the necessary surgical experience elsewhere. Attention must therefore be drawn, in this connection, to the fact that training on animals is not demanded by the regulations, for either the State medical examination or for specialised recognition as a surgeon. All that is demanded is proof that the candidate has carried out the appropriate operations, on his own responsibility, on HUMANS!

Under the generally recognised training procedures, a surgeon gains his or her basic knowledge by means of assisting an experienced surgeon. According to his performance, he is then involved in surgical work under supervision, until the supervising surgeon finally decides to allow him or her to carry out operations of increasing difficulty on the trainee's own responsibihty. Skill in microsurgery is similarly gained, and no practice on living animals is required in order to adapt existing operating skills to the different optical conditions of the surgical microscope. When such practice is caried out, this is because of insufficient experience having been gained in assisting the teaching surgeon, and so training time is saved, but this means that such practice is obviously only a means of serving personal convenience and is not an indispensable trainng necessity! Thousands of surgeons and their teams have become competent and responsible operators without ever having practised on a living animal.

One must similarly correct parallel statements made in connection with transplant surgery: a properly trained surgeon is master of the operating technique, which in itself presents no difficulties. The result of the operation only becomes problematical with regard to the patient's tolerance of the transplanted tissue. But this question of risk can in no way be solved for humans by experimenting on animals. The effects, dosages and tolerance of the substances used to suppress the patient's immune system (and which need to be administered over a long period) can also not be determined for human beings through an animal model.

Triggered by the numerous environmental scandals of recent years, justification of the "necessity" for animal experiments is increasingly offered by quoting the consumer's right to safe products. Although all the environmentally poisonous substances were "tested on millions of animals in the notoriously cruel and useless LD-50 test, and thereby declared "harmless", the taxpayer now has to pay out billions in order to dispose of toxins which are innocuously described as "old stock". (See Al Gore's Animal Sacrifices to 'The Environment')

However, in order to permit the further sale and use of these substances, which are considered toxic according to their concentration, it is simply assumed that there is an "effect-limit" in the organism which is dependent on the dosage given - a limit below which it will not have any unhealthy effect - and that one can calculate a concentration which patients can safely be expected to accept on a continuing basis. But all competent scientists are of the contrary opinion - namely, that no such "effect-limit" exists and that even the smallest dose of any substance is not without effect on the biological system.

That is the reason why nowadays we suffer from contamination of drinking water, environmental scandals resulting from unknown degrees of poisoning; food additives and meat which contain residues of cancer-forming chemicals; a constant rise in radiation effects, leading to leukaemia in all age-groups; an ozone hole which is causing a shocking increase in skin cancers and incalculable effects on climate, oxygen supply and plant growth; the disastrous death-rate of forests through pollution; and mounting instances of poisoning by medicines, with thousands of gravely damaged patients and patient fatalities, as well as an ever-growing number of allergic illnesses. All these substances were 'tested' on millions of animals and thereby declared harmless but today nobody wants to acknowledge guilt for any of this.

The best-known living medical historian in the USA, Professor Reines, explains how these contradictory interpretations are possible and writes in his book: "There are, in fact, two versions of medical history: an authentic account of developments, and that presented by the animal experimenters in order to justify their work!"

Ladies and gentlemen, it is not my purpose to denigrate the achievements of researchers or to condemn Science but - with the aim of truly protecting consumers and patients - to point out the misuses which are being perpetrated in their name. The circumstances and facts I have mentioned are known to every scientist and politician who looks into any of these questions - at least, they SHOULD be known to them. Regrettably, however, the decisions regarding our way of living and our quality of life are not reached according to objective scientific criteria but according to so-called 'practical priorities' - namely, party strategy, election tactics and economic interests - and, in any case, animal experiments only serve as a cover-up for these decisions.

Medical research chose the animal experimentation path some 150 years ago, when it adopted Claude Bernard and the case he stated, namely:

"WHY THINK, WHEN ONE CAN EXPERIMENT?"

For the sake of both animals and humans, it is high time to replace this concept of medicine and morality, based on animal experimentation and lack of thinking, by adopting a thinking medicine and renouncing animal experimentation.

I thank you for your kind attention.

Dr. Hartinger is a specialist in Surgery and Traumatology, further degrees in Internal Medicine, Gynaecology, Obstetrics, Anaesthetics. Since 1970 in private surgical practice in Traumatology. Chairman, German League of Doctors Against Animal Experiments. Patron, Doctors in Britain Against Animal Experiments