On Sunday 31 May 2015, over 35 members of the London Jain and vegan communities came together to listen to fact filled talk on the science of animal experimentation. The talk was delivered by Andre Menache, a retired veterinary surgeon with expertise in animal experimentation and regulatory toxicology.
Andre articulated the need for both a scientific and an ethical argument on the subject of animal experimentation, but underscored the importance of the scientific argument in winning over the hearts and minds of political and scientific communities, as well as the general public.
In his talk, Andre described the UK regulations and international guidelines making animal experimentation a necessity in pharmaceutical drug development. He presented evidence on how animal models are not good models for the study of human disease, discussed how alternatives methods could be used in drug development, and highlighted the need for laws to catch up with science and technology.
Andre also described the differences between industries most commonly associated with animal experimentation. He articulated how the public in the western world are largely against animal testing for cosmetics, and that industry had managed to develop alternative methods for safety testing response. He noted how the incentive for profit and cost reduction in the pharmaceutical drug development was driving the industry in the right direction. In what came as a surprise to many members of the audience, Andre discussed how poor public awareness and industry and regulatory dynamics meant that the chemicals industry probably posed the biggest challenge to those wishing to bring an end to animal experimentation.
Andre’s talk was followed by a lively question and answer session, and a short commentary from Sagar Kirit Shah of the Jain Vegans Working Group on attitudes towards animal experimentation within the Jain community.
The final minutes of the event were focussed on actions those attending could take to address the suffering experienced by living beings used for animal experimentation. The audience were encouraged to read more about the subject, support individuals and organisations doing work in this area , and to consider joining a research ethics committee.