Notes for address to Hadwen Trust



At the launch of the first Professorial Chair of Replacement Science at Queen Mary College, London.

Meeting hosted by Kerry McCarthy MP at the Terrace Pavilion, House of Commons, Wednesday 16th Jan 2013

“Over the past few years I’ve become progressively more involved in campaigning for animal welfare.  It comes at a certain time of life, perhaps … this awareness that things have gone horribly wrong in the world at large, in the way we value, understand, and behave towards the other species on this planet.

We who work in animal welfare strive in a number of areas to try to move the human race towards decency and humanity in the way we treat all creatures. 

1) My own work centres on wild animals: people now on the whole understand that the Lion and the Tiger need protection, but it’s actually harder in some ways to make people aware in the UK that foxes and badgers and deer are our OWN wild animals, sentient, intelligent creatures, who have as much right to a decent life as we do, and as much right to a decent death. 

My own Save Me campaign has interlocked into a new coherent voice for animals who cannot speak for themselves … Team Badger, which is still working to try to prevent the Government from massacring an ancient, unique to the UK, and highly intelligent species of mammal – the Badger, against the wishes of the majority of the British public, the consensus of scientific opinion, and the will of Parliament, after a 6-hour debate on the subject last year.

But this is the Government which has a declared intent to bring back legalised blood sports, and is at this moment working on changes to the law which will lessen the already paltry protection in law for all wild animals. We’re talking about a government which has refused to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, in spite of the will of Parliament.  So these are grim times, and any advance in animal welfare achieved in these conditions is highly significant. 

2) Many of us work in the field of the tens of millions of animals that are born and bred purely for profit, for human food production, for those people who feel they need meat in their diets. Vital work is going on by the RSPCA and others, including independent campaigner Tracy Worcester, and some enlightened farmers, to try to lessen the immense suffering that many of these creatures endure all their lives … to improve animal husbandry in farming, and introduce the idea that the feelings of these animals – their mental and physical welfare – are worthy of consideration in their own right.

3) And many of us become involved in the plight of millions of animals who are subjected to horrific treatment in the name of scientific research, medicine, and commercial gain in the case of many of the cosmetic studies that are done on live animals. So much of the research using live animals in the past has been duplication – so much of it has been irrelevant, and unnecessary, and even in some cases massively damaging to humans, because false conclusions were arrived at due an assumption that a human body will react in the same way as the animal being used for evaluation of a drug or chemical (thalidomide being a prime example).

In ALL these areas, these are not just commodities, or inconveniences we are talking about – they are thinking, feeling, creatures, in so many ways similar to ourselves. We hold it to be self-evident that every animal is worthy of respect, decent treatment, and the opportunity to experience a life worthy of the name.

It is, of course, in the last area that the Dr Hadwen Trust has marched into the fray with astonishing results. By finding ways to accumulate the necessary data by alternative methods to using live animals, the DHT is revolutionising research. No longer do research teams labour over experiments to prove the safety of a drug, when the necessary information can be gleaned from past experiments, and in many cases by computer modelling which gives more reliable data than could ever be obtained from animal testing.  

THIS NEW STEP IS VERY SIGNIFICANT, for a number of reasons:

1) This new initiative, to create a Professorship in the field of Replacement Science, will create a leader to coordinate efforts among groups of replacement scientists.

2) It is a very significant step forward in promoting awareness of the principles of replacement science in the scientific community. It is an endorsement of the importance of the ethical treatment of animals.  We salute Prof Mike Curtis and his colleagues at the Barts Blizard Institute and QMC for taking this brave step, recognising this work, which previously has been dismissed by some as a ‘fringe’ activity, as a central issue.

3) This appointment will promote education, which is the key to developing new and better solutions in the future.

4)  We expect that this new chair will help establish Replacement Science as a key avenue of research in its own right  … an academic discipline, as detailed by Mike Curtis.

5) We expect that other Universities will follow suit, leading eventually to the elimination of the cruelty and indignity of the use of animals in scientific research. 

Special note:

it’s very significant and encouraging that today we have MP’s from ALL political parties here.  The event has been hosted by the excellent Kerry McCarthy (Lab), to whom our grateful thanks, but in this room we also see Andrew George (Lib Dem), Henry Smith (Cons), and of course Caroline Lucas (Green), all notable supporters of the vital drive to improve animal welfare in our country.  It will be crucial in the coming months and years to maintain the position that animal welfare is above politics … a cause fundamental for the decency and humanity of our evolving society. 

The Chair has been sponsored by a single benefactor, Alan Stross, whom we all salute.”