Lying on a cold table in an unfamiliar place and undergoing a core biopsy was probably one of the most traumatic events of my life. I was frightened, confused, hurting and, yes, I cried - but not just for myself.

Furry McGee here ain't gonna save your life. Picture: Kelly Barnes

As I lay there, experiencing a needle digging around inside me and having small pieces of flesh cut from my body, I thought about the animals in laboratories who are subjected to similar experiences.

Of course, I had been given some analgesic, the process was explained to me and ultimately it was for my own benefit… not so the case for lab animals.

At the age of 44, having lived a healthy, vegan lifestyle, and not inheriting any history of breast cancer in my family, I never suspected that I would be a victim of this insidious disease. Then again, I’m not invincible and so there’s no reason why I should be exempt. But… why?  Facing such a daunting situation certainly does make you reassess your life. 

Considering the passion I have for my work, one of the main dilemmas I now faced was my ingrained opposition to animal experiments. Did my treatment - if I was to accept it - now mean that I would need to compromise my core values?  Would it be hypocritical to expose my body to drugs that I knew involved animal testing at some stage before they came onto the market? Or in fact would I be of better use to refuse such a treatment?

This thought process began during the diagnostic stage. Despite my own fear, I felt so very sorry that my disease, and that of others in my situation, was the reason that so many animals are routinely subjected to cruel procedures and then merely discarded.

There’s no denying that animal experimentation is a very emotive issue. We can argue that it’s cruel, that it’s unethical and that we should respect animals and afford them rights. But at Humane Research Australia (HRA), we have found that when we discuss this subject with researchers, or with parents of children born with genetic defects or terminal cancer, every ethical argument is cast aside. Animal experiments are then considered a ‘necessary evil’.

For this reason, HRA has always based its opposition to animal experiments on scientific grounds. We maintain that medical progress is best made when research is species-specific and not led astray by data extrapolated from a different species.

Despite this sound position, however, when someone is personally affected by serious illness it can be easy to cast such logic aside and hang on to any hope of survival - even (in some cases) at the expense of animals.

Following my diagnosis and subsequent surgery, I was scheduled to undergo chemotherapy. Knowing that enormous funding is pumped into cancer research each year, I conducted my own investigations and discovered that each of the drugs that I was to be given were discovered more than forty years ago - almost before I was born. 

This didn’t make sense. Haven’t we all seen countless news headlines over the past few decades heralding cures of cancer (all based on animal trials)? Where was that miracle cure now that I needed it? And what have all the millions of animal lives lost and billions of dollars pumped into cancer research in the interim achieved? Here I am, being treated with the generation-old cut/poison/burn technique that’s been used for years - which is certainly not a cure! 

Don’t get me wrong, no one could ever fault the aims of the millions of people and organisations across the world who willingly donate their money and time to cancer research.

But why can’t that research be better directed and money more efficiently spent so that we can obtain a cure without wasting more time and more lives (animal and human)? 

The USA’s Federal Drug Administration (which guides Australian research) advises that 9 out of 10 drugs ‘successfully’ tested on animals don’t work when translated to humans. Some even cause significant harm to humans. At HRA, we argue this is because animals are genetically, metabolically and anatomically different. Logically, what else can we expect?

Frustratingly, I also ask myself now about all the thousands of drugs that were tested on animals but thrown out when they were found to be ‘unsuccessful’ - surely if there was some hope of those drugs working in the first place to the extent they were good enough to be tested on animals, they were worth pursuing via other means?  Could we have inadvertently discarded a potential cure for cancer?

Post surgery, and after many days and nights considering my choices, I eventually elected to proceed with the conventional course of treatment. Ultimately, what really convinced me is that I strongly believe that those 1960’s drugs were developed not because of animal experiments but despite them. Of course, it would be foolish to deny that I also want to live, but I believe that my desire to live must be based on the choices and actions in my career and lifestyle that I am making during and after treatment.

Throughout my ordeal, my respect for each of the health professionals I have dealt with - the nurses, surgeons, oncologists and radiologists - grows each week.  Those people have all provided me with the greatest of care, but they, too, are limited to the treatments that are available to them. What is so disappointing is that researchers continue to base their work on animal models and people continue to pin their hopes on a miracle cure that unfortunately continues to be based on the wrong species. After all these decades why aren’t we smarter?

So, now that I am personally affected by cancer I can confirm that my position on animal experimentation has indeed changed - I am more opposed to animal research than I ever thought possible. Animal experiments are extremely cruel and scientifically flawed. If we are ever to find genuine cures for cancer and other ailments, we must focus on species-specific research - not antiquated methods that can be erroneously extrapolated from a species that differs from us anatomically, genetically and metabolically. 

But does that mean that we just use humans as the new ‘guinea pigs’? Ultimately we are anyway, given that results of animal testing are inconclusive. But replacing animal tests with a battery of human-specific tests - like microdosing and microfluidic chips - will give us a more accurate prediction of how new drugs and treatments will react in humans. 

As for me, I’ll continue with the conventional 40-year-old treatment, together with my daily juices, a healthy lifestyle and vegan diet (now for more than 15 years). Did I mention some of those health professionals have been amazed at how well I am coping with my treatment? 

And no, I’m certainly not pinning my hopes on a miracle cure discovered from animal experiments because I know that will never happen.

Most commented

361 comments

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    • TChong says:

      06:17am | 24/05/12

      Jeezus H Krist !!!!!!!!!!!
      WTF ?
      Crying for the mice and lab rats ?
      Hope all goes wll for you Helen, but your kidding yourself if you believe the 40 plus year old therapies wernt animal tested- ofcourse they were.

    • acotrel says:

      07:11am | 24/05/12

      As Jo Bjelke Petersen used to say:
      ‘Don’t you worry about that, now!’

    • 123 eyes on me says:

      08:22am | 24/05/12

      Dear Helen,
      Hope your treatment goes well.
      You are however mistaken.
      With out knowing what drugs you are on I can not fully tell you that they were not tested on animals but even 40 years ago animals were used and more prodigiously than today. Further if you are on an old drug then its efficacy has been tested against newer drugs and found to still be superior, and guess what they tested on? Animals first THEN human animals. Further your surgeon would have practiced techniques on animals whilst learning his or her craft. Radiotherapy? Tested on animals first.
      Animals are testing subjects of the past, present and future. To think or act otherwise is delusional or hypocritical.
      We should not be cruel, but if medicine and science are to progress at a reasonable pace then we will continue to experiment on them.

    • subotic says:

      08:23am | 24/05/12

      As I lay there, experiencing a needle digging around inside me and having small pieces of flesh cut from my body, I thought about the animals in laboratories who are subjected to similar experiences.

      How selfish can you get?

      How about thinking about all the loved ones you’re going to leave behind when you die prematurely due to rejecting medical help?

      Beyond. Belief.

    • Mary says:

      08:32am | 24/05/12

      Rats and mice have feelings tooTChong. They also have morals. In recent experiments in the US rats consistentlychose to help free trapped companions rather than eat their favourite food. When they had freed their companions they offered them the food. first
      Clearly lab rats have more compassion and empathy than a lot of humans

    • Scotchfinger says:

      08:54am | 24/05/12

      Mary, interesting study. I wonder if it’s only pack animals or social animals that act in this way.

    • TChong says:

      08:57am | 24/05/12

      mary
      yep, no doubt about the moral superiority of lab rodents.
      I especially aprove, as I know you must , of their tendencies for incest and cannibalism..
      I have seen a doco about a hindu cult that devotes itself to rats.
      They have a temple for them to live in, feed millions of the varmints.
      Google it, You’d love it   wink

    • Gregg says:

      09:00am | 24/05/12

      Your opening is quite a long ways from being sensitive Chongy but then you often have foot in mouth without even probably realising it.

      Have you ever thought of just how much better research could be funded if there had not been billions$$$ wasted by this Labor government and continuing still down the waste track.

      A quite amazing outburst, even for you!

    • Shame on you says:

      09:01am | 24/05/12

      Subotic -your comment is beyond belief. How cruel and heartless you are to ttry to twist someones feelings of compassion for animals into something selfish. You should be ashamed of yourself!

    • Shame on you says:

      09:01am | 24/05/12

      Subotic -your comment is beyond belief. How cruel and heartless you are to ttry to twist someones feelings of compassion for animals into something selfish. You should be ashamed of yourself!

    • Shame on you says:

      09:02am | 24/05/12

      Subotic -your comment is beyond belief. How cruel and heartless you are to ttry to twist someones feelings of compassion for animals into something selfish. You should be ashamed of yourself!

    • TChong says:

      09:54am | 24/05/12

      gregg
      yep, this ALP govt wasted billions
      Depending on priorities, such arguments can be applied to any govt program.
      Some have claimed, in this forum that Howards gun buy back was not only a waste of money, but sinister, as well.
      ( I personally, aprove of the buy back,, and the East timor interventions, as 2 good things howard did)

    • subotic says:

      10:10am | 24/05/12

      @Shame on you, what makes you think I have no compassion for animals?

      I just have no tolerance for fools.

      And people who stand on escalators. Those people give me the shits…

    • Inky says:

      10:25am | 24/05/12

      And people who stand on escalators. Those people give me the shits…

      Hear hear. I think this is the bigger issue here. At the very least, stand to the left so that people can overtake you.

    • Eric Winter says:

      10:58am | 24/05/12

      Testing on animals, apart from the moral issue, is useless, ineffective, and can set back any progress that might otherwise have been made.

      Bringing in the moral issue, I once had a teacher who asked “If you can’t experiment on animals, who can you experiment on?”

      Hitler said the same thing about Jews.  You do the math.

    • Zac says:

      10:58am | 24/05/12

      A while ago I debated many Atheists and a young lady in particular replied something simillar to this:  “we are no different from bacteria and virus and it’s you Christians who value human life over bacteria and virus.” This neatly fits into Helen’s darwinian belief system -  “I thought about the animals in laboratories who are subjected to similar experiences.”

      So all Helen is doing at Punch is trying to promote - free publicity - her Atheistic/darwinian beliefs hiding behind some animals. Sadly this is blatant dishonesty and corruption.

      Atheism is an established religion. Humanism, Environmentalism, Darwinism, Materialism, and Global Warming are examples of its denominations. Environmental movement has become; government sponsored religion with scientists as the high priests, Rev. Al Gore as it’s Archbishop and supported by tax payer funded “research grants.”

      No wonder I call for the separation of Atheism and State all the time!

    • M says:

      11:11am | 24/05/12

      Sigh, I’m sick of all the christians declaring athiesm is a Religion.

      Does that mean Dawkins is our pope and darwin our patron saint?

    • Inky says:

      11:15am | 24/05/12

      @Eric Winter

      Hitler + Jews + current topic = Godwin’s Law.

      And I take it you’ve got some evidence as to how it’s useless and ineffective?

    • Gomez12 says:

      11:17am | 24/05/12

      Zac,

      Whatever it is you think you did, I can assure you it bears no relation to debate.

      Now, off to the conspiracy theory factory with you, you haven’t worked out how the polar bears are involved yet.

    • Zac says:

      11:56am | 24/05/12

      @Eric Winter

      “Testing on animals, apart from the moral issue,
      Bringing in the moral issue,”

      1. How did you form that morality?

      2. So who decides that morality?

      3. How do you know that morality exists?

      4. Who said it is wrong?

      5. Morality is based on what? Eric, PETA, Earthians, Watermelons or big bang, Darwin, omnipotent chance?  Give us some answers Eric.

    • Lisa Wilson says:

      11:56am | 24/05/12

      Why is it we think its ok to test on animals, they have no choice in the matter and we treat them as they are at our disposal.  Why are human Lives worth more than that of an animal WTF JEEZUS H KRIST TChong who are you kidding…you obviously don’t know the meaning of compassion!, you speak of mice and lab rats as if they were insignificant, well my dear having no compassion for all living beings makes you the insignificant one!

    • Zac says:

      01:28pm | 24/05/12

      Lisa Wilson,

      “Why are human Lives worth more than that of an animal”

      1. Did an animal ask this question? If not why not?

      2. And that value is placed by a human being? What made you to place such a value? On what basis do you place such value?

      3. Why is such worth not reciprocated?

      “Wild Lions Eat Man Alive” (not for faint hearted)

      http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6472561/video_wild_lions_eat_man_alive/

    • Ando says:

      01:53pm | 24/05/12

      Surely most religious people cringe every time Zac posts.

    • Eloise says:

      02:06pm | 24/05/12

      subotic - as someone who has had similar experiences to Helen, how, exactly, is it selfish to think about other non-human sentient beings and their suffering? not having a go, am just curious.

    • Austin 3:16 says:

      02:17pm | 24/05/12

      Hey Zac,

      Dunno about your morality but common sense usually works for me.

    • nomoremousemed says:

      02:22pm | 24/05/12

      Not according to the former Director of the largest private cancer research centre in the world, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre..
      > “The use of animals in cancer research has been attacked as unnecessary cruelty to animals, and defended as absolutely essential for research progress that will prevent or cure human cancer. From a scientific standpoint, what is pertinent is that what are called ‘animal model systems’ in cancer research have been a total failure.”
      > It concludes:
      > “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.” From “Animals in Cancer Research: A Multi-Billion Dollar Fraud”, an article written by Dr Irwin D. Bross former Director of the Sloan-Kettering, the largest private cancer research institute in the world, and then Director of Biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research, Bufallo, NY: reproduced in Fundamental and Applied Toxicology, November 6 1982
      > 1981 Congressional Testimony by Dr. Irwin Bross, former Director of the Sloan-Kettering, the largest private cancer research institute in the world, and then Director of Biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research, Bufallo, NY: “The uselessness of most of the animal model studies is less well known…Indeed, while conflicting animal results have often delayed and hampered advances in the war on cancer, they have never produced a single substantial advance either in the prevention or treatment of human cancer.”
      >
      >
      > 1982
      > Animal model systems in cancer research have been a total failure…not a single essential drug for the treatment of human cancer was first picked up by an animal model system. All of the drugs in wide current clinical use were only put into animal model systems after finding clinical clues to their therapeutic possibility. The money was spent…for two main reasons. First, it was a highly profitable undertaking for certain medical schools and research institutions that were incapable of doing any genuine cancer research. Second, it was sustained by a superstitious belief in a grossly unscientific notion: mice are miniature men…in sum, from the standpoint of current scientific theory of cancer, the whole mystique of the animal model systems is hardly more than superstitious nonsense…the moral is that animal model systems not only kill animals, they also kill humans. There is no good factual evidence to show the use of animals in cancer research has led to the prevention or cure of a single human cancer. Dr Irwin Bross, Dr Irwin Bross (formerly Director of the Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research) November issue, Fundamental and Applied Toxicology.

      and from the former Director of the largest cancer institute in the world, the National Cancer Institute; “ The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans.” Dr Richard Klausner, Director, National Cancer Institute, LA Times, May 6.1998
      >

    • Zac says:

      02:26pm | 24/05/12

      @Ando.

      So you are some authority on cringing? Let us know how many have cringed? How about answering my questions or addressing the substance in my posts? The easy way out here is to come up and post some fanciful accusation.

      Some may disagree with me but still have the ability to see things objectively. Here is one such example from Church shouldn’t be a law unto themselves blog.

      Jason Todd says:09:52pm | 21/05/12

      “Zac - I was almost willing to concede that you were being reasonable…., you have demonstrated that you are a better thinker than that,..........”

    • Zac says:

      02:46pm | 24/05/12

      @Austin 3:16,

      Hey Zac,

      “Dunno about your morality but common sense usually works for me.”

      But common sense tells Peter Singer infants are not normal human beings, hence killing them is fine. The same goes with abortion - “choice to kill unborn human babies” is a common sense.

      “Characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness…make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings.”  Peter Singer

    • Scotchfinger says:

      04:34pm | 24/05/12

      ha ha everyone has conveniently ‘ignored’ nomoremousemed’s post in their haste to chew the limbs of the author of the article.

    • Fiona says:

      09:01am | 25/05/12

      Inky and subotic, who ever told you that you must walk while on an escalator??
      I’m one of those people you both hate and believe it or not some of us may have a reason to stand on them , like poor vision, dizziness and balance problems. All of which you can’t tell just by looking at me. How about you remember that next time you’re in a rush to get off an escalator, thereby saving yourself 15 seconds?

    • D says:

      12:45pm | 25/05/12

      @nomoremousemed
      These ancient quotes have no meaning in today’s research. Quotes from 14+ years ago… really? Research models have changed significantly, even in the last few years.

    • Chris says:

      09:20am | 26/05/12

      123 Eyes on me, Scientists’  and other more vitriolic replies to Helen did not surprise me nor did their lack of honesty. No-one mentioned the lack of co-operation between researchers and the fact that many finds are Patented to make money. Just torture a few more animals and write a paper on your ‘research’ regardless of outcome’, and money will be thrown at you. There is no money to be made making people well, but a whole heap to be made from sick people. Where is the incentive to find cures or better treatment? Also where are your facts that vegans cannot be healthy?  There are many healthy vegans who would dispute that!

    • Mark says:

      06:27am | 24/05/12

      You’re not a scientist. I am. You don’t know the slightest thing about cancer research.

      Yes, animals and humans are not the same species. We do, however, share a lot of common genetic and molecular mechanisms, which I have no doubt that you haven’t bothered to learn about, as learning about it would conflict with your pre-packaged PETA sponsored ideology (pick up a genetics textbook, would you?)

      Genes that control cell division are shared across MANY species, a product of our shared evolutionary background. We can glean very useful information from rats, mice - even yeast and files, because all known animals have DNA, and DNA is as DNA does. Many of the control mechanisms present in Humans, are present in animals. They package and store DNA using many of the same mechanisms as us.

      Not only that, but we have to test toxicity, now don’t we? Before we actual put a drug on the market? Or is that something you’ve failed to inform yourself of as well? How can we test toxicity? On people? Who? The patients of very rare disorders and diseases? There aren’t enough patients in the world to test whether or not a drug candidate could be toxic or not. Prisoners? They’re not suitable in the slightest, given the variety of health problems they have, their unwillingness to co-operate and the fact that using prisoners, many of whom don’t have the conditions we test for, wouldn’t provide us any data. It’s also, of course, immoral.

      Oh, but what about Cell Cultures, the PETA folks cry! A cry generated by ignorance, of course. A cell culture is often a MONO-CULTURE. We have to test toxicity in a SYSTEM of tissues because metabolic BY PRODUCTS of drugs can be toxic too! Given that we can’t grow fully formed livers to test in the lab, we have to rely on the next-best test subject - animals. Mice, have livers and believe it or not, they share many, many, many biochemical functions with humans.

      Extreme animal rights folks have been protesting against using animal test subjects for years. Scientists keep on using them, because we actually know what we are talking about. Unlike you.

    • Nathan says:

      07:21am | 24/05/12

      I was hoping we could get an opinion of a scientist thank you.

    • acotrel says:

      07:47am | 24/05/12

      Did you know that make-up is tested on animals ? That sounds ethical ?

    • M says:

      08:15am | 24/05/12

      Vegans can’t wear makeup now? Oh I can’t wait to use this.

    • Charlie says:

      08:33am | 24/05/12

      Well said Mark. A morning on Wikipedia is not a substitute for a lifetime in education and research. The treatments that you used Helen will have been tested on animals at some point. And a quick word on genetics…our genomes and the amino acids, proteins and subsequent biochemical processes etc. encoded by them are considerably closer to animal our cousins than you obviously think. I find it ironic that you place other animals as being so different from us for research purposes yet fight for their rights as animals due to compassion for their plight. In truth the scientists point is we are very similar and we are able to use this to help us in our epic fight against insidious diseases such as cancer.
      My personal coda is that testing superficial products (eg. cosmetics) is inherently wrong and should be universally derided and banned but the necessity for the animal testing of life saving drugs is obvious and most if not all scientists try to minimalise animal suffering if possible.
      I’m really sorry to hear that you have/had cancer Helen and I wish you a speedy recovery and full health but it sounds a bit like bitterness that you feel that someone like you, with a ‘healthy vegan’ lifestyle for 15yrs, should be afflicted…While lifestyle is a factor, ultimately, it’s roll of the dice for all of us…

    • VVS says:

      08:33am | 24/05/12

      I don’t think any other rebuttal comments are needed after Mark’s above.
      It is game, set and match to Mark.

      Let’s just make fun of vegans from now on…

    • Jenna says:

      08:37am | 24/05/12

      Thank you for providing an educated opinion for the opposing.
      I too, choose science were bioethics is considered as strongly as any thing else.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      08:41am | 24/05/12

      surely we can farm out a colony of Queenslanders (humans) specifically for cancer research? Perhaps from the Gold Coast. Rear the offspring of bogan one-night-stands or unconscious schoolies, quantify the variables from alcohol poisoning, then dose them up in a humane way. They are already emotionally and intellectually stunted, so it’s not as if they would suffer more than a lab-bred rat. And after their usefulness had come to an end, we could hand them a ballot paper and see what they do then. Something to think about.

    • Kika says:

      09:05am | 24/05/12

      “You’re not a scientist. I am. You don’t know the slightest thing about cancer research.

      Yes, animals and humans are not the same species”

      ANIMALS and HUMANS? Gosh that’s a sweeping statement from a scientist. Would have thought a scientist would have the intelligence to realise that humans are animals too and boxing in the entire animal kingdom together against us is a little hard to understand. Humans are a species of animal. Thereby via logic your statement is hard to understand.

      The problem is, Mark, that the results found in mice and rats are often not replicated in humans and if they are proven in mice and rats, then your testing HAS to move onto humans anyway. Scientists have been curing cancer in rodents for years but the same results cannot be replicated in humans to the same success as that in the rodent experiments.

      ACOTREL - There are many brands of makeup that don’t test on animals and are vegan.

      The Rest - Do you know that they don’t only use rodents in their research? They take impounded dogs, cats and other animals from animal shelters (including the RSPCA). I think there’s an entire colony of Macaques in Victoria which they use for research. Is it more emotive for you thinking that if your dog or cat became lost one day that some lab would pick them up and subject them to all sorts of horrible tests until they finally give up and die?

    • void says:

      09:53am | 24/05/12

      @Mark

      “I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite comment on The Punch.”

    • Keith Hammersmith says:

      10:33am | 24/05/12

      She may not be a scientist, but she is a vegan and googled some stuff!
      I am sorry that the author is ill,  however I don’t really get the article.  she is still taking the medication and treatment,  but is trying to convince us that she is morally above it?

    • Rick says:

      10:33am | 24/05/12

      Animal studies still need a lot of work - it’s very difficult to assess whether they are biased and they tend not to take the systematic approach that’s required to assess whether or not the results are translatable to be used for human wellbeing - http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/6/10

      It’s a good question of whether lab studies using animals are actually good value for money in their current state, when the money might be spent better elsewhere

    • ianc says:

      10:49am | 24/05/12

      Mark you could be a geologist for all I know; you don’t make this clear and I suspect an honest scientist would have done so. Your assumption that being a scientist gives you a privileged position and your dismissive attitude is arrogance not science.

    • Barry says:

      11:06am | 24/05/12

      @Kika
      What do you mean by lost dogs or cats?  Don’t you mean prisoners who have escaped the chains and cages of their cruel owners?

    • St. Michael says:

      11:07am | 24/05/12

      “They take impounded dogs, cats and other animals from animal shelters (including the RSPCA). I think there’s an entire colony of Macaques in Victoria which they use for research.”

      Yeah, it’s next to the Dodo Rejuvenation Zone.  Kika, how ‘bout some verifiable sources for the crap you spout?

      You tend to go off the factual pier when you get angry, so, inquiring minds want to know.

    • Zac says:

      11:20am | 24/05/12

      Thank you Mark. The moment I read scientist and “pre-packaged PETA sponsored ideology” I knew it was worth reading. Well, I was right and it was worth it. I learned a few things. I wish scientists like you will stand up for real science, only then, yes only then we can regain the lost trust in science and scientists. May be then parents like us will regain the trust that our kids at universities will not be brainwashed by ideologists like Helen.

      May be you guys should form an association to counter vultures like PETA. I can find some very beautiful girls but they will not strip like the PETA’s, as most are Christian girls. Well, they don’t see themselves as sex objects any way.

    • Mark says:

      11:50am | 24/05/12

      @ianc, if it pleases you I completed a Bachelor of Science with majors in Genetics and Biochemistry recently at one Uni of Melb and I can tell you that what Mark (for the record, a different Mark) says, about DNA and cell division anyway, is spot on.

      @kika, I’m afraid it’s your post that fails any test of logic. Your point that humans are animals only supports Mark’s argument. Yes, unfortunately not all treatments that work on mice, dogs and whatever other animal you wish to mention work on humans, but that doesn’t mean the animal testing phase is of any less value. It ensures, as much as realistically possible, that drugs/treatments don’t enter the human testing stage until it can be absolutely assured (again, as much as realistically possible) that the drug is fit for consumption or treatment is safe.

      The problem for PETA and others who parrot their view on this issue, like the writer, is that they have no practical alternative to existing practices. Testing solely on humans is not practical unless you can find people willing, or able to be forced, to participate. History does have an example of a prominent animal liberationist who did force a particular group of people to submit to such testing…would you like to see a repeat of that example?

    • Ali says:

      11:51am | 24/05/12

      Given this genetic comparability scientist mark, who graces the comments posts with authoritative wisdom, I guess all those babies with messed up thalidomide limbs were a minor aberration we should not discuss, since it doesn’t conveniently fit with your claims.  But damn am I glad my mother didn’t have major morning sickness issues whilst pregnant with me (else I’d be one of those deniable statistics of the animal model gone terribly wrong). Recall this drug was tested ad nauseous on our closest genetic non human animal ‘cousins’.

      And what of penicillin?  Using an animal model for testing it would never have made it to the human clinical trial.

      I have systemic arthritis and several auto immune diseases (partially undiagnosed) - I am in a good position I think to say that I would like my illness to be understood through the amazing existing technologies as the diseases manifest in the human body, and I would like my future treatments to emerge from human disease contexts. 

      Clearly most of the posters here are unaware of the new technologies available for this - and the FDA’s request to researchers to move away from animal models for disease research.  But corporations make big money from superfluous testing of animals (there are numerous non animal tested cosmetics available) and academics in universities justify there jobs and win money for their institutions by getting grants that (ab)use animals. 

      What is it about being vegan that makes so many of you so angry and defensive?  Is it that vegans are a constant reminder of your inconsistent moral behavior?  The crudeness of your posts and sheer lack of knowledge on a subject for which you seem to have such a strong opinion is baffling, hence my previous assumption.  Intellectually, you border on illiterate.  Go find out about the new technologies and then tell me what you would rather be exposed to, treatments based on animal model exploitation, or treatments that have met the rigor of human biomedical conditions through new technologies.  I’m sick, and can only hope that when I get worse (and desperate) the treatment on offer will have been through the newer laboratory testing methods.

    • Cobbler says:

      12:07pm | 24/05/12

      “Humans are a species of animal. Thereby via logic your statement is hard to understand.”

      What a pointless observation.  The intent was obvious, your moronic retort was really not needed.

      What scares me about this piece is that an editor chose to let it get published.  Bollocks like this tends to snowball until in about 10 years you’ll see a documentary on the ABC staring Nick Minchin pseudo representing supposedly one-half of a balanced viewpoint.

      I suppose I should just go with the flow and take up voodoo to get ahead of the curve.

    • Danielle says:

      12:11pm | 24/05/12

      Mark says: You’re not a scientist. I am. You don’t know the slightest thing about cancer research.
      Time and money wasted when it comes to cancer research and you may be a scientist but I know that people have been waiting many years to see a cure, all I see is people dropping dead in big numbers around the world.
      So when it comes to your understanding as you say I’m still trying to get my head around that comment.
      Maybe you should be testing the cause why people get cancer rather than the problem of trying to cure it, a good place I feel a good start is educating society of all that crap they are putting into their mouths and using on their bodies.
      Raw plant based foods are the medicine for the body, feed on that and life will feel 100% better and healthier, animals are cute and all that but eating animal products will do nothing but cause problems and many do and will die from it.
      When it comes to research, money is directed into the wrong areas with little outcome.
      Think of all the break throughs on cancer that have been announced over the years and take a look at the cure rates, now look at how many people have been and are dead and still continue to die every day.
      You.
      You may be a scientist and you may know a lot about cancer research but you seem to lack the real cause of understanding why the body falls victim to cancer, and don’t tell me it is genetic because it starts at a cellular structure, a DNA level.

    • M says:

      12:39pm | 24/05/12

      Agreed Cobbler, it’s this sort of bollocks which leads to intelligent design being given equal weight to evolution.

    • Keith Hammersmith says:

      12:39pm | 24/05/12

      Danielle says:

      12:11pm | 24/05/12 “Raw plant based foods are the medicine for the body, feed on that and life will feel 100% better and healthier, animals are cute and all that but eating animal products will do nothing but cause problems and many do and will die from it.”

      did you note that the author who has cancer is a vegan?

      you spout a lot of baseless rhetoric about cure rates and what not, being less than they used to be, but that is in correct. more people get cancer because there are more people, survivability from cancer is higher than it has ever been. 

      then you go on to say
      ”  understanding why the body falls victim to cancer, and don’t tell me it is genetic because it starts at a cellular structure, a DNA level.”

      soo is it what we eat or is it DNA?  you do realize that eating meat etc does not affect your dna right?

    • Rossco says:

      12:40pm | 24/05/12

      Mark, brilliant reply.

      And also, thank you for all of your hard work, dedication and commitment in the field of science. People like you and your industry are often tarnished all too often by ignorant fools and liars who don’t know what they hell they are talking about.

    • Good Grief says:

      01:02pm | 24/05/12

      @Kika

      So what if we are animals too? Animals kill other animals for the sake of survival (and some do so in a painful way), so why should humans act any different? You and I are where we are (i.e. top of the food chain) because our ancestors were intelligent, cunning and brutal. We are biologically omnivores, we eat meat and plants, and we do things at the expense of other animals in hopes of saving ourselves.

      So now you’re condemning the rest of us for something that is ingrained into our genetic makeup because it doesn’t suit your unnatural taste. The issue here is not about wiping out another species (which we are not), the issue here is how you value the lives of your fellow humans in comparison to the lives other animals. So why don’t you condemn the rats and fleas for killing 1/3 of us from the face of the earth during the black plague? Is it because what they did was natural? Well, aren’t the things we are doing naturally human (i.e. doing things at all cost to better ourselves)?

    • Danielle says:

      01:34pm | 24/05/12

      @ Keith Hammersmith
      did you note that the author who has cancer is a vegan? Yes, but I do not know how long she has been a vegan.
      soo is it what we eat or is it DNA?  you do realize that eating meat etc does not affect your dna right? It’s what we eat and cells are your DNA and are affected by toxins in a big way.
      As for the author, I would recommend 150ml of Wheat Grass Juice on it’s own straight from the growing tray, every morning on an empty stomach and no food or drink for 30 mins after, 1 litre smoothies every morning after Wheat Grass Juice with fruit and vegies, dark leaf vegies and eat black grapes and their seeds twice a dayly, 10 to 25 grapes twice daily.

    • Mark says:

      02:08pm | 24/05/12

      Actually Danielle, the causes of most cancers are well known. Knowing the causes of cancers, being able to identify them before they occur, and stopping them before they occur are different things entirely.

      The vegans and anti-animal testing people here can go on all they like, but they are complete hypocrites. Fact, none of them would participate in any clinical testing themselves either before or after any animal testing. “All medical drugs and procedures should be tested on humans…but not me.”

      Suggestions that a vegan lifestyle makes you happier and healthier are a load of crock. It requires numerous supplements to replace nutrients that are missed out on from not eating meat. I had one on a recent holiday…funnily enough she was the one who was always ill and tired.

    • Megan says:

      02:10pm | 24/05/12

      St Michael, I used to work at a major tertiary hospital in Brisbane and I know for a FACT that they get animals from death row at the RSPCA and interns/medical students conduct experiments on them. The thought behind this is that they’re going to be put to sleep anyway, so why not ‘benefit humankind’ at the same time? The animals are given anaesthetic, experiments are performed while the animal is still alive, and the animals are then given a lethal dose of anaesthetic to be put to sleep. I abhorr animal experimentation. From a spiritual/energetic viewpoint ,I belive that no cures will ever come from any practice that involves the suffering of sentient beings; it defies universal law.  All the best with your recovery Helen!  That’s my 2cents’ worth…

    • Kika says:

      02:39pm | 24/05/12

      @Good Grief “So what if we are animals too? Animals kill other animals for the sake of survival (and some do so in a painful way), so why should humans act any different?”

      Ah… because we don’t need to kill them? Animals do or they die. I bet you aren’t living a hunter gatherer lifestyle either so you can probably go and get yourself a bean burrito with a side of rice and get all your amino acids in one go. Amazing.

    • Keith Hammersmith says:

      02:41pm | 24/05/12

      @ Danielle,
      “Yes, but I do not know how long she has been a vegan.”
      try reading the article again, the answer is there. (for more than 15 years..)

      “It’s what we eat and cells are your DNA and are affected by toxins in a big way.”
      really?  I think I can rest my point there.  Cells are not DNA, you are wrong.  DNA affects your cells, but cells dont affect your DNA.

    • egg says:

      03:50pm | 24/05/12

      @Mark, sorry, but “maybe sometimes it works” isn’t a good enough excuse. It’s not “extreme animal rights” to give a shit.

      It’s cool, though, you just be dismissive, call people by ridiculous names, BOLD some RANDOM words, and I’m sure your rational and scientific point will come across without any worries.

    • Good Grief says:

      04:32pm | 24/05/12

      @Kika

      no, I am not living in a Hunter Gatherer lifestyle. Survival also comes in the form of surviving diseases including Cancer and being social creatures that we are, we are inclined to save our own lest it also happens to us.

      Again, I’d like to see you condemn rats and fleas for the black plague the same way we are wiping rats (and farming them) for the sake of finding a cure to save ourselves. Surely wiping so many humans accounts for something, right?

      Yeah you can argue “we don’t need to” use rats (go ahead, put yourself in the line to be lab tested. Someone has to bite the bullet). I can also say rats and fleas didn’t have to spread that bloody disease that led to so many humans dying slow and painful (emotional and physical) deaths. If you say “they can’t help it”. Well… we can’t help ourselves either, we are human, it’s in our nature to survive (and that includes diseases).

    • jac says:

      06:43pm | 24/05/12

      So I suppose it’s just coincidence that major institutions such as the Australian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Cancer Council have actually shifted their research towards population studies, family and twin studies, pathology with associated data banks, long term follow up and biological sampling. The reason is that they’ve found that after many years of trying to eradicate cancer they’re not actually succeeding by using animal models so they’re looking at humans…how bizarre is that?.
      There have also been massive advances in the field of imaging so people don’t need to be sacrificed in the name of research.
      The number of new cancer cases doubled between 1982 and 2007 so obviously it would pay to not keep using the same old losing formula and you don’t need to be a scientist to work that one out.
      It’s nice to think that although the animals suffered horrendously, it was all worthwhile because it’s helping to cure cancer but that’s not the case and a large percentage of animal experiments are never even cited in another piece of research. This suggests that the information gained from them was useless in terms of medical advances.
      As for testing toxicity in a system there are systems such as microdosing which can allow for greater accuracy before commencing human clinical trials, because as we know many drugs fail on humans after being successfully used on animals.
      I’d like to point out that we’re not just using rodents here but animals such as dogs…man’s best friend and primates…our closest relative.
      If you can’t see that there is a need for ethics in this situation then that speaks volumes about you and about the work you do.
      Having a small knowledge of science does not give you the right to condone inflicting pain on any other person or animal and particularly if it’s not even good science that you’re practising.
      By the way if it’s so justifiable why is it kept under strict rules of confidentiality? If it’s so worthwhile, let’s get it out in the open so that people know what is happening behind closed lab doors.

    • Helen Marston says:

      11:41am | 25/05/12

      @Keith Hamersmith. I did acknowledge in the article that whilst it can be protective against many common illnesses, being vegan does not make me invincible. However it has helped me enormously in coping with the side effects of chemotherapy. Having discussed the issue with fellow patients I’ve realised how incredibly lucky I’ve been to not have experienced many of the things they have had to endure - nausea, vomiting, mouth ulcers, tingling/numb fingers. I honestly believe that is due to my diet.

    • Nyree Walshe says:

      01:39pm | 25/05/12

      Dear Mark
      one of the main problems I have with testing drug toxicity is just that:
      Toxicity. It seems to be accepted that the use of toxic drugs for human
      medicine is desirable, but I would argue that it is not acceptable.
      The current practice of using microdoses in Human Clinical Trials is
      at least more relevant and more humane but I question that these toxic compounds actually provide useful therapeutic tools. I have worked in cancer hospitals and with oncology patients and I have had friends
      treated with oncology drugs. The effects are not pretty. The only successful recovery I have observed is a friend who took the meditation/vegan diet / lifestyle route and survived . He is now cancer free. The patients I have worked with and the friends who took the other path/s are now dead, I know that we see recovery from early stage
      cancer with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but I wonder if there is not a better way to approach the management of these diseases. It is intellectual poverty to only seek drugs ( the magic herb approach) to effect cures for medical conditions. Modern metaanalyses and clinical
      observation are methods that are providing better information than drug testing. After all the great advances in medical science have been and always will be- observation and data analysis not experimentation
      Nyree, Medical Scientist

    • Liz says:

      01:11pm | 28/05/12

      Danielle, please don’t claim to represent vegans with your pseudoscientific claims - they are unhelpful in that they make vegans look like crazy and will undermine our efforts to promote ethical dietary and lifestyle choices. You do not understand that causes of cancer and, while a healthy diet is important for cancer patients, presenting wheatgrass as a reliable cure will simply give false hope to sick, vulnerable people.

      It is true that several studies suggest that vegan diets may lead to a lower incidence of certain cancers - there seems to be a particularly strong link between colon cancer and red meat consumption in the literature - but it is unhelpful and unnecessary to exaggerate these findings. The bottom line is that it is commonly recognised by dietitians (including the American Dietetics Association in the U.S.) that a well-balanced, carefully-planned vegan diet is just as healthy as a diet which includes animal products. This fact, combined with ethical reasons pertaining to animal sentience and the environment are enough to give us an incredibly strong argument for veganism - we certainly don’t need to incorporate pseudo-scientific confabulations into dialogues about nutrition.

      For anyone who is interested in veganism but doesn’t want to rely on nutritional advice from the minority of vegans who heed unscientific claims, http://www.veganhealth.org (Vegan Health) is a great web-site run by a registered dietician and there are several others like it.

    • LilyT says:

      02:50pm | 28/05/12

      “Suggestions that a vegan lifestyle makes you happier and healthier are a load of crock. It requires numerous supplements to replace nutrients that are missed out on from not eating meat. I had one on a recent holiday…funnily enough she was the one who was always ill and tired.”

      Your assertion that vegans require “numerous supplements” to replace nutrients found in meat is simply not true.  And as for trotting out the tired old, “all vegans are sick and tired” stereotype…really?  For a scientist who supposedly knows all the facts, it not only seriously damages your credibility, it’s stupid and lazy.

    • Julie says:

      08:39pm | 28/05/12

      My goodness me, the arrogance & superiority of the educated scientists have put me in my place before I even say anything. (clearly any comments opposed to experimentation are misguided) Of course ethics, morals & empathy have no place in our progressive world. Humanity needs to evolve & grow but not like that. Thank god there’s only a limited number of you…imagine…..

    • Tara says:

      06:28am | 24/05/12

      It appears that your opinions may be a *little* biased by your ‘healthy vegan lifestyle’ propaganda….
      I’m sorry you have cancer, but animal experimentation always has been, and will remain, essential to medicine until a computer program can predict the unpredictability of human physiology.

    • Tinininikkity says:

      07:30am | 24/05/12

      Not true. Accordingly to the article, “We maintain that medical progress is best made when research is species-specific and not led astray by data extrapolated from a different species.”

      What we need is to start rounding up the unwanted from society (homeless people and such) and experiment on them. This will kill three birds with one stone (stop harming animals, remove the unwanted from society, cure disease).

    • Scotchfinger says:

      09:32am | 24/05/12

      Tinininikkity, you and I think alike. Should we make a trip to the Gold Coast? You can have my well-worn copy of Lateral Thinking by de Bono, but something tells me you have already read it.

    • sciencenotrats says:

      10:59am | 25/05/12

      What animal is predictive for humans Tara? Human cells followed by computer model of the human then microdosing in humans is much more predictive for humans than any animal. Even monkeys are not predictive for humans.

    • Your Opinion says:

      06:50am | 24/05/12

      Yeah no issue killing other humans with drugs that haven’t been determined safe.  Great idea!

    • Mary says:

      08:15am | 24/05/12

      Testing drugs on animals does not mean that they are safe for humans.
      Thalidomide was tested extensively on animals and caused bizarre deformaties in 10.000 babies. Other drugs extensively tested on animals have had similarely disterous consequences.
      Animal testing is totally unsafe for humans because all animals react differently.

    • Al says:

      08:42am | 24/05/12

      Mary - correct, but it also gives us a BETTER chance to identify a drug as potentially toxic.
      Generally testing goes through a number of stages before a product is released for prescription.
      There is animal testing on a number f different species, then testing on human cells (if able to be done) and finally trials on volunteers (I am sure there are other steps in the process as well, but I am NOT a research scientist so I am not aware of all of them) and if it has shown as effective and with few or unlikely adverse side effects will then be approved.
      The other thing is many treatments that are used by a large number of people were originally extracted directly from animals, insulin is a big one, now in Australia we use a genetically modified version of yeast to produce human insulin (although in America they still only allow insulin sourced from pigs or cattle, unless there has been a change I am not aware of) and there are quite a few insulin dependent diabetics who are reliant on this to live.
      Of course these procedures have only been in place for a few decades and like any other industry there are those who fiddle the results/reporting in the name of profit and the testing doesn’t give a 100% accurate result all the time, but it is certainly better than trial and error of untested drugs being tested on humans.

    • imoani says:

      08:58am | 24/05/12

      What do you suggest then Mary? Should we just abandon all attempts to develop new treatments for disease? Even if you could test new drugs directly in humans (which would never be ethically approved) you wouldn’t necessarily be able to predict every side effect that could occur in every single person. Humans, being animals, all respond differently to treatments as well. There really is no way to ensure a drug could be safe for every person on the planet but that doesn’t mean that animal testing is “totally unsafe for humans”. Yes, thalidomide did cause birth defects but not in every single mother who took the drug. You mentioned other drugs tested on animals have caused disastrous consequences - which ones? These ‘disastrous’ examples are in the minority and do not outweigh the benefits, i.e. millions of lives saved, that animal experimentation has given us. Does this mean you refuse any kind of western medical treatment on the grounds that it’s not safe and/or it’s tested on animals?

    • Kika says:

      09:10am | 24/05/12

      Testing on animals does not prove whether or not they will be safe in humans. ONce they pass the animal phase then they get tested on humans anyway.

    • Hank says:

      09:49am | 24/05/12

      Kika
      Is that a fact?  Could you provide some scientific/medical evidence of this please?  Would like to know out of genuine interest.

    • Ando says:

      09:57am | 24/05/12

      Kika,
      So its not useful? Do scientists just get a kick out of hurting animals?

    • Andrew says:

      10:02am | 24/05/12

      Kika, but if it doesnt pass the animal test then it doesnt get tested on humans does it, so therefore it saves human lives.

    • void says:

      10:05am | 24/05/12

      Kika, a simple statement deserves a simple rebuttal: initial testing on animals, at the very least, helps us to determine if the drug being tested will kill the test subject immediately and outright, which, when the victim is human, is something that is generally frowned upon by all modern society.

    • Kika says:

      10:43am | 24/05/12

      AT ALL = Of course it does. Once it passes the animal testing phase it MUST be tested on humans first before it goes to market etc. Haven’t you ever heard of people undergoing clinical trials? They have to trial them first before they can go on sale to everyone else BECAUSE you cannot guarantee the result in a rodent will be the same as a human. 

      Then the study goes into clinical trial where it’s studied on volunteers or people who sign up for the clinical trial (I.e. people with cancer who are willing to particpate in a trial for a new medicine etc)  and more often than not they are either given the medicine or a placebo and the results are tested again.

      Most of the time the point in testing in animals is to see whether they are going to drop dead. If they don’t and there are indications that it may work, then the scientists have a hypothesis ONLY that it will work in humans so then it goes to the clinical trial phase.

      Gosh. Where do you people live> Earth?

    • Ear to the Ground says:

      11:55am | 24/05/12

      Thanks for the link, Kika.  I presume that you read all the way through and read the author’s conclusion:

      “Animals are not perfect. They’re definitely not a perfect mimic of a human, but they’re [still] as close as we’re going to get without using a human.”

      I found the article you linked to be actually quite well written, exploring the issue of the reliability of animal testing results without the holier than thou attitude, and apparent hypocrisy, displayed in Helen’s article.

    • void says:

      11:55am | 24/05/12

      Kika,

      “Most of the time the point in testing in animals is to see whether they are going to drop dead. If they don’t and there are indications that it may work, then the scientists have a hypothesis ONLY that it will work in humans so then it goes to the clinical trial phase.”

      I’m inclined to say “logic-fail”.  If the animal being tested on doesn’t die, then the scientists not only have a proven hypothesis at this stage, but also a lack of dead human who can still make any number of contributions to society on any scale.  However, if said scientists skip the animal testing phase and cut straight to the human testing and the test subject dies, well we have dead person who could have gone on to do any number of things.

      Due to the possibility of any one person having a widespread impact, for better or for worse, on the rest of the world, a human life will always be greater than that of, say, a mouse or a rat, despite what Disney would have you think.

      I’m not a fan of harming animals at all, just a fan of efficiency and progression, and I think most scientists might agree.  So if you can provide a viable alternative means of testing, then please make it known so that the scientific process can be improved for everyone involved (human and animal) without sacrificing the the possibility of developing cures and positive treatments.

    • Kassandra says:

      11:57am | 24/05/12

      What Al said.

      Some of you don’t seem to understand where animal testing comes into drug development. It’s not about whether or not it’s SAFE IN humans but whether or not it’s SAFE TO TEST IN humans. Also, it’s more complicated than you think in the case of drugs causing birth defects like thalidomide.

      Example 1:
      Say a drug company has 3 possible new anti-cancer drugs to test in humans. Drug A kills all the lab animals it’s given to. Drug B kills 1/4 of the lab animals and causes serious health problems in another 1/4. Drug C causes no deaths and no other problems in the lab animals tested. Which drug are you going to test in normal human volunteers first?

      Example 2.
      About 4% of babies born each year have a major birth defect and about another 40% have minor birth defects. We know the cause of these in about 1/3 of cases at most. Babies born to mothers who took thalidomide between 24 and 36 days after conception have about 24% of a major birth defect. Babies born to mothers who took an ACE inhibitor drug (commonly prescribed for hypertension) in the second or third trimester of pregnancy have a similar risk of major birth defect. Animal testing does not prove a drug is safe in pregnancy but it can tell us about some drugs that are or may be unsafe. Remember that the alternative is to test in humans with no preliminary toxicity testing in animals or to have no testing at all.

    • Kika says:

      02:45pm | 24/05/12

      Of course I read it ‘ear to the ground’. And I agree. They haven’t thought of an ethical way to test them. Even my own comment agreed that it some cases it can be argued that medical testing is required. My point on medical testing is ONLY that it shouldn’t be thought of as clear cut evidence that it will work in humans. It’s far from the case. Many people think that animal testing is absolutely crucial in helping us, where actual fact it’s not as clear cut. Animal testing is for a hypothesis that it will work in humans.

      My MAIN gripe with animal testing is for comestics.

    • Kika says:

      02:45pm | 24/05/12

      Of course I read it ‘ear to the ground’. And I agree. They haven’t thought of an ethical way to test them. Even my own comment agreed that it some cases it can be argued that medical testing is required. My point on medical testing is ONLY that it shouldn’t be thought of as clear cut evidence that it will work in humans. It’s far from the case. Many people think that animal testing is absolutely crucial in helping us, where actual fact it’s not as clear cut. Animal testing is for a hypothesis that it will work in humans.

      My MAIN gripe with animal testing is for comestics.

    • Kika says:

      03:00pm | 24/05/12

      VOID - Your logic fails, because you FAIL to understand the point of why they animal test.

      They animal test to test the hypothesis that it’s safe to test in humans! Scientists understand that the physiology between a rat and human is very different. But they won’t get to test their drug if it kills the rat! Therefore only medicine that passes through to clinical phase passes the animal testing phase.

      This means also, that even though the result in the rat may have killed the rat, they will never know whether it was safe in humans.

      For example, if you fed your kitten a plate of onion = dead. You feed yourself onion = fine.

      Same thing for animal testing. The problem is in the past research failed horrendously when tested directly on people. The syphilis experiments in the American south is an example of where the ethics of the testing failed big time and why testing on humans these days is incredibly regulated. And so it should be. But believing animal testing indicates whether it will work in us or not is flawed. Any scientist will agree.

    • void says:

      04:29pm | 24/05/12

      Well, Kika, as I’ve asked before, do you have a better alternative.  You see, not a single person here has provided a viable alternative means of testing without using humans in the first place.

      No, not all things that are lethal to animals are lethal to humans, and vice versa.  However, their physiology and ours are close enough that, if they suffer adverse affects, then it’s likely that we will as well.  But what if one breed of animal suffers an adverse affect but another doesn’t?  Well, that’s why various species are used before the clinical testing phase is reached.

      True, sometimes animal testing doesn’t show any adverse affects but humans do once that stage is reached.  However, the chances of that happening are drastically reduced through animal testing.  The truth of the matter is this: the more testing is done, the less chance of something unexpected occurring, but there will always still be a chance, regardless of how small it is.

      Again, do you have an alternative that works?  Because, so far, it comes down to one of three things:
      - animal testing
      - human testing (if so, where shall we get the test subject from)
      - no further research and development of medical drugs

    • Oscar says:

      06:59am | 24/05/12

      Animals exist for us to use. God gave us dominion over them, so it would be going against God’s wishes not to use animals for experimentation. Hippies who shout about animal rights are doing the work of Satan.

    • acotrel says:

      07:49am | 24/05/12

      There are jobs waiting for you at the abbatoirs in Indonesia.

    • Mary says:

      07:51am | 24/05/12

      The animals with whom we share this planet are fellow sentient beings who have just as much right to lve a natural life as we do

    • Oscar says:

      07:59am | 24/05/12

      The idea of animal sentience is communist nonsense. The final result of ideologies that believe animals have feelings is forced equality between species. Pigs, dogs, rats, ants, etc are not equal to us. We have a right to use them how we want.

    • subotic J. Biafra says:

      08:17am | 24/05/12

      God told me to skin you alive….

    • M says:

      08:20am | 24/05/12

      I do believe that large mammals (dogs, primates, elephants, etc) at least have feelings. Considering we mammals all came from roughly the same biological soup, it’d be stupid to think that animals don’t experience happiness, fear, grief, or some permutation of emotions that we experience.  There’s less of a case to be made in the case of ants as they are more of a hive mind.

      That said, I am a meat eater and I have no issues with eating another animal. I had crab for dinner the other night, but I made sure it had as painless a death as I could give it before it was put in the pot.

    • Homer Simpson says:

      08:36am | 24/05/12

      Oscar

      Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter…

    • Andrew says:

      09:02am | 24/05/12

      You specist!!!

    • Kika says:

      09:13am | 24/05/12

      Not exactly true Oscar. God gave us dominion over the animals, but he didn’t exactly say have free reign over them and do what you like. There are limits imposed. St Paul conveniently dropped them, but Kosher and Halal laws make it clear that the animal deserves a good life and must be killed humanely as they too are part of God’s creation.

    • Hank says:

      09:54am | 24/05/12

      Sorry Kika I didnt realise cutting an animals throat while it is alive is humane?  I thought a bolt travelling at high velocity through the brain casuing instant death is much more civil.

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      10:13am | 24/05/12

      +1 Subotic for the Dead Kennedys reference

    • Hank says:

      11:01am | 24/05/12

      Wayne Kerr
      Nice pick up.  That wouldnt be a line at the start of one of their songs from the albulm Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables by any chance?

    • Kika says:

      11:11am | 24/05/12

      Hank - Kosher and Halal is primarily for smaller animals like sheep and goats and those type of animals which would have been primarily used by the Israelites and Ancient Arabs rather than cattle. I didn’t say that halal and kosher in PRACTICE is safer. I merely used the fact that there were laws about it stipulating that the animal must be treated well counters Oscar’s argument about having outright dominion over them.

      And besides, if done correctly, the animal should pass out quickly before they even realise what’s happening. The laws go much deeper than just the slaughter. The animal must be separated from the other animals to make sure the other animals do not stress and the process must be as quick and painless as possble. Of course in practice this is often not the case. But I was talking about the laws about it because Oscar brought the subject up.

    • M says:

      11:14am | 24/05/12

      There is no requirement in the Qu’ran to slit an animals throat. Halal has been misinterpreted from it’s original meaning, which was that the act of thanking Allah for the meal made it Halal, and thus, safe to eat.

      Halal butchers are the most brilliant marketing excercise in a while.

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      11:42am | 24/05/12

      Hank, not sure of the album but it’s the opening line from “I Kill Children”

      cheers

    • Tedd says:

      07:00am | 24/05/12

      There is a degree of misrepresentation thoughout this article -

      the biopsy was of tissue you were deciding whether you really wanted in your body, wasn’t it Helen? Tissue that was eventually excised.

      Medical experimentation, of which animal experimentation has been and is a part,  is an exercise in trial and tribulation, often with negative “findings” - those negative findings add up to a body of information that can tell us what not to use for trying to treat cancer. So, those 1960s drugs have been deemed to be safer than the millions of chemicals tested since the 1960s.

      Fanatics can do a disservice to real service.

    • Joan says:

      07:20am | 24/05/12

      In future just tell the Doctors to use techniques and drugs never trialled before-.  I met a cornball the other day who said generic medications kill, brand name equivalents don’t. You sound like one of them Your precious, and holier than though attitude to life relefected in your in writing describes a level of daily anxiety - anxiety about eating the right thing , having the `healthy life` whatever that is -  a level of daily anxiety that is detrimental to good health .

    • imoani says:

      07:26am | 24/05/12

      Wow Helen, I don’t even know where to start. I am a medical research scientist and am completely insulted by your false assumptions that animal research has never led to any kind of positive outcome in regards to treating cancer - a multifactorial disease that we are still trying to understand. Animal experiments help us to unravel the mechanisms underlying cancer and many other complex diseases due to the fact that humans share many genetic and biochemical processes with other animals. Do you think we would have a HPV vaccine if it wasn’t for extensive testing in animal models? If animal experimentation was abolished, who would become your species-specific test subjects? Would you volunteer your kids to test out a new drug? Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get human ethics approval for a research project? Ugh, this is one of the most ignorant articles I’ve ever read on this website.

    • Kika says:

      09:33am | 24/05/12

      Granted, a LOT of Vegans are fantatical about it. But I look at it this way. Shouldn’t the argument be that whilst animal testing helps us understand the possibility of similar results in humans, it’s only a hypothesis. Therefore testing on animals isn’t to prove whether it’s safe, but is to prove a hypothesis. Right? So thousands of animals around the world suffer to test hypotheses.

      Now when it comes to COSMETIC animal testing do you still agree that it’s as ethical to test products and chemicals on animals just to test possible reactions in humans? If the fact they need to be tested doesn’t that indicate that the companies are not certain that they are safe?

    • imoani says:

      10:18am | 24/05/12

      Kika, I am strongly opposed to testing on animals for cosmetic purposes. That’s an entirely different issue. I support animal experimentation for the purpose of developing new treatments to save lives. You mention that scientists develop and test hypotheses; these hypotheses are not whimsical. We can’t just go around inoculating animals with random drugs; gaining approval from an ethics committee to conduct research on animals can be a difficult process and requires solid preliminary data, e.g. showing the efficacy of a compound to have a positive benefit in a particular cell model of disease. You need to provide strong justification and evidence to progress from a cell to an animal model. Animal ethics committees can be very tough, as they should be to limit the suffering of experimental animals. Like it or not, this is how medical breakthroughs are made.

    • Jan says:

      11:09am | 24/05/12

      The fact that our society doesn’t allow testing on anencephalic infants (which are usually unconscious and incapable of feeling pain) and that a lot of people are hung up about the ethics of using human stem cells YET people generally have few qualms about testing on sentient animals who are capable of feeling pain, fear etc demonstrates something very worrying about our society.

      What if people were given the opportunity to volunteer to test drugs? - if I was diagnosed with a terminal illness or was simply dying of old age, I would be prepared to offer up my living body for pharmacological testing in the last phase of my life (I have already volunteered for some psychological trials etc which are of course not life-threatening in nature), and I’m sure many other people would be prepared to voluntarily make this sacrifice on behalf of humanity. So many medical procedures and drugs have been discovered when doctors have run out of options and decide to try something new in a patient who is otherwise sure to die - e.g. advances in heart surgery based on trials on dying soldiers, certain psychiatric drugs. Perhaps we could increase efficiency by using a smaller number of human volunteers, rather than experimenting on and killing multiple kinds of animals in order to try and guess how well it applies to humans.

    • Kika says:

      11:14am | 24/05/12

      I agree with you. But the argument that all animal testing is for our own good is not as solid as some people think it is. There are perfectly good grounds to do it, but the results are not as clear cut nor dependable as some lay people think they are.

    • Kika says:

      11:47am | 24/05/12

      Hey Jan - I think they already do allow patients to volunteer to participate in clinical trials for things. And I think some labs even pay uni students to trial certain medicines to see whether they drop dead. I know my friend was in the UK and was doing clinical trials to earn a few pounds while living over there.

      You are completely right. The problem is I don’t think we could breed enough anencephalic infants to keep up the rate of the rodent births and besides, people will get up in arms about the ethics about it - the ethics bone turned around the wrong way. More compassion for an invalid who has no life of their own anyway, yet is more than happy to inflict pain and suffering on an innocent animal who was created in the same right as we were.

    • Kassandra says:

      01:57pm | 24/05/12

      @ Jan
      What “psychiatric drugs” were discovered by “trying something new in a patient who was otherwise sure to die”?? I think you made this up.

    • iansand says:

      02:14pm | 24/05/12

      A few years ago a friend of mine was trialling some experimental medication for lung cancer.  It didn’t work, but what a joy it would have been if it had.

    • thatmosis says:

      07:30am | 24/05/12

      This takes the cake, what a moron, we have dedicated scientists trying to cure the ills of the world and they do use animals for their experiments to save us. What are they supposed to do, get prisoners or the mentally ill and experiment on them to save others lives. get a grip on reality lady, the drugs and treatment that you will be given after your vegan remedy falls short will be the result of these experiments but then again if you truly believe its cruel don’t take them. You either stick to your principles or shut up.
        Just sit back and have a look at all the “miracle” cures that have been found using these methods and the people who have been saved because of these methods. What you are actually saying is that people should just die instead of relying on cures that have taken years, even decades to find just to suit your misguided sense of fairness. Tell that to the thousands, no millions who’s lives have been saved because of the experimentation on animals that made their continuing lives possible.

    • Melanie says:

      08:51am | 24/05/12

      What a thoroughly rude person you are Thatmosis! And what are the “miracle cures” discovered from animal rearch?

    • Michael says:

      10:43am | 24/05/12

      Melanie.


      Many treatments have been developed from animals. Try insulin for diabetics for one.

    • neccassary evil says:

      10:59am | 24/05/12

      Operations on animals helped to develop organ transplant and open-heart surgery techniques
      Antibiotics, HIV drugs, insulin and cancer treatment
      Animal testing has helped to develop vaccines against diseases like rabies, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and TB id suggest you learn to google

    • Bael says:

      11:05am | 24/05/12

      @Melanie,
      Strong Anti biotics which saved my life after surgery were first tested on animals.
      Without those drugs they would of had to cut off my leg just below the hip and even then may not of saved my life.
      The anti biotics were so strong they nearly killed me and if a dozen bunnies had to die so I can hug my daughter at night then so be it.
      If they replacement drugs to anti biotics need to be discovered after a million dead bunnies then so be it.
      It makes me sad but I value human life more than any other animal.
      Being a moral person means dealing with hard choices and the benifits and costs that flow form them.

    • thatmosis says:

      12:40pm | 24/05/12

      At least I have a mind Melanie and can see the benefits of animal testing. Just off the top of my head, you know that thing most people use to think, there’s rabies, tubercolosis, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, HIV drugs and antibiotics. The list is long and varied but I don’t want to tax your limited brain space by putting to many answers up. Oh and there’s these diphtheria, scarlet fever,  diabetes, appendicitis and several types of cancer.
      Now who’s a silly girl then. As for being rude, I haven’t started yet but then its a waste of time trying to have a rational conversation with someone who can not see the forest for the trees.

    • M says:

      07:31am | 24/05/12

      I’m sorry, but this article smacks of holier than thou.

    • subotic's with stoopid says:

      08:19am | 24/05/12

      Gee M, I’d have said stupidity.

      And I wouldn’t have been sorry about it, either…

    • MarkS says:

      08:21am | 24/05/12

      “Post surgery, and after many days and nights considering my choices, I eventually elected to proceed with the conventional course of treatment.”

      So when push came to shove & it was her life on the line she invented a reason to use the drugs that came from experiments on animals.
      Hypocrite art thou name.

    • nihonin says:

      08:51am | 24/05/12

      You horrible horrible people, good thing no one ‘loves’ like the left hahahaha

      Of course she’d choose to go with the drugs, lefties only go to the left so far, right up till it puts them in the firing line.

    • Hank says:

      09:59am | 24/05/12

      Agree.  I’m amazed this even got allowed on the punch.  I dont even know where to start…

    • Greed&Envy; says:

      10:39am | 24/05/12

      Well said MarkS.

    • Nyree Walshe says:

      02:17pm | 26/05/12

      There is so much animal experimentation and so much of it is
      inconclusive, that direct benefits are hard to identify.
      I feel that the investment in animal experiments is emotional rather than scientific . Why is this, I wonder?
      Given the ethical problems associated with the practice and the
      dubious results of the work, it is interesting that it still continues and continues to be so defended
      Nyree

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      07:33am | 24/05/12

      What you are saying based on your current tragic health situation, personal research, your experience with animal welfare groups and possibly the Vegan life philosophy is that all the monies I have donated over the last 40 years, be it by the tax dollar or private donation, relevant to breast cancer medicines has been wasted.  You are promoting the idea that in that time there has been no progress, no life has been saved or extended due to animal experimentation for medical research. 

      I find this hard to believe and still place the animal experimentation for medical research issue into the “necessary evil” category, until further notice.

    • Melanie says:

      08:40am | 24/05/12

      Far from being a “necessary evil ” animal research is simply retarding, safe, scientifically based non animal research.

    • Dan says:

      12:19pm | 24/05/12

      Melanie, it’s unfair to say that “animal research is simply retarding, safe, scientifically based non animal research”, as the the types of research being done would most likely be completely different and done for completely different reasons.

    • gobsmack says:

      07:34am | 24/05/12

      You owe it to the animals who died so that you could get the treatment.  Otherwise, their sacrifice was in vain.

    • adam says:

      08:08am | 24/05/12

      The animals used for testing treatments are generally bred for that specific purpose. Techs don’t go around collecting “free range” mice and rats.

    • L. says:

      08:27am | 24/05/12

      “Techs don’t go around collecting “free range” mice and rats.”

      But they taste better, if a little more expensive!

    • Old Voter says:

      08:12am | 24/05/12

      Money Money Money Honey. I can’t say anything about breast cancer being a man my breast is as useless as tits on a bull. But I can say that my arms ,face, ears and legs have been subjected to creams, freezing and the knife for the past 30 years. The TGA in Australia has put an absolute ban on a substance known in the Herbal Chemistry Industry as BLACK SALVE which I can vouch for as a substance that does get rid of skin cancers . If you can stand all of the Gory testimonies just type BLACK SALVE into Google or ONE ANSWER TO CANCER which is a DVD giving you more Gory testimonials about the benefits of BLACK SALVE. I am telling you about this because I have had a skin cancer on my leg over the top of a varicose vein that would have required major surgery but black salve has removed it.

    • Smahmellows says:

      10:43am | 24/05/12

      What a load of mis-informed gibberish.  Black Salve is not “natural” it is laced with a very caustic substance - zinc chloride.  I have seen plenty of skin cancers “cured” with black slave that weren’t cured at all.  Just big scars and lots of residual cancer sometimes with neural infltration (get the black salve onto that!).  Then of course there are the patients happily applying it to their self diagnosed “skin cancer (as if there is only one type)” which in fact is a malignant melanoma - not a good outcome.  Why is it that those with no understaning of pathology/anatomy/physiology/pharmacology feel qualified to make such ridiculous claims.  Would an unqualified person head up to th e front of the plane and tell th epilot to bugger off because they recon the know better?  Ludicrous!

    • Tel says:

      08:16am | 24/05/12

      Cure you FROM cancer? What language do they speak on Vegan anyhow?

    • adam says:

      08:29am | 24/05/12

      deliver us of evil

      or grammer

    • Bob the builder says:

      08:19am | 24/05/12

      I have owned part of a biotech company i can say helen is right, mice arent good proxies for people, people are better, i wonder if helen is proposing to start experiments on people to develop new drugs. I wonder, will she go first i think not. This is as loony as the no vaccine people.

    • Kika says:

      10:06am | 24/05/12

      But Bob… it’s exactly what happens after they’ve tested their hypothesis that the medicine or chemical is safe. They then HAVE to test on humans. Every medicine is tested on volunteers first before they can conclusively say whether it’s safe or not for humans. For example. Ever heard of people undergoing medical trials on certain vaccines or medicines that are supposed to do this that or the other? People with breast cancer trialling certain medicines to see whether or not they work.  They already do test them on humans.

    • Bael says:

      11:12am | 24/05/12

      @Kika,
      You must know very well that by the time the compound has gone to human testing it has been screened via animals.
      Otherwise we would have human trials for medicines in which we test system toxicity on humans first up.
      The death rate in human trails would be massive.
      You are either ignorant or deliberately being misleading.

    • Dan says:

      12:08pm | 24/05/12

      @ Beal

      No one hoping to hold their footing in a debate here can possibly be that ignorant.

    • fml says:

      01:30pm | 24/05/12

      Mice don’t sue due to the negligence of using an untested chemical compound on a living organism.

      As an owner of a biotech company you would know that wouldn’t be good business.

    • Kika says:

      02:42pm | 24/05/12

      BAEL - Even scientists realise that toxicity in animals does not mean toxicity in humans - BUT because of the past experiments in using humans themselves as the ‘guinea pigs’ they would never think of putting it past the animal testing stage. Of course. They haven’t throught of a better way yet, other than growing human organs on the poor things.

    • subotic Baker-Eddie says:

      08:21am | 24/05/12

      Is this some kind of “beat up” for the Christian Science movement?

    • Al says:

      08:24am | 24/05/12

      Here is a sugestion.
      If you don’t like animal testing of proposed treatments how about you offer up your own body so the ‘species specific’ research can be done on the overall effects on a human of the drugs/treatments.
      No, then what is the alternative to trying to identify possible leathal treatments before humans sacrifice their lives on untested treatments?
      How about also testing of non-treatment based things such as exposure to pestecides, the leathality of toxins etc?
      If you offer a viable alternative people may listen, untill you do it is just a pointless exercise in futility.
      It is based on the assumption that a human life is more valuable than that of the animal it is being tested on. Whether you agree with this or not is irrelevant unless you have a viable alternative testing model to offer.
      BTW: Is the author a supporter of PETA?

    • TChong says:

      08:35am | 24/05/12

      Most Punchers , as true reps of Oz seem to have no probs with our omnivorous diets, the cows and chooks are there for a purpose seems to be common consensus.
      But where is the line ?
      Why not kitty kebabs , or chimp and chips. ?
      ie if we breed up , and utilise one species, why not another ?
      Chimpanzees, orangutans , or orange bellied parrots wouldnt be doing it tuff if they could be factory farmed, just like chickens or minks ( Gorky Park fans ? )
      So , other than for health reasons, why some animals, and not others ?

    • Al says:

      09:01am | 24/05/12

      Mainly it’s due to market availability and historical prejudice against eating certain animals in a particular country (as an example in some countries people eat guineapigs, but I haven’t seen them marketed in Australia).
      There is no real reason that we can’t consume chimpanzees, orangutans , or orange bellied parrots (or even mice).

    • M says:

      09:07am | 24/05/12

      Familiarity breeds contempt.

    • Mmmm says:

      09:09am | 24/05/12

      Taste.

    • Kika says:

      09:39am | 24/05/12

      Good point TChong. So meat eaters DO discriminate against what THEY eat and what they don’t eat. Yet they can’t apply the same logic to those who extend that ethical framework into not eating ALL meat.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      09:51am | 24/05/12

      the Chinese eat anything that walks, swims, crawls or flies. Usually without killing it first, as this affects the taste. Don’t believe me, browse through Youtube and let the nightmares begin.

    • Ando says:

      10:17am | 24/05/12

      Kika,
      If a preference for good tasting easy to manage livestock is discrimination I suppose they do.

    • nihonin says:

      10:35am | 24/05/12

      If it’s dead I’ll eat it, if its not….........I’ll kill it.  I always did like that saying.

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      10:45am | 24/05/12

      TC
      Obviously the reason we (the royal we) eat what we do is because of availability, price and culture.  Our limited diet (specific types of meat, grains and vegetables) is a modern phenomenon that was a result of the development of farming and herding and all that lot.  As hunter/gatherers we where out there eating anything that did not poison us, meaning a much more varied diet.  Bill Bryson’s books are a good read about all this type of thing.

      If modern man does not come to grips with the world population issue and its exponential increase in numbers we will probably be eating each other anyway and not worrying one little bit about being a vegan, animal cruelty or about any other politics than of survival.

    • Kika says:

      10:52am | 24/05/12

      Not necessarily Ando. Just because what you see as food doesn’t mean that it’s just because it’s easy to manage. The Inca and their descendants in the Andes keep stocks of guinea pigs for food. Certain asian countries breed and keep certain types of dogs purely for their meat.  Apparently dog meat is very tasty. Ask Subotic. He knows. I prefer placenta.  Kidding. But some people eat placenta. Is that a food stuff for you? Would you eat placenta?

    • Kika says:

      11:34am | 24/05/12

      Actually gratuitous adviser = Vegetarian food is actually better for world population as it takes less energy to grow and process, less land cultivation and provides just as much protein as meat does. The majority of Indians are vegetarians and they seem to be able to cram a lot of people in a small amount of space. There’s no way they could do that if they had widescale livestock on the same scale say as America.

      Yes yes poverty. But a caste system and no welfare adds to that.

    • AdamC says:

      11:45am | 24/05/12

      Kika, 42.5% of Indian children are stunted due to malnourishment. While it would be simplistic to put that statistic down to widespread vegetarianism, it does seem like a good argumenr for a spot of sacred cow curry!

    • Kika says:

      02:36pm | 24/05/12

      Yes and the fact that they are poor has nothing to do with that.
      Are you saying Vegetarian children are malnutritioned? Ha. So even rich Indians, Hindus, Buddhists etc are ALL mulnutritioned? So the Dalai Lama who has been vegetarian since birth grew up with stunted growth? My husband is hindu and grew up eating vegetarian food 80% of the time is 5’9 and 81kgs and built like an Ox because he was a Vegetarian.

      Yes because everything vegetarian is malnutritioned. Like Elephants and Rhinos. Poor little things.

    • M says:

      03:40pm | 24/05/12

      Scraping the bottom of the barrell there Kika, elephants and rhinos don’t have the option to eat meat like we do.

    • fml says:

      08:50am | 24/05/12

      Helen,

      Questions.

      If there was a venomous spider on your child would you kill it?

      Have you ever used Insect spray before?

      Have you stepped on an ant and not given it a burial?

      Are you sure all your foods are organic and does not involve the use of pesticides?

      Would you choose the right to life of an finite number of mice over discovering the cure for cancer and subsequently the lives of an infinite number of humans?

      Would you rather eat a hamburger or go back in time and assassinate Hitler?

      Are your children vegans? Did you breastfeed them when younger? If so, is it morally acceptable to eat cheese made from a consenting human female?

      Why is it ok to kill a plant for consumption? do plants have feelings? Is it ok to kill something that doesn’t feel?

      Thank you for your time

    • Kika says:

      09:09am | 24/05/12

      Get a grip FML. No one in the right mind would do most of those things or agree with those things. There’s an ethical argument in everything. But by insulting all people who choose to avoid products tested on animals or containing animal products just shows how arrogant and ignorant you are.

    • Kika says:

      09:09am | 24/05/12

      Yeah and plants have brains. Didn’t you know that? So they have a brain stem and a nervous system so they feel pain.

    • Hank says:

      10:03am | 24/05/12

      Oh I dont know Kika.  I think some of these are quite good questions.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      10:36am | 24/05/12

      fml, a bit scattershot. Some on target, some going nowhere. What are you wittering on about breastfeeding and cheese? Just weird.

    • Kika says:

      10:47am | 24/05/12

      @Hank - Yeah and so is this. Would you eat a human baby? Drink rat milk? Why not? Why do you drink cow’s milk? Cow’s milk is for calves so what’s wrong with drinking rat milk? If you were dying on a deserted island and the only other person around was your Mum would you choose to BBQ her up or find a coconut?

    • fml says:

      10:55am | 24/05/12

      Kika,

      Wasn’t insulting anyone, was just asking questions to understand.

      Scotchfinger,

      Yer, I purposely just put some idiotic questions in their to see whether people would just deride me (Kika) or do what someone with conviction in their beliefs would do (ignore the silly questions and answer the ones which mean most to them).

      Yep the breast feeding one is kinda weird, I guess i was wondering why vegans who do not eat animal products such as diary? Would it be because the animal cannot give consent? I mean the animal isn’t being hurt in anyway. So would that mean drinking the milk from a consenting human adult would be ok???

      Of course people can just drink artificial milk, that would be the clever answer.

    • Kika says:

      11:02am | 24/05/12

      Scotchfinger - What’s so weird about making cheese from human breastmilk? Cow’s milk is designed to rear and grow an infant BOVINE. Human milk = Humans. It’s perfectly logical to make cheese from human milk. I don’t know how many women would want to volunteer to provide this much milk - but I suppose with the right breeding you could end up with women being able to provide 4L of milk a day… you could viably make some cheese because a baby doesn’t need that much milk.

    • AdamC says:

      11:06am | 24/05/12

      Yeah, fml, animal rights extremists mystify me as well. (I mean, shouldn’t they refuse antibiotics as well?) This article would actually have been quite interesting had it been written by someone able to depart from their agenda for a paragraph or two.

    • Kika says:

      11:12am | 24/05/12

      Who’s deriding who FML? You are the best at smashing everyone else but can’t take a single one back. Weak.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      11:29am | 24/05/12

      Kika and fml,

      Call me culturally straight-jacketed, but the day I see cheese or yoghurt made from women on the shelves of my local IGA is the day I build myself a hermit hut out in the wilderness. I have as fine an appreciation of boobs as the next man, but as we all agreed the other week re article on that blonde hottie and her creepy toddler, let’s draw some boundaries people.

    • fml says:

      11:40am | 24/05/12

      AdamC,

      Agreed. I mean you know me, I’d argue for some of the most stupidly PC Ideas. But even I think these nutters are more interested in self promotion rather any ideological moralities.

    • Kika says:

      11:51am | 24/05/12

      Scotchfinger - Drawing boundaries? Well I never! Wow because that’s exactly how a Vegan decides on whether or not the food they eat or not sits with their ethical foundation.

    • fml says:

      12:23pm | 24/05/12

      Kika,

      I didn’t say stop… wink

    • Pete says:

      08:55am | 24/05/12

      Very interesting read. I really respect Helen’s position. As for the some of the supposed scientists and researchers who have posted so far - I understand that they feel threatened when the basis of their career and income is questioned. What I find staggering is the insensitive belittling of a vulnerable human being in some of these posts and this may be some indication of the callous approach they would take towards the vulnerable non-human subjects of their research closed doors - but the public will never know. And those attacking her diet? It seems there is a lot of hate out there - that’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Thanks for the article - it seems to have hit a (very defensive) raw nerve among the research community.

    • Blue Light says:

      11:04am | 24/05/12

      100% agree with you Pete, nicely put. Helen, I’m so sorry that you are going through such a horrible time and sorry that so many people are being judgemental and aggressive towards you here on this site. Not all of us are that insensitive. Best of luck with your treatment and hope it all goes well for you.

    • Sharon says:

      04:51pm | 24/05/12

      Agree Pete, well said.

      If you check on the Humane Research website http://www.humaneresearch.org.au/  you will find information on the alternatives out there to animal testing. More and more progressive compassionate researchers are also investigating and utilising humane alternatives and this is the path that must be supported by any civilised society that wishes to reduce the suffering it inflicts on sentient creatures. 

      A couple of thought provoking quotes on this topic:

      “I had bought two male chimps from a primate colony in Holland.  They lived next to each other in separate cages for several months before I used one as a [heart] donor.  When we put him to sleep in his cage in preparation for the operation, he chattered and cried incessantly.  We attached no significance to this, but it must have made a great impression on his companion, for when we removed the body to the operating room, the other chimp wept bitterly and was inconsolable for days.  The incident made a deep impression on me.  I vowed never again to experiment with such sensitive creatures.”  ~Christian Barnard, surgeon.

      “Vivisection is a social evil because if it advances human knowledge, it does so at the expense of human character”.  ~George Bernard Shaw

      Helen is right to say that we must be putting significantly more effort and funding toward more humane and accurate alternatives. This is the only way forward.

      My thoughts and best wishes to you Helen.

    • Kerryn says:

      07:47pm | 24/05/12

      Finally some sense and respect. I can’t believe the disgraceful attitudes of people who seem to consider themselves experts (seemingly in everything!). What a poor dispaly of humanity. Pete well done for pointing out the obvious and promoting common sense. At the end of the day, no matter what your beliefs, to attack a person who is merely trying to promote compassion and kindness, shows nothing but arrogance and ignorance. Please show some maturity.

    • Lily T says:

      02:25pm | 28/05/12

      Very well said Pete.  The lack of compassion and morality displayed by the pro-animal testing people here is disturbing.  Why DO these people get so uptight when people promote kindness and respect for animals?  I just don’t get it.

    • Bob Stewart, the Elder says:

      08:57am | 24/05/12

      I have long time prostate cancer that is credited with being the source of malignant lumps removed in limbs, now suspect in a difficulty to swallow so bad that meat is out while everything else is put through the vitamiser as a puree.  Next August is a date set for another injectable dye to check the spread and in the meantime, thoughts of my future invade my quiet moments.

      One might say that at 82 and living alone these past 10 years I should not be expecting more than I am capable of, but the human spirit is not like that.

      The human spirit expects more and in my case the body has to follow while I still have the means and motivation to make that 5 sided jewel chest with the cut glass knob in the lid and the lady bug for my great granddaughter. the one that has the feelers that go from side to side,( not her Dear Reader, the ladybug,)and the eyes on the ends of the wire that wobble as the toy is pulled along.

      As the Golden ash in the front garden, fraxinus aureus, is losing its leaves It exposes the tips of branches that I will use for grafting about August and I must finish the large bow top chest in the workshop now that I’ve found the way to cut the ribs for the lid on the bandsaw so that they are equal, all 10 of them.

      But old age does not last very long. and so I have no time to waste.

    • TChong says:

      09:34am | 24/05/12

      bob
      after reading the usual trash that gets posted,‘by tje usual suspects,  (myself included), i can only feel embarrassed for many of us, after reading this post.
      No doubt you are a deservedly well loved father, grandfather, greatgrandfather, and much, much more besides.Your family is very fortunate.
      I’m sure she’ll love it.
      Your approach to life makes it seem unlikely that either St Peter, or The Devil, are going to be collecting their dues , for a long while yet.

    • Bob Stewart, the Elder says:

      12:05pm | 24/05/12

      @TChong is very kind. After being damaged a bit during the Korean war, and later few tantalum screws to lock L3 and L4 together and a few years ago a stent in the abdominal artery to hold that together, it is probably later than I think it is.

      Therefore there’s not a moment to lose..

    • Fairsnotfair says:

      09:00am | 24/05/12

      Why did you think it was so unfair that you had what a good percentage of people in society also suffer?

      Ah yes, you are supposedly pure by being vegan. No, sorry honey, that just means you are selfish and self-centred.

      There’s an old saying… You can’t fix stoopid…...

    • Kika says:

      09:28am | 24/05/12

      How is being Vegan selfish and self centered? Just because they don’t agree with things you do? O

    • M says:

      03:42pm | 24/05/12

      Not self centred, self righteous.

    • Bob Brown (not that one) says:

      09:05am | 24/05/12

      I have the great fortune to be able to speak from experience about animal testing/experimentation. In a third year Anatomy unit (I wasn’t doing medicine but was able to do this unit) I got to do a bit of it.

      The unit was Mammalian Neuroanatomy. Mammals, contrary to the writers assertions, do actually share many anatomical features (and presumably others) with human mammals.

      The exercise involved injecting a Brown Rat’s vitrous humour with horseradish peroxidase. Then waiting a week or two to allow the enzyme to travel along the optic nerve and into the visual cortex. We (I had a partner) then anesthetized the rat, opened it’s chest cavity, and identified the heart. I injected a reagent (I can’t remember what, it was a long time ago now) into the heart. After a while the rat was injected with saline into the heart which “sacrificed”  it.

      The head was removed and the brain exposed and removed. We then froze this and sectioned the visual cortex using a microtome and mounted the sections on slide. (I’m not sure if we then stained the sections or not, it was a long time ago) The mounted sections were then examined for traces of HRP. That was fairly gory, especially getting the brain out.

      Why?

      Because this is a similar sort of thing many people have to do to humans. And I can assure you no amount of computer/virtual training can prepare you for it.

    • Cancer Survivor says:

      09:06am | 24/05/12

      How trite and condescending.

      Wow. I am astonished at the lack of real research in your article, and others have articulated about that more eloquently than I can, however, your last statement “takes the cake”.
      As a double breast cancer and ovarian cancer survivor, who is an omnivore, with a normal sedentary lifestyle - I also had health professionals who were amazed at how well I coped with my treatment…. I just didnt tell everyone how good I thought I was.

      As I was lying on the hospital bed having my biopsy, I was thinking, amongst a million other things about family and hope of negative results - that I was glad I lived now in the age of more advanced medical treatment -  and that I had more choice in my treatment - and that scientists, researchers and medical professionals had made so many breakthroughs that I could have a real chance of survival.

    • SP says:

      09:12am | 24/05/12

      Your article shows that you don’t understand research. Animal testing is NOT to show that a drug or device is effective. Ultimately its to show whether. It’s safe I’d not. A microdose of an untested drug can lead a human patient to drop dead (neurotoxins are deadly at very low doses). That risk is ethically unacceptable.

    • Paul says:

      09:15am | 24/05/12

      This is an excellent article. If research on animals cured cancer people wouldn’t still be dying of cancer. All the best to you Helen.Thanks for putting this out there -despite knowing that you would be “attacked” by a multitude of rude, ignorant, uncompassionate individulas.

    • iansand says:

      09:41am | 24/05/12

      The number of people dying of cancer is declining, as new and better treatments are discovered for various cancers.  Those treatments are tested on animals.

      Eventually someone, somewhere will discover a “magic bullet” that attacks the genetic basis of all cancers - the mutation that allows a cancer to grow uncontrollably.  That magic bullet will be tested on animals.  For all I know, it is being tested now.

    • Maria says:

      09:56am | 24/05/12

      I find it very upsetting how nasty some of the comments are about a kind and caring person going through a difficult time.

    • Kika says:

      09:23am | 24/05/12

      I choose to avoid products tested on animals where and when I can. Why? Because it’s unnecessary. If they are squirting chemicals and things in rabbits eyes to see what it will do to you indicates to me that there’s something that they are unsure of in that product so they will test it to see whether it’s likely to hurt us.

      My ethic bone tells me that it’s wrong to keep a colony of monkeys just to test cosmetics on. No, they aren’t making them look pretty (even though that’s they way they should be! grin But inflicting pain and suffering on these poor creatures lives just so we can buy Loreal or Garnier.

      Why would you want to buy something like that? I buy Vegan products now - Shampoo, Conditioner, Soaps, toiletries, cleaning products etc because I know they are safe to use. It’s all basic natural ingredients which won’t cause a reaction (usually). They work for me. My hair has never been better.

      As for medical experiments… the jury is out for me. They’ve been curing cancers in labs testing rats and mice for years and getting results yet getting the same results in humans is hard to come by.

      There’s no doubt that more science is showing that plant based diets (not necessarily Vegan or Vegetarian, but diets that primarily use fruits, vegetables and wholegrains as a primary food source) is healthier, likely to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and reduce your cancer risks for a whole range of different illnesses. Relying solely on meat for every meal is a bad choice. The West is stuck in this thinking that protein only comes from meat and the third world needs more meat to survive. Meat production requires far more investment in land, money, resources, transportation, processing than the production of vegetarian sources of food.

      Anyway, I’m not going to preach. I’m just saying that I can understand how some meat eaters get affronted by Vegans and assume as a whole that they are mad. But it’s not entirely as mad as you think.

      Read Jonathon Safran Foer’s book - Eating Animals. It’s a good read.

    • subotic says:

      10:15am | 24/05/12

      Eating Animals. It’s a good read.

      Eating animals. It’s a great taste too.

      Nothing like a some Pangasinan “home cooked” puppy and a few shots of San Miguel Beer with your mates whilst watching the sun set over Luzon.

      Perfect.

    • bev says:

      09:30am | 24/05/12

      Helen THANKS for your honest article about the experiences you are currently having and thank you for sharing the ideas, thoughts & beliefs you have been exploring around this. I am at a loss to explain why many of the responses you have received are so hateful, nasty, defensive, and non compassionate to both you and animals, for one can choose to disagree in a civil manner if they want to….I guess the human race is still developing.
      I hope one day it will truly know what compassion for all is. Stay strong and good luck. Bev

    • iansand says:

      09:31am | 24/05/12

      What concerns me is that Ms Marston is completely ignoring the rights of the cancer cells she has wantonly slaughtered by having them removed from her body.  Cancer cells have rights too, you know.

    • Man or mouse? says:

      09:42am | 24/05/12

      wow, this article has really hit a nerve with all the people out there that have a vested interest in continuing animal research. they call themselves scientists, but science is the unbiased pursuit of truth - hardly possible with falsified ‘models’ of the species they propose to be studying and a strong financial incentive to shun alternatives.

      Undeniably, there are similarities between humans and animals. But it’s the differences that count. Thalidomide toxicity testing was undertaken on fifteen different species, yet it still couldn’t predict the teratogenic effects produced in humans. Aspirin prevents blood clotting in humans but causes birth defects in mice. Morphine sedates humans but stimulates cats. I could go on…it all comes back to species DIFFERENCE.

      As a model, animal experiments are not predictive of human physiology and the data cannot be extrapolated to humans. It is fundamentally flawed science. There are currently many alternatives available such as computer modelling, microfluidic chips, autopsy, human tissues, and micro dosing. When used in conjunction these techniques would give us a much better indication of how a substance would be metabolised in the human body. It would also prevent years and billions of dollars being wasted when drugs fail at the clinical trial stage of development.

      But whether alternatives currently exist or not does not change the fact that experimenting on animals does nothing for humans, and it does not mean we should continue to adopt this line of enquiry simply because it’s all we have. If we redirected all the money currently going into animal research into developing alternative scientific methods, humans would be much better off. Stop selling the propaganda that “we can’t cure you unless we experiment on a mouse first”.

      We also have an obligation to protect animals, or at least not to harm them. There is a very important ethical discussion to have here, but you all seem so devoid of morals that I’m sure it will fall on deaf ears, so i will save myself the time. The scientific argument speaks for itself.

      Thank you helen for sharing your story, and for opening up the doors to the lab so people can see what a futile waste of animal lives, and as a result human lives, our system is responsible for. Man or mouse, we all deserve better. Best of luck with your treatment.

    • aycee says:

      10:50am | 24/05/12

      I think she thought about “alternative scientific methods”, but eventually went with tried and tested orthodox treatments.
      Must have been a real ethical dilemma.  Never ceases to amaze me, so passionate about alternative lifestyle and treatments, but when push comes to shove, always sides with the experts.

    • Ear to the Ground says:

      11:40am | 24/05/12

      “Thalidomide toxicity testing was undertaken on fifteen different species, yet it still couldn’t predict the teratogenic effects produced in humans. Aspirin prevents blood clotting in humans but causes birth defects in mice. Morphine sedates humans but stimulates cats. I could go on…it all comes back to species DIFFERENCE.”

      Mate, you wouldn’t know any of this if it weren’t for animal testing.  And that’s the point.  Testing on animals is necessary to help us to understand these conditions and develop effective and safe treatments.  Without it we’re reduced to theoretical modelling and testing on humans, which is universally ethically unacceptable.

      The failure in logic exhibited by the writer and commenters such as yourself is truly staggering.  “I can point to 2 or 3 instances where a product that was tested safely on animals was found to be harmful to humans.  Therefore testing on animals is useless and shouldn’t be permitted.”

      I trust that you and your ilk will be the first to volunteer yourselves and your families to be the test subjects for medical trials in place of the mice, monkeys and guinea pigs that you’re so nobley seeking to save?

    • kitteh says:

      06:50pm | 24/05/12

      Actually, animal testing (on several species) did indicate that thalidomide is a teratogen. The drug company Gruenthal put the drug on the market in spite of the results. But what would I know? I’m a Ph.D qualified scientist, after all (biological sciences, Group 8 Australian university). I therefore clearly have a ‘vested interest’ in animal-based research and am less trustworthy than someone that Googled some stuff. The arrogance of your post is breathtaking.

      I have a strong background in scientific ethics, medical practice and research policy. As a supporter of animal rights and a volunteer in this area, I also am aware of the issues of cognition, quality of life, translation to humans and the limits of alternatives. I can tell you that Australian researchers must look to the three R’s - reduction, refinement, replacement - before applying to carry out animal research under very strict guidelines, some of the toughest in the world. The benefits of animal modelling in cancer and other diseases are well established and indisputable. Many animal-based trials of human disorders are also applicable to animal welfare (HIV research has benefited our understanding of FIV, for instance).

      Yes, I would agree the scientific argument speaks for itself - but your argument isn’t the scientific one.

    • George says:

      09:46am | 24/05/12

      What an excellent article! It is a myth that animals are indispensable to medical research. History is full of examples of medical progress without animal research. Furthermore, modern research techniques offer superior replacements to animal procedures.

    • Christian says:

      09:59am | 24/05/12

      Cruel people I guess must protect their evil otherwise if they can’t cut up innocent creatures without anesthesia etc or mess around with Gods creation legally then what would they do?? They are sick evil people to carry on such acts in today’s day & age especially when there are humane alternatives. The Dr Hadwen Trust is a classic example of how things can change for the better ... FIRST DO NO HARM ... btw my Dad refused a trial drug as it was still being tested on animals and I respect him for that

    • Al says:

      10:53am | 24/05/12

      ‘my Dad refused a trial drug as it was still being tested on animals and I respect him for that’
      But if wanted to show the drug was effective on humans without animal trials shouldn’t he have participated in the trial to help accelerate the move away from animal trials?

    • Katrina Fox says:

      10:05am | 24/05/12

      I’m hoping he will comment here himself, but for all those arguing for the so-called ‘science’ of vivisection, check out the work of Dr Ray Greek, a former vivisector who has been writing about why animal experiments are harmful to human health for many years, using the industry’s OWN data as evidence.

      http://www.curedisease.com is his website.

      I wrote an article based on his work, which gives a summary here: http://www.whale.to/a/fox.html

      And this is an article by Dr Greek on why animal experiments are holding back medical breakthroughs.

      http://www.thescavenger.net/health/outdated-science-is-holding-back-medical-breakthroughs-064.html

      Helen, thank you for this article and your determination even in the face of a life-threatening disease to not to be swayed by the pseudo-scientific arguments trotted out by those blinded by the notion that animal experiments are a ‘necessary evil’.

    • Michael says:

      10:45am | 24/05/12

      If its published in whale.to, its discredited without having to read it

    • Kika says:

      11:06am | 24/05/12

      Agree with you. It’s complete nonsense and those who blindly believe that animal testing produces viable results in humans are joking themselves.

      For example. And here’s an easy one for the muppets to understand.

      Chocolate = safe in humans

      Chocolate = toxic to dogs, cats and pretty much everything else

      Garlic & Onion = safe in humans

      Garlic & Onion = toxic in cats and dogs and everything else

      Grapes, Avocado = toxic in other mammals. Safe for us.

      A rotten old bone with maggots = safe for dogs. unsafe for humans.

      Assuming that one will be safe in rats and mice and other mammalians means it will be safe for us is ridiculous.

    • Katrina Fox says:

      11:19am | 24/05/12

      That’s a good excuse for not bothering to read it Michael. Here you go, then, perhaps this one will be more ‘credible’ (although I suspect if you’re entrenched in your views, nothing will open your mind, but I’ll try:

      http://www.peh-med.com/content/pdf/1747-5341-4-2.pdf

    • St. Michael says:

      11:20am | 24/05/12

      And once you’ve read these articles, go and read this article: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/17/bad-scientific-arguments-in-the-service/

      Which illustrates why Dr Ray Greek is, um, wrong.

      It’s also a lot longer and a lot better-researched than your article, Katrina.  I notice you didn’t mention that Dr Greek is himself an ethical vegan or that he and the bodies he belongs to want to stop all animal experimentation altogether.  Why’d you leave those details out?

    • Katrina Fox says:

      12:52pm | 24/05/12

      Better researched? Seriously? It’s a ranty blog by someone invested in a particular model. Dr Greek has commented on this thread at The Punch, so perhaps you can debate the issues directly with him, as one scientist to another. Re him being an ethical vegan - the guy is a former vivisector. He did this stuff, realised it didn’t work and was ethically problematic. Doesn’t make his research - which again, is based on the medical industry’‘s own data, any less valid.

    • Dementer says:

      10:07am | 24/05/12

      ‘The USA’s Federal Drug Administration (which guides Australian research) advises that 9 out of 10 drugs ‘successfully’ tested on animals don’t work when translated to humans.’

      But the 1 of 10 are successful and they recently include and all tested on animals all now available.

      Zyprexa - schizophrenia
      nexium - gastro disorders
      procrit - anemia
      rituxan - non hodgkin lymphonma
      avonex - MS
      Gleevec - leukemia
      taxotere- cancer

      try tell a parent of a very sick child or love one who has recovered from a serious illness or whose life has been made immeasurably better by these drugs.

      Please Helen eats some meat or take some protein. Brain function isn’t your strongest point.

    • Christian says:

      10:15am | 24/05/12

      Empathy does not seem to be your strongest point

    • Kika says:

      11:30am | 24/05/12

      Dementer - some of the world’s most intelligent people ever have been vegetarians.
      Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Srinivasa Ramanujan. All vegetarians.

      Protein is found in almost everything. Soy protein is a complete protein, but if you combine simple beans and rice you have a complete protein with all amino acids required.

    • St. Michael says:

      01:13pm | 24/05/12

      Kika, all of those individuals bar Ramanujan were also Christians notwithstanding they are some of the world’s most intelligent people.  Are you saying that makes Christianity more valid as a belief system?

    • Kika says:

      02:26pm | 24/05/12

      St Michael - Why should I bother answering you? Einstein was Jewish.  Leonardo Da Vinci was hardly Christian.
      I can list more if you like:-
      Benjamin Franklin
      Nikola Tesla
      Jane Goodall
      Steve Jobs
      Nathaniel Borenstein
      Thomas Edison
      The Dalai Lama
      Aung Sang Su Kyyi

      Religion has nothing to do with it.  They happen to all be either Nobel prize winners and/or incredibly intelligent and all happen to be vegetarians.

    • sciencenotrats says:

      02:57pm | 24/05/12

      “Animal studies are done for legal reasons and not for scientific reasons. The predictive value of such studies for man is meaningless.”
      - Dr James D. Gallagher, Director of Medical Research, Lederle Laboratories, Journal of the American Medical Association, March 14 1964.
      Only a supporter of animal experiments could call something which is a 92% failure a success. The fact that the drugs which work in humans were also tried in animals is meaning less and the animal ‘test’ did not contribute to the efficacy or safety of the drug in any way. That is the point you fail to make.
      “Information from one animal species cannot be taken as valid for any other.  It is not a matter of balancing the cruelty of suffering animals against the gain of humanity spared from suffering, because that is not the choice.  Animals die to enable hundreds of new drugs to be marketed annually, but the gain is to industry, not to mankind.”—-The 1963 Report of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s Expert Committee on Drug Toxicity

      “Animal studies can neither prove or guarantee the safety of any drug. They are not a substitute for testing in humans”.—J Jennings, Vice President Science & Technology of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association.

      Dr Herbert Gundersheimer, “Results from animal tests are not transferable between species, and therefore cannot guarantee product safety for humans…In reality these tests do not provide protection for consumers from unsafe products, but rather are used to protect corporations from legal liability.”

      Report of the Medical Research Council “It must be emphasized that it is impossible to extrapolate quantitatively from one species to any other species.”

      The Lancet, “We know from drug toxicity studies that animals are very imperfect indicators of human toxicity: only clinical experience and careful control of the introduction of new drugs can tell us about their real dangers.”

      Dr Ralph Heywood, former scientific director of Huntington Life Sciences, one of the largest contract research laboratories in the world speaking to the CIBA Foundation said “The best guess for the correlation of adverse toxic reactions between human and animal data is somewhere between 5% and 25%” and “90% of our work is done for legal and not for scientific reasons.”

      “A drug that is tested in animals will have a completely different effect in man. There are uncounted examples that could be cited.” (Dr. med. Karlheinz Blank)

    • M says:

      04:29pm | 24/05/12

      The fact that some intelligent people were also vegetarians proves what exactly?

    • St. Michael says:

      05:52pm | 24/05/12

      @ M: Nothing, but Kika seems to think it means vegans are highly intelligent.  Kind of like how she thinks anyone who wants to debate her on Biblical issues is an anti-semite.

    • Esteban says:

      07:00pm | 24/05/12

      If Da Vinci had fed his brain properly with meat we would have our jet packs by now.

      If Einstein had a chop every now and then we would be going back and forth through worm holes.

      What a shame those great scientists failed to reach their full potential because of an inadequate diet.

      If you might otherwise be destined for greatness don’t fall in love with a vegetarian. Pick a little lady proficient in cooking meat who are usually more forgiving of other peccadillos which can otherwise undo great men.

    • LilyT says:

      02:31pm | 28/05/12

      The fact that you seem to believe that meat is the only source of protein means your brain function is lacking, I’m afraid.

    • Anon. Rat says:

      10:09am | 24/05/12

      This is about as emotionaly stupid an argument as the whole vegan THING ever gets, but I see some merits on experimenting on humans, great for population reduction 7billion of anything sounds like a plague anyhow, cheap pet food and fertiliser, and I’ve got some definite ideas on whom to experiment on but some might get a wee bit intimidated and offended, hell they might even think I’m “CRAZY”
      I just remebered a T-Shirt slogan from the late seventies or early eightys   “Save the Planet Eat a Human” not such a crazy idea when you detatch the emotion from it, just a statement on oversupply of “humanity” .

      Good Luck with your battle and give your poor ovrworked concience a holiday.

    • Steve says:

      10:29am | 24/05/12

      Congratulations Helen.  It is a pity that so many of the people who have responded to your article ‘just don’t get it’.  Animals are sentient beings and there are many experiments that have been done where the data does not extrapolate to humans.

    • miloinacup says:

      10:33am | 24/05/12

      Oh, another holier than thou vegan rant.

      Pass.

    • subotic bogarts says:

      11:26am | 24/05/12

      to the left, miloinacup…

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      11:49am | 24/05/12

      Yep, and in response to this article, I’m going to be having an extra serving of meat tonight and eat it with one hand while injecting baby fur seals with aids with the other.

      Can’t even think of a serious comment in response to this article, it was that far up itself.

    • Matilda says:

      10:40am | 24/05/12

      To all the industrious scientists/researchers out there, find another way to cure cancer and other diseases, rather than animal experimentation.
      You are all intelligent people, proficient in finding ways to help humans overcome deadly diseases, *and* you are also capable of compassion towards other living beings.

      Change your mindset, and with your brilliance you will find other scientifically proven ways to help humans without experimenting/causing suffering to animals.

      Ms Marston, thank you for your courage and for sharing your article. I wish you all the best.

    • void says:

      11:31am | 24/05/12

      Can you please suggest some alternative means of testing before human testing?

    • Ray Greek MD says:

      10:45am | 24/05/12

      If I were forced to select one disease where animal models have most consistently failed to predict human response it would be cancer. Animal models of cancer fail at predicting both carcinogenesis as well as anti-neoplastic efficacy. A vast majority of drugs that show efficacy in animal trials fail to help humans but still expose the patient to side effects. Even the National Cancer Institute in the USA has cautioned that animal models have cost society cures for cancer because of lack of efficacy in animal models or toxicities that would not have been a problem in humans. Carcinogenesis studies are equally unreliable in animal models. Even mechanism research has proven that mice are not humans in the wiring and genetics of cancer. For more on animal models and prediction see
      http://www.peh-med.com/content/pdf/1747-5341-4-2.pdf

    • Greed&Envy; says:

      11:31am | 24/05/12

      Sounds like a much better angle from which to raise the topic.

      Emotive articles and holier than thou rants are unfortunately way too common and often fail to raise any real point.

      Have believed for some time now there are far better expressed ideas in the comments than a lot of the articles themselves.

    • Michael says:

      10:56am | 24/05/12

      The question I have is that if you had such an ethical dilemma about it, why be treated?

    • Lyndel Thomas says:

      10:57am | 24/05/12

      I applaud you for writing this article Helen.  It is the very thing that the majority of people need to read.  The history of cancer research on animals has proven to be a failure.  To quote Dr. Irwin Bross, the former director of the Sloan-Kettering [the largest cancer research institute in the world] ‘The uselessness of most of the animal model studies is less well known…Indeed, while conflicting animal results have often delayed and hampered advances in the war on cancer, they have never produced a single substantial advance either in the prevention or treatment of human cancer’. 
      For those people who believe that the human species have dominion over all other species because of our so called superiority, I would like to suggest to you that if the human species is so superior, it is our duty to protect and honour other species and allow them to live their lives naturally and within their own environments as they were meant to.  The people who say that animals have no feelings only do so to justify their abuse!

    • Kika says:

      11:26am | 24/05/12

      Well said. Bravo to you Lyndel!

    • Vicki PS says:

      11:35am | 24/05/12

      Lyndel, people who choose to eat other animals, or to use animals to advance human knowledge, do not automatically consider themselves superior or to “have dominion” over other creatures.  In the natural world, animals killing or dominating other animals is unremarkable.  As human beings, having sentience and self-awareness, we owe other living things respect, nothing more or less.  If an animal is to be hurt or killed by us, we owe it the respect of not wasting its death, by treating it as humanely as possible and by not permitting any actions which entail needless suffering.  That is all.

      Helen, the bottom line seems to be that you considered the options and made the choice to benefit from the results of animal research.  I sincerely hope you continue in good health, and equally hope that you get off your high horse for just a little while, at least just long enough to acknowledge that this once you made the same choice as the rest of us, for the same reasons.  (Oh, and P.S., don’t take up experimental research, you’d really suck at it).

    • Natasha says:

      11:13am | 24/05/12

      Helen, thanks for writing the article and drawing attention to the fact that testing on animals has not, does not and never will provide cures to human diseases.  In this day and age, with all the technology we have at our fingertips, it is disturbing to think that we still use animals for medical research.  Time and time again, the large research companies and pharmaceutical laboratories tell us how much we need and rely on the use of animals in scientific medical research -  as a ‘necessary evil’.  That statement does nothing but add to industry propaganda, undermined by a stream of money, greed and exploitation. 
      Rather than continuing to test on animals,  Australian researchers should be focussed on using non-animal methodologies to study human diseases rather than trying to replicate something in an animal that is genetically different to ourselves.  How can such research ever achieve accurate results in humans?  The simple answer is that it can’t, and there are numerous examples of drugs on the market that have caused millions of deaths to humans, all because we failed to look more closely at human conditions. Rather than logically reducing and ultimately eliminating the use of animals, Australian researchers continue to seek grants for testing that has been repeated over and over again, with no success….and the animals continue to suffer.  It is no justification for perpetuating bad science. 
      To quote Dr Richard Klausner, Director, National Cancer Institute, ‘The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans.’

    • Carole says:

      11:20am | 24/05/12

      Who considers themselves “holier than thou”?  By my reading not Helen, but it seems some scientists do, given the most objectionable and cavalier of responses.  Helen has chosen a lifestyle that she and countless others believe is right for them and her honest opinion by no means warrants such rude and vitriolic criticism. 

      Helen does not say that the drugs she has been given,  developed more than 40 years ago, were not tested on animals.  Some readers seem to think this, which indicates they have not correctly read, or understood her opinion.  We who choose alternatives to a mainstream lifestyle are also aware that many companies test cosmetics and skin care products on animals, but many do not - and the number constantly grows. 

      And more graciously than many of her respondents have afforded her, Helen expresses respect for the many health professionals who have treated and assisted her. 

      Thank you Helen, for courageously opening this sensitive debate in the wake of your own exhausting treatment.  Were it not for the countless brave and outspoken people, including physicians, scientists and other concerned individuals who have questioned the need for and nature of animal experiments to date, the scale of animal experimentation and animal suffering would be largely unchecked.

    • LilyT says:

      03:41pm | 28/05/12

      Very well said Carole.  I agree with you 100%.

    • Karri Nadazdy says:

      11:32am | 24/05/12

      Wonderful article, I too researched my treatments prior to accepting them when I was in hospital, and I also was surprised to find out that little was offered that was post animal experimentation.  Really shows that the animal experimentation industry is focussed on generating money and not cures or treatments.

      Many of the comments here relfect ignorance, seflishness and a lack of empathy, and most most notably, ignorance of what HRA is and does.  And, as they say, Ignorance is Bliss.

    • Kay says:

      11:39am | 24/05/12

      What I take from this article is that we are not doing animals nor humans justice by persisting with archaic scientific research protocols & methods.  If what the medical researchers are currently subjecting animals to is free from suffering, scientifically, ethically & morally sound, then I don’t understand why we would need to use animals in the first place?  Surely testing & experimenting on humans be the best way to find cures for human disease I would have thought?...of course it is, but we don’t use humans because we can exploit other species to do all the nasty painful & distressing procedures on.  This issue in my eyes is very much a moral one.  we all want cures for disease, however we should not be seeking these cures by subjecting sentient creatures to miserable lives full of pain & distress. Australia currently uses dogs, cats, monkeys, pigs, cows, sheep, rabbits and many other animals in our research laboratories, it’s certainly not just rats & mice being used by medical researchers.  I applaud Helen for having the guts to speak out about her situation, I feel she has the best interests of all at heart.  Good luck Helen!

    • Natalie says:

      11:41am | 24/05/12

      Helen, I am very sorry for what you have experienced.  I am also sorry for a lot of the comments on here clearly written by heartless people.  Everything you have said is spot on.  There is a whole scientific community out there that is against vivisection and who have clearly demonstrated, time and time again that there are more reliable, non-animal options to experiments, but I guess it comes down to greed, money and power.  There is a lot of money to be made in keeping people sick.  As a vegan, you are giving your body the best chance to fight.  I wish you all the luck in the world.  In regards to all the negativity you’re receiving, just remenber what Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win”  and they’re clearly fighting grin

    • Witness to Suffering says:

      11:47am | 24/05/12

      Interesting how the majority of comments here take such offense to this article… I mean is looking into the fact that 90% of the results off the back of animal tests are not transferable to humans really such a bad thing?

      If the efficiency of the money spent isn’t enough to sway you, take solace that while you read my previous statement, two six-month old frightened Beagles were killed by men in white coats and masks, poking needles into them for the 25th and final time of their short, turbulent lives.

    • Onto Prenerr says:

      11:52am | 24/05/12

      There’s no reason why these animals should be discarded after medical trial experimentation, for the betterment of medical science. The rest of the animal has a number of uses:-
      1) taxidermy, stuffed animals for sale, for example, on international eBay, 2) properly prepared gourmet animal organs and choice cuts, approved by relevant Health Departments for human consumption, and given public exposure by top haute’ cuisine restaurants, and 3) given to or bought by medical teaching universities for dissection by students.

      Helen is such a selfless person, to be able to care about these animals while being gouged into, on a cold table. Such bravery ought to be held up as an example we can all aspire to;  I think, maybe.

    • Nichola says:

      11:54am | 24/05/12

      Helen you are not only bravely facing a frightening disease but also facing a hardened online community whose lack empathy and ethics leave me gasping. Thank you Ray Greek for adding some scientific balance to this debate. There are many progressive and ethical scientists who acknowledge the shortfalls of animal experiments. Let’s keep fighting for alternatives to animal experiments so that those fighting disease can do so with a clear conscience - and so that their suffering is not multiplied by the suffering of millions of laboratory animals.

    • craig2 says:

      12:10pm | 24/05/12

      I’m a pharma rep and it’s a case of, “what do you want us to do”? My company uses animal research as last option but the pharma industry has its hands tied when it comes to human trials, it’s the best way to know how well a molecule works but they can be harmful hence why animal research is preferred as a pre-curser to the human trials.

    • C says:

      12:13pm | 24/05/12

      Breast cancer researcher here.

      Does anyone seriously think those of us in the field haven’t put significant thought into not using animals? We do analysis for a living, you don’t think it’s occurred to us to give alternatives a crack? You think we like killing living things even for a cause we care about?

      In this field, the results are all that matter and you can be damn sure if similar or better results were gotten via other methods, every scientist with a heart in their chest would beat a path to the door of the developer of the protocol/method and demand they take our (grant) money.

      A few anecdotes from people even from within cancer-related fields who disagree with testing on animals does not invalidate decades of progress. There’s disagreement in every research field, sometimes vicious (anyone who’s submitted a paper to peer-review knows what I’m talking about). If it was so clear-cut, we’d all be doing it differently.

      This story upsets me more than I can convey with words, that’s why I do what I do, for people like her. But the wider pronouncements about the science of it all are demonstrably incorrect. The harsh reality is that clinical testing involving animals still produces the most verifiable, consistent and, ultimately correct results.

    • Nerissa says:

      12:40pm | 24/05/12

      if there is so much progress due to the personal sacrifice the researchers have made to find a cure at any cost then why are people still dropping dead from cancer ?

    • M says:

      12:49pm | 24/05/12

      Kika, et al, here’s my argument for animal testing. ^^

      From an actual researcher and not a bleeding heart leftie.

    • Al says:

      01:07pm | 24/05/12

      Nerissa - because there are MANY different types of cancer, and just because it is in one location doesn’t mean it is that type of cancer.
      A person is able to develop Breast Cancer, have it surgicly removed and then have it flare up later in their brain and it is still Breast Cancer, but located in the brain.
      Even in these circumstances there are also different types of each ‘cancer’.
      There is no simple 1 cure for cancer, it doesn’t exist.

    • C says:

      01:59pm | 24/05/12

      “if there is so much progress due to the personal sacrifice the researchers have made to find a cure at any cost then why are people still dropping dead from cancer ? “

      Diablo 3.

      There I said it.

    • Kika says:

      02:20pm | 24/05/12

      Get Bent M. Just because someone has an ethical foundation different to yours doesn’t mean they are a bleeding heart leftie.

    • realsciencenotmice says:

      02:40pm | 24/05/12

      Seriously, “other methods”, what could be more of a failure than animal experiments, over a billion animals have been used in cancer research over a period of 100 years and there has been a ten fold increase in cancer deaths. If you have tried something a billion times and it hasn’t worked, it really does not work. No species is predictive for humans. In fact there is not even a reliable correlation between mice and rats let alone from either of these to humans. Given substances are not necessarily carcinogenic to all species. Studies show that 46% of chemicals found to be carcinogenic in rats were not carcinogenic in mice. [23<http://www.safermedicines.org/faqs/refs.shtml>] • DiCarlo DrugMet Rev,15; p409-131984.
      > If species as closely related as mice to rats do not even contract cancer similarly, it’s not surprising that 19 out of 20 compounds that are safe for humans caused cancer in animals. [24<http://www.safermedicines.org/faqs/refs.shtml>] • Mutagenesis1987;2:73-78
      > END
      >
      > Slide 12
      >
      > Dr. Bruce Ames, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California at Berkeley has to report:
      > “Of 392 chemicals in our database tested in both rats and mice, 226 were carcinogens in at least one test, but 96 of these were positive in the mouse and negative in the rat or vice versa.”
      > END
      >
      >
      > Dr. Ames continues: “Conversely, important human carcinogens may not be detected in standard tests in rodents; this was true for a long time for both tobacco smoke and alcohol, the two largest identified causes of neoplastic death in the United States.”(4) Bruce N. Ames, Renae Magaw, Lois Swirsky Gold, “Ranking Possible Carcinogenic Hazards,” Science 236 (1987), p. 275.
      > 1987

    • Kika says:

      02:53pm | 24/05/12

      C - But wouldn’t you say that it’s more about the ethical dilemma of testing your research in other ways? You would never get funding if you wanted to test directly on humans, right? So you need to produce results in animals so you can continue the clinical trials in humans. But the results in the animals is not necessarily going to produce the same result in a human, right?

      So for example… and I’m going to be pretty basic here… a mycotoxin in grapes… can potentially kill dogs and cats yet is perfectly safe in humans. If you were testing this compound in a dog and it died it’s unlikely that the test would continue through to the clinical trial phase because of the result in the dog. So you never get to prove whether it’s safe for humans.

      Wouldn’t you agree with this?

    • earl says:

      03:34pm | 24/05/12

      I find it interesting that the obvious facts of the issue of animal experimentation still fail to be understood by many.

      Kika - you keep going on about various agents which are toxic to animals and not humans or toxic to humans and not animals. Whats really the point?

      It is not the exception that is the rule. I’ll explain the facts of the issue:
      1. Animals do not equal humans.
      2. Animals are closest approximations we have.
      3. No other tool can match the complexity of living creatures - e.g. models, etc.
      4. There is no alternative to animal testing, unless you truly trust computer modelling and are prepared for human trials just based on projections.
      5. Having some failures doesnt mean the whole thing is a failure.
      6. Without providing an alternative all anyone opposed to the idea can do is talk about theoretical tools, e.g. microdosing etc.

    • M says:

      03:45pm | 24/05/12

      No, but you seem to stike me as a bleeding heart leftie.

    • D A says:

      12:14pm | 24/05/12

      I had a small cancer scare many years ago. I’ve thought about this subject quite a lot since. For me, chemotherpay is not an option. I don’t believe that we are going to ‘discover’ any cure for cancer EVER. It’s about lifestyle choices, food producers taking the carcinogens out of our food, chemicals being banned that have toxicity leves which are detrimental to all living tissue and lifeforms. Cancer is PREVENTED not cured. I’m willing to die rather than expose other creatures to hell. My words may seem empty and many will say it would be different if I got full blown cancer, but I have lived my life and fulfilled my dreams and when it’s time to go I am not going to contribute to vivisection any more than I already unwittingly have in my life. Animal testing is unneccessary… we have excellent technology. This entire vile, inauspicious industry is based on greed and making money and sanctioned by gigantic Govt grants and big business payoffs. I thoroughly applaud this article by Helen and thank her for having the courage to write it.

    • Cancer Survivor says:

      12:52pm | 24/05/12

      D A,
      Not ALL cancer is PREVENTED,  I have the Breast Cancer gene which gave me around an 87% chance of getting Breast Cancer and around a 40% chance of getting Ovarian Cancer - not to mention a bunch of other cancers.
      My lifestyle, food intake, exercise regime and anything else I could try to do CANNOT change those odds.  And I did get both Breast and Ovarian Cancer.

    • neil says:

      12:30pm | 24/05/12

      “a healthy, vegan lifestyle”

      Seriously! talk about an oxymoron, there is nothing healthy about being vegan, infact it is extremely unhealthy. If vegans want to kill themselves slowly that’s there choice but anyone who forces a vegan diet onto children should be charged with child abuse and the childern should be removed for thier protection.

    • Nerissa says:

      12:37pm | 24/05/12

      just out of curiosity… are you an obese person ?

    • M says:

      01:34pm | 24/05/12

      Why does it matter? I’ve never met a healthy looking vegan/vegetarian. They all look like they’re underfed.

    • Nerissa says:

      01:58pm | 24/05/12

      M - neil is saying that all vegans are unhealthy and slowly killing themselves - so everyone diagnosed with cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes is vegan ?  Are non vegans the picture of health you speak of?

    • M says:

      04:31pm | 24/05/12

      My comment was aimed at you Nerissa.

    • LilyT says:

      03:19pm | 28/05/12

      Yes, I’ll say being vegan is unhealthy.  What could POSSIBLY be healthy about eating a balanced diet of beans, legumes, rice, grains, all manner of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds???  How STUPID vegans are!  Better to eat lots of meat, milk and eggs, they’re obviously the key to good health.

      As for you M, how many vegans do you know personally?  Want a list of some you might know OF?  Mike Tyson, Pink, Paul Watson, Portia De Rossi, Ellen Degeneres, Ozzy Osbourne (yep, even Ozzy has more knowledge about nutrition than you), Darryl Hannah, Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone, Venus Williams, Carl Lewis, and the list goes on.  NONE of them look or are underfed.  Please stop with the tired old stereotype before you embarrass yourself further.

    • Nerissa says:

      12:34pm | 24/05/12

      Congratulations on writing such a thought provoking and insightful piece.  I commend you on your bravery, not only for facing and dealing with your own moral dilema at a critical point in your life, but for putting these comments to print.  I apologise on behalf of all the comments made by hateful and judgement people.  I am not a scientist, nor am I vegan, but the facts I have come away with after reading these comments are: a) that non vegans become very angry and defensive when they are faced with the cold hard facts of animal cruelty and b) the billions of dollars collected over the years for cancer research and the countless number of animal experiments have STILL not provided us with a cure.

    • Kim says:

      12:35pm | 24/05/12

      Mark (aka the scientist). Why do you insist on continueing to test on animals? In the hopes of finding a cure to palliative illnesses in humans? you clearly have extremely warped perceptions and no compassion for human beings in the first place? Well I’m not a scientist but I am an observer and based on your arrogant, self-illuminating paragraph it’s a fact that you do what you do for your own insecure needs. When will this universe wake up and realize we have to stop fu#kin#  with things. We have no right. This debate should not be based on what’s best for human beings but what is moral, ethical and the right thing to do. Just because we can, does not mean we should. And by no means, have a right too. I shiver to think what children are being raised by….

    • Al says:

      01:19pm | 24/05/12

      Kim - alright, you do realise that what you just said means you want the removal of all technological advances, all medical advances and all food production modifications.
      I also assume that you are one of the people who will volunteer to die when we are not able to feed, house or treat the human population.
      My question for you: is direct testing on humans with absolutely no idea of what effects something will have moral, ethical and the right thing to do?

      I think I’ll now give up on this thread due to the stupidity, misundersatnding of the process and narrow mindedness of those opposed who also offer NO VIABLE ALTERNATIVE.

    • Dan says:

      01:41pm | 24/05/12

      Rightio, you hear that Mark?  You and your scientist buddies need to stop doing things that could be seen as unethical by some.  Nevermind that not doing all you can to find cures will be seen as unethical by others; that doesn’t matter.  And for crying out loud, think of the children!  What would your children think, no matter how level-headed and logical they may be, to know that a maybe a thousand mice had to die in order to discover cures that could save millions of human lives?  Betcha didn’t think of that did you?!  I mean, really, guys, just because we have the means to progress our knowledge of medicine doesn’t mean we should.  After all, you’re just doing it to satisfy your own insecure needs.  The nerve of some people!

      /sarcasm

    • Aliecat says:

      12:35pm | 24/05/12

      Great article! Because we have the ability to use science for our own benefit doesn’t mean we have the right to do this to these helpless, voiceless animals. There’s no excuse for torturing animals for our benefit.

    • Blossom says:

      12:45pm | 24/05/12

      @Helen, i am sorry for what you endured,
      but for the life of me, why then was this comment .
      “Lying on a cold table in an unfamiliar place and undergoing a core biopsy was probably one of the most traumatic events of my life.”
      I am sure they would have hot blankets there, i am a Nurse,
      it sounded like some sort of Frankenstein experiment.

    • Helen Marston says:

      07:53am | 25/05/12

      I was speaking metaphorically Blosom. wink
      Cheers,
      Helen

    • Bettie Page says:

      12:45pm | 24/05/12

      what a great article, it’s good to see someone challenging conventional thought

    • Al says:

      12:49pm | 24/05/12

      To those who are opposed to animal testing prior to human trials:
      Yes - it is not 100% accurate, and may be very inaccurate however:
      1) What alternative that offers a ‘systematic testing’ (as opposed to individual cells or organs etc) are you offering? If there is one I will support it as an alternative.
      2) Do you want drugs that have no trials and no idea of side effects to be tested on humans? Are you going to volunteer?
      I have a great idea to use a Mercury/Cyanide mix that is sure to kill cancer, want to try it?

    • Deb says:

      01:00pm | 24/05/12

      Wow, there are so many people out there being awful to Helen about her personal journey. Why is everyone getting so defensive and outright mean and nasty? There is no reason to be so horrible to someone who is openly sharing their beliefs. For those that do believe in animal testing (I personally and one of those people that believe that animal testing is wrong, always check my products to ensure that they haven’t been tested and I dont eat animals) do some research and it will uncover why animal testing is wrong, unethical and outdated.

      Helen, I wish you the best in your recovery and thank you for standing so strong in what you believe in.

    • Chemotherapy is not so Innocent says:

      01:03pm | 24/05/12

      A pity, a small bit of research for this article would have gone a long way.

      Chemotherapy was tested on animals /first/. There’s an entire article about it on Wikipedia called “History of cancer chemotherapy”.

      First of all, it starts with mustard gas. “The beginnings of the modern era of cancer chemotherapy can be traced directly to the discovery of nitrogen mustard, a chemical warfare agent”. After a few German bombs exposed several thousand human beings to it which resulted in some interesting findings, the researchers started working with animals to test their theories.

      “They first set up an animal model — they established lymphomas in mice and demonstrated they could treat them with mustard agents.”

      Then, 60 years ago in the good old times of 1955, “The United States Congress created a National Cancer Chemotherapy Service Center (NCCSC) at the NCI in 1955 in response to early successes. This was the first federal programme to promote drug discovery for cancer – unlike now, most pharmaceutical companies were not yet interested in developing anticancer drugs. The NCCSC developed the methodologies and crucial tools (like cell lines and animal models) for chemotherapeutic development.”

      So not only was chemotherapy tested on animals, we also have chemical warfare to thank for it.

    • Chemotherapy not so Innocent says:

      02:01pm | 24/05/12

      There’s even more: “As predicted by studies in animal models, drugs were most effective when used in patients with tumours of smaller volume. Another important strategy developed from this — if the tumour burden could be reduced first by surgery, then chemotherapy may be able to clear away any remaining malignant cells, even if it would not have been potent enough to destroy the tumor in its entirety. This approach was termed “adjuvant therapy”.”

      And then, of particular relevance to this article as it is about Breast Cancer: “Similarly, the landmark trials of Bernard Fisher, chair of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, and of Gianni Bonadonna, working in the Istituto Nazionale Tumori di Milano, Italy, proved that adjuvant chemotherapy after complete surgical resection of breast tumours significantly extended survival — particularly in more advanced cancer.”

      If you do some research into Bernard Fisher, you’ll find an article titled “Bernard Fisher Re?ects on a Half-Century’s Worth of Breast Cancer Research” where he talks about the animal testing he did - and how the vast majority of his research was based on hypotheses developed with research on animals.

      So, next time you’re undergoing chemotherapy, thank the animals for proving that your breast cancer treatment was effective.

    • Eleanor says:

      01:17pm | 24/05/12

      Watching people with no grasp of basic biology try and talk about science is like trying to watch a monkey open a can. Hilarious and frustrating at the same time.

      Carry on, folks. I have popcorn.

    • miloinacup says:

      02:19pm | 24/05/12

      At first I wanted no part in this discussion but after coming back and reading some of the hilarious replies, I have decided that it is definitely worth my time.

      I am especially enjoying the “animal testing is wrong and we shouldn’t be testing it on them…I don’t have a viable alternative, but that’s not the point!” and “if the research is so good then why haven’t we cured cancer yet?” comments.

      I will share your popcorn, please.

    • Nerissa says:

      02:51pm | 24/05/12

      you sure you want to go down the popcorn road here?  it is a non animal product after all, might get some crazed vegan hippy start trying to hug your or something like that smile

    • void says:

      03:15pm | 24/05/12

      I’ll get in on that.  I especially like the comment below by Lauren Taylor, who wishes disease and suffering on researchers.

      *Passes out drinks*  Cheers and let the show go on.

    • Eleanor says:

      03:38pm | 24/05/12

      Nerissa - don’t worry, it’s slathered in butter. Should scare ‘em back into the trees.

    • Dan says:

      03:51pm | 24/05/12

      Ya know, seeing as how the animal right activists all started commenting around the same time and all seem to be posting big walls of text, I’d be inclined to say that someone ran to some animal right website and called the on their armchair detective army to come spam the comment section.

      And yet, none of them has offered a viable alternative yet.  Rather, some are now wishing harm and suffering on the researchers.

      Hey all out there!  Raise your hand if you’re a member is PETA!

    • aycee says:

      04:46pm | 24/05/12

      Pass the popcorn, hold the butter.  That’s an animal byproduct.

    • Lauren Taylor says:

      01:23pm | 24/05/12

      If scientists have been researching cancer for so long with the use of animals, then why haven’t we seen a cure?  The only reason animals are still being used today is because the pharmacuetical companies know they will open themselves up to lawsuits for all the adverse effects from this archaic ‘research’.  There is only money to be made from sick people, not healthy or dead ones.  You are not fooling anyone vivisectors and your disgusting attrocities are being exposed for exactly what they are.  My hope is that you suffer from the very diseases which could have been cured by now, but due to your greed are still plaguing humanity.

    • LC says:

      08:12pm | 28/05/12

      There’s more than one type of cancer, and every cancer cure needs to be developed to target that particular cancer. A magic bullet solution for all cancers, contrary to popular belief, is guaranteed not to be found, or at best, anyone alive today will not live to see the day it happens.

      In the meantime, we’ve got our early detection methods, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. If you can start treating a cancer early, your chances of survival with a good quality of life post-treatment are high. You have both the pharmaceutical industry, medical research teams AND animal testing to thank for this. Guess what happened when you got cancer prior to this? A specialist would say you’ve got x time to live, during which you’d sort out your affairs, prepare your will, say your goodbyes, and if you weren’t on your deathbed earlier, you would be after that.

      Researchers themselves see very little money from pharmaceutical companies, their money comes from private investors separate to the pharmaceutical industry and private donors. Funding for medical research is limited.

      I’d be very, VERY wary of outright sledging of the pharmaceutical industry like that. Without them, without medical research (and subsequently without animal testing), unless you were of noble background, you’d be lucky live to your teenage years, and luckier still to see your 40th birthday.

      By the way, can you present an alternative to animal testing which is either equally or more effective than animal testing, is backed by researchers and peer reviewed papers in the area and is cost effective? No? Typical.

    • Lauren Taylor says:

      01:23pm | 24/05/12

      If scientists have been researching cancer for so long with the use of animals, then why haven’t we seen a cure?  The only reason animals are still being used today is because the pharmacuetical companies know they will open themselves up to lawsuits for all the adverse effects from this archaic ‘research’.  There is only money to be made from sick people, not healthy or dead ones.  You are not fooling anyone vivisectors and your disgusting attrocities are being exposed for exactly what they are.  My hope is that you suffer from the very diseases which could have been cured by now, but due to your greed are still plaguing humanity.

    • No Cure? says:

      03:14pm | 24/05/12

      Haven’t seen a cure? Lauren, once upon a time if you got cancer, you died. That was it. You called a lawyer to make sure your will was in order and then a priest to give you your last rites.

      Today, people can have chemotherapy and see their cancer go into remission, and in some cases, the cancer never comes back. You can get a mammogram the minute you think there’s something wrong and any adverse results can be tested, and if cancer is confirmed, swift action can be taken.

      Today, more and more people are surviving cancer precisely because of all the research that’s been thrown into it. In fact if cancer is caught early, it’s almost guaranteed that you will survive to live and long and healthy life today - where-as twenty short years ago you were pretty much given a death sentence.

      Better treatments have seen cancer deaths actually decline - even as population grows. To state that we would’ve had a cure by now - for cancer in all its forms - if we didn’t have animal testing is incredibly ignorant to say the least.

    • clarke says:

      01:39pm | 24/05/12

      Animal Research exists primarily to make a few people extremely wealthy. Not to save or improve human lives. If the funders of animal research wanted to save lives they would instead invest their money where it will be most effective - tackling malnutrition. Nobel laureate class reference: http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/Projects/Guide_to_Giving/About this Guide.aspx

      Ironically and tragically, many of the diseases that are being researched on animals are hugely exacerbated by the consumption of animals. A vegan lifestyle reduces chances of suffering many illnesses. It did not for Helen, but hopefully even the non-scientists will know enough about sample sizes not to point at Helen’s fate as rebuttal of this reference from the Canadian Dietetic Association which concludes that Vegetarian and Vegan diets deliver lower death rates from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancers.  “Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: vegetarian diets”, Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research. Summer 2003, 64(2):62-81

      Putting that argument aside however, three is a much more important reason not to experiment on non-human animals. They are sentient. This means they are capable of sensation; they can suffer. Why is an animals suffering less meaningful than a humans? You must be speciesist or human supremacist to conclude that human suffering is more important. To save you the bother of thinking and listing why you think humans are special and solely superior to all other species on this planet - they are all listed, and countered, in this movie, made by a collection of scientists (Doctors within different fields). Whether you’re vegan or not, i promise you will find it humorous: http://youtu.be/mqT82oGeax0http://youtu.be/mqT82oGeax0

      Do you prefer to develop medication to tackle symptoms forever, or find a permanent solution to the environmental causes of increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc?

      The Australian medical community is heavily skewed to alleviation and medication, not to prevention. If we want to stop our health problems happening in the first place, why isn’t someone experimenting on animals to see how long they can keep them alive by giving them a balanced and healthy vegan diet? Because there is no money in it?

    • kitteh says:

      06:56pm | 24/05/12

      Have you ever worked in medical research? If you wanted to earn money, that wouldn’t be the field to choose, believe me.

      Instead of relying on YouTube, look up the medical research grants given by the NH&MRC; in recent years. They are hugely weighted towards preventive medicine.

      I don’t know why I bother reading comments on scientific issues here. I just end up disgusted at the ignorance they display.

    • Eddy_T says:

      01:52pm | 24/05/12

      The big problem for us in using non-human animals for toxicology, is that potentially safe lifesaving drugs do not go forward to human trials because they adversely affect non-human animals.

      Our reliance on vivisection of non-human animals is leading to uncountable human deaths.

      I suggest that microdosing may be a more appropriate method for initial toxicological studies.

    • sciencenotrats says:

      03:05pm | 24/05/12

      Absolutely, even the animal experimenters own handbook says so;  “Uncritical reliance on the results of animal tests can be dangerously misleading and has cost the health and lives of tens of thousands of humans.” Svendsen, Per, “Laboratory Animal Anaesthesia”, in Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science (P. Svendsen and J. Hau, editors), CRC Press, vol. 1, p. 4.

    • Kaz says:

      02:05pm | 24/05/12

      I can’t condone animal cruelty for the sake of saving human lives.  For one, our lives are no more important than that of any other living creature and two, there are too many useless parasitic ignorant people on this earth that we can do without.  I’m just waiting for the reset button.

    • Cherie Wilson says:

      02:11pm | 24/05/12

      Good on you Helen for being brave enough to share your feelings in this article, and raise a number of important issues. I’m horrified by some of the negative and sarcastic responses. I shared similar experiences to Helen when I was treated for breast cancer a few years ago. The medical staff were exceptional, caring people and I can’t praise them highly enough. However, I too am opposed to animal research, both because I think it is wrong, and because it is a waste of time and money. Since then I have done a bit of research on cancer research using animals and what I have read has only strengthened my opinion. In all the years we have spent sacrificing animals we still haven’t found that magic cure. In fact, we have found more and more differences between species’ susceptibility. When looking at exposure to toxins (a major cause of cancer) some are carcinogenic for rats but not for mice, others for mice but not monkeys, or for monkeys but not humans, and so it goes on. The results are so varied that regulatory authorites often decide that data from animal experiments is inadequate to classify a chemical as carcinogenic or not. In the past I was on an Ethics Committee overseeing animal experiments at a research institution and learned that most animal research is funded by private companies hoping to make a huge profit. These are probably the same companies that are releasing toxins giving us higher rates of cancer. Animal research is an industry, and it’s all about satisfying regulatory authorities and making money.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      02:12pm | 24/05/12

      With all the whizz-bang equipment, the advances in diagnosis, treatments, computer modelling - you name it, today we have everything. We even have the Human Beings, untold millions, or is that billions, of biopsies, blood tests from those human beings the use of animals in lab tests should have long-since become a nasty thing of the past. What these so-called scientists, researchers do is nothing more, nor less, than animal cruelty. Want to grow an “ear” from stem cells? OK do so but do it on your own bodies not on the back of some poor mouse simply to prove you can grow it. They say the animals are treated ‘humanely’. Bullshit! They breed those animals then perform hideous & totally unnecessary experiments on them. If it causes the animals pain, distress it simply doesn’t matter. These monsters simply kill the unfortunate creature. Even if the exercise works they still just kill the por creature.
      Grow your new ears, penis, fingers, legs on yourselves. If it works, Greaf you can then have an operation under full anaesthesia to remove the extra bit. If it doesn’t, too bad, you can still have an operation to remove it. What better subject can you possibly have for these experiments than a real, possibly compatible, person? After all these experiments & the hoped for results are to benefit humna beings aren’t they?
      Of course vivsection & other outrages against dumb animals don’t matter do they? “it’s all in the pursuit of Science, for the benefit of humans”. Those animals don’t matter. They can suffer & we will just kill them.
      The most despicable of these ersatz scientists are those involved in the Cosmetics Industry. They gleefully squirt chemicals into the eyes of rabbits fully aware that those chemicals cause the most appalling suffering. That’s OK, though isn’t it? They simply kill the poor suffering beastie and move on to the next victim & the next & the next until they manage to create some chemical combination which is PH neutral or, at least, has no bad side-effects. Those rabbits will be killed anyway or if not then when they are subjected to the same horrendous cruelty for some other product which will banish wrinkles.

    • Kika says:

      02:19pm | 24/05/12

      Exactly. The cosmetic industry’s use of animal testing is absolutely deplorable. There’s no moral argument for it either way you look at it.

    • M says:

      04:35pm | 24/05/12

      You obviously have no idea how that ear was grown. The mouse just had a big piece of useless cartilige on it’s back. Hardly animal cruelty.

    • realsciencenotmice says:

      02:13pm | 24/05/12

      Humans and bananas have 50-60% DNA in common with humans, needless to say 50-60% of human diseases will not be cured by banana experiments. Monkeys are biologically closest to humans and…“Drugs known to damage the human foetus are found to be safe in 70% of cases when tried on primates.” Developmental Toxicology: Mechanisms and Risk, p313, McLachlan, Pratt, and Markert (Eds). 1987

      So far 80 AIDS vaccines have been made which have worked in monkeys, none has worked in humans.

      “Warning is given not to carry over, without reservation, to man, the conclusions based on animal experiments.  In monkeys none of the power carcinogens [to humans] has been shown to produce cancers.”[16] Lancet Aug 9 1952 p274  

      We chose a dose of thalidomide close to the estimated amount required to produce human anomalies. This dose had no detectable toxic effects in the monkey… Science 1963; 139:1294-95.

      If you make a drug that’s effective against HIV, sometimes it works against SIV and sometimes it doesn’t. So that basically devalues SIV as an animal model for doing experiments involved with developing drugs…The slight problem (with using monkeys as an animal model for AIDS in humans) is the monkeys don’t go on to develop AIDS, they don’t get sick. Dr Paul Bieniasz of the Rockefeller University in New York. Quoted in Scientists make HIV that can infect monkeys, Reuters, 3rd March.2009

      Even the closest animal to the human is of no value for research or testing for humans, all other species are even poorer. Animal experimenters, the onus is on you to find a species which is predictive for humans.

    • realsciencenotmice says:

      02:13pm | 24/05/12

      Humans and bananas have 50-60% DNA in common with humans, needless to say 50-60% of human diseases will not be cured by banana experiments. Monkeys are biologically closest to humans and…“Drugs known to damage the human foetus are found to be safe in 70% of cases when tried on primates.” Developmental Toxicology: Mechanisms and Risk, p313, McLachlan, Pratt, and Markert (Eds). 1987

      So far 80 AIDS vaccines have been made which have worked in monkeys, none has worked in humans.

      “Warning is given not to carry over, without reservation, to man, the conclusions based on animal experiments.  In monkeys none of the power carcinogens [to humans] has been shown to produce cancers.”[16] Lancet Aug 9 1952 p274  

      We chose a dose of thalidomide close to the estimated amount required to produce human anomalies. This dose had no detectable toxic effects in the monkey… Science 1963; 139:1294-95.

      If you make a drug that’s effective against HIV, sometimes it works against SIV and sometimes it doesn’t. So that basically devalues SIV as an animal model for doing experiments involved with developing drugs…The slight problem (with using monkeys as an animal model for AIDS in humans) is the monkeys don’t go on to develop AIDS, they don’t get sick. Dr Paul Bieniasz of the Rockefeller University in New York. Quoted in Scientists make HIV that can infect monkeys, Reuters, 3rd March.2009

      Even the closest animal to the human is of no value for research or testing for humans, all other species are even poorer. Animal experimenters, the onus is on you to find a species which is predictive for humans.

    • fml says:

      02:30pm | 24/05/12

      Errrrrrm. That is only one example…

    • sciencenotrats says:

      03:00pm | 24/05/12

      How many do you want?...PRIMATES IN MEDICAL RESEARCH
      Drug testing

        The major experimental use of primates is for safety testing of medicines. Yet primates’ track record at predicting drugs’ dangerous side effects is abysmal. Many drugs that were safe for primates have gone on to injure or kill people.
        Six young men nearly died at Northwick Park Hospital in 2006 when they were given a new drug because it had been ‘proven safe’ in monkeys at high doses.
        Arthritis drug Vioxx, withdrawn in 2004, killed up to 140,000 people – the biggest drug disaster in history – after being ‘proved safe’ in monkeys.
        Hormone replacement therapy, given to millions of women on the basis of research in monkeys, has been found to increase rather than decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as breast and ovarian cancer. HRT (labelled ‘the new thalidomide’ by the German Commission on the Safety of Medicines) caused 20,000 cases of breast cancer in Britain in one decade plus 1,300 cases of ovarian cancer since 1991, according to The Lancet.
        Isoprenaline killed 3,500 young British asthmatics in the 1960s. Retrospective attempts to induce similar effects in primates and other animals failed.

      Brain research

        The second major use of primates is for brain research. Yet the most dramatic differences between humans and other primates are in the brain.
        Human brains can now be studied non-invasively using remarkable high-tech scanners. These enable the conscious brain to be observed while engaged in a variety of cognitive tasks of which monkeys are not even capable.
        Everything we know about neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s has been learned from studying patients, their families and their tissues. ‘It is in human tissue that we will find the answers to these diseases’ – Dr John Xuereb, Director, Cambridge Brain Bank & Wolfson Imaging Centre.
        Hundreds of drugs for stroke have been developed and tested in primates and other animals, yet all of them have failed and even harmed patients in trials. ‘The stroke community needs to think long and hard about whether these animal models are financially and ethically viable’ – Lancet editorial 2006.
        Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease was pioneered in patients, not monkeys, as its developer makes plain in New Scientist (2457) 24.7.04, p 40.
        In 2003, a senior planning inspector dismissed Cambridge University’s proposed primate laboratory because ‘no national need’ for such research was demonstrated.

      Infectious disease research

        Even chimpanzees, our closest living relative, are immune to the human AIDS virus, Hepatitis B and C, malaria and many other serious human pathogens. It is futile to study infections in animals that do not contract them in any similar way.
        Indeed, the US government redirected $10 million of AIDS research funding away from chimpanzee studies after concluding they are a ‘deficient model’.
        80 AIDS vaccines have failed in human trials following success in primates.
        Again, everything we know about HIV and AIDS has been learned by studying people, through epidemiology and in vitro research on human blood cells.
        In the French blood scandal in the 1980s, thousands of people contracted HIV through contaminated blood – given to patients because it was safe in chimps.
        The polio vaccine was delayed for decades by ‘the erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys’ according to Albert Sabin MD, the vaccine’s inventor

    • Compassion says:

      03:01pm | 24/05/12

      Scientists should test their drugs on themselves, not inflict terrible pain, suffering and death on animals.

    • Jed S says:

      03:04pm | 24/05/12

      Most of the so called scientists that seem to be voicing their ‘knowledgeable’  opinion (loved the ‘im a scientist ergo im right view’ ha ha)  base this on short term blinkered vision of reality and/or often simply on what college they went to and who their lecturers were.  (No doubt their type was around in the 14th and 15th century saying how they were astronomers and ergo the earth is flat!!) 

      And as a matter of clarity I dont think for a moment that the author is saying that her drugs werent tested on animals - much the opposite.  She’s simply saying that they worked on both, but by good luck rather than any true science. 

      The biggest point to be read out of this (and i have rechecked the FDA stats) is that 9/10ths of all drugs cleared by ‘successful’ experiments on animals fail when translated to animals.  Thats one hell of a percentage!  If that doesnt make you question the efficacy of animal experiments i dont know what does.  The flip side is clearly how many were unsuccessfully tested on animals that could have worked on humans?  This can never be properly measured of course without using humans as the guinea pig - no pun intended - and microdosing aside I dont think Id advocate that.  But there are other ways surely?  Mathematical modelling, live cell tissue removal to name a couple more.

      I dont particularly like animals - even your dogs and cats - but from a humanist angle Im more concerned about how we get better at research for people.  And we do struggle to improve efficiency & speed to market especially in the complex area of cancer reseach.  Flogging the dead horse (again ptp) of animal experimentation hasnt worked.  It would be wise to devote more time and effort and money into non animal testing.

      PS I only have three science based degrees - two in the States and one here - but the older I get the more I realise that we need to continue to test the status quo and challenge the so called accepted standards.  If there’s one critical element learned from my college laboratory days then that is surely it.

    • fml says:

      03:15pm | 24/05/12

      Why do people think just because they put the words “So-Called” in front of scientists, that scientists automatically lose all credibility?

    • Zac says:

      04:23pm | 24/05/12

      Think about so called scientist Flannery who comes up with doom-gloom-you’ll drown computer model weather forecasts that has never worked and we still pay him a lots of tax payers money. These days it is easy to get a Phd in almost anything you want including garbology, all you have to do is go with the ideology.

    • fml says:

      08:33am | 25/05/12

      Zac, Rubbish. Pardon the pun.

      That’s the thing with so-called sceptics, they just don’t look at the information infront of them and they just see what they want, its so easy being a sceptic these days, all you do is say no all day.

    • Zac says:

      03:40pm | 24/05/12

      Animal rights ideologists have blood on their hands…. Every baby that dies is their responsibility. It is high time we fight back to stop these ideologists from forcing their extremist beliefs on us.

      “Animal rights activists ‘choking off’ medical research

      Airlines and ferry companies no longer transporting animals for testing, former science minister says

      Vital medical research is being “choked off” because airlines and ferry companies are refusing to bring animals into the country for testing in the face of pressure from animal rights activists, a former science minister has warned.

      Lord Drayson, who was a minister in the last Labour government, said “extremists” had picked off the companies, which had pulled out of transporting laboratory mice and other animals.

      The Times reported that Stena Line had followed DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries in halting the carriage of test animals, closing the last sea route for medical researchers.

      The Channel tunnel had long refused the trade, it said, while no UK-based airline, including British Airways, would carry laboratory animals.

      Imported animals account for a small proportion of those used in British laboratories, but scientists say access to genetically modified strains bred overseas is vital for some advanced research.

      Drayson said that unless the government took action, university research in the UK would wither and patients needing new treatments would die.

      “What the extremists have done successfully over the years is identify weak links in the chain and to target the people at those weak links to be able to stop the process,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

      “The important thing is for the government to work with the transport industry as a whole to get together to agree that all transport companies, whether they are airlines or ferries, will support the transport of animals and therefore people cannot be picked off.”

      Writing in the Times, he said that the pullout of the last ferry company should be a red flag for all sides to come together to deal with the problems.

      “By giving in to the protesters, they are choking off vital research into debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer,” he wrote.

      “Although small in number, animals such as mice contribute significantly to the development of new medicines to combat human and animal diseases.

      “If companies continue to withdraw from transporting these animals, the search for cures will shift to other countries, some of which do not have welfare regulations as stringent as those we rightly insist upon in the UK.

      “Medical research will wither in our universities, and as a result, more people will suffer and die.”

      The science minister, David Willetts, said the government was seeking an agreement in which the life sciences industry would agree a code of practice on the transport of animals and in return the transport industry would resume the trade.

      “That is what we still hope we can put together because it makes sense for everyone,” he told the Today programme.

      “This is standing up for scientific research which is of great benefit to humankind. I still hope we can reach a solution which means we carry on having world-class research in Britain.”

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/mar/14/animal-rights-activists-research-transport

    • Karri Nadazdy says:

      03:43pm | 24/05/12

      We do have prisons full of useless people killing time on tax payer money.  I’m not suggesting they get electrodes installed in their brains like scientists seem to love doing to cats, but these people would be perfect candidates for toxicology and microdosing experiments, skin patch tests, drug trails etc.  They are in a stable controlled environment, have medical attention on hand, and need to repay their debt to society anyway.  Maybe prison terms could be shorter in exchange for simple experiments like these.  And if more invasive experiments were approved on long term inmates, like growing ears on their backs, imagine how quickly we’d see crime rates go down.  2 birds, one stone…

    • Evalee says:

      08:45am | 25/05/12

      Prisons are not controlled environements.

    • sciencenotrats says:

      03:57pm | 24/05/12

      If a person does animal ‘research’ for human purposes and claims to be a scientist they are misusing the term. No species is predictive for humans therefore this cannot be called science.

    • Lola says:

      08:17pm | 24/05/12

      “No species is predictive for humans therefore this cannot be called science. “
      That’s a non-sequitur and begs the question.
      Many animal models are predictive of human physiology, to suggest scientists test on animals for reasons other than trying to understand biology is worse than unscientific: it’s disrespectful to people who devote their lives to improving the human condition.
      As for the predictive animal models themselves: do some formal study and you’ll see why they can be highly effective - to refute it here would take too long.

    • Nathan says:

      04:07pm | 24/05/12

      Wow. What an idiotic, ignorant, misleading article. If you’re going to criticise scientific practice you should, perhaps, indulge in a little time actually learning about it first.

    • Zac says:

      04:29pm | 24/05/12

      Forget about learning, she wouldn’t even post articles - not even one from BBC - or comments that threaten her earth worship. We are asked to trust such earthians. It is a sad day for science.

    • J Duncan says:

      04:54pm | 24/05/12

      For the scientists pouring scorn in the comments put forward to date…. Is our ingenious species really so dull that the only scientific approach we can conceive of should require the ‘sacrifice’ of so many animals in our laboratories? And are we really so cruel and arrogant that we think ourselves worthy and entitled to make this ‘sacrifice’, when it’s not one that we ourselves are paying?

      The author seeks to live a life untainted by abuse or cruelty. If this wish fills you with anger and vitriol, perhaps best you contemplate on THAT fact than occupy yourself with hurling abuse.

    • Dan says:

      05:30pm | 24/05/12

      “Is our ingenious species really so dull that the only scientific approach we can conceive of should require the ‘sacrifice’ of so many animals in our laboratories?”

      Oh dear.  Another one who ridicules the only viable option we have currently available but doesn’t attempt to provide an alternative other than something akin to “what makes us so worthy to do such a thing to animals?”, to which the answer is: because we have the intellect to do what is necessary for the survival and betterment of our species.  Other species do things that we perceive as being for the betterment of themselves and even their communities (find shelter, live in packs, develop hunting tactics, etc.).  Their practices are small in comparison to our own but that is only because their intellect currently doesn’t allow them to do more as ours does.

      “when it’s not one that we ourselves are paying?”

      Are you willing to step up and take a needle of an untested drug for the betterment of mankind?  If so, go volunteer yourself.

    • J Duncan says:

      06:01pm | 24/05/12

      Dan, you ask for the most obvious response. Intelligence is not species-specific but your standards are.

      The argument that animal models are the only viable option is specious;  superficially appealing until one contemplates the lack of effort that has been put into developing effective alternatives.  How is it unreasonable to suggest we can do better in this area than we have to date?

      Your inclination to mock a values-base different to your own is a shame and a real limitation in your argument. Go back, try again.

    • realsciencenotrats says:

      05:00pm | 24/05/12

      The day human medicine became based on mice, rats, cats, dogs, goats or whatever species ‘researchers’ tell us they must be based on from one ‘experiment’ to the next was a sad day for science. “The fundamental problem in drug discovery for cancer is that the [animal] model systems are not predictive at all” Science 1997;278 Nov 7 1997 p1041
      “How fortunate we didn’t have these animal tests in the 1940’s, for penicillin would probably never been granted a license, and possibly the whole field of antibiotics might never have been realized.” [7] Sir Alexander Fleming
      > 7) Parke DV: Clinical Pharmacokinetics in Drug Safety Evaluation. ATLA 1994, 22:207-209.
      “No animal experiment with a medicament, even if it is carried out on several animal species including primates under all conceivable conditions, can give any guarantee that the medicament tested in this way will behave in the same way in humans; because in many respects the human is not the same as the animal”. Nobel Prize winner Sir Ernst Boris Chain, under oath at a hearing investigating the Thalidomide tragedy. Tony Page, Vivisection Unveiled, Jon Carpenter Publishing, 1997, p. 103.
      > “…But when given systemically, the rabbits metabolized it [our most important medicine, penicillin] too rapidly and led Fleming to believe it would be ineffective for humans when administered systemically that is by mouth or intravenously. Therefore he put the life saving antibiotic on the shelf and essentially forgot about it…” 9) Koppanyi T, Avery MA: Species differences and the clinical trial of new drugs: a review. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1966, 7:250-270.
      > “Florey, co-winner of the Nobel Prize for penicillin, administered penicillin to a cat at the same time Fleming was giving it to his sick friend. Florey’s cat died [20]. “Allison VD: Personal recollections of Sir Almroth Wright and Sir Alexander Fleming. Ulster Med J 1974, 43:89-98…lucky for the human race we didn’t wait for the animal ‘data’.

      If supporters of animal experiments have anything of substance to contribute, ie evidence, please provide it.

    • Charles Harris says:

      05:08pm | 24/05/12

      Vegan lifestyle says it all! Try reading the “Apocalyptics”. Did you actually get through High School Helen? perhaps the soft options were your preferred options not the awful Mathematics, Chemistry or Physics. The fact you are now 44 is the result of extensive animal testing in the past.
      I expect now that with the human population explosion we can now test on human species too and save the poor little rats!

    • sciencenotrats says:

      05:28pm | 24/05/12

      Please provide evidence to support your claims Charles. What pro animal experiment people rely on is that there is a CASUAL not a CAUSAL relation between animal experimentation and human health. Please tell me A) What species is predictive for humans B) What animal ‘test’ is predictive for humans and C) Show a causal relationship between animal experiments and any benefit to humans

    • sciencenotrats says:

      05:09pm | 24/05/12

      “... prevention [of polio] was long delayed by the erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys.”
      > Sabin, Albert, MD statement before the subcommittee on Hospitals and Health Care, Committee on Veterans Affairs, House of Representatives, April 26, 1984 serial no. 98-48.
      animal experiments have not just failed us when it comes to cancer, it is the case across the board

    • JD says:

      05:20pm | 24/05/12

      I read this article with great interest. After years of backward thinking on my own part I finally decided that if I wanted to have a clear view & understanding of a topic so that I can then voice my educated views, then I’d better do some of my own research instead of coming off as uneducated & obnoxious like the majority of the comments I read today. It really is a disgrace that people who know little about a topic seem to know everything! Whatever way you want to look at it - those sitting in the ivory towers making the decisions have no idea either. They have managed to brain wash the majority of the population to believe they are doing everything for find a cure for diseases & using animals, even though it’s been proven over & over & over again, for decades actually that animal experimentation isn’t effective. They’re may have been a few steps forward but unfortunately 7 steps back every time. Humans suffer too from animals experiments. Lets get out of the dark ages & move with the more advanced ways of finding cures. Please do your own research before abusing someone who has their own core belief. ‘Each to their own’ isn’t that the saying? Just a thought to leave you with…If a cure was finally found for cancer or other major diseases, would as much money be donated? Would keeping the public believing that animal experiments are the only way to find a cure just be a distraction so that while cures aren’t being more readily discovered millions of dollars are being spent??? Where exactly does that money go?

    • sciencenotrats says:

      05:23pm | 24/05/12

      Lord Drayson, not surprisingly has no references for his unfounded claims such as; “By giving in to the protesters, they are choking off vital research into debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer,”

      Here are some which flatly contradict his claims…“ The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans.” Dr Richard Klausner, Director, National Cancer Institute, LA Times, May 6.1998
      “For 35 years U.S. scientists labouring in the National Cancer Institute’s screening programme have injected more than 400,000 chemicals into leukemic mice, hoping to find chemotherapies that would help solve the riddles of cancer… We’ve been using the wrong system as the screening device…” “Giving up on the Mice. Scientists Searching for Cancer-cures Try a New Tactic”, Time Magazine, September 17 1990. (see my earlier posts for many more re cancer)

      Alzheimers cure Deep Brain Stimulation has nothing to do with animal experiments and was pioneered in humans by Dr Bernabid see http://speakcampaigns.org/sitepages.php?a=24#dbs

      “Animal research was NOT responsible for the development of coronary bypass surgery. In 1961 in France, Kunlin first used a portion of a person’s own vein to replace obstructed arterial segments. This gave birth to arterial bypass surgery for different parts of the body, the heart included…” Dr Moneim A. Fadali. For 25 years one of America’s leading cardiovascular surgeons.
      > END
      > …By contrast, Beck of Ohio and Vineburg of Canada took their theories to the animal laboratory in search of surgical answer to the complications of coronary artery disease. Each devised more than one procedure, envisioning success from their findings in animals. Not long after, their recommended operations were performed on thousands of human patients.
      >
      > Slide 32
      > ” What were the results? To say the least, unworthy. To put it bluntly; a fiasco, a total failure. I am witness to this event and the least I can do is speak out. Animal experimentation inevitably leads to human experimentation. That is the final verdict, sad as it is. And the toll mounts on both sides.”
      > END
      > Dr Moneim A. Fadali. For 25 years one of America’s leading cardiovascular surgeons. This highly respected doctor is also: Diplomate to the American Board of Surgery; Diplomate to the American Board of Thoracic Surgery; Certified with the Canadian Board of Surgeons; Certified with the Royal College of Surgeons, Canada; twenty-five years on the clinical staff of the University of California where he currently practises.

    • Andre Menache says:

      05:31pm | 24/05/12

      Animal experiments are not predictive for humans. Anyone who still believes they are should take a look at the blog by Dr Ray Greek on the “Opposing Views” website. Here’s the link: http://www.opposingviews.com/user/14921/track

    • Jay says:

      07:09pm | 24/05/12

      Curious, where do people draw the line at animal testing:

      Monkeys?
      Primates?
      Horses?
      Dogs?
      Pigs?

      I don’t like to see any animal suffer to be honest and I think it shows that the author of this article is a compassionate human being, even if you don’t agree with her philosophies, at least she displays lateral thinking.

      Maybe spare a thought for the animals (chickens; pigs) who are doomed to spend their lives in an area where freedom of movement is something they will never know in their miserable lives. Imagine yourself living in a place the size of a toilet cubicle in order to empathise.

      Then I am a hypocrite in my own way I guess, because I wear leather shoes
      consume beef and dairy.

      It comes down to one’s own personal philosphy, mine for animals produced for food is quality of life and a humane death
      . If I had to kill my own, I’d probably be a vegetarian, so I’ll add coward to my resume as well. I come from the bush, my father use to kill is own and while death was instantaneous, I still wouldn’t be able to raise that rifle to do it.

    • sciencenotrats says:

      11:19am | 25/05/12

      Jay, you ask “Curious, where do people draw the line at animal testing:

      Monkeys?
      Primates?
      Horses?
      Dogs?
      Pigs?” As none of these species is predictive for humans there is nothing to weigh up here. Humans and animals suffer when we base human medicine on other species. Finding cures and protecting humans is just the alibi for gaining titles, money, getting published, having ‘breakthroughs’ (in other species) which provide funding to the institute but never cures for humans and providing legal protection to industries whose products are harmful to humans by the misleading results in animals.

    • Sharon says:

      08:16pm | 24/05/12

      An apt quote from Christian Barnard, surgeon:
      “I had bought two male chimps from a primate colony in Holland.  They lived next to each other in separate cages for several months before I used one as a [heart] donor.  When we put him to sleep in his cage in preparation for the operation, he chattered and cried incessantly.  We attached no significance to this, but it must have made a great impression on his companion, for when we removed the body to the operating room, the other chimp wept bitterly and was inconsolable for days.  The incident made a deep impression on me.  I vowed never again to experiment with such sensitive creatures.”

      The progressive intelligent way forward for any civilised society, that genuinely wants to reduce the suffering it inflicts on millions of innocent sentient animals every year, and improve the efficacy of research results, is to put significantly more effort and funding into non-animal research.

    • Lou says:

      08:28pm | 24/05/12

      We all condemn Hitler - and rightly so - for his experiments undertaken in the 1940s on “inferior” beings, (specifically Jews and the mentally handicapped). Why then do we now make excuses for scientists who exploit and torture other beings in the 21st century? In our minds, we are capable of denigrating others, and this allows us to feel justified in doing unspeakable things to them. It’s simply a matter of where do you draw the line on human decency… would you allow the torture of the children of other races? Would you accept the torture your own animals? I would think not. I congratulate Helen for her brave story - she is obviously a lady who is capable of genuine empathy for the suffering of others - even in the extreme case of her own personal crisis. Best wishes to you, Helen.

    • Veronique Smith says:

      08:35am | 25/05/12

      The continued ‘speciesism’ used to justify doing whatever we like to those that are considered further down the biological chain, must end. Humans, if anything, are guardians over all creatures great and small, as well as the environment - that doesn’t equal exploitation for greed.
      The cruel and needless experimentation that is carried out in ‘plague proportions’ all over the planet today must end. It produces nothing but possibly sadistic humans who are willing to treat sentient beings as disposable objects with no regard to their wellbeing.
      Better to look at the plant kingdom that provides us with many answers to healing and to end the insane production of chemicals that is undoubtedly contributing to this ‘outbreak’ of cancers.

    • Helen Marston says:

      09:13am | 25/05/12

      The human body – indeed most living systems – is extremely complex. This complexity and intricacy is precisely why animals are not good models for human medicine. Humans differ from other animals anatomically, genetically and metabolically, meaning data derived from animals cannot be extrapolated to humans with sufficient accuracy.

      Understandably, when a drug or other medical treatment is developed it must be tested in an entire living system. Using another species is using the wrong system. Considering the differences that occur on the metabolic, genetic and molecular levels, when applied to an entire biological system those intricate differences become exponential. Pre-clinical testing needs to be conducted in such a way that eliminates the risk of species differences and is instead directly applicable to humans.

      Even when genetically modified, there is no single animal model that can accurately mimic the complex human situation. There are far too many unknown variables that cannot all be accounted for. Instead, we now have scientific technologies such as microfluidic chips and microdosing. Not only do these techniques analyse the effects of drugs on an entire living system, they analyse a human living system, eliminating error caused by species differences and resulting in data that is relevant to humans.

      No model is perfect, but a battery of human-specific methodologies in pre clinical testing is far more predictive than depending on data from another species. Even the US FDA confirms that nine out of ten drugs ‘proven’ successful in animal tests fail in human trials. This not only questions the efficacy and very base argument for using animals, but critically raises the question about all the drugs that failed in animals which might have worked in humans. How many discarded cures for cancer?

      Medical advancements should be weighed up against the delays and tragedies caused by reliance on animal experiments – the Thalidomide disaster whereby tens of thousands of children were born with severe deformities not predicted in animal tests to name one of the most famous, but there are many others. While some discoveries have been attributed to animal use, it does not necessarily mean that they could not have been made through other means.  American Dr John McArdle, said “Historically, vivisection has been much like a slot machine. If researchers pull the experimentation lever often enough, eventually some benefits will result by pure chance.” Such logic however, does not constitute good science.  Good science, relevant and importantly efficient science is what we must strive for.

      Systematic reviews conducted in the areas of toxicity testing and biomedical research have shown that alternatives are far more predictive of human outcomes than data obtained from animals.

      In the past, much research has been based on animals because we didn’t know any better. Today we are far more aware of the dangers of extrapolating from one species to another and we have scientific research methods – mass spectrometry, genome mapping, innovative imaging techniques and highly developed computer models capable of simulating parts of the human body as mathematical equations and three-dimensional graphical models just to name a few more.

      Terminally-ill patients don’t care whether a cancer drug works on a mouse, or that some disease can be cured in another species. Such claims only taunt them with false hope. These people (myself included) need real cures based on real science – not misleading and antiquated animal experiments.

    • D says:

      12:59pm | 25/05/12

      “...mass spectrometry, genome mapping, innovative imaging techniques…”
      These are analysis techniques, which are valuable when testing on animal (or in vitro) models. They have no value on their own.
      “...and highly developed computer models capable of simulating parts of the human body as mathematical equations and three-dimensional graphical models just to name a few more.”
      If you’re willing to put your life in the hands of oversimplified bioinformatics, go for it! I definitely won’t.

    • Helen Marston says:

      01:23pm | 25/05/12

      @ D, oversimplified bioinformatics? Together with epidemiological studies, study of human tissue, microdosing and microfluidic chips, they are directly applicable to the human condition and eliminate the errors that occur during extrapolation from one species to another.

    • D says:

      02:45pm | 25/05/12

      What is the point of epidemiology if there are no treatment groups to study?
      Also, Helen, these in vitro systems you point out are used in conjunction to animal models. In vitro systems provide very limited information.
      Like Mark said, animal models are quite useful for toxicology and a number of species provide translatable data. Pharmacokinetics is another important factor for using in vivo/animal models.
      I am quite confident that the limitations of your proposed methods would cause many more problems.

    • Helen Marston says:

      03:25pm | 25/05/12

      D, you will of course know that epidemiological studies observes the progression of disease and factors in lifestyle choices. It does not necessarily require a treatment group.
      As for the limitations of my ‘proposed methods’, systematic reviews and meta analyses indicate they are consistently more predictive than animal models.

    • D says:

      04:05pm | 25/05/12

      Helen, that is only one area of epidemiology and is the least important in this argument. Animal models (for the development of new treatments) have no relationship to this area of research. It’s (maybe) useful in the very beginning. This kind of research is great for identifying potential risk factors but obviously not for determining the efficacy of a treatment. If there is no treatment group, there is no basis for data.
      I’m not here to argue that these in vitro methods are not valuable (they certainly are). Instead, I am saying that they leave far too many gaps to be reliable on their own, and this is why we still use animal models.

    • D says:

      05:04pm | 25/05/12

      Helen, that is only one area of epidemiology and the least relevant to this argument. That kind of research is great for determining potential risk factors but not developing a treatment to use in the clinic. Without a treatment group, you have no basis for data.
      I’m not arguing that these in vitro models aren’t valuable (they certainly are), but they are very limited to the specific data they provide and leave a lot of important gaps in the research. For this reason, animal models are still necessary.

    • Katie says:

      09:17am | 25/05/12

      “Healthy, vegan lifestyle.”

      That sentence alone discredits the rest of the article. No vegan can really be healthy.

    • Deb says:

      11:59am | 25/05/12

      LOL… Why can’t a vegan be healthy? What evidence to you have to prove that fact?

    • Sunny says:

      10:03am | 25/05/12

      The fact that we have tested on animals in the past to solve OUR problems - in NO WAY justifies its continued practice.  FIND - ANOTHER - WAY

    • sciencenotrats says:

      10:56am | 25/05/12

      I agree with your sentiment Sunny but animal experiments have not solved any human problems, they have cured nothing and in fact almost all of the substances that harm humans including carcinogens are animal ‘tested’. eg warnings kept OFF cigarette labels for 10 years due to animal ‘tests’.

    • laura says:

      11:56am | 25/05/12

      I find it amazing that so many people have so much anger and hate directed towards the scientific community. I’m no scientist but I have friends who are and what I do know is that scientists and particularly researchers have one of the toughest jobs in the world. They are of equal or possibly greater intelligence and education to medical doctors but they give up the much higher income opportunity and respect of that position, to work in an industry that it is clear from the above comments, that few people understand or respect, they have to do minumum 7-8 years of training (Bachelor of Science, Honours and a PhD at a minimum, many do additional training above and beyond this) where for much of this they are staying up until midnight in a lab trying to get an experiment to work when we are all at home with our famillies, and they do it for half the income of most of us. I work in business, my good friend who is trying to find a cancer vaccine makes less than half than I make. And yet he does longer hours, there is significant stress and he is far more educated than myself. In addition to this, when they are working on universally accepted principles based on solid evidence accepted by major research institutes across the world accepted by the vast majority of scientists and supported by peer reviews and evidence (there is no industry that is more critiqued, triple checked and evidence based than science) they are mocked by people with half the intelligence and zero education. It makes me feel ill. All I can say is the scientists I know work because they have seen first hand that science works and believe that their sacrifice is going to help sick people get well. Many of the people I know have seen family members die and only want to help find a cure/vaccine/better treatments for major illnesses. And yet we still mock them. It makes me deeply ashamed of our society that we can’t respect people who are fighting only for us.

    • sciencenotrats says:

      01:15pm | 25/05/12

      Laura, we support real science, animal experimentation is not science, the results are not transferable between species. it is the prime reason that diseases remain uncured decade after decade. the fact that people who have done so much study still cannot cure a human disease is due to the inapplicability of results from animals for application to human disease.

      re finding a cure, unless one’s relatives are mice or rats i don’t see why anyone would support animal ‘research’, “ The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans.” Dr Richard Klausner, Director, National Cancer Institute, LA Times, May 6.1998
      >
      >
      > “The use of animals in cancer research has been attacked as unnecessary cruelty to animals, and defended as absolutely essential for research progress that will prevent or cure human cancer. From a scientific standpoint, what is pertinent is that what are called ‘animal model systems’ in cancer research have been a total failure.”
      > It concludes:
      > “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.” From “Animals in Cancer Research: A Multi-Billion Dollar Fraud”, an article written by Dr Irwin D. Bross former Director of the Sloan-Kettering, the largest private cancer research institute in the world, and then Director of Biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research, Bufallo, NY: reproduced in Fundamental and Applied Toxicology, November 6 1982
      and, not surprisingly after 65 million years of seperate evolution from mice, animal experiments are still not curing cancer (or anything else) “Indeed, because oncology drugs have a success rate of only 5%, it is clear that animal models are only marginally effective.”
      M.B. Esch, T.L. King and M.L. Shuler, The Role of Body-on-a-Chip Devices in Drug and Toxicity Studies, Annu. Rev. Biomed. Eng. 2011. 13:55–72 (doi:10.1146/annurev-bioeng-071910-124629)2010

    • frustrated says:

      02:32pm | 25/05/12

      I would love to know what your qualifications are in this matter? The reality is that across the entire science and pharmaceutics industry, animal testing is considered best practice for finding better treatments, diagnostic tools and cures for major human illness. You name a few isolated studies in a pathetic attempt to pull down centuries of scientific process that has led to pretty much every drug on the market coming into existence. I get that you are saying there must be a better way, but right now, according to experts, there is no better way. And quote away as many random studies or scientists as you want, all you are proving is that the occasional rare study as drawn animal testing into question, This doesn’t change the fact that the reality still is that the vast majority of scientists would agree that animal testing is the best and only way of testing a drug’s safety that we have. Scientists - the experts - know this, the evidence proves it. Your arguments are so stupid that they would be laughable in any real lab in this country. I get that you think you know better than thousands of scientists working in labs around the world right now with their evidence based research, education, extensive reading and unbiased approach, but the scientists aren’t the idiots here. You are.

    • D says:

      02:49pm | 25/05/12

      To add to frustrated’s comment, please stop quoting these outdated papers and quotes.

    • LC says:

      01:59pm | 25/05/12

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_animal_testing#Medical_advances
      http://www.swaebr.org/Essay/2002/Tuc02-win.htm

      Here are two of the most comprehensive lists of medical gains by animal testing I could find on the internet. And this includes current and potential future cancer treatements

      Humans share a basic genetic structure with most veterbrate animals. If we didn’t, animal testing would be fruitless and would’ve ceased generations ago (it’s been going on since the 1800s).

      You, lady, fit the definition of hypocrite perfectly: You decry animal testing for medicinal purposes, but you were happy to use treatments that we would not have gained without it.
      If your position was you were against animal testing for makeup and haircare products I’d understand, but your current opinion would mean if you had your way, we be back to early-stages experimental research with herbs, plants and living human beings with questionable levels of safety.

      So who do we use as our lab research humans first (as in right from the start, not from the point where we’d have a basic clue of what’d happen, which is gained from animal testing)? The mentally handicapped? Maybe. Those spending the remainder of their lives in prison or on death row? Maybe. But not before people who are against medical research on animals, people like you. Should medicinal animal testing be banned tommorow, I expect you to be amongst the first to volunteer to take the animal’s place.

      My fiancee is a type-1 diabetic, and has been that way since she was a teenager. Your approach would bring us back to the pre-1920’s days where a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes was a death sentence.

    • DH says:

      02:22pm | 25/05/12

      After reading some of these comments I can’t help but feel that perhaps some drugs may have leaked from “I’m a Scientist!” Mark’s labcoat and affected the frothing masses.

      Helen, wish you all the best. Thought it was an interesting article worthy of better discussion than may ever be found here.

    • Helen Marston says:

      02:30pm | 25/05/12

      I think you might have missed my point LC. If the Nazi’s found a cure for cancer during their experiments on the Jews I suspect we’d all be using it today. That doesn’t justify the way it was discovered nor does it suggest it was the most efficacious way of finding it.
      I apologise if my (hypocritical) attempt to stay alive offends you.
      The point I tried to make is that if we moved away from animal experiments toward more humane and scientifically-valid methodologies then we would likely have made far more medical progress than we have to date.
      I’m sorry to hear that your fiancee suffers from Diabetes, but please don’t thank animal experiments for her treatent. Banting and Best are often cited as having discovered insulin through animal experiments in 1922. However the connection between diabetic symptoms and the pancreas actually dates back to 1788 when an English physician, Thomas Cawley, performed an autopsy on a diabetic. Unfortunately subsequent research on animals delayed the acceptance of his hypothesis.

    • LC says:

      06:16pm | 25/05/12

      If the Nazi’s found a cure for cancer during their experiments on the Jews I suspect we’d all be using it today.

      Oh dear. I thought you’d do better than to invoke Godwin’s law.

      I’m sorry to hear about your run in with cancer. However, if you want to be taken arguing against animal testing, I would suggest you practice what you preach and don’t use anything tested on animals (or failing that, simply don’t mention that you do in public debate). Would you take Craig Thompson seriously if, despite the recent scandals, he tried to introduce anti-corruption/anti-fraud legislation into parliament? I couldn’t, regardless of whether Australia could use stronger anti-corruption/anti-fraud laws.

      And no, without the work Banting and Best (and subsequently some level of animal testing) my fiancee would be very much dead. Sure Cawley made a breakthrough by his discovery of the pancreas’ state in a Type-1 diabetic patient, but that was back in the 18th century, which as far as modern medicine is concerned is ancient history. They still did not know exactly what the pancreas did which stopped diabetes, and that answer wasn’t found for over 100 years when, after repeated animal testing, they discovered the role of insulin, after experiments with a dog found that the administration of insulin from another source via injection led to the ability to manage diabetes (please note: MANAGE, not cure, unlike antibiotics, it’s not a matter of taking a few insulin doses and everything being hunky-dory). These results were later replicated on using the same treatment on a human being. If a cure is ever to be found, animal testing will also be involved (though my fiancee remains skeptical, she’s been told all her life a cure is “5 years away” and/or “just around the corner” and here we are, 2012, still no cure).

      Insulin therapy is one of the countless examples of gains that animal testing has led too, with other including big finds like penicillin and most (if not all) of today’s vaccinations. And animal testing only involves using the treatment on an animal to see that:
      - The animal does not die or suffer serious side effects.
      And
      - It has some impact on the condition.
      After those requirements are met, heavily regulated human tests start

      If we can’t have animal testing for this purpose, then we will either end up having the initial testing on humans instead (we cannot use a computer to do it, we still don’t know enough about how complex living organisms work in order to create any accurate results in that fashion) or we stop any and all medical research and development. Your choice. If you choose the former, then see my above post for what I recommend you do.

    • Helen Marston says:

      10:43am | 26/05/12

      You’ve made the point perfectly LC. Quote: “though my fiancee remains skeptical, she’s been told all her life a cure is “5 years away” and/or “just around the corner” and here we are, 2012, still no cure”. As said by Nobel Laureate Prof. Barry Marshall several years ago, “Drug companies are businesses. They have a product and they have to sell it.” If they cured anything their drugs would be useless as they could only be sold once. They need to be ongoing. Researchers don’t get support from cures


      As for bringing my personal position into public debate, I have no regrets whatsoever. I’m willing to cop all the personal criticism as it’s enabled this issue to get into the public arena. Lab animals have suffered behind closed doors for far too long and it’s time that researchers who continue to use animal models - and are often funded by taxpayers money (via NHMRC) and public donations - allow their methodologies to be scrutinized.

      Thank you for contributing to the conversation! grin

    • LC says:

      04:51pm | 28/05/12

      More-or-less, those were her words, not mine. My fiancee’s pessimistic nature is probably more to blame for that (but I still love her smile ).

      I’d say the lack of a cure is due to the complexity of the disease, as it’s the result of an autoimmune response. To make any inroads against it, they’d have to stop the immune response against insulin-producing cells WITHOUT compromising the immune system’s ability to deal with genuine infections and diseases. This is a task of mammoth proportions, and it’ll suck up sizeable amounts of funds and time. That said, there has been some recent developments in methods which, in lab mice both prevented the development of type 1 diabetes and stopped the autoimmune response in mice that already have the disease. But it’s still a long road ahead before this is treatment is available for humans to use, if ever.

      I’d be wary of going down the very conspiracy-theory-esque route of blaming a faceless corporation and saying that the reason there’s no cure is because of them. Scrutiny over their practices is one thing, and some degree of that is necessary for our society to move forward. But outright blaming them for every failing and shortcoming is another.

    • Helen Marston says:

      05:30pm | 28/05/12

      LC, can I suggest you get a copy of Neal Barnard’s book Reversing Diabetes? I attended one of his lectures when he was in Australia and he’s fascinating. There’s also the documentary Forks Over Knives which has only just become available here and may be of interest/use to you and your fiancee. I do wish her the very best.
      Cheers, Helen

    • LC says:

      09:03pm | 28/05/12

      Helen, sorry, but as far as I can tell from the website, that book concerns type 2 diabetes. My fiancee suffers from type 1. No amount of lifestyle changes she can make is going to change the fact she needs insulin to survive.

      Type 2 diabetes is usually a lifestyle-oriented condition, which can be aggravated through genetic factors. Sometimes it can be managed through merely diet and exercise, and in those cases the book might, MIGHT, be worth a read. Type 1, however is unpredictable and can pop up anytime in ones life. It can be influence by genetic factors, and there is some evidence which links autoimmune diseases and allergies with lack of exposure to dirt and bacteria in childhood. But most importantly Type 1 CANNOT be managed exclusively through diet and exercise.

    • Helen Marston says:

      07:40am | 29/05/12

      I have to disagee with you LC. Diet and lifestyle affects EVERY aspect of our health. Our immune system is integral to our health and wellbeing, and regardless of whether or not a disease can actually be cured by making such changes, overall health and our ability to cope with disease can certainly be strenghtened by making the right choices. To disregard this fundamental approach to our health and instead rely on researchers to come up with a magical pill is foolish and unfortunately what many people depend on.

    • LC says:

      11:24am | 29/05/12

      Proper diet and exercise are essential for good health Helen, to disagree with that would be ignorance. But diet and exercise alone cannot fix or even prevent each and every health condition. That’s when healthcare and medical research (and animal testing) come in.

    • Helen Marston says:

      05:41pm | 29/05/12

      But it’s grossly underestimated. Consider the associated risk factors for the most common chronic diseases in Australia - obesity, lack of exercise, insufficient fruit and vegetables. Imagine if these were addressed (together with road accidents), what a massively healthier society we’d be. Granted it wouldn’t address everything but would make an enormous difference.
      Sadly that aint gonna happen as people will continue with their destructive lifestyles expecting that magic pill. Also, there’s no money to be made from a healthy society.

    • LC says:

      10:27pm | 29/05/12

      Actually, if you look at money which could be saved on behalf of both individuals and the community (medicare costs), then one could argue that there is money to be made in promoting healthy lifestyles.

      But in this society, where we pride ourselves on letting adults decide for themselves what direction they wish for their life to head in, even their choice is not in their own best interest, eg: cigarette use (I consider this to be natural selection in the context of modern society). They must come into it on their own, out of their own free will.

    • Helen Marston says:

      09:47am | 30/05/12

      Sad, but true!

    • kum says:

      05:42am | 28/05/12

      I have known about the cruel fallacy of animal experimentation for over 20 years now , cancer will NEVER be cured as long as animals are involved in the research(in fact all 21st century illness) , i have read so much literature that is fact based to make my mind up over this.
      Good luck Helen !

    • sciencenotrats says:

      12:26pm | 28/05/12

      Animal ‘testing’ is not worlds best practice, in fact it would be hard to find anything more misleading; “...it is hard to find anything in biomedical research that is, and always was, more deceptive and misleading than vivisection. So the methods we propose for medical research should be called “scientific methods”, rather than “alternative methods”. ” Professor Pietro Croce. According to the US FDA 92% of drugs fail human trials after passing all of the safety tests in animals. The real motive for animal ‘tests’ is the provision of legal protection to pharmaceutical and chemical and household goods industry. It is a legal not a scientific device.  For valid drug testing such as microdosing see http://www.drugtestingconference.com

      LC re your husband being saved by animal experimentation as he uses insulin. In fact insulin came about despite, not because of animal experiments…During the 1920s, the dog experiments performed by scientists Banting and Best were strongly criticised as:

      “... a wrongly conceived, wrongly conducted, and wrongly interpreted series of experiments.”
      (Dr F. Roberts, “Insulin”, British Medical Journal, 1922.)

      Readers are also directed to the clinical work of an American pathologist Dr Moses Barron, who published an article based on the autopsy of a patient who had died of pancreatic lithiasis, in which he says:

      “The scientists Banting and Best were incorrectly credited with the discovery of insulin.”
      (Dr M. Barron, “The Relation of the Islets of Langerhans Diabetes with Special Reference to Cases of Pancreatic Lithiasis”, Surgery, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, November 5 1920.)


      “Unfortunately, the condition of a dog with a small but healthy part of his pancreas left is essentially different from that of a person suffering from diabetes… in human diabetes two factors are present:

      an essentially progressive lesion absent in experimental animals; and

      the detrimental effect of improper diet.”

      (Hugh MacLean, M.D., D.Sc., Lancet, May 26 1923, page 1043.)


      “There is no laboratory method of inducing diabetes… which is exactly comparable to the clinical condition.  At best we can get only crude approximations.  The dangers of arguing from one species to another, or even from one strain to another of the same species are certainly not to be neglected.”
      (Dr F.G. Young, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of London, Lancet, December 18 1948, pages 955-956.)


      “Arguments based on the insulin requirements of the depancreatised dog and cat applied to human diabetes are quantitatively dangerous.”
      (Dr F. G. Young, D.Sc., PhD., F.R.S., British Medical Journal, November 17 1951, pages 1167-1168.)


      “The causes of diabetes mellitus remains unknown in both man and animals.  In spite of certain species similarities, there are a number of important differences - differences in clinical manifestation, in aetological factors and in the liability to certain long-term complications of the disease.”
      (Dr Harry Keen, BSc, M.R.C.P., “Spontaneous Diabetes in Man and Animals”, Veterinary Record, July 9 1960, page 557.)

      Further, in Clinical Medical Discoveries, Medical Historian M. Beddow Bayly, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., says that the association of diabetes with degenerative changes in the Beta cells in the pancreas was a well-recognised clinical discovery long before animal experiments in this connection were contemplated.  “The means of separating from the pancreas the active principle, which Professor Schafer, a renowned physiologist had already in 1915 designated insulin”, was, says Dr Beddow Bayly, “repeated by Banting who demonstrated it on a medical colleague who suffered from the disease.  However the numerous experiments made by Banting on thousands of dogs proved nothing of value to human medicine, since, as is scientifically recognised, the dogs were not suffering from diabetes… The discovery, isolation and application of insulin was a clinical one.”

      “Dr Banting, Canada’s medical hero, who is popular and erroneously credited with the discovery of insulin by extirpating the pancreases of thousands of dogs, did not cause diabetes, but stress.”
      (J.A. Pratt, “A Reappraisal of Research Leading to the Discovery of Insulin”, Journal of the History of Medicine, Vol. 9, 1954, pages 281-289.)

      Animal derived insulin for humans…

      “Side effects of insulin treatment include an unusually high incidence of heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure and gangrene.  This, some medical men believe is due to the foreign nature of animal insulin.”
      (A.L. Notkins, “The Causes of Diabetes”, Scientific American, Vol. 241, No. 5, November 1979, pages 62-73.)...for this reason insulin is now not derived from animals.

    • LC says:

      05:10pm | 28/05/12

      While today most insulin is lab made using yeast, for a long time it was created from animals, and in America and Canada I believe this remains the case. The only difference between cow/pig insulin and human insulin is the animal which it originated, the hormone itself isn’t any different. If this was not the case, my fiancé would be likely dead. The claim that it would cause behavioural change or lethargy or whatever any from of is bullshit. There was some incidence of allergic reactions, but this was rectified through purification processes.

      The pancreas is a vital organ, without it, the person/animal loses the ability to control blood sugars and sooner or later they/it will die from problems directly related to it.

      And please tell me you’re not seriously citing studies from the 20’s, 40’s 50’s, 60’s and 70’s? Come back when you got something a little more up to date.

    • LilyT says:

      02:34pm | 28/05/12

      Best of luck to you Helen!  I’m on your side in every way…  smile

    • sciencenotrats says:

      10:34am | 29/05/12

      LC, I presume you know that Banting and Bests work was done back then therefore it was criticised from back then. Dogs and humans went our seperate ways evolutionarily many millions of years ago (even primates went their seperate ways 7.5 million years ago). Considering this, how have dogs become more human therefore better models for human medicine since then? If you think they ahve then consider that we now have more diabetics than ever before, so what has changed since then? Not surprisingly diabetes research is second only to cancer in terms of numbers of animals killed. Please don’t tell me that ‘a breakthrough is just around the corner or things look promising due to this or that animal experiment”. We hear about these ‘promising breakthroughs’ (in animals) just about every fortnight…and nothing gets cured.

      You correctly say the pancreas is a vital organ, this fact was lost for decades due to B and B’s animal experiments…“Physicians in the late 18th century first linked the disease with characteristic changes in the pancreas seen at autopsy [of humans]. As this was difficult to reproduce in animals, many scientists disputed the pancreas’ role in the disease. When they removed the pancreas from dogs, cats, and pigs, the animals became diabetic. But their symptoms led researchers to conjecture that diabetes was a liver disease, throwing diabetes research off track for decades. In 1922, outraged scientists spoke out against the animal experiments that many were claiming had proven the existence of insulin:

      “The production of insulin originated in a wrongly conceived, wrongly conducted, and wrongly interpreted series of [animal] experiments.” Roberts, F., in BMJ1922, p1194.

      They pointed out that human autopsy had in fact shown the pancreas to be the vital organ in diabetes, and that in vitro research had isolated insulin - not animal experiments.

      Scientists later modified the in vitro process they had used to isolate insulin, successfully mass-producing pig and cattle insulin reaped in slaughterhouses. This animal-derived insulin indeed saved lives, but not without complications. It also created allergic reactions and exposed patients to serious health risks. Had they recognised these dangers, scientists would have hastened to develop human insulin.

      Insulin is only a treatment for diabetes, not a cure. The exact biochemical process through which insulin regulates blood sugar is yet to be discovered. If the funds devoted to studies had gone to human research, would we still have this plague?” http://www.safermedicines.org

    • sciencenotrats says:

      10:48am | 29/05/12

      LC, you can find some more info re insulin, animal experiments and the actual role they played here;  http://www.vivisectioninformation.com/index.php?p=1_7_Diabetes-and-Insulin
      the claim that insulin was the result of animal experiments relies on the same misleading argument which is used to make other fallacious claims re animal experiments, that is ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ (after that therefore because of that); ie to suggest that one thing was caused by another simply because it occurred after it without showing any causal relation between them. The details always bear out the fact that animal experiments were at best worthless and more commonly counterproductive.

    • Joan Bennett says:

      07:54am | 14/06/12

      I guess you only eat certified organic fruit, vegetables, grains, tofu etc.  I’m sure you don’t contribute to pesticide run off in the waterways which effect other species.  Also, why do you discriminate against non-animal species?  Every living thing feels pain when you take from it to eat, so assume you have something against vegetables and the like.

    • Andi says:

      07:54am | 22/06/12

      Hi Helen, thank you for a great article. I agree with you completely about animal testing. I wondered if you have watched Food Matters?

      Wishing you all the best for your recovery.

 

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