Can’t We Just Use Prisoners?

In AFSA’s communications about the wrongs of animal research, we sometimes come up against the suggestion that in place of animals, society should use criminals, prisoners, paedophiles, immigrants…the list goes on.

Whilst we do not have the right to inflict suffering on animals in the name of research, we equally do not have the right to inflict suffering on non-consenting humans, regardless of any evil that they may have committed.

This is protected by international law under the Helsinki Declaration and Nuremberg Code.  By suggesting that we exploit a sector of society deemed by some to be of lower worth than others, we weaken the case against animal experimentation, by implying that we do not value human life. Pro-vivisectionists often frame the debate as the need to sacrifice animals to save human lives (‘it’s your dog or your child’).   In fact, our grounds for opposing animal research are on scientific, as well as ethical grounds. Non-animal, human-relevant research benefits humans, as well as animals, through greater translation to human conditions.

Whilst we support epidemiological studies and ethical human volunteer studies with the consent of informed participants, alternatives to animal models are far broader than this, from computer modelling, to organoids, to organs-on- a -chip. It weakens our case when the proposition to use non-consenting humans is raised, which is both unethical, and unnecessary, given the viable alternatives that exist.

Aside from the ethical arguments, there are scientific factors which come into play.  Stressed people (like stressed animals) who are otherwise physically healthy do not respond to medication in the same way as real patients (i.e. people with existing disease). People in jail are not representative of the general population and no substitute for a personalised approach to medicine.

AFSA moderates its social media accounts and any comments made promoting the abuse of humans or animals will be removed. Of course, everyone has their own opinion on moral issues and animal experimentation attracts some strong opinions and heated debate. As a team committed to ending animal experimentation, we are extremely passionate about the issue and also feel anger about the harms causes to animals in research or education. But please think again before you express an opinion that may be offensive, inflammatory, or even harmful to our cause.


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