Facebook Twitter

Why Do Animal Models Persist?

~ The latest Home Office figures are from 2020 and show that a total of 4 270 experiments were conducted on beagles in 2020 (a significant increase in number compared to the figure of 4 055 in 2019). Out of the total number of experiments conducted on dogs in 2020, the majority (67%) were conducted to fulfil outdated regulatory requirements, as claimed toxicity tests for new human medicines. The vast majority of these dogs are Beagles, and the experiments typically involve being force-fed chemicals directly into dogs’ stomachs for up to 90 days, with no pain relief or anaesthetic. Our recent Daily Mirror exclusive revealed the true horror of this force-feeding procedure, which is classified as ‘mild suffering’ by the Home Office. These experiments are falsely claimed by the vested interests to be capable of measuring toxicity levels for new human medicines. In reality, peer reviewed studies show these specific tests fail around 70% of the time. This is not science; it’s less than the toss of a coin and worse than guessing. [1-3]

~ The high number of laboratory animals is not justified by up-to-date understanding of the crucial significance evolutionary biology has for medical research, contrasted with the antiquated origin of claims that animals are able to predict responses for humans. Please visit 1847 – 1878 Medical Ethics for more on this historical perspective.

Looking at the above within an historical, scientific and moral perspective, the following needs to be acknowledged:

Misleading yet popular campaigns which promote the “3Rs” (Reduction of animal numbers, Refinement of harmful procedures and Replacement of animals with ‘alternatives’) actually ignore the fact that experiments on animals are sanctioned – by law – under the category of science not ethics. The 3Rs is an alleged ‘ethical policy’ established in 1959 to achieve ‘human experimental technique’ on animals.

Experiments on animals continue to be licensed under the now disproven assumption that they can predict for humans. Reducing animal numbers and Refining harmful procedures does not address this present day scientific position. Moreover, the concept of Replacing animals with “alternatives” is highly misleading. Common sense dictates that there can be no “alternative” to a method that has been shown to fail: we do not need an “alternative” route that still arrives at animal model land. Common sense also dictates that any available “alternative” method is irrelevant if a method has been shown to have failed to the extent that experiments on animals have: failure should be dropped on its own grounds; this is not dependent on what else is available.

Please click here for the key financial aspect. For scientifically viable research methods please visit What Will We Do If We Don’t Experiment on Animals? Medical Research for the Twenty-First Century (2006) Jean Swingle Greek DVM C. Ray Greek MD.

Please also visit the excellent new PR organisation Speaking of Human-Based Research.

Key Points

Statistics are tools that biological science uses to evaluate whether a method is predictive. For example, when we visit our doctor, we reasonably expect the results from our blood test, x-ray  or urine analysis to be in the range of 90% accurate in order to diagnose  and treat any illness we may have. This is reinforced by standards required by medical practise, where laboratory tests are accepted as predictive – and protective of the safety of humans – only if they are reliable in the region of at least 95%.

What defines prediction? In a scientific context, a prediction is a rigorous (often quantative) statement forecasting what will happen under specific conditions. For more on this please click here. In science, guessing correctly or finding correlations are not the same as predicting the answer.

There have been many studies which evaluate the ability of animal models to predict for humans, such as the study by Lumley and Walker: Animal Toxicity Studies: Their relevance for Man: Quay 1990 p73. This took six medicines and retrospectively tested them on animals. How valuable was the method at predicting for humans? In this study animals predicted correctly for humans only 31% of the time. This percentage would be around the same for random guessing - failing to match the standards required and accepted for prediction in medical practise, and entirely unacceptable for human patients who need help now.

It is important to appreciate that the above study is one of many in the scientific literature and all conclude with a predictive value in the same range of 31%. It will be no surprise, therefore, to learn that the National Institute of Cancer has gone on record saying we have lost cures for cancer because of studies in rodents.

It is also important to realise that the above study is not anecdotal: there are no studies in the scientific literature that show evidence to the contrary, that animals have a predictive value beyond guesswork - either in medicine testing or disease research.

Sometimes you do not need statistics to work out the value of a testing method:

Around 100 vaccines have been shown to have protected monkeys from HIV or SIV or SHIV. Each and every one of these has failed to protect humans from HIV. Thousands of neuroprotectant medicines have been tested in animals and shown to be effective. NONE have been effective in humans.

Please visit this leaflet (suitable as a print out) that summarises many further such examples and the reasons why clinical translation from animals to humans fails.


The scientific literature has also published many graphs which - again - consistently demonstrate no correlation between a medicine's ability to reach its target in primates, rodents, dogs or humans. Watch this science lecture for more details; read one of many examples of senior researchers who confirm  these statistics

Compare all of the above with the laboratory animal model community's literature, illustrated here by Gad S.C's Animal Models in Toxicology Second Edition 2007:

Biomedical sciences use of animals as models (is to) help understand and predict responses in humans, in toxicology and pharmacology...by and large animals have worked exceptionally well as predictive models for humans...Animals have been used as models for centuries to predict what chemicals and environmental factors would do to humans....The use of animals as predictors of ill effects has grown since that time...if we correctly identify toxic agents (using animals and other predictive model systems) in advance of a product or agent being introduced into the market place or environment, generally it will not be introduced...

Ironically, even the laboratory animal model community has difficulty agreeing with its own text book, above, as demonstrated by its  Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science Volume II Animal Models 1994:

It is impossible to give reliable general rules for the validity of extrapolation from one species to another. This…can often only be verified after the first trials in the target species (humans)…Extrapolation from animal models…will always remain a matter of hindsight….[( Salén 1994)  p6] 

Please help FLOE achieve its aims: to free human medicine from the damaging grip of misapplied veterinary principles and help ensure the unobstructed advance of personalised medicine:


For more on FLOE's illustration of science please visit AFMA/EFMA