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Vivisection: myths and realities about animal experimentation

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by Marjolaine Jolicoeur, director of AHIMSA

First appeared in AHIMSA
7 Lacs, Ste-Rita, Qc.

Only rodents are used in animal experimentation.

In Canada, it has been estimated that 2 million animals are subjected to experiments. 7 millions in France, 17 millions in the USA, and 400 millions across the world. In Canadian laboratories, 90% of animals used are rats, mice, fish, or fowl. 18 different animal species serve for research (85.5%), for testing products (9.5;%), and for teaching (5%). A number of animals are the victims of Science: cats, dogs, primates, frogs, insects, birds, rabbits, lambs, pigs, etc.

The supply sources for laboratory animals are well-known.

Some are, others belong to a black market. Animals come from zoos or specialized companies where they are raised according to precise specifications. Charles Rivers of St-Costant, Canada, for example, produces every year a million and half rats free from any “viral contacts.” Other companies provide animals free from certain diseases, without immune systems, hemophiliac primates, etc.

Many primates are caught in Nature in Malaysia, in Indonesia, the Philippines, China, South America, and Africa. In certain cases, only 1 or 2 monkeys on 10 captured survive the trip to the laboratories. Because of this market, many species are endangered. Between 1954 and 1960, more than 1,500,000 primates of all species have paid from their lives and liberty their contribution to the control of vaccines against polio. The United States are the biggest importer of primates in the world: 13,000 to 17,000 every year.

Currently, there are more chimpanzees in laboratories than there are in liberty. Cats and dogs are also kidnapped and stolen. According to Dr. James B. Wyngaardeen of the American National Institute of Health, more than 200,000 domestic animals are gathered in American streets every year to fuel the lucrative market of vivisection. We can find the same phenomenon in Canada.

Vivisection serves the progress of humanity.

The vivisectors test on laboratory animals household products (soaps, creams, perfumes, shampoos, etc.), chemical products (inks, paints, detergents, etc.), pesticides, weapons (nuclear and others).

Some animals endure many experiments during days, months, or even years. Oxygen and sleep deprivations. Creation of anxiety, stress, madness, hypertension by compressions of arteries, wounds. Transplantations of heads or organs, electric shocks, tumors caused by blows, cancer produced by chemical substances, forced absorptions of drugs and alcohol, forced drowning, blood samples taken from the heart or ears... Monkeys are thrown on walls, dogs, monkeys, cats tied up and forced to smoke cigarettes, horses receiving nicotine injections.

Other experiences that reveal cruelty:

- American researchers have separated from birth cats from their mothers. At the end of the experiment, they have concluded that cats separated from their mothers mewed more than those who were not separated, and that in the mew of separated cats, they could detect an emotional despair.
- At the University of California, 1,000 dogs have been fed foods containing doses of radiations 200,000 times higher than those humans could withstand, would they find themselves in the zones of radioactive fallouts. Terrible external and internal burns were used to show the radioactive effects of future nuclear machines.
- An American researcher gave to rats more than 15,000 electrical shocks during 7 hours. Later, the vivisector heated the floor of the cage until his prisoner rats jumped and licked their paws, as the environment became hotter and hotter.
- For toxicity tests (such as the DL-50 — lethal dose 50%), researchers give a group of animals, between 20 and 200, a substance (floor wax, oven cleaner, etc.) until half of the subjects die, no matter what quantity of the substance they have absorbed. The horrific symptoms endured by the animal in the 14 days required for this treatment go from suffocation, vomiting, nose, eyes and mouth bleeding, respiratory troubles; to convulsions, tearing of organs, and paralysis. The survivors are either killed to be examined or used for further experiments.
We could describe the thousands of experiments past or present that show clearly that vivisection, far from contributing to the progress of humanity, contributes to its regress.

Animals are superiors to humans and therefore have full right to use them however they want.

This type of reasoning let to the establishment of slavery. Our so-called superiority (intellectual or physical) does not authorizes us to torture the weak ones, may they be animals, babies, mentally disabled persons, or even poor people. This arrogant attitude of domination questions all our relationships with animals and the recognition to their most fundamental rights. As the philosopher Jeremy Bethan (1748-1832) once said: “The point is not to ask ourselves if animals can reason or if they can talk, but really, can they suffer?”

The animal is an ideal model to study human diseases.

Thinking that a rat is a human being only smaller turns out to be mental aberration and scientific fraud. Humans and animals present great anatomical and psychological differences. They do not react the same way to certain products.

An aspirin can kill a cat and cause birth malformations on mice. Penicillin kills hamsters. Arsenic has no toxic effect for monkeys and chicken. Morphine calms humans but excites cats and horses. Insulin produces malformations on chicken, rabbits, and mice.

Human cancers are quite different from animal cancers. Cancerous tumors on animals do not take 20 years to develop.

Animals do not metabolize products the same way humans do. Humans are 60 times more sensitive to thalidomide (a tranquilizer prescribed to pregnant women) than mice, 100 times more sensitive than rats, 200 times more sensitive than dogs, and 700 times more sensitive than hamsters.

When it suits them, vivisectors acknowledge that experiments on animals cannot entirely be extrapolated to humans. When they are sued because of harmful drugs (i.e thalidomide) or toxic products, vivisectors use this fundamental difference as an argument. Why continue the experiment then, if the bases of it are false? For professor and physician Pietro Croce: “The response we get from animal experimentations is never trustable, even though some coincidences sometime occur. This is why vivisection must be abolished.”

Animal experimentation protects humans against the toxic side-effects of drugs.

On the contrary, many drugs, even though they were tested on animals, have turned out to be toxic or even carcinogenic to humans.

In the 60’s, the inhalator Isoproterenol killed 3,500 asthmatic people across the world. This product causes heart lesions to rats, but not to dogs or pigs, and cats can withstand doses 175 times higher than an asthmatic person can before to die.

The drug Phenformin, prescribed to diabetics, killed 16,000 people before the company Ciba-Geigy got it out of the market.

Oraflex, a product supposed to have cured rats from a form of arthritis, when prescribed to humans, caused 3,500 serious side effects and the death of 61 people.

Reserpine, used against high blood pressure, multiplies the risks of breast cancer by three, and is an important risk factor in brain, pancreas, and uterus cancers.

The anti-bacteria Trimethoprim, created by Welcome, and Sulfamethoxazole by Hoffman La Roche, caused the death of thousands of people in the UK during the last 20 years. These drugs, who were used in the treatment of several diseases, in particular urinary infections and bronchitis, contain a sulfur composite responsible for many serious side-effects, such as “deadly blood reactions.” The English Commission on the security of pharmaceutical drugs gathered 113 cases of death related to this ingredient, but its studies show that the non-discovered cases could be 10 times superior in Great Britain alone, which represent only a tenth of the total market for this drug.

Fenclozic, a drug used against arthritis, was judged harmless on mice, rats, dogs, and monkeys, but causes liver damages to humans.

Urethane, used in the past against leukemia, was found to be able to cause liver, lung, and marrow bone cancer.

Isoniazid and Iproniazid, antibiotics used against tuberculosis, lead to severe liver damage.

Launched on the market in the 40’s, the synthetic estrogen Stilboestrol was supposed to prevent miscarriages and prostate cancer. Stilboestrol was shown to be not only incapable of healing anything, but also susceptible to cause cancer through the genes, crossing the barrier of the placenta and damaging the foetus. Young women whose mother took Stilboestrol during their pregnancy developed a cancer of the vagina.

The pharmaceutical industry cares about human health.

We would rather say that the pharmaceutical industry cares about the diseases of humans. What this industry wants, before anything, is to make profits. The annual sales of the pharmaceutical companies in Canada alone account for more than 4 billion dollars. In North America, huge pharmaceutical companies spend over 3.5 billion dollars a year in promotion and publicity. They are the perfect example of the power of money. On top of that, they exert a powerful lobbying on governments, universities, researchers, physicians, and medical magazines.

Of the 177 new drugs introduced to the Canadian market between 1988 and 1990, only eight, so about 4.5%, could rank themselves in the very vague category of “improvement to the therapeutic cure of the patient.” The rest of the drugs rank themselves in the free-for-all variation on a same theme, used to marketing ends and market positioning.

Even if the pharmaceutical companies claim that animal experimentation is of primary importance in order to protect humans, many drugs, tested on animals and declared to be potentially dangerous, are commercialized anyway. AZT, the popular drug prescribed to humans and created by Welcome, was found to be carcinogenic and mutagenic when tested on rats.

The drug Tomoxifen, from the company ICI, is prescribed to prevent the reoccurrence of breast cancer on women treated for this disease. In laboratories, when administered to rodents, it gave different cancer types to both mice and rats.

Omeprazole, a drug prescribed for ulcers, turns out to be carcinogenic to rats.

Tretinoin, used for the treatment of acne, increase the incidence of skin tumors in mice. Any medical progress, should it be a drug, a method for operating, or a new therapy, has to be experimented on a living being; in place of an animal, we would then have to use a human being. The choice is then between a dog and a child!

All drugs end up being tested on human beings, in spite of animal experimentation. Moreover, vivisectors never stopped themselves from experimenting on humans. Since vivisection brings out a dehumanization and a loss of feelings in the face of suffering, human experimentation is the logic and tragic consequence of animal experimentation. It is hardly surprising to report that, in totalitarian countries, tormentors and executioners exercise first on animals before torturing humans.

Many humans, newborns, mentally disabled persons, orphans, old people, prisoners, beings as powerless and defenceless as the laboratory animals, were the involuntary guinea-pigs of a Science without consciousness.

- At the end of the 50’s, the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children conducted numerous experiments on the “pressure exerted by the blood on the walls of the pulmonary artery during the first five months of life,” introducing a catheter in the thighs up to the pulmonary artery. The subjects of this study, mentally disabled babies, were submitted to these experiments without having received any pain-killers.
- In the USA, 21 mentally retarded patients received injections of tuberculin (a product derived from the tuberculosis bacilli). A few hours after the injection, their temperature rose, and they began to vomit. A few were affected from meningitis.
- A growing number of experiments are conducted on living foetuses, resulting from abortions. Cases have been reported were the hearts of children were pulled out alive, in the embryonic stage of the body of their mother, and sold to researchers, who in turn implanted them to dogs.
- Tissues from human foetuses (from the liver, thymus, etc.), are transplanted to mice for researches on leukemia, AIDS, and other diseases.

Vivisection is linked to the progress of medicine.

In many cases, the opposite is true. We can ask ourselves if medicine really progresses, when more and more people die of cancer, degenerating diseases, their immune systems affected on all parts (from viruses, toxins, pesticides, drugs, antibiotics, or vaccines). The life expectancy has increased, but not its quality. People are not healed but maintained artificially alive.

The stethoscope, thermometer, measurement from blood pressure, X-rays, reanimations techniques, and many other means of diagnosis or treatment, considered to be the most important in medicine, are not attributable to animal experimentation.

Aspirin, an extract from the bark of the willow tree, exists since over 100 years. This drug, recognized as effective and popular by the public, could not have been commercialized if we had taken in consideration the fact that aspirin is toxic to rats, mice, dogs, cats, and monkeys.

The principal progresses of medicines in certain areas result from the clinical observation of patients, hygienic measures, and the accidental discoveries of epidemiology.

Medicine does not need vivisection in order to progress. The United States, the world largest consumers of laboratory animals, do not hold the world’s record for the healthiest nation. The life expectancy of Americans ranks 17th in the world.

It is due to animal experimentation that insulin was discovered and that diabetes can be cured.

We have sacrificed an incredible quantity of dogs since the last century trying to understand diabetes, the third cause of death in North America, behind heart diseases and cancer. In fact, North Americans have a chance on five to develop diabetes during their existence. Currently about 10 million of Americans are affected by the disease. We estimate to 5 billions dollars per year the annual costs related to this disease in the United States. Since the discovery of insulin, the deaths due to diabetes have not diminished but rather increased. The incidence of the disease doubles every 10 years.

Many people wrongly believe that it is the Canadians Best and Banting, in 1921, who have demonstrated the role of insulin in diabetes. In 1788, the physician Thomas Cawley had already established the link between diabetes and the degeneration of the pancreas — without animal experimentation, examining the body of one of his patients, who died from this disease. Already in 1766, another physician, Matthew Dobson, detected a high sugar level in the urine of one of his patients.

50 years ago, Dr. J.E.R. McDonagh, an English surgeon, raised his doubts regarding the utility of insulin: “Diabetes is a symptom, and not a disease. Insulin only palliates this symptom. The drug does not give any explanations about the cause, it does not work as described and, if the cause was discovered and eliminated, there would not have been any reason to use it.”

To study diabetes, one of the favorite animals of the vivisectors is the dog, even though this animal has dietary habits and organic reactions radically different from those of humans. If animal experimentation had been abolished in the past, maybe we would have understood the true mechanisms of diabetes a little more, instead of relying on sordid experiments on dogs or rodents.

Fortunately, more and more researchers believe that diabetes is related to diet or environmental factors.

- In the magazine Lancet, Dr. Inder Sign reported a study during which 80 diabetics were put on a diet low in fats (probably low in cooked, saturated fats — editor) — 20 to 30 grams per day — and absolutely without sugar. Within 6 weeks, more than 60% of them were able to go without insulin. During the weeks that followed, this number went up to 70%. The people left still dependent on insulin only needed a very small portion of their normal dose.

- In another study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical, showed that 45% of 20 diabetics could stop their insulin injections, after only 16 days of a diet rich in fiber and low in fat. (Probably low in the bad fats — editor).

- The cases of diabetes are rare, if not non-existent, in the countries were vegetables, fruits, and grains are mainly eaten.
- In the cases of juvenile diabetes, some people have theorized that vaccines could onset the process of the disease.

It is due to animal experimentation that cancer can be cured.

Since 1970 in Canada, the incidence of cancer rises 1% every year. One out of three is affected. In a recent report, a national working group called “Cancer 2000” predicts a 50% increase of the number of people affected for the next ten years: “We are approaching a crisis point. In spite of the investment of the last decades, we have not been able to reduce the global incidence of cancer nor the mortality rate.”

Cancer is a disease related to many things at the same time: emotions, immune system, diet, life-style, environmental factors, etc.

A tumor is not a disease but a symptom. Official medicine continues to confuse disease and symptoms, and is only treating the later.

Rats, cats, dogs, or monkeys are not plausible models to find solutions to this explosion in the number of cancer cases. A tumor brought on deliberately in an animal is hardly similar to a human tumor that took years to develop.

As was rightly noted by Dr. Robert Sharp: “The use of animals, who have a tendency to develop different cancers as those of humans, could be the reason why the cancer research led nowhere.”

Because of animal experimentation AIDS will be cured.

In order to gather donations and money, laboratories use the same arguments for AIDS as the ones used for cancer. Animals of all kinds, but principally monkeys, are deliberately infected with the HIV virus, in spite of the fact that vivisectors still cannot give human AIDS to an animal. There again, animals react quite differently to a human virus.

Without vivisection, discoveries in surgery (such as organ transplants) could not have been possible.

“I have never met one good surgeon who had learned anything
at all with animals.”
(Abel Desjardins, chief surgeon of the Collège de la Chirurgie
de la Faculté de Paris).

The study of anatomy books, the dissection of human cadavers, the observation of patients, that is the real school of surgery. The anatomy of a dog can in no cases make us understand the anatomy of a human being.

To think that organ transplants are a progress remains an illusion. There will never be enough available organs for all diseases. Only the rich will be able to have access to this expensive technique. The poor will feed this market selling their kidneys, eyes, etc. (As it is already done in many countries — editor).

Even by sacrificing monkeys or pigs in order to transplant their organs to humans, the incidence of disease will not lower, as long as humans will not feel “responsible.” Responsible for their own health through dietary, emotional, or environmental changes.

Please note that patients having received an organ transplant have 100 to 140 times higher risks of getting cancer, amongst other things, due to the anti-rejection drugs that they have to take everyday. (These drugs suppress the immune system and make the life of the patient a living hell. Clearly the body is saying: I don’t want this! But we are saying no! I have the right to live! God cannot decide when it’s time for me to leave... — editor)

Without animal experimentation, the polio vaccine could not have been discovered.

An increasing number of physicians are raising their voice to expose the harmfulness of vaccines. The one for polio, judged “a miracle” during the 50’s, turns out to be dangerous. Made from the kidneys of monkeys, the vaccine was contaminated many times with animal viruses. The vaccine increases the vulnerability to the disease, and the highest amount of polio cases are due to the vaccine: “Contrary to previous beliefs regarding the vaccine against the polio virus, evidence now exists to show that the /iving viral vaccine cannot be administered without any risks of bringing on paralysis,” says Dr. Jonas Salk. We do not find any scientific proof that the vaccines made the disease disappear. Polio also disappeared in many other regions of the world where the vaccine was never used.

Vivisectors are not all barbarians or sadists, they are “men of Science,” on the quest for knowledge.

It seems that for many vivisectors, “the end justifies the means,” and that their paths leading to knowledge are so tortuous and sacred that they imply the torture of animals and humans.

Some vivisectors might sincerely believe that their experiments are useful to humanity. But to inflict wounds, knocks, burns, or severe intoxication to an animal stems from cruelty. Not to see it means that the vivisectors suffer from a sort of blindness conditioned by the dogmas of the religion of Science. Vivisection dehumanizes them and makes them insensitive in front of the suffering. How much is intelligence worth when deprived from sensitivity?

If a vivisectors inflicts to a dog different burns or transplants, he is justified to do so in the name of Science. When it comes from an “ordinary” person, he or she will be prosecuted (with reason) and tagged as being cruel. Sacrificed on the altar of Science, laboratory animals were exposed to microwaves during several days, undergoing a series of severe wounds. During the same period, at the end of the 80’s, a young woman residing in the Ottawa region was sentenced to prison after having cooked a living cat in a microwave oven. The court considered this crime filthy savagery.

The Montrealer Hans Selye, whose name is used for a university professorship, received considerable loans in order to submit thousands of animals — rabbits, dogs, cats, mice, rats — to “stressful” situations: burns, intoxications, drowning, excessive cold and hot temperature exposures, gland removals, tail and testicles crushed, paws broken, etc.

Claude Bernard (1813-1878) used to cook living dogs in ovens specially build for this purpose. The one who is considered to be “the father of vivisection” is regarded by many scientists as a genius. We could instead apply to him the definition of the philosopher Johannes Udes: “the vivisector is an individual morally under-developed with pathological tendencies.”

The human being, even when he is “a man of Science,” has no property rights, or absolute control over the animals, and these cannot be considered as simple objects. Animals, like all living beings, have rights based on the ability to suffer: “I am radically opposed to vivisection. In my opinion, this practice in unacceptable. It is pure aggression. Suffering is a suffering, and to burn a dog is to burn a dog, whatever knowledge we may get out of it.” (Marcel Duquette)

Anti-vivisectionists: a bunch of sentimental people, terrorists, health nuts, extremists, radicals against the progress of Science.

Those who fight for the abolishment of vivisection are part of a large movement encompassing humanists, physicians, scientists, or philosophers. During the past centuries, a great number of people have been opposed to vivisection: Leonardo da Vinci, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, C.G. Jung, Albert Einstein, Georges Bernard Shaw, Gandhi, Annie Besant, Marguerite Yourcenar, to name only a few. Queen Victoria believed that vivisection was a “disgrace to humanity and Christianity.” Many anti-vivisectionist groups exist in Europe and North America for over 100 years.
Many more voices are being heard across the world so that this immoral practice without any scientific bases can end. In Canada alone, more than 25 organizations fight for the abolishment of vivisection. In Geneva, the international league Médecins pour l’abolition de la vivisection (Physicians for the abolishment of vivisection), encompasses more than 150 members of the medical community in 14 countries and considers animal experimentation to be “a crime against Science, human life and animal life.”

If animal experimentation was abolished, the consequences for human health would be dreadful.

Human health has nothing to do with the creation of genetically modified pigs or mice having human cells, or the transplant of pig hearts to humans.
Humans must instead reinforce their immune systems, turn toward prevention, switch to a diet poor in animal protein and rich in fruits and vegetables. They must stop producing chemicals, and recognize that all these toxic products responsible for the pollution of the environment were declared to be safe on the basis of animal experiments. “To declare a pesticide harmless on the basis of a non-conclusive animal experimentation alone is not only anti-scientific, but could turn out to be even dangerous, producing a false feeling of security in the person using this toxic product.” (Albert Daveluy, chemist)
We must turn to a holistic medicine for global health. The human being is not only a body. The placebo effect proves it adequately. In fact, as Norman Cousins puts it out: “the placebo effect is the physician residing inside of us.”
The placebo effect, when an inert and harmless substance is substituted to a drug in order to produce a relief to the patient, is a real fact of pharmacology. When 10 persons suffer from diarrhea, 5 will be cured with a placebo. A similar phenomenon could be verified in cases of arthritis. The 77.4% of a group of patients who had received a placebo in place of antihistamines said that they felt sleepy, a typical effect of this drug. In another study, physicians gave placebos to 133 patients suffering from depression, who never before had taken medicines. The reaction of a fourth of them was so positive, that they were excluded to the following tests with the real medicine. Placebos, in the form of injections, were given to morphine addicts. They didn’t get symptoms of withdrawal until the injections were stopped.
It is absurd to use the animal model for diseases such as migraines, depression, obesity, alcoholism, or Alzheimer disease, in which the very developed psychism of the human being is involved, still in unknown proportions.
The human being is not a mouse, and he or she is not only his or her physical outer cover. She or he is connected to her or his emotions, spiritual aspirations, to her or his soul, to her or his spirit.

There are no alternatives to vivisection.

A change of consciousness, a holistic and non-violent medicine are alternatives to vivisection. Furthermore, there exist more reliable techniques to test drugs or products that vivisection, and a great number of scientists, will find more conclusive than animal experimentation.
In 1982, professor Farnswroth and Pezzuto of the Pharmaceutical Faculty of the University of Illinois have announced that there are enough techniques to determine the toxic effect of drugs. Enzymes, bacterial cultures of the Ames test, human tissues and cells (obtained from the placenta after birth or a biopsy), advanced computerized analysis, data banks, etc.

I cannot do anything about

We are all part of the solution. Encourage a non-violent and global medicine. Buy only “cruelty-free” products, containing only natural ingredients that are biodegradable, without any derived animal products. Join an anti-vivisectionist organization and bring your support. Participate to manifestations. Learn about the toxic side effects of drugs. Know that vaccines (for you or your animal) are potentially dangerous. Before giving your money to any charity, make sure that your money will not serve to animal experiments (see inclosed list on page ?? — editor). Become a voice for those without. Circulate information, write letters to the medias, to politicians, to companies that test on animals. Practice “intentional simplicity” not encouraging the unrestrained consumption of new products. Demand the closure of laboratories that experiment on animals. Remember that we don’t regulate torture, we abolish it!

Translated from the French
by Frédéric Patenaude


- -Hurlements, Marcel Duquett, Éd. Michel Quintin
- -The Slaughter of the Innocents, Hans Ruesch, Éd. Pierre-Marcel Favre
- -Naked Empress, Hans Ruesch, Éd. Civis
- -Nous sommes tous des cobayes, Marc Maillet, Éd. J.A.
- -Why animal experiments must stop, Vernon Coleman, Ed. Green Print
- -Betrayal of Trust, Vernon Coleman, Ed. European Medical Journal
- -In Pity and Anger, A Study of the Use of Animal in Science, John Vyvyan, Ed. Micah, Is animal experimentation justified?, Collectif, Ed. Greenhaven Press Inc.
- The myth of vivisection, Alert (B.P. 94, Côte-des-Neiges, Montréal, H3S 2S4)
- Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins, Éd. Seuil
- The case book of experiments with living animals, The American Anti-Vivisection Society.
- L’Anti-vivisection, No 124, 1995, Ligue Française contre la vivisection
- Expressions, National Anti-Vivisection Society

Anti-vivisectionist Organizations

- American Anti-Vivisection Society, Suite 204, Noble Plaza, 801 Old York Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046-1685, USA
- National Anti-Vivisection Society, 53 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago, Illinois 60604-3795
- The Nature of Wellness, P.O. Box 10400, Glendale, CA 91209-3400
- Ph. (818) 790-6384, Fax. (818) 790-9660,

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