Actress backs drug testing on animals
Medical researchers should stop apologising about the need for drug testing on animals and the public should be more understanding of its importance to the nation's health, actress Jane Asher said today.
She said that unless people were willing to renounce virtually all medical intervention for themselves, their families and even their pets, arguments against using animals in research were unsustainable.
And she attacked the idealism of animal rights protesters as unrealistic and called on schools to do more to help youngsters understand the importance of scientific discovery.
Ms Asher, patron of the charity Seriously Ill for Medical Research (SIMR), was speaking at a meeting in London organised by the Coalition for Medical Progress.
"Looked at from the practical point of view, it's very hard to see how any rational person can object to carefully controlled, humanely conducted experiments used to develop drugs and medical techniques to benefit mankind," she said.
"Unless they are willing to accept inadequately tested, and therefore highly dangerous and unpredictable, drugs and treatments, then the practical argument against is untenable.
"I find it almost impossible to believe that any reasonable person could continue to call for a ban if they were to be confronted with the realities of just what they were advocating."
Ms Asher pointed out that the UK had some of the most stringent and well-monitored regulations on animal testing in the world and animals were only used where there was no alternative.
"I believe that some form of animal testing will be needed for many years to come, and we shouldn't have to apologise for that," Ms Asher said.
She added: "I wouldn't want to wish serious pain or illness on anyone, but when I see misguided young people attacking research institutes or attempting to free laboratory animals, you can't help wishing that they could see - just for a second - what they are truly advocating."