The Animal Testing Debate

Barry Horne, Britain's most infamous animal rights campaigner, died in prison last year. He had been on hunger strike for over a month. He refused to eat until the British government set up a commission to look into experimentation on animals in the medical and cosmetic industries. Before he died Barry said that he was, "on strike for every animal in every torture laboratory in the world."

In 1997, Horne was given the longest prison sentence ever for an animal rights activist in the UK.
His crime was a two-year firebombing campaign against laboratories and companies that test on animals. His actions caused three million pounds worth of damage.
Many agree with Barry that experiments on animals are cruel and morally indefensible. Organizations such as the Anti-Vivisection League in Britain have been arguing for years that we do not need to inflict suffering on animals when we have other methods of testing available.

The types and range of experiments on animals occurring all over the world is truly staggering. Scientists at a university in America, for instance, give electric shocks to cats and dogs so they can study their brainwaves. Beagle dogs are forced to smoke cigarettes all day so biologists and doctors can observe how quickly they get lung cancer. In one very strange experiment a dog was crucified in order to "study" how long it took Christ to die!

But how do you feel about these experiments on animals? Is medical research on animals necessary so cures to human diseases can be found? Do you think that perfume and cosmetic companies should test their products on animals first so that they can be sure they don't harm humans? Or do you agree with people like Barry Horne that it is OK to terrorize scientists who experiment on animals by firebombing them? In the next two pages we take a look at both sides of the argument.

Peter Gentle