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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/29/09

Getting away with Murder: Whatever happened to 'above all, do no harm'?

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“The moral is that animal model systems not only kill animals, they also kill humans. There is no good factual evidence to show that the use of animals in cancer research has led to the prevention or cure of a single human cancer.”

—Dr. Irwin D.J. Bross, Ph.D., 1982, former head of research design and analysis of the largest cancer research institute in the world, the Sloan-Kettering Institute

Vivisection, the anachronistic practice of condemning nonhuman animals to the sterility, isolation, and confinement of laboratory cages and subjecting them to cutting, poking, sticking, burning, poisoning, and addicting, bears a much closer resemblance to medieval torture than to 21st century scientific research. Fittingly, vivisection’s history is rooted in medieval religious edicts that forbade the dissection of human cadavers.[1] And anthropocentrism is so deeply inculcated into our psyches that despite living in an “enlightened” age, we continue with our collective barbarism based on a church doctrine that held that rotting human corpses were more sacred than living, breathing sentient beings.

Like the primitive religious dogma that spawned it, vivisection is a relic of the past that has out-lived its usefulness, if it ever had any. From an animal liberationist’s standpoint there are no moral justifications for performing experiments on nonhuman animals, but even when considered from an intelligent hardened speciesist’s perspective, vivisection is a detrimental practice, for it is a tremendous waste of time, money and effort, and it is more of a threat to human health than it is a safeguard.

Because of the many significant anatomical, physiological, genetic, and behavioral differences between species, tests performed on nonhuman animals are only 5% to 25% accurate in terms of predicting the impact the tested drug or treatment will have on humans[2] and a 1994 study that appeared in the SCRIP report determined that only 6 of 114 substances that were toxic to humans were also toxic to nonhuman animals.[3] Nonhuman animals are extremely poor correlates for people.

According to Pro Anima of France, over a million people die prematurely in the EU each year from toxic substances introduced into their food or environment that were animal tested and deemed safe.[4]

Millions of nonhuman animals are tortured and murdered every year to ensure our “safety” when we take prescription drugs. Just how safe are we? Consider that adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are the fourth leading cause of death, 15% of hospital admissions are related to ADRs, prescription drugs kill over 100,000 people every year (more than street drugs), and ADRs cost us over $130 billion in medical expenses every year.[5]

In December of 2003, Dr. Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics for GlaxoSmithKline, the UK’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, admitted the severe limitations of the prescription drugs for which so many nonhuman animals are sacrificed when he stated, “The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people,” Dr Roses said. “I wouldn’t say that most drugs don’t work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don’t work in everybody.”[6]

For a host of other examples (too numerous to cite in this essay) that reveal the antiquated and crude nature of the results derived from vivisection, see the 2007 report called “Do No Harm” that was prepared by the AD-AV Society of British Columbia in September of 2007.[7]

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the most barbaric of them all?

I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence.


So why, in defiance of conscience and logic, does such a heinous and grossly ineffective research method predominate and persist? Look no further than money, the lifeblood of our pitiless, narcissistic culture of death.

Were the vivisection subjects human, angry mobs bearing torches and pitch-forks would storm the corporate and scholastic castle gates, putting the modern day Frankenstein labs out of business. But since vivisection’s victims are “mere” nonhuman animals, corporations and universities persist in inflicting unimaginable suffering on millions of sentient beings every year.[8] In doing so, they enjoy relative approval or indifference from most of the general public, and both endorsement and protection from a deeply corrupt legal system and from law enforcement entities that “protect and serve” corporations and private property above all. And when the distressingly scarce moral outrage does boil over and manifest itself as a direct action against the property of vivisectors, the FBI declares the perpetrators “domestic terrorists” and pursues them accordingly.[9]

Gandhi was right to “abhor vivisection with all [his] soul.” It is one of many extraordinarily ruthless activities that our capitalist, speciesist “civilization” encourages, enables, and, in some ways, demands. Our prevailing and predominating social, cultural, economic, and political beliefs, mechanisms, customs, traditions, and myths inform and drive our collective alienation from, hatred towards, and fear of nature, nonhuman animals, and ultimately, ourselves and each other.

It’s true, as many argue, that capitalism wasn’t the progenitor of oppression and exploitation. It is merely the latest (and most effective) means by which humanity legitimizes and implements them. With the dawn of “civilization” about 10,000 years ago, we humans began fetishizing our intellectual prowess and tenaciously clinging to the delusion that we are superior beings with the right to dominate the Earth and its other inhabitants. Rather than following anything close to a straight and narrow moral path with respect to our nonhuman animal brethren, delusions of grandeur and a pathological self-centeredness have left the human species stumbling about like a drunken sailor, kicking, stabbing, crushing, using, abusing, and eating virtually any other sentient being unfortunate enough to find itself in our path.

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Jason Miller, Senior Editor and Founder of TPC, is a tenacious forty something vegan straight edge activist who lives in Kansas and who has a boundless passion for animal liberation and anti-capitalism. Addicted to reading and learning, he is mostly (more...)
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