This petition is now supporting 83 Members of the UK Parliament who have signed Parliamentary Early Day Motions 263 and 22.   

By signing this petition your letter will be sent to scientists directly from, and supportive of, the animal experimentation community, inviting them to participate in the MPs' call for properly moderated, public scientific debate hearings with the leading medical Board in its field which opposes such experiments purely on scientific grounds: namely that misapplying results from animal experiments, to try and 'predict' human responses, causes immense harm to human patients. Current understanding of evolutionary biology is now able to explain why this is the case.

THE BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL REFLECTS THIS CALL FOR DEBATE

In June 2014, The British Medical Journal (BMJ) published its Editors Choice reflecting the statistics highlighted by MPs calling for this debate. The BMJ's article titled  'How Predictive and Productive is Animal Research?concluded by quoting from the paper it cited:

"If research conducted on animals continues to be unable to reasonably predict what can be expected in humans, the public's continuing endorsement and funding of preclinical animal research seems misplaced".

WHAT MAKES THESE DEBATES UNIQUE?

These debates are unique because their conditions have been endorsed as "well set out and fair" by Britain's foremost human rights defence barrister Michael Mansfield QC. A panel of judges will be present who will include experts from the fields of clinical medicine, complexity/chaos theory, philosophy of science, evolutionary biology, clinical research, drug development, and basic research. The debate conditions are specifically designed to achieve a scientific result which can be submitted as evidence in a wider legal action as well as to government bodies, in order to change now demonstrably outdated laws. The significance of this is in sharp contrast to the more casual 'vote on line' or show of hands at the end of previous debates, which all too often even muddle science and morality.

WHY ARE THESE DEBATES ESSENTIAL TO HELP END ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS AND ADVANCE HUMAN MEDICINE?

These debates will enable the public, and our government, to hear scientific evidence against the Victorian prediction principle which first institutionalised animal experiments in 1847. The debates will highlight the chasm between 167 year old research assumptions and current scientific knowledge - evidence that will be presented in order to recognise the invalidity of such animal experiments and justify their abandonment, confirmed by a precedent planning ruling in 2003, on "national interest, medical and scientific" grounds.

HOW MANY ANIMALS ARE USED ANNUALLY, FOR THESE EXPERIMENTS?

As Dr Andre Menache clarified in his recent talk, around 75% of the 4 million UK lab animals used in experiments during 2013 -14 were categorized as 'basic research' (curiosity driven) which masqueraded as 'applied research' (allegedly beneficial for humans) by falsely claiming to be 'predictive' of the responses of human patients, thereby essential in the search to find cures for illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and multiple sclerosis. Examples of these experiments are exposed monthly in the Victims of Charity campaign. In addition, 13% of lab animals were claimed by the Home Office as 'predictive' for the safety testing of new human medicines. These statistics are further explained in a recent medical blog by leading expert Dr Ray Greek, and the misplaced funding of such experiments was the focus of the British Medical Journal, Editors Choice June 2014, titled 'How Predictive and Productive is Animal Research?'

PERFECT TIMING: DECLARATION of OPENNESS ON ANIMAL RESEARCH

In 2012 over forty bioscience organisations and universities in the UK signed a "Declaration on Openness on Animal Research", committed to be more open and transparent with the public about animal use thus: 'Confidence in our research rests on the scientific community embracing an open approach and taking part in an on-going conversation about why and how animals are used in research and the benefits of this. We need to continue to develop open dialogue between the research community and the public.' EDM 22 cites this Declaration on Openness and we believe that if it is authentic, animal experimenters will welcome this chance to participate in public scientific debates to present and defend their continued use of laboratory animals.

CLARITY! Science not Ethics

The way society treats animals is unquestionably of great significance and value. It is often reported that Gandhi said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Even so, ethics about animals cannot enter a debate about medical facts which can only ever be about objectively verifiable, scientific evidence - including the "does this work or not?" questions. We therefore clearly state that our call for scientific debates must not be confused with any ethical debate motion; neither must it be confused with the National Center for 3Rs, (Reduction, Refinement Replacement) which states: "The 3Rs are a widely accepted ethical framework for conducting scientific experiments using animals humanely". In addition to our call for scientific debates, it should also be clearly stated here that we oppose the 3Rs (Reduction of animal numbers, Refinement of harmful procedures and Replacement with 'alternatives') which ignore current science and also betray animals.

PLEASE JOIN OUR GROWING ALLIANCE FOR SCIENCE; sign and share this petition that supports 83 MPs who are now calling for scientists, who experiment on animals, to be held to thorough public, scientific account.

Thank you :)

Patients, Families and Friends at FLOE; NO to Animal Experiments (comprising the campaigns Save the Harlan Beagles, Oppose B & K Universal and Lab Beagle 1030) and Animal Justice Project, posting under their flagship, the science-based campaign For Life On Earth.

To read the petition's letter, please scroll down below the following list of its recipients:

Letter to
Mouse Modeler & Director of Alternatives Lab: FRAME Dr Andrew Bennett
Wayne State University Dr David Gorski
Science Advisor: Society of Biology Dr Laura Bellingan
and 25 others
Cambridge University Prof. Dino A Giussani
Imperial College London Prof. Robert Winston
Dept of Psychology: UCLA Professor David Jentsch
Medical Science Building, Bristol Prof. Max Headley
Chair: Concordat on Openness on Animal Research Dr Geoff Watts
VC Manchester University Prof. Nancy Rothwell
Oxford Primate Laboratory Prof. Mathew Rushworth (Oxford Primate Laboratory)
Primate Laboratory at Kings College London Dr Sarah Rose
UCLA Dr Dario Ringach
Kings College London Prof. Clive Page
Kings College London Prof. Jeremy Pearson
Director: CENSES Prof. Colin Blakemore and Colleagues
Head of non-human primate lab: UCL Prof. Roger Lemon
Barts Cancer Institute Prof. Frances Balkwill
Honorary Life President: FRAME Prof. Michael Balls
Primate lab: Oxford University Prof. Tipu Aziz
Humanimal Trust 'One Medicine'
UCL Prof. Gordon Blunn
Vice President, National Association for Biomedical Resarch Matt Bailey
CEO, Understanding Animal Research Wendy Jarrett
Campaigns Manager, Understanding Animal Resarch Tom Holder
Head of Policy and Media, Understanding Animal Research Chris Magee
CEO British Heart Foundation Simon Gillespie
Primate experimenter, research director (DR1) INSERM Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
Primate and Cat Experimenter Lab of Neurophysiology University of Rome Roberto Caminiti
I write to ask you to agree to participate in properly moderated, public scientific debates - about the question of the validity of using results from animal experiments claimed as 'predictive' models for human patients, (supported by the false concept of 'One Medicine', allegedly valid for vets and human medical specialists) - with the leading scientific experts who oppose such animal experiments, purely on human medical, scientific grounds. This request for debate is supported by 83 MPs who have signed Parliamentary EDMs 263 and 22, and the debate conditions have been endorsed as "well set out and fair" by Britain's foremost human rights defence barrister Michael Mansfield QC.

The question of the predictive value of animals for humans is becoming an increasingly topical one in leading scientific journals, as illustrated by the British Medical Journal's Editors Choice, June 2014, titled 'How Predictive and Productive is Animal Research?' [1] This article concluded by quoting from the paper it cited:

"If research conducted on animals continues to be unable to reasonably predict what can be expected in humans, the public's continuing endorsement and funding of preclinical animal research seems misplaced".

I also ask for these debates in light of current understanding of evolutionary biology, following the publication of the seminal work Animal Models in Light of Evolution (2009) Shanks PhD and Greek MD. My request is additionally subsequent to the forty bioscience organisations in the UK who have signed a 'Declaration on Openness on Animal Research', committed to being more open and transparent with the public about animal use in scientific research, thus: 'Confidence in our research rests on the scientific community embracing an open approach and taking part in an on-going conversation about why and how animals are used in research and the benefits of this. We need to continue to develop open dialogue between the research community and the public.' To those scientists who are party to this Declaration, I am delighted to hear that public confidence in your continuing use of animal models for human medicine is important to you, and I trust you will welcome this request to participate in properly moderated, public scientific debates, to present and defend your scientific position.

As a member of the public, I am naturally a stakeholder in the rapid advancement of human medicine. I wish to believe that researchers are applying current scientific understanding at the very highest and most effective level. However, my confidence in this is greatly undermined due to a highly qualified medical position, currently shared by a growing scientific community, who provide evidence-based arguments opposing the claimed validity of the continued use of animal models. As the history of landmark advances clearly documents, scientific breakthroughs are often produced by the dedicated work of enlightened individuals, such as Darwin who brought us the Theory of Evolution, Einstein who gave us the Theory of Relativity and Jenner, Lister and Semmelweis who all contributed to the Germ Theory of Disease. Science has more recently delivered the Trans-Species Modeling Theory (TSMT) [2], which demonstrates how current understanding of evolutionary biology and complexity explain decades of practical examples opposing using animal experiments to try and predict human responses in medical research and the safety testing of new human medicines.

Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies acknowledge the failure of animal models in their drug development process and write about this often and openly in the scientific literature [3].

SCIENCE, NOT ETHICS!

Historically, scientific debate has been stifled and hindered by framing this debate as concerning not only science but also animal ethics. Whilst the ethics of animal welfare is of vital importance and value it does not enter a debate about medical facts, which as such can only ever be about objectively verifiable factual evidence. So my call for scientific debates must not be confused with ethical debate motions using emotive language such as 'This House would ban all forms of animal research', neither must it be confused with the National Center for 3Rs (NC3Rs) which outlines its ethical policy for experimenting on laboratory animals thus: "The 3Rs are a widely accepted ethical framework for conducting scientific experiments using animals humanely". Neither must this request for scientific debates be confused with the potential economic benefits so often associated with animal experiments. To give just one example, this financial emphasis is made by animal breeders B&K Universal, in their planning application to breed thousands of beagles for vivisection experiments:

(B&K Universal 2013; Design Access, Planning and Heritage Statement p. 8)

BEGIN QUOTE

However the type of business in which B&K is involved has a huge impact on the UK economy. The potential economic impacts to the UK of not being able to undertake scientific research involving animals is estimated as between £2.2billion and £2.7billion (per year). This R&D activity underpins the UK Life Science sector which has a £50 billion turnover. The government estimates that around 23,000 jobs in the pharmaceutical sector alone are in research and development (the majority of which will be underpinned by animal research). In addition Universities and others will also be involved in carrying out research and development activities so overall this figure is likely to be significantly higher.

END QUOTE

Leaving aside the equally valid but separate issues of animal ethics and finance, neither must my request for purely scientific debate be confused with the widely agreed scientifically viable uses of animals, albeit for which there already exist some modern, more efficient, less expensive alternatives - for more on this please see the appendix list at the close of this letter.

My request for this scientific debate solely concerns whether or not experiments on animals help human medicine advance - according to current scientific understanding. Are animal experiments able to predict human responses for medical research and the safety testing of new human medicines?

Animal experiments - claimed as beneficial predictive models for human medicine by B&K Universal and others, including yourself - were first institutionalised by Claude Bernard in 1847, a doctor who rejected the theory of evolution at a time when science could be forgiven for assuming that animals could predict what a compound would do in a human body. Animal experiments were first required by law in 1938 by the US Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and this became further enshrined in the 1946 Nuremberg Code, when scientific understanding was still, comparatively speaking, very much in its infancy. As Greek et al (2012, p.4) observe: [4]

BEGIN QUOTE

At the time of the Nuremberg trials, medical science was very different than it is now. The structure of DNA had not been elucidated, scientists thought the poliovirus entered via the nose (it enters through the gut) [27], the notion of a magic bullet (that for every disease, or at least every infectious disease, a chemical existed that could interact with the single site causing the malady and thus cure the disease without harming the rest of the body) via Ehrlich and Salvarsan [28] was foremost in the minds of drug developers, the modern synthesis in evolution was brand new [29], and animals and humans seemed to be more or less the same except for humans having a soul [2,30,31]. There were no organ transplants, infectious diseases were still a major killer in the developed world, the fields of cognitive ethology and animal cognition were unheard of, and differences between ethnic groups [32-38] and sexes [39-43] in terms of disease and drug reactions had not yet been discovered. Physics was just beginning to cast off the shackles of determinism and reductionism but chaos and complexity theory was still on the horizon. It was a different world. People in the 1940s are to be excused for thinking that animals and humans would react more or less the same to drugs and disease. We will now bring the reader into the current scientific environment as it relates to our topic [30,44-49].

END QUOTE

In closing, in the Guardian, 17th Nov 2013, Prof. Colin Blakemore stated the following about animal experiments: “...it is an unavoidable fact that we need them if we are to develop new medicines and treatments that will save people's lives”. Given that Prof. Blakemore holds this view, and the means by which we collectively discuss arguments and develop conclusions is the backbone of our society, I hope he - and the additional addressees of this letter - will immediately agree to my request for this debate.

APPENDIX

The following list of animal uses are NOT part of my request for properly moderated, public scientific debates, being the widely agreed scientifically uses of animals, for which there already exist some more efficient, less expensive, human biology-based alternatives:

1. Animals used as “spare parts”, such as when a person receives an aortic valve from a pig.

2. Animals used as bioreactors or factories, such as for the production of insulin or monoclonal antibodies, or to maintain the supply of a virus.

3. Animals and animal tissues used to study basic physiological principles.

4. Animals used in education to educate and train medical students and to teach basic principles of anatomy in high school biology classes.

5. Animals used as a modality for ideas or as a heuristic device, which is a component of basic science research.

6. Animals used in research designed to benefit other animals of the same species or breed.

7. Animals used in research in order to gain knowledge for knowledge sake.

References

[1] How Predictive and Productive is Animal Research'? BMJ 2014;348:g3719 ( available here http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g3719 )

[2] Greek, R. and L.A. Hansen, Questions regarding the predictive value of one evolved complex adaptive system for a second: exemplified by the SOD1 mouse Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, 2013 [available here http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2013.06.002 ]

[3] Supporting evidence from pharmaceutical companies [available here http://www.forlifeonearth.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Pharmaceutical-Company-Quotes2.pdf ]

[4] Greek, Pippus and Hansen, The Nuremberg Code subverts human health and safety by requiring animal modeling BMC Medical Ethics 2012, 13:16 [available here http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6939/13/16 ]

References for Greek et al (2012):

27. Paul JR: A History of Poliomyelitis. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1971.

28. Ehrlich P, Hata S: Die experimentalle Chemotherapie der Spirillosen. Berlin: Springer; 1910.

29. Mayr E: What evolution Is. Basic Books 2002.

2. Elliot P: Vivisection in Historical Perspective. edn. In Vivisection and the Emergence of Experimental Medicine in Nineteenth Century France. Edited by Rupke N. New York: Croom Helm; 1987:48–77.

30. LaFollette H, Shanks N: Animal Experimentation: The Legacy of Claude Bernard. Int Stud Philos Sci 1994, 8(3):195–210.

31. Bernard C: An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine. New York: Dover; 1957 (1865).

32. Cheung DS, Warman ML, Mulliken JB: Hemangioma in twins. Ann Plast Surg 1997, 38(3):269–274.

33. Couzin J: Cancer research. Probing the roots of race and cancer. Science 2007, 315(5812):592–594.

34. Gregor Z, Joffe L: Senile macular changes in the black African. Br J Ophthalmol 1978, 62(8):547–550.

35. Haiman CA, Stram DO, Wilkens LR, Pike MC, Kolonel LN, Henderson BE, Le Marchand L: Ethnic and racial differences in the smoking-related risk of lung cancer. N Engl J Med 2006, 354(4):333–342.

36. Spielman RS, Bastone LA, Burdick JT, Morley M, Ewens WJ, Cheung VG: Common genetic variants account for differences in gene expression among ethnic groups. Nat Genet 2007, 39(2):226–231.

37. Stamer UM, Stuber F: The pharmacogenetics of analgesia. Expert Opin Pharmacother 2007, 8(14):2235–2245.

38. Wilke RA, Dolan ME: Genetics and Variable Drug Response. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 2011, 306(3):306–307.

39. Holden C: Sex and the suffering brain. Science 2005, 308(5728):1574.

40. Kaiser J: Gender in the pharmacy: does it matter? Science 2005, 308(5728):1572.

41. Simon V: Wanted: women in clinical trials. Science 2005, 308(5728):1517.

42. Wald C, Wu C: Of Mice and Women: The Bias in Animal Models. Science 2010, 327(5973):1571–1572.

43. Willyard C: HIV gender clues emerge. Nat Med 2009, 15(8):830.

44. LaFollette H, Shanks N: Animal models in biomedical research: some epistemological worries. Public Aff Q 1993, 7(2):113–130.

45. LaFollette H, Shanks N: Brute Science: Dilemmas of animal experimentation. London and New York: Routledge; 1996.

46. Shanks N, Greek R: Animal Models in Light of Evolution. Boca Raton: Brown Walker; 2009.

47. Shanks N, Greek R, Greek J: Are animal models predictive for humans? Philos Ethics Humanit Med 2009, 4(1):2.

48. Greek R, Greek J: Is the use of sentient animals in basic research justifiable? Philos Ethics Humanit Med 2010, 5:14.

49. Greek R, Shanks N, Rice MJ: The History and Implications of Testing Thalidomide on Animals. The Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law 2011, 11.