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MAD SCIENCE AWARDS GO TO UNSAFE SAFETY TESTS
Posted 21 August 2002
Animal Aid's Mad Science Awards (AAMSAs) - handed out each August for pointless and grotesque scientific research - are this year presented to 11 research teams who conducted 'safety' tests on dogs, guinea pigs, rats and ferrets. The animals were force-fed, injected or made to inhale a range of toxic materials. These included pesticides, plastics ingredients, glass fibre and a fragrance used for cosmetics, alcohol and tobacco products.
Among the symptoms experienced by the animals were vomiting, haemorrhage, tremor, weight loss, liver damage and tumours.
Researchers at the notorious Huntingdon Life Sciences and at the University of Brighton are among the award winning teams. In total, the AAMSA recipients accounted for thousands of animals - part of a tally of nearly 450,000 who are used in Britain annually in lethal poisoning and other 'safety' tests.
Apart from the suffering involved, safety testing using animals produces results that cannot be reliably applied to people. As the Animal Aid AAMSA report details, experts in the field have themselves acknowledged that data obtained from experiments on mice cannot be applied to rats. In fact, significantly different results are produced by different strains of rat or mouse, and by different laboratories conducting identical tests on identical strains of rodents.
When pressed to make a scientific case for safety tests, not even the Department of Health (DOH) can muster a convincing body of evidence. The House of Lords Select Committee recently completed its inquiry into Animals in Scientific Procedures. As part of its evidence-gathering, the committee asked the DoH to make submissions. One of the DoH-approved scientific papers actually lists several problems with animal research data, including the fact that humans live very much longer than all test species and, therefore, toxic substances have more time to express themselves. Another DoH author noted that "...adverse effects of drugs in humans, not easily predicted by animal studies, include nausea, headache, dizziness, tinnitus, vision disturbances and hypersensitivity and skin reactions" - the very symptoms most commonly experienced as side effects.
A third DoH-approved author noted that, in a review of 114 drugs withdrawn for human use because of their dangerous side effects, only six showed similar effects when tested on animals.
Says Animal Aid scientific researcher, Kathy Archibald:
"Hazardous chemicals are being passed as 'safe' on the basis of tests on animals, thereby giving consumers a false sense of security and causing them to be exposed to dangerous substances. Ultimate responsibility for the conduct of such studies rests with the government for requiring them. But drug and chemical companies are also to blame. They know that faster, cheaper and reliable non-animal methods already exist but using animals has become an easy habit that they can hide behind when taken to court by someone damaged by the toxic effects of one of their products. Clearly, the current system, which is responsible for so much needless human and animal suffering, should no longer be legal."
The Award winning research teams are based in: Brighton, E. Sussex - Covance, North Yorks - London Huntingdon, Cambs - Edinburgh - Carshalton, Surrey - Salisbury, Wilts (Porton Down) - Sharnbrook, Beds - Macclesfield, Cheshire - Uxbridge, Middlesex
Notes to Editors
- More information from Andrew Tyler or Kathy Archibald on 01732 364546.
- Award winners each receive a diploma featuring the special AAMSA motif of a laboratory beagle stabbed with a scalpel.
- A jpeg image from Animal Aid's Mad Science Awards report can be emailed to you.
- We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.