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Animal Models in Light of EvolutionDr Charlotte Uhlenbroek with orangutanDNA holding planet earthFAQs About the Use of Animals in ScienceHuman baby with Beagle puppyScientists examining evidence

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Public Scientific Debates

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Public Scientific Debates

Welcome to For Life on Earth

It is indeed stating the obvious to say that we do not rush our children and other relatives to the local veterinary clinic if they are ill, or worse, critically ill. Likewise, we do not take our companion animals to the outpatient's emergency departments at our hospitals when they are ill.

FLOE presents science that supports this common sense, science that is best illustrated by the leading experts at Americans and Europeans For Medical Advancement (AFMA/EFMA) and their seminal work Animal Models in Light of Evolution Shanks and Greek (2009). There is a layman's version of this book, written especially for the non-scientist, entitled FAQS About the Use of Animals in Science.

Both these books explain exactly how and why experimenting on animals - to predict responses in humans - is asking animals to do something they are not capable of. This, in turn, is damaging human medicine. Immense empirical evidence supports this position. Animal Models in Light of Evolution places this empirical evidence within the context of current understanding of evolutionary biology and complex systems, providing us with conclusions that entirely support our decisions not to take critically ill people to the vet.

Furthermore, science has now entered the age of personalised medicine where treatments are tailor-made for you and you alone. We now understand that even identical twins can suffer from different illnesses and require treatments that are unique to their genetic profiles. This extraordinary progress is being held back by the persistent use of animal models.

FOR LIFE ON EARTH exists because evidence from up-to-date science demands that experiments on animals must be stopped on human medical and scientific grounds.

Patients Campaigning For Cures

Please visit the new organisation Patients Campaigning for Cures (PCFC) which has been established by a multiple sclerosis patient, Rebecca Groves.

PCFC is a patient advocacy group run by patients for patients to speed up the arrival of effective treatments and cures.

Animal models have misled scientists in the past and this has led to human deaths. Here are some examples from this page, at PCFC

Penicillin stayed on the shelf for over a decade because the rabbits Fleming tested it on led him to believe it would be ineffective in humans. Scientists were misled about how HIV enters the human cell because of studies on monkeys. The polio vaccine was delayed by decades because the way monkeys responded turned out to be very different from the way humans reacted. The cardiopulmonary bypass machine killed the first patients it was used on and it was only after human data was used that the machine was made safe. Studying strokes and brain hemorrhage in animals has led to multiple medical treatments that worked in animals but that resulted in harm to human patients. HIV vaccines that protected monkeys have actually increased the risk of contracting HIV in the volunteers that took the vaccine. The flip side of all this is the fact that society has also lost cures and treatments because scientists believed the results from animals: the National Cancer Institute has said that we have lost cures for cancer because studies in rodents have been believed.

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We are delighted that our evidence is highlighted in Parliamentary Early Day Motion 66

 

149 MPs, to date, have now signed five Early Day Motions (EDMs) calling for a properly moderated, public scientific debate about claims that animal experiments have predictive value for human patients.

Preeminent primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall has released a filmed statement  in support, inviting primate modeller Prof. Roger Lemon to agree to the peer reviewed debate.

Britain's foremost human rights defence barrister, Michael Mansfield QC (pictured below), has endorsed the debate conditions as "well set out and fair": independent judges from the relevant fields of scientific expertise will decide which of the opposing scientific positions is correct.

What does having predictive value mean in science?

For our hospital doctors and GPs to accept a test as having predictive value, that test needs to predict the correct outcome around 90-95% of the time, otherwise it is abandoned. For more information please visit this link.

With animal testing, 9 out of 10 new medicines fail to reach patients because the animal tests failed to predict what would happen in humans, during clinical trials. Pharmaceutical companies write about this failure openly and often in the scientific literature, please visit this link for quotes.

Mandatory two-species toxicity testing, using rats and Beagles  - to measure the potential toxicity levels of new human medicines - correlates with human outcomes around 31% of the time - that's less than the toss of a coin. [1-2]

Experts in the wider scientific community, outside the vested interests, acknowledge the fact that animals fail as predictive models of humans, including the BMJ whose Editor's Choice How Predictive and Productive is Animal Research? concluded from the paper it cited:

'If animals continue to be unable to reasonably predict the responses of human patients, then the public's continuing endorsement and funding of preclinical animal research seems misplaced' [3]

We have been in dialogue with the animal experimentation community's lobbying group 'Understanding Animal Research' with a view to holding their 'Concordat on Openness on Animal Research' to account, which proclaims to develop communications with the public and media. However, to date, no animal-based research scientist has agreed to participate in the EDM's rigorous scientific scrutiny.

References

1. Shanks N, Greek R, Greek J: Are Animal Models Predictive for Humans? Philos Ethics Humanit Med 2009, 4:2.

2. Heywood R. ‘Clinical Toxicity – Could it have been predicted? Post-marketing experience’; pp. 57–67 in Animal Toxicity Studies: Their Relevance for Man, editors Lumley CE, Walker S Lancaster, Quay, 1990.

3. BMJ 2014; 348 g 3719, available here.