From the Revd Professor Martin Henig
Sir, - I was pleased to see that Paul Vallely used his column
December) to bring before your readership breaches of
"procedures" in a university animal-testing laboratory which amount
to quite horrifying acts of cruelty. As Christians, we must be
concerned about this.
Nevertheless, we should also ask whether we should ever misuse
animals, God's creation, in this way. Whether 60 per cent or 90 per
cent of the population is "happy" for such experiments to take
place is irrelevant. Numbers can never provide "moral underpinning"
for a wrong action. The instrumentalist argument just will not do:
remember the High Priest, Caiaphas, who counselled "that it was
expedient that one man should die for the people" (John 18.14).
If we lived not in 20th-century Britain but in first-century
Palestine, I wonder what proportion of our population would go
along with Caiaphas? Cruel and unjust means can never be justified
in the hope of achieving desirable ends.
As so many churchmen (and others) insisted back in the 19th
century, vivisection is simply wrong and unchristian.
Oxford OX2 6UD
From A. Wills
Sir, - Further to your article by Paul Vallely, "Need for
vigilance on animal tests", there are concerns about the testing of
medical drugs on animals, as these can give unreliable results,
because other species react differently from humans to many
The Safer Medicines Campaign calls for evaluation of the testing
of medical drugs, as many medical drugs have had to be withdrawn
because of their dangerous side-effects on patients. Social Audit
reported that 10,000 UK hospital beds a year are occupied by people
damaged by prescribed medical drugs.
Many breakthroughs were delayed because animal tests gave
misleading results. Other testing methods are available now:
computer imaging, using discarded human tissue after surgical
operations, and stem-cell tissue from discarded umbilical cords
I do not think that it is ethical to test harsh chemical
cleaning products, such as bleach, on animals, or to test war
weapons on innocent, sensitive creatures who feel pain and fear.
Often they are not anaethetised, because researchers want to
observe the animals' reactions.
Imagine how we would feel if a more powerful species than humans
came along and experimented on us.
67 Dulverton Road
Middlesex HA4 9AF