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Editorial by Harry Mather, Vegan Views 97 (Summer 2003)

When the Animal Liberation Front appeared some 20 and more years ago, great care was taken to avoid harming any humans. Liberating animals, damaging property used for cruel experiments were the targets of activity, backed by demos to inform the public. Attacks on persons were strictly avoided.

Lately, however, a person has been convicted of an attack on a person using a baseball bat – quite the opposite ethic to which the ALF has long stood for. I consider that we demean the movement if we descend to violence against humans in order to put a stop to violence against animals. Rescuing animals, massive regular demos, have led to the closing down of breeding centres for animal experimentation. Writing to shareholders and informing them of the connection of their companies with animal cruelty brought results. These ways of informing the public and keeping facts in the public eye have been effective.

These thoughts are prompted when I received a pamphlet that boasts of having sawn through telephone poles and flooded people’s homes. Sure, we can frighten some people into not working for companies involved in animal cruelty but others will not be deterred and, like Colin Blakemore, they can appear as heroic figures, martyrs to a cause seen as legitimate.

Animal experiments will end when people come to realise that this method of research is not just cruel but also unreliable and wasteful of resources. We now have plenty of evidence, thanks to Ray and Jean Greek, (see 'Specious Science', below ***) that clinical observation and studies of human populations have always been more reliable methods of research, that animal experiments have been misleading and dangerous and a waste of time and talent. We now have modern technology which has brought more reliable results and better testing. This is how we will put an end to this aberration that has slowed down progress for so long.

*** 'Specious Science' by C. Ray Greek, MD and Jean Swingle Greek, DVM. Authors of Sacred Cows and Golden Geese. How Genetics and Evolution Reveal Why Medical Research on Animals Harms Humans. ISBN 0 8264 1398 6 US$26.9.

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Cross-reference: Animal Rights