Ricky Gervais, with beautiful Beagle Betsy.

FLOE's Patron, Peter Egan, with Betsy.

Photos © Joseph Sinclair/FLOE

Registered animal charities are forbidden, by law, to end animal experiments.

Registered animal charities are forbidden, by law, to campaign to ban the laws which permit horrific experiments on dogs, and other animals. 

The Independent newspaper published a piece about this, here.

The above mentioned animal charities – such as Cruelty Free International, Animal Free Research, PETA UK and the RSPCA – are only allowed to call for experiments on dogs, and other animals, to be gradually ‘phased out’. This phasing out process will take many decades. 

The registered charities’ phasing out process is built on an outdated policy called the 3Rs, which was established in 1959, for ‘humane experimental technique on animals.’ Animal charities are confined to this 3Rs policy, specifically to the last ‘R’, which is Replacement: ‘replacing animal experiments whenever possible.’ This last R ignores the widely reported 90% failure rate of animal tested drugs, in human trials. [1-4] If 90% of airplanes crashed when they took off, there would be an immediate ban on the production of more. It makes no medical or moral sense to call for animal tests, which fail human patients 90% of the time, to be ‘replaced with human-based methods whenever possible.’ There needs to be an immediate ban on animal experiments, which are not only cruel to animals, but also now proven to be entirely failing the search for human treatments and cures. 

To add insult to injury, by calling for a failed method to be ‘replaced with an alternative whenever possible’: each human-based method takes around seven years to validate. So to validate all the hundreds of thousands of human-based methods, so charities can replace the hundreds of thousands of animal tests that fail human drug trials 90% of the time, could take, potentially, hundreds of years. This is insanity – and it keeps the gravy train of funding for animal experiments intact.

The human medical failure of animal experiments is today widely reported in the peer reviewed scientific literature, including by the British Medical Journal; [1] the Food and Drug Administration, which says 9 out of 10 new medicines fail to pass human trials because animals cannot predict human outcomes, [2] the US-based National Cancer Institute says we have lost cures for cancer because studies in rodents have been believed, [3] and experts working for the pharmaceutical sector openly acknowledge the failure of animal models in their drug development process, and write about this often in the scientific literature. [4]  In 2009, Drs. Shanks and Greek delivered Trans-Species Modeling Theory, which is like the Theory of Evolution and Theory of Relativity, in that it provides the overarching explanation on why animals are failing as predictive models of humans.

Peter Egan’s new Parliament petition, for a ban on the medical failure of animal experiments, cites the current science which explains why animal experiments fail 90% of the time: the 2003 Human Genome Project was key in bringing advances in evolutionary biology, genetics, gene networks and gene expression, which have increased our understanding on why animal experiments will never have predictive value for humans.

103 MPs are now calling for the scientific hearing outlined in Parliament EDM 175, to achieve an immediate ban on animal experimentation; this hearing will be judge by a panel of independent experts from the relevant fields of science, including evolutionary biology, complexity science, basic research, drug development, genetics, clinical research and philosophy of science. In 2002 there was a small scale version of this hearing, when scientists Drs. Shanks and Greek defeated plans by Cambridge University to build a new primate laboratory; the judge ruled against that laboratory on ‘national interest, medical and scientific grounds’. 

It’s important to note that the oldest anti-vivisection society in the the world, the great UK National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), has always refused registered charity status on grounds that the tax exempt benefits, which charity status brings, is a betrayal of animals, please read their quote below:

Says the NAVS: ‘The NAVS is not a registered UK charity because the law does not allow for charities to campaign to end animal experiments. Founded in 1895, the NAVS was a charity until 1947, when the Inland Revenue challenged charitable status for groups opposing animal experiments and the narrow terms of charity status worked against us at that time. Since then, charity law has been amended to include activities which would fall naturally within a charity´s core work, but would still not allow the NAVS to campaign to change the law to end animal research. 

NAVS continues: ‘In order to take up charitable status, the NAVS would be obliged to give up our work to change the law on animal experiments, including drafting legislation, working with government departments and educating legislators around the world, in addition to our public education work. In our view, this work is the most important thing we can do to achieve lasting protection for animals and so our members have made the decision that the financial benefits of charitable status must be sacrificed, in order to do what is right and necessary for animals.’ 

In 1950, a High Court precedent ruling, by senior judge Harold Danckwerts, ruled that NAVS is not eligible for charity status because “suppression of vivisection is contrary to the benefit of the community and therefore not a charitable purpose in law”. In 1950, one could be forgiven for stating that animal experiments save human lives. Not today. Medical doctor Ray Greek says: “recent developments in evolutionary and developmental biology, genetics, gene regulation, gene expression and gene networks gained in large part as a result of the Human Genome Project, in addition to advances in understanding complex systems, have significantly increased our understanding of why animals have no predictive value for human response to drugs, or the pathology of human diseases.”

Registered animal charities, opposing animal experiments. should follow the example set by NAVS and do the right thing: they should relinquish their tax exempt charity status so they can join the call for the EDM 175 science hearing to ban the failed and cruel practice of animal experimentation quickly.

In the meantime, a new Parliament petition calls for the Government to change the law to allow charities to campaign to ban laws which permit animal experiments, please sign and share that here 


1.BMJ 2014;348:g3719 available here

2. FDA Issues Advice to Make Earliest Stages Of Clinical Drug Development More Efficient. FDA, June 2006   

3. Gura T: Cancer Models: Systems for identifying new drugs are often faulty. Science. 1997, 278 (5340): 1041-1042.

4. Lumley CE, Walker S Lancaster, Quay, editors, 1990, ‘Clinical Toxicity – Could it have been predicted? Post-marketing experience’, 57–67; Heywood R. Animal Toxicity Studies: Their Relevance for Man.