CAMPAIGNS: Judge and Jury - One victory doesn’t win the war on animal experiments - In view of the overwhelming public opinion in favour of banning animal experimentation, last week’s ban on using animals for cosmetic testing seems rather

Your clients are appealing, fluffy animals and if you can kick up a fuss about them being mutilated and killed, you will help the profits of several of the largest and most trusted British retailers. Your supporters range from Ann Widdecombe to Joanna Lumley. The opposition consists of large multinationals who want to keep testing cosmetics on animals.

Your clients are appealing, fluffy animals and if you can kick up a

fuss about them being mutilated and killed, you will help the profits of

several of the largest and most trusted British retailers. Your

supporters range from Ann Widdecombe to Joanna Lumley. The opposition

consists of large multinationals who want to keep testing cosmetics on

animals.



Even Tim-nice-but-dim should have been able to handle this one. Yet, it

has taken 11 years to get the Government to introduce the most basic

restrictions on animal testing of cosmetics. Meanwhile the use of

animals in producing genetically-engineered products and in the defence

industry has soared. Public opinion is overwhelmingly against

non-medical animal experimentation so this is a simple failure of PR to

turn opinion into commercial and political pressure.



The hullabaloo last week over a ban on cosmetic tests on animals

obscured the insignificance of the victory. The rules will affect about

0.1 per cent of animal tests done in the UK and spare about 1,200

animals a year.



There is nothing to stop the tests being done abroad and the cosmetics

produced being sold in the UK. Public opinion would have supported far

more radical change: a 1996 MORI poll said that 73 per cent would

support an EU ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics.



Cosmetic tests have fallen from 24,000 in 1977 to the current level, but

even this looks rather hollow next to the five million animals killed

each year in labs before anyone even gets around to experimenting on

them.



At some point, the PR people within the animal rights movement will get

their act together. Last week’s launch of a clear labelling system for

’humane cosmetics’ may be the first sign of new competence.



Medical researchers argue that animal experimentation is a reasonable

price to pay for an HIV vaccine or a cure for breast cancer. Most people

will agree. Most of the medical establishment has, though, allowed

itself to be suckered into defending all animal testing. It has

permitted the search for cures for disease to be mixed up with the

search for more fragrant fabric conditioners.



When the anti-vivisectionists do rally, we may all regret the health

industry’s choice of allies as stiff new regulations block real medical

research.



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