Jane Goodall speaks out in The Times

With a strong editorial in The Times today, world-renowned primatologist Dame Jane Goodall has rebutted Lord Drayson’s rash claims about animal experimentation in this newspaper earlier in the week. “Medical research will wither in our universities” if we don't import laboratory animals to the UK, he claimed. When exactly did he decide that entering the ‘most extreme claims about animal research’ contest was a fit and proper function for a member of the House of Lords? Although his strong entry only narrowly trails the all-time winner: “medical progress would be severely maimed by prohibition or severe curtailing of animal experiments” (Osswald 1992), he is a bit behind the times. This, at least, appears proper for a Lord.

Most real scientists stopped making such claims when a slew of large-scale studies published in scientific journals over the last decade very clearly established that the contributions of animal research to human healthcare are exceedingly low. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of its costs. These issues are explored in detail in my recent book, The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments. Given the urgency with which Lord Drayson appears to need educating, I’ll be happy to provide him with a free copy. Or he can simply review some of the relevant scientific studies with which he's obviously unfamiliar, at www.AnimalExperiments.info.

As Prof Goodall pointed out, “insistence on animal research might actually be holding back medical progress.” She described alternative research strategies that are more cost effective and potentially more predictive for human outcomes, and called on science to “direct its collectively awesome intellect toward finding alternatives to the use of live animals in all procedures – as soon as possible.”

Download her editorial here (4.7 mb).