Human health must always trump animal rights, The Lancet argues in its lead editorial this week. “The use of animals in medical research and safety testing is a vital part of the quest to improve human health… without animal testing there will be no new drugs for new or hard-to-treat diseases,” it contends.
Although animal research is a highly controversial in Britain, The Lancet takes an unapologetically human-centred stand. “The creation and development of medicine, together with its vast influence over human life, is inherently speciesist. Rather than apologise for medicine as it is pursued today, society should be seeking to strengthen it. Animal research is an essential part of compassionate humanistic endeavour.”
The journal’s view has some fervent opponents. One hardline animal rights activist, Dr Jerry Vlasak, an American who has been banned from entering the UK, told the BBC this week that violence was “a morally acceptable tactic” in the struggle to free animals from experimentation. He likened his own stand to Nelson Mandela, the former South African president. “The Vlasaks of today are the Mandelas of yesterday,” he said.
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