Letter: Tests on animals

Sir: The Government's decision to ban testing of finished cosmetics on animals (report, 6 November) may be seen as a victory, but the size of the victory is scant for such an important issue. While working as a laboratory animal technician, it has not been unusual for me to see the death of as many animals in a day as have been saved annually by this move.

One of the main reasons for cosmetics testing gaining such public contempt is the uselessness of the results. For example, the infamous eye irritancy test recently illustrated on The Independent's front page was rendered pointless by the fact that the rabbit cornea is significantly thinner than ours, by the inability to cry in rabbits and the subjective assessment of damage.

Using animals in medical research could be compared in a similar way. The vast and various differences between animals and us make it a wholly unreliable method of research. Such methods can be used to prove that smoking cigarettes is safe, as is eating arsenic, while lemons and tap water are poisons capable of killing us.

Such issues need to be confronted and discussed at the highest level. The need for a Royal commission has not been alleviated by the banning of cosmetics tests, but emphasised.

C M M ILES-WRIGHT CIAT

Farnborough,

Hampshire

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