The sacrifice of animals to save human lives

02 November 2006


Sir, - The big debate in Oxford University over the past year has beeconcerned not with church matters, but with the building of an "Animal House"to house and breed animals for medical research.

While, no doubt, many Christians will have personal views concerning thsubject, it is unfortunate that the Church has not so far placed itself wherit should be: in the very centre of a debate throughout the nation on whashould be a pressing moral issue.

To assume automatically that because it is possible to experiment oanimals, and because notional benefits may be obtained from such research (anprofits for drug companies), it is therefore right to kill or causexcruciating pain to our fellow creatures, leads us into dangerous territorindeed.

Apart from the effect on animals, what harm does such research do to thoswho take part in, or sanction, such cruelty? As Christians, we have prioritiein saving life, and yet we see human lives wasted by lack of food, lack of safdrinking-water, lack of hygiene, and by war and terrorism throughout the worldWe can save many human lives without a single new drug.

Moreover, in advancing medicine, there is much that can be done withoucausing suffering, and in the light of good Franciscan principles of reverencbefore the creation and the God who brought it into being. So often in ouprayers of intercession, daily and on Sundays, I have the uneasy feeling thawe do not see the world in its complexity. Let us, indeed, pray for ourselveand our fellow man, but let us pray also, as I try to do, for the creation thaGod saw as very good, and resolve to be good stewards of animals and plants ifuture.

If this leaves us far beyond debating the morality of putting electrodeinto the brains of kittens and monkeys, and into worrying about the slaughteof animals to indulge our appetites, then so it shoul
(founder member of VERO, Voice for Ethical Research in Oxfor
16 Alexandra Road, Oxford OX2 0DB

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