Animal cruelty -blackest of all crimes

Dr Michelle Lee (Sussex Express, December 6) displays either a Jesuitical skill at argument, or at diversionary tactics. Why, she demands of government minister Norman Baker, does he not concentrate on cruelty to domestic animals while skilfully obfuscating the much greater cruelty experienced by the non-human victims of science. Cruelty to pet animals is to be deplored and the perpetrators punished. These are individual acts of cruelty by presumably inadequate human beings, unlike the hundreds of thousands, (yes, truly, and the numbers are increasing annually) of acts of cruelty committed by Big Pharma, universities, and cosmetic companies with the full backing of the law. These experiments on living animals are committed behind the closed doors of experimental laboratories where groans and shrieks are described as “vocalisations”. The procedures are supposedly overseen by a mere handful of government inspectors.

Is there truthfully a moral equivalence? Mahatma Ghandi described live animal experimentation as the blackest of all black crimes, and said future generations would look back, perplexed, at the primitive behaviour of experimenters.

Aids/HIV is unknown in the animal kingdom, so why introduce it into primates? Dr Lee is ingenuous at best when she skirts over the fact that all new products, extensively tested on animals, are de facto, later tested on humans. Patients and, eventually, the general public become innocently, and unavoidably, guinea pigs when a new drug comes on to the market.

Not all new, licensed “safe” drugs are unquestionably “safe”. Probably the most notorious and horrific example of this is thalidomide. And, we all know that iatric products have harmful side effects. This is not to say that all research should be stopped immediately; just that it should be humane and necessary. And effectively policed.

Shakespeare wrote: “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” May I adapt this on behalf of the voiceless to “If you hurt us, do we not feel”?

Alan Whittaker

Uckfield Town Councillor