The British Union of Anti Vivisectionists Statement

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Photographs from 'Every Breath',Theatre of Debate ® workshop
The BUAV is the leading UK organisation campaigning against animal experimentation in Britain and across the world. We are committed to using all peaceful and legal means possible to end animal experiments and promote modern, non-animal research techniques and are recognised as experts on the scientific, legal and moral issues surrounding animal experimentation.

The BUAV believes that animal experimentation is unjustified for two reasons: firstly, it is morally wrong. Secondly, it is scientifically flawed and an obstacle to medical progress.

As everyone knows, animals suffer pain, fear and frustration and have a powerful instinct to protect their own lives. Animal experimentation inflicts suffering, fear, frustration and, almost invariably, death. To do this just cannot be justified: the strong (humans) have no right to inflict suffering and death on the weak (animals) because they think it might benefit them.

People who defend animal experiments claim that the benefit to human beings justifies causing harm to animals. The BUAV strongly disputes this “benefit” (see below) but the basic idea underlying this argument makes no sense. Harming another to benefit yourself is wrong, as every sensible person knows. The fact that those we are harming are animals rather than fellow humans doesn’t matter at all. The idea that because something or someone is different or even “inferior” it is then OK to do what you want to them has been responsible for terrible suffering and injustice throughout history and modern civilised people should reject it. Animals may be less intelligent than humans but we don’t take the view that it’s OK to experiment on less intelligent humans, such as babies or those suffering from mental illnesses or learning difficulties. We recognise in their cases that those less intelligent or able are weaker than ourselves and deserve our care, not our abuse. We should apply the same rule to animals. To do anything else is simply wrong.

Secondly, experiments on animals are not an effective way of learning about human illnesses or developing treatments. There are very many differences between our bodies and those of other animals and even very small differences can make a big difference to how medicines work. Between 80 and 95% of drugs that seem to work and be safe in animals fail when they are tried in humans for the first time: that means a huge waste of money and time developing them. We are always hearing about scientific “breakthroughs” using animals but it is very rare that these turn into effective treatments used and prescribed by doctors in the end. Tests on animals to see whether other substances (like industrial chemicals, pesticides or household products) are safe cannot provide the protection we need. They unreliable, can produce widely varying results and can’t guarantee that human beings won’t be harmed.

Fortunately, there are many methods that can be used in research without using animals: computer simulations, cell and tissue cultures, using human volunteers and studying diseases in human populations. These produce reliable results which, most importantly, are directly relevant to humans.

The BUAV’s website provides a great deal more information on animal experimentation and all the BUAV’s work to oppose it.

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