Ricky Gervais, with beautiful Beagle Scarlett.

FLOE's Patron, Peter Egan, with Scarlett.

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How to respond to MPs refusing to sign EDM 175, for a fair public scientific hearing on animal experiments

Some MPs, and all Members in the Conservative Party, so far, are refusing to sign Parliament EDM 175, which calls for a fair public scientific hearing on claims that results from animal experiments can predict the responses of humans, in medical research and safety testing.

Many of our supporters have received a generic reply from their MPs, see the below, which makes false claims about current medical knowledge without providing any references from the peer reviewed scientific literature. That is because there are no peer reviewed scientific papers supporting their outdated position.

We have provided a text for you to use as a basis to reply to your MP, if you receive such a letter. Please find your reply, to cut and paste into your own email, below this sample generic MP’s response:

GENERIC RESPONSE FROM MPs, REFUSING TO SIGN EDM 175

From: 
Date: 
To: 
Subject: Re: Please support EDM 175 and its vital call for a public scientific hearing (Case Ref: )

Dear , 

Thank you for contacting me about dogs and animal testing. 

I am opposed to animal tests where alternative approaches could be used. Unfortunately, however, the use of animals in scientific research remains a vital tool in improving our understanding of how biological systems work in health and disease, and in the development of new medicines, treatments and technologies. Animals are only used in research when there are no suitable alternatives, and any tests are carried out under controls that keep suffering to a minimum. This is known as the last-resort principle, which will be retained and strengthened in the Environment Bill.

Like you, I welcomed the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill to Parliament. This Bill will not only enshrine recognition of animal sentience in domestic law, but will also establish an expert-led Animal Sentience Committee, which will produce reports on the impact of policy decisions on animal welfare. Further, I am pleased that the new Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act has enabled tougher prison sentences for the most serious perpetrators of animal cruelty, from the previous maximum of six months to up to five years. The maximum five-year sentence is one of the toughest punishments in Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.

I hope this offers you some reassurance that this Government is deeply committed to maintaining the very highest standards of animal welfare in research.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. 
 
Best wishes, 


 james wild mp

Member of Parliament
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

YOUR REPLY BACK PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FULL NAME AND ADDRESS

Dear …………….. MP,

I’m shocked and deeply disappointed to receive your reply, which ignores the wealth of peer reviewed scientific evidence so carefully outlined in my first letter, asking you to support a fair public scientific hearing on animal experiments, as outlined in EDM 175.

This fair science hearing is supported by many cross-party MPs, who have signed the EDM in recognition of the now widely published, and very alarming scientific reports, on the unequivocal failure of animals, as claimed predictive models of humans in medical research and safety testing. By ignoring this scientific evidence you appear to be helping your Party embed itself in cruel and outdated experiments on dogs, and other animals, which are now proven to be entirely failing the search for human treatments and cures. [1-6] This it totally unacceptable, and is why so many cross-party MPs are now calling for the independently judged science hearing, outlined by EDM 175.

My letter today comes as shocking exclusives in the Daily Mirror – published on June 22nd and September 22nd – reveal harrowing footage of the factory farming of laboratory dogs in this country, at MBR Acres, in the heart of the Cambridgeshire countryside. The second Mirror exposé shows these dogs being unloaded at Labcorp testing laboratory, Harrogate; Ricky Gervais says “it is heart breaking to hear these dogs crying out for mercy and help”.

Dogs are man’s best friend. They are loyal, loving, gentle and kind, but the MBR Acres’ Beagles are bred for horrific experiments that involve being force-fed chemicals directly into their stomachs, every day for up to 90 days, with no pain relief or anaesthetic. This gavage procedure is revealed in the Daily Mirror film exposés, and is shockingly classified as ‘mild suffering’ by the Home Office.

Such horrific animal experiments are today, thankfully, widely reported to be entirely failing the search for human treatments and cures: [1]

The 1986 Animals in Scientific Procedures Act is now long out of date; it was surpassed in 2003 by the Human Genome project, bringing developments in evolutionary and developmental biology, genetics, gene regulation, gene expression, and gene networks – in addition to advances in understanding complex systems – all of which have significantly increased our understanding on why animals have no predictive value for human response to drugs or the pathophysiology of human diseases.

This failure of animal experiments, as predictive models of humans, is today carefully documented by an impressive wealth of experts publishing in the scientific literature, including the Editor in Chief of the British Medical Journal, whose 2014 Editor’s Choice concluded thus: “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.” [2]

The medical opposition to using animals, as claimed predictive models of humans, is so vast, I cannot reproduce it all here. But suffice to draw your attention to the following: huge numbers of experts working in the pharmaceutical sector openly acknowledge the failure of animal models in their drug development process and write about this often, in the peer reviewed scientific literature. The failure of animal models is also acknowledged by the US-based National Cancer Institute, which says we have lost cures for cancer because studies in rodents have been believed. [3] Vaccines have never been more important than they are today, and the failure of animal models in vaccine development was underlined in no uncertain terms by the inventor of the polio vaccine, Dr. Albert Sabin, who testified under oath, at the US House of Representatives, stating progress “was long delayed by the erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys.” [4] And if that wasn’t enough, the Food and Drug Administration states that nine out of ten new medicines go on to fail in human trials, because animals cannot predict human responses. [5]

Despite all of the above, and the medical evidence I provided in my first letter, you claim – without providing any refences from the scientific literature – that “the use of animals in scientific research remains a vital tool in improving our understanding of how biological systems work in health and disease, and in the development of new medicines, treatments and technologies.” This claim is entirely unacceptable. And given the clear wealth of scientific opposition I am providing to such a claim, I am asking you to please reconsider your position regarding the important public scientific hearing called for by EDM 175. This hearing will enable independent experts, from the relevant fields of science, to judge evidence from both sides and advise the Government accordingly. The hearing’s format is based on the tried and tested process of peer review: independent experts from the relevant science fields will judge two opposing position papers. The format for the hearing is outlined in chapter two of the book: Animal Experimentation, working towards a paradigm change – and endorsed as “well set out and fair” by foremost human rights defence barrister, Michael Mansfield QC.

My personal view is that your Party is currently being advised by those with an outdated and cruel vested interest in the continuation of animal experimentation. Surely such advisors should be supporting the EDM’s call for a fair public science hearing, if only to try and prove their scientific opposition wrong?

I’d like to ask you to please read some of the leading peer reviewed science papers on this subject, may I recommend this as a starter? The Nuremberg Code subverts human health and safety by requiring animal modelling.

The following paper addresses the enormous financial benefits to society as a whole, if the funding of animal models stopped:  Human Stakeholders and the Use of Animals in Drug Development. This peer reviewed paper also is a wonderful introduction to the subject: Are animal models predictive for humans?

For more scientific evidence, please visit this summary.

I must also clarify that human-based research is not an ‘alternative’ to animal experiments. Human-based research comes with a track record of success, not the 90% failure rate of animal tested medicines! [FDA]. Human-based research is the opposite of animal testing, these are not ‘alternatives’ for each other.

In closing, I’d like to emphasise that today, we have entered the age of personalised medicine. Gene-based medicine means that the individual DNA of each human patient is being mapped, as well as the individual DNA of that patient’s cancer (by way of example) and treatments are then administered to target the exact requirements of that unique person and their unique illness. Even identical twins are now accepted to respond entirely differently to drugs and disease. In light of this extraordinary medical knowledge and advancement, the continued funding of laboratory animal models, using a completely different species from humans, certainly belongs in the history books of 1847, when animal experimentation was first institutionalised by a French doctor, Claude Bernard, who went on to reject the Theory of Evolution.

Science often progresses through the inspired efforts of lone individuals. Albert Einstein brought us the Theory of Relativity; Charles
Darwin wrote a book about the Theory of Evolution and changed the world. Similarly, medical doctor Ray Greek, with his late research
partner Dr. Niall Shanks PhD, published the basis for Trans-Species Modelling Theory in 2009. [6] This is another overarching Science
Theory based on evolutionary biology and complexity science. Trans-Species Modelling Theory explains why animal models have never
demonstrated predictive value for humans, in medical research and safety testing, and never will.

Your letter rightly celebrates the forthcoming new Animal Sentience Bill, which enshrines in law the ability of animals to experience joy and feel suffering and pain. I also join you in celebrating Finn’s Law, named after the brave police dog Finn, which means animal cruelty sentences have rightly increased to up to five years in prison.

Last, but by no means least: your Party will not survive by putting its head in the sand. I ask you therefore to please reconsider your position, support the fair and independently judged scientific hearing called for by EDM 175, and sign for this important, life-saving action today.

Yours sincerely,

REFERNECES

1. Lumley CE, Walker S Lancaster, Quay, editors, 1990, ‘Clinical Toxicity – Could it have been predicted? Post-marketing experience’, 57–67; Heywood R. Animal Toxicity Studies: Their Relevance for Man.

2. BMJ 2014;348:g3719 available here

3. 4. Gura T: Cancer Models: Systems for identifying new drugs are often faulty. Science. 1997, 278 (5340): 1041-1042.

4. Reference: Sabin. A: Testimony before the subcommittee on Hospitals & Health Care, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, House of Representatives, April 26th 1984, serial no. 98-48.

5. FDA Issues Advice to Make Earliest Stages Of Clinical Drug Development More Efficient. FDA, June 2006   

6. Questions regarding the predictive value of one evolved complex adaptive system for a second: exemplified by the SOD1 mouse. Greek, R. Hansen L.