Politics Magazine

No Hiding Methods Used in Animal Testing

Posted on the 01 May 2014 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

The principle Freedom of Information (FoI) is to be extended to animal testing which is licensed by the government, the Home Office has announced. At present, a “secrecy clause” of a 1986 Act means that the Government doesn’t disclose details of animal experiments, which have been known to use extreme methods, such as the deliberate infliction of brain damage on subjects.

Following a campaign by a very broad coalition of animal rights and transparency advocates, the Home Office will now disclose the details of research contracts; the details of the tests to be conducted; the justification for using animals and why more ethical alternatives were rejected. Moreover, ministers are considering a provision that would add the methods used to relieve the suffering on the animals, and an “estimate” of the level of pain each test inflicts.

Animal rights’ campaigners hope that the publication of the details of animal tests will spark public outrage sufficient to discourage some of the cruellest experiments conducted by pharmaceutical, medical and industrial researchers. Certainly, following this bold and progressive move, companies and authorities will feel more accountable to the public who have a more empathetic view of what is acceptable to inflict on animals and what it not. Many people show an amazing ability to be selective with their ethics: an iPod built by Foxconn’s slave labor is somehow fine, but coffee picked by similarly badly-treated workers is not. Those of us who aren’t muslim or jewish still knowingly eat halal and kosher food from animals who were, from a secular perspective (and I stress my understanding that others may have religious needs), tortured in the minutes before death. But, the moment we start reading about puppies being injected with toxins, or rabbits with their feet being broken, we will be up in arms. Almost literally.

Not that I claim to be above these inconsistencies: we’re all guilty of them to one degree or another. However, awareness of them is the first step towards adopting a more uniform ethical code. I won’t be the only one to point this out.

So the extension of FoI to animal testing will not only help to curb the crueller and the less justifiable examples of licensed experiments which have been flourishing away from the light of public scrutiny. It could also spark a national debate in which we reevaluate our relationship with animals. We have to decide if they are another natural resource to be abused, or fellow living beings we have a duty to respect. You might be a dairy drinker or a meat eater, but there is an ethical distinction between consuming animal products (which we have evolved to do) and dropping perfume into a creature’s eyes (for which there is no evolutionary excuse). Animal testing is only ever a last result.

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