The History Of Vivisection

4th June 2010

During the Renaissance period, competitive intellectual inquiry emerged to overwhelm Church injunctions and Autopsies revealed medical inaccuracies that had prevailed for 1,300 years since Galen. For the first time, the medical community was starting to understand the real causes of disease.

In the mid-nineteenth century a failed playwright turned animal experimenter, Claude Bernard conducted numerous experiments. The sheer volume of results – accurate or not – that resulted from his animal experiments effectively created an animal experimentation business. Medical research had started to branch out into areas not directly related to the Physician Industry. In other words, people who could not make it as Doctors could still make a living as animal experimenters (Vivisectors), and still influence medical advancement. In fact, the animal experimentation machine generated such an abundance of conclusions that those conclusion very often overwhelmed human evidence to the contrary.

Soon, animal experimenters were asking for and receiving money for their research. Animal breeders began to make huge profit too and suppliers of lab equipment also enjoyed their expanding market. Despite the huge disparities in results between animals, and animals and humans, the growing industry was still seen to be providing useful information in the study of diseases. Then, in the 1930s a single incidence of a drug effecting an animal the same way it effected a human secured the use of animals for drug development too. Of course, the same problems persisted: Animals often reacted differently to the same chemical substances.

However, the pharmaceutical industry was off and running, developing strong ties with animal experimenters and using their results to boost profits. The disaster of thalidomide, a drug designed to suppress morning sickness that led to over 10,000 babies with birth defects, spurred the US Congress to offer the American public every possible guarantee of medication safety. That “guarantee” took the form of animal testing.

Nevermind that thalidomide itself had been tested on animals prior to release and had not imposed birth defects on them. And that even after scientists knew what to look for, they found birth defect from thalidomide only occasionally.

In approximately10 strains of rats, 15 strains of mice, 11 breeds of rabbits, 2 breeds of dogs, 3 strains of hamsters, 8 species of primates and in other such varied species as cats, armadillos, guinea pigs, swine and ferrets in which thalidomide has been tested, teratogenic effects have been induced only occasionally. Nevermind also that there was already ample evidence that chemicals react very differently in different species. By legislating that all drugs must prove safe and effective in animals prior to release, the government created a legal safehouse for pharmaceutical companies and any other industry with a product of questionable medical safety. Ever since, when lawsuits occur, big business can justifiably claim that they acted with due diligence to the full extent of the law. Inevitably, big business’ enthusiasm over this legal safety net has played a large role in making animal experimentation a sacred cow.