Letter: Animal rights

Sir: The announcement that the Government is to end the vivisection of animals to test cosmetics and ingredients is excellent news. However, forgive my scepticism: it may not be as watertight a ban as initial reports imply.

Many ingredients used in cosmetics are also used in other products such as pharmaceutical and household goods. The Government supports the testing of these products on animals, and their ingredients, and so whether we can be sure that the money we pay for toiletries will not fund animal tests still seems a cloudy issue.

Secondly, the law forbids any experimental animal use if there is any other non-animal method, or it is not clearly "essential" for human or animal medicine. It doesn't take much of a study of the subject to see that this is regularly disregarded, and the most ludicrous of experiments are done. Can we expect the new law to be similarly forgotten?

Regardless of the cruelty issue, cosmetics testing on animals was stopped because it was irrelevant. The rabbit with concentrated shampoo in its differently structured eye, with no tears, for several days bore no relation to a human mishap in the shower.

Now the Government must extend this inevitable truth to the wider issue of laboratory animal use. It is true that animals suffer from different illnesses and react differently to drugs. Many human treatments fail lab animal tests, and many dangerous substances pass with flying colours when tested on animals. Such a haphazard method is worse than useless.

If the Government wishes to honour all election pledges, it must look into the very convincing claim that animals and humans cannot be compared medicinally and the entire flawed system should be abandoned in favour of more reliable science.

CRIS ILES-WRIGHT

Farnborough, Hampshire

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