Letter: Animal wrongs

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I support the right of the animal rights activists to make the moral decision that animal research is wrong ("Animals have no rights, but we still have duties towards them", 9 December). However, they are not forced to do animal research, although in this complex society it would be almost impossible to avoid being a beneficiary of such research. For example, that fact that an individual's chances of catching an infectious disease is extremely low, whether they choose to be inoculated or not, is due to many years of this kind of research.

The targets of this moral decision are inconsistent. Top of the list are colleagues of mine who are involved one way or another with medical research, then come people who farm animals for food, research and skins and not on the list at all are the people who use animals as pets.

The animals used for research in this country have the highest level of control over their conditions (rightly so); there are very few controls on pet ownership. The vast majority of animals in this country that are abused are pets: a walk around Battersea dogs' home or any RSPCA establishment would show you that.

Most people do not particularly like research being carried out on animals and would not want to do it themselves but can see the benefits to them, their children and society as a whole. Pressure by a few extremists could lead to further unnecessary controls on research involving animals in this country and a serious reduction of work being done here to help with, as yet, incurable conditions such as cancer, dementia and Parkinson's disease. Even worse, animal experimentation will move to other places in the world where there is little or no control on animals used for research.

Dr JON ROBBINS

Lecturer in Pharmacology

University of London

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