Saints Alive > Hall of Fame > Nominees > Barry Horne


Barry Horne made no secret of his belief that animals should not have to suffer for humans. But growing numbers of people who disagree with that are now opposing vivisection - on the grounds that experiments on animals don't help people.

The simple truth is that the results of animal experiments can - at best - only be applied to animals of the same species. The differences in biology, anatomy, physiology, body chemistry and so on makes comparing one species with another impossible.

One of the biggest preconceptions concerning animal research is that human illnesses can be studied in another species. In reality, diseases vary from species to species. For example, yellow fever and smallpox viruses affect only one species - humans. When experimenters claim they are studying cancer in rodents, it's worth knowing that while humans get carcinomas (tumours in lining membranes, like the lungs), rats and mice get sarcomas, which grow in the bone and connective tissue. Different diseases. Other illnesses like muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis are specific human conditions and don't exist anywhere amongst animals.

Sometimes experimenters try to recreate some of the symptoms, and they may be able to get cases where it looks similar, but that's hardly science. For example, when attempts are made to give rats heart disease, their bodies prevent it happening in a similar way to humans. The liver enzyme which changes the chemical structure of fats is more active in rats. The rat eliminates cholesterol very efficiently, and plaque in the arteries is not a problem. It's the same problem, different details with other illnesses in other species. Always there's differences between species.

Out of all illnesses known to humanity, less than 2% of them are ever seen in any non-human animal. It's a problem they still haven't overcome.

The next stumbling block for the animal experimenter is that all animals react in different ways to drugs. So even if you could give a mouse cystic fibrosis (which you can't), what value is there in testing a drug on the mouse ?

The degree to which different species vary in their response to drugs and other chemicals is enormous, and constantly understated by vivisectionists. Comparing rats and mice showed that the results from one species were correct for the other in 46% of cases, so if even in these two relatively similar species, the results were similar to (or slightly worse than) what you'd expect from flipping a coin, it makes a mockery of comparing either to humans. Rats are 37% effective in identifying known human carcinogens - so wrong more often that they're right.

The reactions differ so much from species to species that deadly poisons like botulin, strychnine, arsenic, the deathcap toadstool, hemlock and antimony are all 'provable' as safe using animals. While these may sound like extreme examples, other less obviously dangerous products and drugs have passed animal tests and gone into use, with human carnage the result. Products like asbestos, glass fibres, industrial arsenic, benzene and even tobacco smoke were believed harmless despite human evidence, because they all were safe in animals. Similarly disaster drugs like Thalidomide, Eraldin, Manoplax, Zyban, Baycol and hundreds of others which have killed, blinded and injured, passed tests on animals.

The scientific director of HLS, one of the biggest drug and product testing labs in the world has estimated that the accuracy of using animals to predict the human effect is "between 5%-25%". So to be generous to him, in three times out of four we get a false result which is then used to decide whether the product is used in humans.

And the results of this reliance on vivisection ? The human cost is massive.

Birth defects: They occurred in about 3 in 100,000 live births in the late 1940s, by the end of the century there were over 800 per 100,000. The most in-depth study to date, by German doctors concluded 61% of birth defects and 88% of stillbirths were definitely, directly caused by animal experiments. Animal testing is incapable of predicting this catastrophe. Our closest relatives, the monkeys were given drugs known to harm unborn human babies, when pregnant. 70% of the drugs were indicated safe. Thalidomide's effects were never convincingly reproduced in lab animals and would still be passed safe today.

Deaths and serious injuries: In 1998 a American medical journal concluded that 106,000 deaths PER YEAR in the US alone were caused by medical drugs passed safe on animals. A UK medical journal estimated 70,000 people in England each year are killed or seriously disabled by medical drugs, yet all of these pass animal tests. The scale is undeniably massive.

Delays: Blood transfusions, corneal transplants, gynaecological surgical techniques, the polio vaccine, arterial suturing, cancer drugs, understanding of the circulatory system - the list of medical discoveries delayed by the misleading data from animals goes on and on. This alone has cost, and continues to cost countless human lives and cause untold suffering.

Vivisection continues for two main reasons.

One is the drug industry. It allows drugs to be approved quickly, and because animals give a variety of results, it virtually guarantees entry onto the marked where it is earning money. It also provides an obstacle to legal action when drugs go wrong, because with animal tests performed, negligence becomes hard to prove.

The other is that it's so easy to publish. "A rat is an animal which when injected produces a paper" as the saying goes, which means easy work in this 'publish or perish' scientific world. Clinical research is infinitely more valuable, but requires ingenuity, planning, people skills, and time. Anyone can do animal experiments - they may not give useful results but at least they're results.

Opposition to vivisection on medical grounds is growing, and is in direct proportion to awareness of the facts. The more people know about vivisection, the less they like it. It's a massive subject, but you don't need to be a professor to understand it.

You're strongly encouraged to visit the websites:

The Absurdity of Vivisection:
Europeans for Medical Advancement (EFMA):
Americans for Medical Advancement (AFMA):
Doctors & Lawyers for responsible Medicine (DLRM):

Or contact:

Vivisection Information Network (VIN):