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Animals and Medicine

 | 
Jack Howard Botting

Foreword

Adrian R. Morrison

Texte intégral

1Animals and Medicine: The Contribution of Animal Experiments to the Control of Disease presents a detailed, scholarly historical review of the critical role experiments using animals have played in advancing medical knowledge. Laboratory animals have been essential, and the knowledge gained has saved countless human lives – and not only human lives. Animals, themselves, have benefitted. Unfortunately, those opposed to using animals in research, some even physicians, have presented doctored evidence that using animals has impeded medical progress. Therefore, the articles Jack Botting wrote for the Research Defence Society News from 1991 to 1996 have provided scientists – those willing to speak out – with the information needed to rebut such foolish claims.

  • 1 Russell W M S and Burch (1959), The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique. London: Metheun.
  • 2 Morrison A R (2009), An Odyssey with Animals: Reflections of a Veterinarian on the Animal Rights (...)

2Of course, animals are only used when necessary and other methods will not answer the question posed. It must be admitted that in days gone by attention to their welfare was not uppermost in the minds of some scientists. In the modern era, though, laboratory animal medicine has made major advances, and scientists are enjoined legally and morally to follow the principles of the 3Rs expounded by Russell and Burch: reduction (in numbers used); refinement (of experimental techniques to eliminate or reduce pain); and replacement (with alternative approaches when available).1 An extensive philosophical defence of the use of animals can be found elsewhere.2

3It is tragic that Jack’s book had to be published posthumously. But thankfully, his efforts to put his many articles into book form were not initiated in vain because his wife, Regina, has carried his work on to publication. Because Jack and I had collaborated on a few articles more than fifteen years ago, she asked me if I would introduce the book.

  • 3 Botting J H and Morrison A R (1997), Animal research is vital to medicine. Sci Am 276 (2) 83-85.

4Ours was a curious collaboration because we never had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face. But on the basis of one telephone call and numerous emails we wrote three essays. The first was written for an ill-conceived debate organized by Scientific American. Jack had been invited by the magazine to write an article defending the need for using animals in biomedical research.3 Jack thought that it would be best to have an American join him in the debate and chose me because I had been very active in the field.

  • 4 Barnard N D and Kaufman S R Animal research is wasteful and misleading, Sci Am 276 (2) 80-82. http (...)

5Our opponents were to be two physicians, Neal Barnard and Stephen Kaufman, well-known for philosophical objection to using animals and their false claims that animal research has been wasteful and misleading. We knew that they had a history of depending on gross and clever distortions of medical history to support those claims, and what they wrote for the debate was no exception.4 Having joined together, Jack and I then tried to persuade the editor that his debate would be unwise and harmful because, as planned, there would be no chance for rebuttal. Our plea fell on deaf ears even after we had seen the contributions of our opponents prior to publication and had pointed out to the editor their various distortions of history requiring a reply.

6The editor’s answer was that the issue was an important one and should be presented to the public as planned. But how was an uninformed public to sort out fact from fancy, we asked? Barnard and Kaufman’s philosophical objections to using animals in research had been melded into a supposedly scientifically sound presentation of medical history.

  • 5 Botting J H and Morrison A R (1998) UnScientific American: animal rights or wrongs: An op-ed. HMS (...)
  • 6 Morrison A R and Botting J H (1997), Confusion in the ranks Am Biol Teacher 59 388-89. http://dx.d (...)

7Regrettably, the debate was published; and, as we had predicted, reference to Barnard’s and Kaufman’s article in what had always been a legitimate journal began to appear in animal-rightist publications. Although one scientist whose work had been misrepresented wrote a letter to the editor describing how his statements had been presented wrongly, Jack and I thought that an extensive rebuttal had to be published somewhere. We found two outlets for presenting our rebuttal: an online journal, H. M. S. Beagle: TheBioMedNet magazine,5 and a guest editorial in The American Biology Teacher.6 The former is defunct, but science and medical journalist, Andrew A. Skolnick, is kindly hosting the article on his website.

8We actually based our article in HMS Beagle, ‘UnScientific American: Animal Rights or Wrongs,’ on the several emails we had sent to the editor of Scientific American detailing Barnard’s and Kaufman’s distortions of medical history on several fronts. Our corrections focused on the development of the polio vaccine, stroke research, drug side effects, the birth defects induced by thalidomide, and the miracle of insulin. These topics are among the many that are discussed in this book in incredible detail.

9Our guest editorial, ‘Confusion in the Ranks’ allowed us to present our arguments to an extremely important audience: biology teachers. Animal-rightist propaganda had been infecting young minds for many years so we thought it critical to counter these efforts. The misleading methods presented in Scientific American and elsewhere were listed

in no particular order of perversity [as we put it]:

  1. Overemphasizing an ultimate clinical discovery while ignoring the dependence on years of dedicated background laboratory work of others or else dismissing the need to dissect mechanisms after a clinical observation
  2. Endowing a particular methodology, such as epidemiology, with exaggerated powers
  3. Reporting experimental observations or even the opinions of scientists out of context
  4. Using faulty logic
  5. Reversing the conclusions of a particular article by quoting a disjointed series of sentences as if they had appeared together in the original
  6. Boldly listing supporting references even if they are not. (6, p. 388)

10We then offered something positive: ideas for creating a curriculum module around the debate. First among them was the philosophical question of whether we are justified in using animals for purposes of our own health and well-being. If the answer is negative, is the individual prepared to live without benefitting from medical advances? We then suggested asking students how one would develop new drugs or surgical techniques without using animals in one or more stages of the process. Finally, we suggested researching one of the claims made in the Scientific American debate. We noted that the editor had received references from both sets of authors so that the magazine should be able to provide them on request. I hope some did follow through on this last suggestion. The foregoing illustrates how important Jack’s efforts were. I hope that many scientists will make good use of them in public education.

Notes

1 Russell W M S and Burch (1959), The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique. London: Metheun.

2 Morrison A R (2009), An Odyssey with Animals: Reflections of a Veterinarian on the Animal Rights & Welfare Debate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

3 Botting J H and Morrison A R (1997), Animal research is vital to medicine. Sci Am 276 (2) 83-85.

4 Barnard N D and Kaufman S R Animal research is wasteful and misleading, Sci Am 276 (2) 80-82. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/scientificamerican0297-80

5 Botting J H and Morrison A R (1998) UnScientific American: animal rights or wrongs: An op-ed. HMS Beagle: TheBioMedNetMagazine 25 (Feb 20) 1-7, http://www.aaskolnick.com/morrison/unscian.htm

6 Morrison A R and Botting J H (1997), Confusion in the ranks Am Biol Teacher 59 388-89. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4450341

Auteur

DVM, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Behavioral Neuroscience
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA, USA

Acheter

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