Image taken from Normalising the Unthinkable: The Ethics of Using Animals in Research.
Image taken from Normalising the Unthinkable: The Ethics of Using Animals in Research.

Animal experiments ‘morally unthinkable’ says new report

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor John Simons is a co-author of a new report by the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, calling for the de-normalisation of animal experimentation.

More than a hundred and fifty academics, intellectuals, and writers, including Nobel Laureate J. M. Coetzee, have backed the report, titled ‘Normalising the Unthinkable’.

The report finds that “The deliberate and routine abuse of innocent, sentient animals involving harm, pain, suffering, stressful confinement, manipulation, trade, and death should be unthinkable. Yet animal experimentation is just that: the ‘normalisation of the unthinkable’.

“It is estimated that 115.3 million animals are used in experiments worldwide per annum. In terms of harm, pain, suffering, and death, this constitutes one of the major moral issues of our time.”

Comprised of 20 leading ethicists and scientists, the report’s working party concluded that animal experiments are both morally and scientifically flawed.

“The moral arguments in favour of animal testing really don’t hold water,” says Professor Andrew Linzey, co-editor of the report and a theologian at Oxford University. “We have looked at the central arguments in official reports and found them wanting. If any of them were morally valid, they would also justify experiments on human beings.”

Professor Simons says animal experimentation is a hangover from an earlier time when animals were considered just as tools for human use.

“We should no longer think it’s okay to treat and dispose of animals simply as commodities. I hope that scientific research will evolve to reflect that widely held view.”

Read the full report or report summary.