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Whatever Happened to "Above All, Do No Harm?"

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April 27, 2009

Getting away with Murder: Whatever happened to 'above all, do no harm'?


Graphic: Time To Turn The Tables by ~m7

By Jason Miller

'The moral is that animal model systems not only kill animals, they also kill humans. There is no good factual evidence to show that the use of animals in cancer research has led to the prevention or cure of a single human cancer.'
     ---Dr. Irwin D.J. Bross, Ph.D., 1982, former head of research design and analysis of the largest cancer research institute in the world, the Sloan-Kettering Institute

Vivisection, the anachronistic practice of condemning nonhuman animals to the sterility, isolation, and confinement of laboratory cages and subjecting them to cutting, poking, sticking, burning, poisoning, and addicting, bears a much closer resemblance to medieval torture than to 21st century scientific research. Fittingly, vivisection's history is rooted in medieval religious edicts that forbade the dissection of human cadavers.[1] And anthropocentrism is so deeply inculcated into our psyches that despite living in an 'enlightened' age, we continue with our collective barbarism based on a church doctrine that held that rotting human corpses were more sacred than living, breathing sentient beings.

Like the primitive religious dogma that spawned it, vivisection is a relic of the past that has out-lived its usefulness, if it ever had any. From an animal liberationist's standpoint there are no moral justifications for performing experiments on nonhuman animals, but even when considered from an intelligent hardened speciesist's perspective, vivisection is a detrimental practice, for it is a tremendous waste of time, money and effort, and it is more of a threat to human health than it is a safeguard.

Because of the many significant anatomical, physiological, genetic, and behavioral differences between species, tests performed on nonhuman animals are only 5% to 25% accurate in terms of predicting the impact the tested drug or treatment will have on humans[2] and a 1994 study that appeared in the SCRIP report determined that only 6 of 114 substances that were toxic to humans were also toxic to nonhuman animals.[3] Nonhuman animals are extremely poor correlates for people.

According to Pro Anima of France, over a million people die prematurely in the EU each year from toxic substances introduced into their food or environment that were animal tested and deemed safe.[4]

Millions of nonhuman animals are tortured and murdered every year to ensure our 'safety' when we take prescription drugs. Just how safe are we? Consider that adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are the fourth leading cause of death, 15% of hospital admissions are related to ADRs, prescription drugs kill over 100,000 people every year (more than street drugs), and ADRs cost us over $130 billion in medical expenses every year.[5]

In December of 2003, Dr. Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics for GlaxoSmithKline, the UK's largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, admitted the severe limitations of the prescription drugs for which so many nonhuman animals are sacrificed when he stated, 'The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people," Dr Roses said. "I wouldn't say that most drugs don't work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don't work in everybody."[ 6]

For a host of other examples (too numerous to cite in this essay) that reveal the antiquated and crude nature of the results derived from vivisection, see the 2007 report called 'Do No Harm' that was prepared by the AD-AV Society of British Columbia in September of 2007.[7]


Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most barbaric of them all?

I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence.
    
--'Gandhi

So why, in defiance of conscience and logic, does such a heinous and grossly ineffective research method predominate and persist? Look no further than money, the lifeblood of our pitiless, narcissistic culture of death.

Were the vivisection subjects human, angry mobs bearing torches and pitch-forks would storm the corporate and scholastic castle gates, putting the modern day Frankenstein labs out of business. But since vivisection's victims are 'mere' nonhuman animals, corporations and universities persist in inflicting unimaginable suffering on millions of sentient beings every year.[8] In doing so, they enjoy relative approval or indifference from most of the general public, and both endorsement and protection from a deeply corrupt legal system and from law enforcement entities that 'protect and serve' corporations and private property above all. And when the distressingly scarce moral outrage does boil over and manifest itself as a direct action against the property of vivisectors, the FBI declares the perpetrators 'domestic terrorists' and pursues them accordingly. [9]

Gandhi was right to 'abhor vivisection with all [his] soul.' It is one of many extraordinarily ruthless activities that our capitalist, speciesist 'civilization' encourages, enables, and, in some ways, demands. Our prevailing and predominating social, cultural, economic, and political beliefs, mechanisms, customs, traditions, and myths inform and drive our collective alienation from, hatred towards, and fear of nature, nonhuman animals, and ultimately, ourselves and each other.

It's true, as many argue, that capitalism wasn't the progenitor of oppression and exploitation. It is merely the latest (and most effective) means by which humanity legitimizes and implements them. With the dawn of 'civilization' about 10,000 years ago, we humans began fetishizing our intellectual prowess and tenaciously clinging to the delusion that we are superior beings with the right to dominate the Earth and its other inhabitants. Rather than following anything close to a straight and narrow moral path with respect to our nonhuman animal brethren, delusions of grandeur and a pathological self-centeredness have left the human species stumbling about like a drunken sailor, kicking, stabbing, crushing, using, abusing, and eating virtually any other sentient being unfortunate enough to find itself in our path.

Money is the root of this evil

Our species lost its way long ago and vivisection is a symptom of the diseased way in which we interact with the world around us. Thanks to the twin socioeconomic foundations of speciesism and capitalism, vivisectors, their patrons, and their beneficiaries are, in many instances, psychologically, legally, and socially 'justified,' and their despicable efforts are highly lucrative, thus ensuring the malignant persistence of vivisection.

Despite exciting breakthroughs in genetics and other areas of science, and the rapid development of technologies that make vivisection antiquated and obsolete, it persists, not because it brings 'truth,' but rather because it is highly profitable up and down throughout the long chain of 'research.' There is tremendous peer-pressure and academic inertia to continue confining and torturing other sentient beings without their consent for several reasons, but aside from the facts that vivisection is a deeply entrenched orthodoxy which is handed down from one generation of researchers to the next and that nonhuman animal research is easily published (no small incentive to practice it in the 'publish or perish' environments of universities) , vivisection generates and protects income.

While many vivisectors and their supporters assert that nonhuman animal research is a noble endeavor that has saved millions of human animal lives over the years, the reality is that vivisection is an undeniably cruel practice that produces abysmal results.



Vanity trumps empathy: David Jentsch, a notorious vivisector, is obviously more concerned with his next eyebrow wax than with the pain he inflicts upon the vervet monkeys he torments.

Yet, vivisection continues to be highly regarded and heavily promoted within the mainstream medical and scientific communities, as many universities have come to depend mightily upon the multi-million dollar grants they receive to fund nonhuman animal research, even that which is frivolous or redundant. Take UCLA for example. At the time of this writing, it is widely known that one of their despicable vivisectors, David Jentsch, addicts vervet monkeys to PCP and methamphetamines, an obviously perverse thing to do to another sentient being. Yet Jentsch and UCLA are pressing on, even in the face of militant direct action undertaken by groups like the Animal Brigade and the Justice Department.

For a more detailed examination of the graft that propels universities to continue torturing nonhuman animals, read 'Granting Wishes: The Truth Behind Why We Vivisect Animals'[10] by Michael Budkie, the director of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW.

Big Pharma, one of the largest supporters and beneficiaries of nonhuman animal research, uses its significant influence--- an influence derived from deep pockets and even deeper incestuous relationships with legislators, government regulators, peer-reviewed medical journals, publicly funded institutions, and doctors[11]- --to sustain the lie that it would be impossible to innovate and market new prescription drugs without vivisection. Poison Pill, a book by Tom Nesi, provides an industry insider's deconstruction of how Merck was able to bring Vioxx, a drug that has potentially killed tens of thousands of people, to market.[12] To these leviathan pharmaceutical corporations, vivisection's barbarity and inefficacy are irrelevant. To ensure the uninterrupted flow of their immense profits, they need scientists to torture and murder nonhuman animals to accelerate the drug approval process, to give consumers the illusion of safety, and to shield themselves from tort liability.[13]

And let's not forget the host of ancillary business entities that exploit nonhuman animals via vivisection to generate their sacrosanct profits. These include companies that breed (or capture) and sell nonhuman animal research subjects to vivsectors, [ 14] companies that perform vivisection as a form of outsourcing, [15] cage manufacturers, scientific equipment makers, and many others. There are droves of people who are more than happy to enable the intense suffering of sentient being so they can reap their profits.

Excrement by any other name would smell as foul'.

Like most corrupt and malevolent industries (i.e. agribusiness and tobacco), the animal research complex has its own corporate-financed front groups to peddle its propaganda to the public, extolling its alleged virtues and justifying its miserable existence. Americans for Medical Progress is one such group. Their website states:

'Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) protects society's investment in research by nurturing public understanding of and support for the humane, necessary and valuable use of animals in medicine. Threats by animal rights extremists hurt medical progress. AMP provides accurate and incisive information to foster a balanced public debate on the animal research issue, ensuring that among the voices heard are those whose lives have been touched by research and those who work in the field. Through various specialty publications, outreach initiatives and the media, AMP informs the public of the facts of animal-based research. AMP also distributes timely and relevant news, information and analysis about animal rights extremism to the research community through its news service. AMP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity supported by the nation's top universities, private research facilities, research-related businesses, scientific and professional societies, as well as by foundation grants.'



Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Wyeth, and GlaxoSmithKline have representatives on AMP's board of directors to protect the interests of Big Pharma. Charles River Laboratories, the vivisection industry's number one supplier of nonhuman animals for testing, has been described as the 'General Motors of the laboratory animal industry.' According to SourceWatch, nearly all of the corporations and universities on the board of AMP have been under fire for serious animal welfare violations.[ 16]
AMP also supports the allegedly grassroots group, Speaking of Research, which held a rally supporting vivisection at UCLA on April 22, 2009. In that nauseating spectacle the unapologetic monkey-torturer, David Jentsch, and industry shill Tom Holder, the 'founder' of Speaking of Research and a 'founding member' of Pro-Test in the UK, whipped a crowd of adoring sycophants into a frenzy with a chant calling for animal testing.

Speaking of Research's website states that they are a 'campus-oriented group that seeks to provide university students and faculty with accurate information and resources about the importance of animal research in medical science.'

It goes on to state:

'Inspired by the successful British student movement 'Pro-test'(www.pro-test. org.uk), Speaking of Research aims to change the tide of the controversial animal rights debate by encouraging students and scientists to speak out in favor of the lifesaving research developed with animals.

Pro-test's experiences have shown that an informed public will rally together against animal rights extremism and come out to support scientists in their use of animals in lifesaving biomedical research. Recent polls in the UK suggest that public support for animal research for medical purposes has reached nearly 90%. Consequently animal rights groups have seen a decline in support, leading to a decline in extremist actions. Speaking of Research seeks to mobilize American universities to make the same stand against animal rights extremists and the misinformation they spread. We aim to encourage students and scientists to raise their heads above the parapet in open support of scientists and their research.

Speaking of Research aims to challenge animal rights dominance of the issue by participating in talks and debates on campuses across the country and by utilizing web-based communications tools to organize a network that can provide encouragement, information and support to all who care about medical progress.'

AMP and Speaking of Research are both well-funded marketing machines that are quite adept at putting lipstick on a pig. And why wouldn't they be? They represent vivisectors of all stripes, including those who test cosmetics.

Above all, do no harm?

"I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race. The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further."

---Mark Twain



As deeply reviled as the Nazis are by most people, those who master-minded the Holocaust were products of the nonhuman animal exploitation industries, as they derived many of their 'extermination' techniques from slaughterhouses and farming.[17] And when the Nazi doctors were tried at Nuremberg for human vivisection, they stated that they learned their techniques on nonhuman animals. Nazism is perhaps the most extreme example, but there is abundant empirical evidence to reasonably conclude that 'man's inhumanity to man,' which has plagued us since the dawn of civilization, is informed and driven by 'man's inhumanity to animal.'

Conceptualizing sentient beings who are subjects of a life as mere objects (cute, cuddly, and furry objects though they may be) reduces them to property status. While they may not admit it, even to themselves, those who support or engage in vivisection view nonhuman animals as mere possessions, resources, and commodities. In the prevailing institutions and paradigm of speciesist capitalism the 'owners' of animals have the 'right' to oppress and exploit them to the extent that it's necessary to derive the maximum profit and benefit. In this depraved and insane system, living beings are viewed by society at large and the legal system as possessions to do with as they see fit. And those, like Rod Coronado,[18] who act to alleviate their suffering by freeing them or dealing their tormentors a financial blow are hunted down and imprisoned.

The truth of the matter is that no matter what attitudes, institutions, systems, laws, mandates, or justifications we cultivate or erect, we human beings have no right to intentionally inflict suffering upon other sentient beings, particularly through vivisection, much of which is ostensibly performed to achieve medical advancements. What happened to, 'Above all, do no harm'?

Eventually, we must excise the metastasizing cancer of speciesist capitalism before it reduces the Earth to a dismal dystopia, or worse, eradicates most or all sentient life on the planet. And as we proceed toward that goal, we can aggressively treat vivisection, one of our diseased civilization's worst symptoms.

And as we do so, consider that, 'Drs. Ray and Jean Greek, and others, have pointed out that the theory of evolution and molecular biology predict that animal models will be very poor models of human disease. In light of modern scientific thought and the mass of empirical data, the burden of proof lies with those who claim the animal model is productive.'[19]

As we human animals overcome the deeply indoctrinated lies that we are the master species and that the pursuit of money is our raison d'etre, we will realize that we don't need to enslave nonhuman animals, subject them to horrific suffering, or murder them. We have multiple other means by which we can advance our medical and scientific knowledge, including epidemiology, clinical testing, autopsies, biopsies, genetics, post-marketing drug research, computer modeling, tissue cultures, microdosing on human animals, personalized medicine, and nanotechnology. [20]

Vivisection is primitive, brutal, ineffective, and unconscionable. It puts human animals at risk and inflicts unfathomable degrees of unnecessary suffering on our nonhuman animal brethren. There are many ways to advance our medical and scientific knowledge that don't involve tormenting or killing other sentient beings. Money is about the only thing vivisection has going for it. Which explains why those of us who oppose it will have to fight so hard to put an end to such an abomination.

Jason Miller is a relentless anti-capitalist, vegan straight edge, animal liberationist, and press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. He is also the senior editor and founder of Thomas Paine's Corner.

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