John Pranger: The smoke screen of animal research

By John Pranger

“The medical establishment has become the major threat to health.”
— Ivan Illich in Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis, the Expropriation of Health, 1976

Animals are used by pharmaceutical and chemical companies to test the toxicity of drugs and other substances, including cosmetics, household cleaners, and pesticides—and tobacco. This practice has been regularly criticized by doctors and scientists who maintain that animal testing is unscientific, erroneous, and a danger to human health. It merely performs an alibi function for corporations and governments, who hope to protect themselves thereby from legal liability.

This alibi function was confirmed by James D. Gallagher, then director of medical research for Lederle Laboratories, who complained in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1964: “Another basic problem which we share as a result of the regulations and the things that prompted them is an unscientific preoccupation with animal studies. Animal studies are done for legal reasons and not for scientific reasons. The predictive value of such studies for man is meaningless—which means our research may be meaningless.”

The biological variations between species make the results of experiments done on one species inapplicable to any other species, including humans. In addition to this, the various diseases which plague human beings either do not occur naturally in non-humans or they take on a very different form. Put simply, animals can never have human disease due to the basic biological fact that they are not human.

Cigarette smoking is a factor in many diseases, causing an estimated 443,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone. Why are cigarettes still legal when they are proven harmful? Epidemiology has shown, for instance, that persons who smoke are far more likely to die of lung cancer than persons who do not smoke. Numerous large population studies have been undertaken, and there is not a single retrospective or prospective controlled study that has failed to show that cigarette smoking causes human lung cancer.

In stark contrast to the consistently positive findings linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer in humans, the results of decades of animal experiments are highly contradictory. Most animal studies have failed to show that cigarettes cause cancer.

Perversely, denying medical facts, researchers are forcing animals to inhale cigarette smoke to this day, no scientists having yet succeeded in causing the human type of lung cancer in animals. In 1975’s The Unseen Fight Against Cancer, Dr. Thelma Brumfield Dunn writes: “the induction of lung cancer by tobacco smoking has not been achieved. Almost every conceivable experiment has been devised to induce lung cancers in animals that would duplicate the lung cancers found in man. Chickens and dogs were made to smoke and to inhale, but no convincing lung cancers developed. Hundreds of mice spent a lifetime in smoke-filled rooms yet no increase in lung cancer was found.”

Because of animal studies’ failure to show that cigarette smoking causes cancer, wider and speedy acceptance of the cigarette-lung cancer theory has been seriously retarded, although it is firmly based on studies of actual human populations. Tobacco companies have used the legal alibi of animal testing to keep their products on the market and to frustrate all attempts at instituting meaningful regulation and public health measures. In 1993, the New York Times quoted sworn testimony of William Campbell, then president and CEO of cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris USA:

Q: “Does cigarette smoking cause cancer?”

A: “To my knowledge, it’s not been proven that cigarette smoking causes cancer.”

Q: “What do you base that on?”

A: “I base that on the fact that traditionally, there is, you know, in scientific terms, there are hurdles related to causation, and at this time there is no evidence that -- they have not been able to reproduce cancer in animals from cigarette smoking.”

Animal studies are almost unbelievably contrived and crude. Dogs with erections (don’t ask how) were forced to inhale cigarette smoke. Most of the dogs failed to maintain an erection after the smoke was inhaled. In the Journal of Urology in 1987, researchers said this observation lent support to the clinical observation that smoking interfered with a man’s ability to maintain an erection.

Laughable or worrying? Why do we have to give our money to people who conjure up such mad science behind locked doors? Why does government continue funding animal experiments with our taxes in spite of their proven inability to cure or prevent disease?

Nearly a century of tormenting animals with cigarette smoke and what’s the upshot? 5.4 million Canadians are addicted to cigarettes—the leading cause of preventable death—and 45,000 Canadians die from smoking each year and that number is growing. When will the “scientists” be satisfied that smoking is unhealthy and that we don’t need their “confirmation” to know this?

John Pranger is the director of communications for the Animal Defense & Anti-Vivisection Society of British Columbia.




Feb 1, 2010 at 11:02pm

This article is blatant propaganda. What is with the Georgia Straight these days?! You must have taken on some new assistant editors who belong to PETA because you sure are giving these folks almost a monthly bully pulpit to proselytize about the so-called evils of medical research involving animals.

Anyone who has a loved one suffering from Alzheimers disease or Parkinsons or autism or heart disease or cancer will certainly have a different view. And anyone without the anti-vivisectionist tunnel vision of this article probably has some appreciation of how many medical breakthroughs we've made over the past few decades that were ONLY possible because of animal research.

Most of this research does NOT involve strapping down animals and torturing them and blowing cigarette smoke into them. A lot of it is relatively humane and often lesion work is done with drugs or brain cooling that have completely reversible effects. It is easy to be an idealist about this issue when you're a young person in your teen years or in your 20s because most people at this age have that wonderful but delusional feeling of immortality. But when you're older and you have a husband or daughter with a life-threatening disease and not much time left (or heaven forbid you are sick yourself), then you become much more pragmatic about finding a cure ... even if it means some rats will be used in an experiment involving reversible lesioning to find the breakthrough. I can't believe that a decent newspaper like the Georgia Straight is such a regular outlet for this type of propaganda. Is the monthly "intelligent design" column is also being planned? Shame on you.

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Feb 2, 2010 at 11:35am

"animals can never have human disease due to the basic biological fact that they are not human"

is a stupid claim for this article to make and simply false.

Humans are animals too, and the underlying genetic and biological similarities between us (the human animals) and our lab animals (the non-human animals) means that experimentation on monkeys, mice, et al. is able to yield highly relevant data for humans.

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Feb 2, 2010 at 12:22pm

Re: Pat's Comment.
Obviously pro animal research and vivisection advocate with a lot of inside experience? You make a living doing this work?

I can't believe that a decent paper wouldn't tackle some of the hardest questions in our culture and that is what the Georgia Straight does best. It advocates for the opinions and people that often are unheard in main stream papers. The Georgia Straight is an alternative view paper. If you want a Republican or Conservative read you're in the wrong place.

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Feb 2, 2010 at 1:40pm

"And anyone without the anti-vivisectionist tunnel vision of this article probably has some appreciation of how many medical breakthroughs we've made over the past few decades that were ONLY possible because of animal research."

I'm not sure how the "ONLY" is really true. Just because we have used animal testing in the development of medicines or treatments does not make it necessary. I'm sure that in any research process there is a cellular and human (clinical) research component as well. Who is to say that we, with the intelligence that we claim to have, couldn't find alternatives to the animal-based portion?

Besides, who are we to say that it is ok to subject animals - living, feeling, sentient beings - to sickness, torture, and death, for a the possibility that we might develop a drug to help a human being? That is the same sentiment that claims all of the earth for human use, even though it leads to everyone's destruction. Radical lack of concern for the suffering of the millions of animals used for research (research that has brought us such wonderful "lifesaving" drugs as Lipitor and Viagra, not to mention Prozac and Ritalin) when so much of that suffering could be done away with is terribly sad.

The real reason scientists haven't worked to move past these faulty animal-based "models"? There's a whole lot of money available for animal-based research. It's a huge industry and any huge industry spreads propaganda to keep itself alive.

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Feb 2, 2010 at 2:42pm

Many diseases are self inflicted. The number one cause of most illness is obesity, and the consumption of animal protein. Cholesterol,free radicals, fat and prions, hormones,powerful drugs to kill parasites in cows and pigs and chickens, it's all in your body if you eat that stuff, especially in the amounts that most people do. I used to work in the diet counseling industry and gave up trying to get people to understand as long as they gorge themselves on meat, milk, animal fat, refined sugar, and eat 3 - 4 times the portions that is natural, they will be fat and sick. No miracle will make them thin and they end they with heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer, gall bladder disease, intestinal problems,allergies and so on. If you want an erection when you're 70 stop eating meat and dairy and eat grains and vegetables and plant protein. You don't have to torture dogs to find that out. Read the "China Study" the best book ever written on the subject. Look up the statistics. Everything starts with what we put in to our bodies.

The rise in cancer has steadily gone up with the rise in consumption of meat and dairy. Hormones in meat and milk are common. They won't tell you that. They play it down and WILL PLAIN LIE ABOUT it too much money is at stake.

They want the school lunch program money from the government so they play nice with the dairy industry. In the meantime your kids get poisoned. The propaganda says "Milk The Perfect Food" needs to be changed to " Milk The White Killer" Wonder why childhood Cancer is up. Learn about dairy and meat and you know why.

We don't need to put wires in to money heads and make them twitch to find that out.

There are few diseases that should require animal testing. Do we really need to give dogs erections to find out how a man can make sure his erections last long, longer.

Animals are tortured, so men can have a little blue pill. What a priority is that. Like we don't have plenty of sex in our society?

But then the small print reads...side effect.... you could go blind. Didn't momma tell you that you could go blind.

Animals testing has become a profitable business with unnecessary tests, repetitive testing and experiments it's insane. We are not even talking about true needed research. it just business for the sake of making money.
How many times do you have to drip a corrosive substance in to the eye of a rabbit to know it's corrosive. Most this stuff has been tested to death. But the government requires it so it has to be done again and again and again, it's repetitive. The labs love it they make money off it! They don't care about the creature that is sitting there with swollen eyes and in pain. Happy Easter! And here is a new hair shampoo... pink, smells like watermelon hundred of suffering rabbits later. Yes we really need that!
If you really believe that all this is on the up and up and for the "Good" of humanity, and done so humane, check it out. If it weren't necessary would you still support it? Look at the pictures of animal research victims. You can't say oh but I can't look at that, not if you at the same time say it's needed.
If you support it you should also look at the victims you own them that much.

Please don't believe all the propaganda the laboratories tell you. Don't believe when they claim without all that sick torture your grandma will die. Start at the beginning and learn what you should not eat or not eat too much of.

Google Prions disease and the Alzheimer connection. How many mad cows has your grandma eaten over her lifetime without knowing? Meat is a bad for your health should not be consumed. Same goes for dairy.

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Feb 2, 2010 at 4:29pm

To Mr John Pranger and all of his fellow animal rights activists. Please feel free to protect all these animals by volunteering yourselves for scientific, medical, and product testing. Until you do then consider yourselves hypocrites whenever you use almost anything that mordern society made available for your use.

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katie kitson

Feb 2, 2010 at 6:00pm

some people don't want to know how things are actually made. shame on you. maybe your ignorance is bliss but this article is well written and informed. more information should be available to the public. open the eyes of production.

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Feb 2, 2010 at 6:01pm

It should also be pointed out that much human research was taken by the US from japan after the 2nd world war in which the Japanese did many "live" vivisection experiments on humans and a lot of progress in human medicine can be attributed to that.
Also, the Nazi's did many many experiments on the Jews during the second world war....again, much progress was made because it was done on humans not animals. I am not saying that we should test on humans, but the point is progress wasn't made from animal studies, which still proves to be misleading. It's a business, from which many profit, too much for it to end at this time sadly....but hopefully that'll change.
far from saving people, drugs that have tested fine on animals have gone on to kill what is the benefit in continuing? aren't we just playing Russian roulette?
people who are for vivisection really need to do their research and not read the propaganda.

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Feb 2, 2010 at 7:35pm

To: wotupwitdat

You got that backwards.
Since you seem to think it is OK to torture living beings for needless science and since you seem to be the one that things so highly of that establishment that does evil in the name if "Humanity"... why don't you volunteer? I mean that in all sincerity. It would be logical that you would jump at the change to give your body to science! Since You think it's important.

What gives YOU the right to enslave another species living, feeling beings, that do not have a say and can't fight back, at all. Why should they suffer they don't even benefit in any way from the so called advances. Do you ever imagine what it must be like to be bound by all limps, can't escape full of fear and put up like that for hours and days? Noone of your kind that you can see, no interaction, your instinct tells you to flee but you can't, your instinct tells you you going to die and your past experience tells you pain is coming. Do you ever think about those things??? What it must be like to sit in fear. If animals could conger up some form of religion they would depict the devil in Human form!

If you really, deep down in your heart think that animal do not have feelings and can not suffer, then my brother or sister you are a lost soul!

I could not care less about most of the stuff society puts out. Medical or otherwise. And I don't use it either, not anymore.

You should try to learn what goes on around you, I mean not just MTV, and video games, but stuff about real beings that get mangled because of greed.

You need to get out more and open up your mind to actual people that care about animals and people.
You may want to work on your prejudices toward other species, hang out with some "animal rights" people as you call us condescendingly, and you may actually learn something new, your capacity to love may actually grow, you may learn we are people that come from all walks of live, all races and countries, all ages, you may actually like us and you discover you have a heart! I know what I am talking about. Once up on a time not too long ago I was YOU!

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Feb 2, 2010 at 8:13pm

In the last 10 years I had about 10 people around me die from illnesses.

All of them had the same thing in common... OBESITY!
All of them were also African American.
Most of them were taking medication, that still did not seem to help but had many side effects.
There were one death just recently by kidney failure brought on by diabetes. Age in the mid 30s.
There was another also diabetes, another aneurysm mid 30s all obese. Good friend of mine lost two sisters and one aunt to Breast Cancer... What did they have in common Obese, love to eat meat, fried meat, love cheese and love milk. The Average American diet! I could go on.

It is especially bad for African Americans to drink milk. There is a high rate of milk intolerance among African Americans.
But we still cram Milk down their throats in schools through the lunch program that leaves little alternatives. There are plenty of non dairy alternatives that are high in calcium that aren't even allowed to be brought to the table. You can't say Milk is bad you practically get arrested schools it's like yelling fire. It is so unconscionable what we are doing to the children with the bad food. So they get sick already by the age of 13 children with heart disease... the writing is on the wall. No amount of animals testing is going to fix what must be fixed at the source! At the table.

Peopel that try to educate others about the dangers of dairy and lactose intolerance are made to be the villains. MSM is rarely reporting on this sort of thing.

There isn't even a debate allowed when it comes to meat and dairy.

That is the first crime, first you make people sick, then the next crime is you have multi billion dollar industry to make them well.
To produce many of the drugs you torture animals that aren't even sick, so you make them sick pretending that they are going to react as humans would to those drugs, but yet when people like me say making them suffer is wrong, then they are suddenly "just animals" again. Well make up your mind either they are similar enough to be used for research simulating humans response or they are not.

So here we are torturing animals, that are "just animals", but are supposed to react like humans, to those drugs for humans, to make those well, that were made sick, in ways that we are not allowed to debate.

I suggest a novel idea... why not try to keep people from getting sick in the first place.

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