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Animal researchers face some painful truths

September 7th, 2017

Earlier this week, around 150 animal  researchers and their colleagues gathered in Queenstown for the annual  conference of the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of  Animals in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART). This year’s theme was  ‘Maintaining Social Licence in a Changing World’ and SAFE was invited to  speak.

SAFE’s Director of Research and Education Professor Andrew Knight,  presented on ‘Painful truths: what systematic reviews reveal about the  utility of animal research,’ outlining how there are at least five  reasons why animal test results are poorly predictive of human outcomes.

“Needless to say, we do not think harmful animal research should have  a social licence to continue. International surveys do indicate  overall, declining public support for animal research, but that support  is strictly conditional on the firm understanding that such research  makes tangible and important contributions to the advancement of human  health, or that it provides other important social benefits, that cannot  be achieved in any other way,” says Professor Knight.

“The inconvenient truth, for those who would defend harmful animal  research, is that it generally fails this test. Within the scientific  world, systematic reviews are generally considered to provide the most  reliable forms of evidence about clinical and research questions,  because they exhaustively search the scientific literature for all forms  of evidence relevant to the research question. And the evidence from  systematic reviews investigating the usefulness of animal research is  clear. At best only a very small proportion produces the substantial  public health or social benefits so often claimed.”

The presentation went very well, said Prof. Knight, “It was extremely  gratifying to see this audience apparently transition from profound  scepticism to acceptance and agreement. The message was received so well  because it was scientifically plausible, data-rich, and every claim was  referenced to published evidence. Honest scientists find it hard to  argue with that.”

A detailed article expanding on these themes will be published in the  forthcoming conference proceedings. Andrew Knight’s various other  publications on animal research are available via his websites AndrewKnight.info and AnimalExperiments.info.

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