In August, the Research Defence Society announced that more than 500 British researchers had signed its Declaration on Animals in Medical Research, including three Nobel laureates and 190 Fellows of the Royal Society.
The Declaration highlights the important contributions made by animal research to benefit humanity and underscores the importance of further research. Fifteen years ago, a similar declaration was circulated by the Research Defence Society which ultimately garnered 1,000 signatures including six Nobel laureates.
Simon Festing, executive director of the Research Defence Society, said in a press release that,
We are delighted to have gathered over 500 signatures from top UK academic scientists and doctors in less than one month. It shows the strength and depth of support for humane animal research in this country. Abolitionist groups often claim that their position has scientific or medical support, but itÂ’s no surprise that they cannot back this up.
Cancer researcher Nick Wright, dean of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry explained why he signed the Declaration,
I have signed this Declaration because I recognise the enormous contribution made to modern health care and public health by animals in medical research. As the pace of discovery quickens, it becomes even more important if we are to maintain this momentum. This is why I believe that we should all publicly acknowledge our debt to animal experimentation.
The full text of the Declaration reads,
Declaration on Animals in Medical Research
Throughout the world people enjoy a better quality of life because of advances made
possible through medical research, and the development of new medicines and other
treatments. A small but vital part of that work involves the use of animals.
In 1990, top scientists and physicians from the UK, as well as Nobel Laureates,
signed a Declaration that stated, among other things:
Â“Experiments on animals have made an important contribution to advances in medicine and surgery,
which have brought major improvements in the health of human beings and animals.Â”
Fifteen years later
We reaffirm our support for the 1990 Declaration, and for the statement from the House of Lords Select Committee
on Animals in Scientific Procedures (2002) that: Â“there is a continued need for animal experimentation both in applied
research and in research aimed purely at extending knowledgeÂ” and for the statement from the Royal Society report
The Use of Non-Human Animals in Research (2004) that: Â“humans have benefited immensely from scientific research involving
animals, with virtually every medical achievement in the past century reliant on the use of animals in some wayÂ”.
We acknowledge and respect the sentience of animals. Until we no longer require animals in research, animal
welfare is of paramount importance. We aim to gain the benefits from animal research with minimal suffering
and distress. It is crucial to promote best practice and maintain a culture of care in research establishments.
Every effort must be made to: replace the use of live animals by alternative techniques; reduce the number of
animals used to the minimum required for meaningful results; and refine the procedures and improve housing
to ensure the well-being of the animals.
The UK is widely acknowledged to have the most rigorous controls on animal research in the world. Both
institutions and individuals must adhere to legislation governing the use of animals in research.
We wish to see an open and responsible debate about the use of animals for all purposes. This can be difficult
in the face of animal rights extremism. We encourage institutions to provide clear information about animal
research, and foster rational discussion about the ethical, medical and scientific issues.
All use of animals by society should be considered in an ethical context. Proposals to use animals in science must
be critically evaluated and justified. The validity, usefulness and relevance of the research need to be demonstrated
in every case. Research using animals should be subject to cost / benefit assessment and ethical review.
Signed (as individual)
Animal testing backed by 500 UK scientists. Reuters, August 25, 2005.
15 years on: top scientists and doctors back animal research. Press Release, Research Defence Society, August 24, 2005.