Animal Aid

NEW VIVISECTION VIDEO - A big hit with teachers

Posted 1 September 2001

Animal Aid's recently launched anti-vivisection video is proving a massive hit with teachers. We have sent out hundreds of orders for the 20 minute hard-hitting video and many more are still coming in. We have plans for further follow-up promotional mail-outs in the months to come.

Wasted Lives is a 20 minute video designed for school students aged 14 and over but is also an excellent introduction to the realities of vivisection for all age groups. Using explicit lab footage, testimony from scientists and doctors, computer graphics and other illustrative material, Wasted Lives makes a powerful moral and scientific case against animal experiments.

It begins by outlining how animals are treated inside laboratories - answering the vivisectors' claim that their 'models' receive consideration and don't suffer. It then unravels the science question - making plain, through examples of humans damaged and progress delayed - that animal experiments produce data that can't be reliably applied across the species.

This section also looks at the commercial imperative driving so much vivisection, and how new generations of scientists are conditioned to accept it. The final section deals with non-animal methods of research. It argues for health promotion policies rather than a continuing fixation on ever-elusive 'miracle cures'. Part three also examines the historical role decent housing, clean water and sanitation have played in lowering the death rate in Britain - and how they remain the basic prerequisites for good health and disease prevention.

Wasted Lives is available in two formats: one for sixth formers and an expurgated version for pupils aged between 14 and 16. Both contain graphic footage of animals being captured in the wild, caged and experimented upon. And they both make a detailed, objective argument against vivisection on both scientific and moral grounds. The way in which successive generations of scientists are conditioned to undertake animal experiments is assessed - as are the underlying commercial pressures and incentives.

Wasted Lives comes with a 32 page mini-booklet for teachers. This is also a useful primer on the whole issue for the general reader. The following is an extract from that booklet:

How it began

Galen, in second century Greece, was the father of vivisection. He used many animals (mostly pigs) to study anatomy and physiology. His theories misled the medical profession for centuries.

During the Middle Ages, strong religious taboos forbidding the dissection of human corpses led to further vivisection. This Church prohibition of autopsies 'virtually paralysed progress in medical science for fourteen centuries' (1). Then, in the 18th century, post-mortem studies were revived and human anatomy and physiology flourished. Virtually the whole of modern medical knowledge was created through the study of autopsies (2). Tragically, vivisection became fashionable again in 19th century France, with horrific experiments being justified on the illogical grounds that 'we can save living beings from death only after sacrificing others' (3). Lawson Tait, a brilliant surgeon of the era, observed in 1882 that 'the conclusions of vivisection are absolutely worthless. They have done far more harm than good in surgery' (4). Royal surgeon, Sir Frederick Treves, was also 'much hampered' by his operations on dogs, stating that they 'had done little but unfit me to deal with the human anatomy' (5).

Despite being so dangerously misleading, experiments on animals soon became enshrined in 20th century medicine and biology.

The money factor

Vivisection is today very big business, with the vested interests involved in maintaining the profitable status quo adding up to an extremely powerful lobby. The pharmaceutical industry in Europe alone will be worth over $100 billion by 2005 (6). Animal breeders and cage and equipment manufacturers are multi-billion pound industries too (7).

Pharmaceutical companies do now use many in-vitro (test-tube) tests in drug development and screening because they are quicker, cheaper and more accurate and reliable. However, they regard this as an 'initial screening process' and still proceed to animal tests in order to provide legal 'defence against public allegations of neglect of adequate drug testing' (8).

Animal experiments are also useful to companies because of their flexibility. Almost anything can be proved or disproved depending on which species of animal is used. Time and time again results from animal experiments have proved confusing and contradictory. If a drug works, this is claimed as a success for animal experiments. If it causes harm, the claim is made that animal tests can never be 100% reliable for people.

The ultimate slaves

Rats and mice are intelligent animals with pain centres and nerve pathways very similar to our own. They are used frequently because they are cheap, small and breed quickly, thus ensuring a constant supply. Yet they are a poor choice for research. For example, they are barely affected by cigarette smoke (9), alcohol (10), arsenic (11) and thalidomide (12), yet suffer kidney damage from aspirin (13) and heart damage from beta-blockers (14).

'It is not even possible to predict carcinogenicity [the cancer causing ability of a substance] in the mouse using data from rats' (15). An extensive study by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer showed 'we would be better off to toss a coin' than rely on animals to identify cancer-causing chemicals (16).


  1. Hill & Anderson, The Autopsy - Medical Practice and Public Policy, Butterworth 1988
  2. I.Asimov, Asimov's Biographical Encyclopaedia of Science and Technology, Second Edition, Doubleday and Company, 1982
  3. C.Bernard, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, 1865, Dover Publications Inc. 1957
  4. Birmingham Daily Mail, 21st Jan 1882
  5. F.Treves, BMJ 5th Nov 1898
  6. Tony Blair, speech at the European Bioscience Conference, 17th Nov. 2000
  7. Greek & Greek, Sacred Cows and Golden Geese, Continuum Pubs. 2000
  8. P.Lewis in Drugs and Pregnancy; Human Teratogenesis and Related Problems, Ed. D.F.Hawkins, Churchill Livingstone 1983
  9. The Lancet, June 25th 1977 p1348-1349
  10. C.S.Lieber and L.M.DeCarli, Journal of Hepatology 1991 Vol 12 p394-401
  11. F.W.Sunderman Jr. in Advances in Modern Toxicology Vol 2, Wiley 1977
  12. R.D.Mann, Modern Drug Use, an Enquiry on Historical Principles, MTP Press 1984
  13. British Medical Journal, October 17th 1970 p125-126
  14. J.M.Cruickshank et al, in Safety Testing of New Drugs, Academic Press 1984
  15. F.J.Di Carlo, Drug Metabolism Reviews, 1984 Vol 15 p409-413
  16. D.Salsburg, Fundamental and Applied Toxicology, 1983 Vol 3 p63-67

Special thanks to the following who helped to make this video possible by giving so generously:
Valerie Ardimento, Birmingham Animal Aid, Sarah Brown, Madeline Carritt, Clwyd Animal Aid, Croydon Animal Aid, Adele Entwhistle, Mrs S. Fenwick, Teresa Fox, Valerie Grace-Jones, Pat Griffin, David Guiness, Betty Hudson, Ipswich Animal Rights, Alexandra Lea, Lichfield Animal Aid, Mr and Mrs Michael Maas, Diana Marshall, Pauline Martin, Pat Mear, Yvonne Paul, Stefan Ridley, Tony Ruscoe, Jill Russell, Derek Sinfield, Diane Smith, Solihull Animal Aid, L.A. Tarleton, Mr D. Thurley, University of Buckingham, Thomas Winger, C. K. Yoe and Anne Yoe.

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