Animal Testing on University campuses: using questionable tactics to challenge questionable behaviour?

(11) Vivisection (1)


By Taylor Gardner

An animal rights organisation has recently been criticised as using questionable tactics in their attempt to put a halt on animal testing at Universities across the UK. Currently popular at Edinburgh University, the National Operation Anti-Vivisection, has introduced a ‘pay to say’ campaign where students are rewarded in cash for revealing names, addresses, phone numbers or even pictures, of their fellow students who are involved in animal testing.

The inexcusable mistreatment of animals conducted by popular companies worldwide, has become a growing concern in recent years. With an increased awareness of the unethical testing on animals in organisations such as Herbal Essences and Nestle, comes the realisation that many of us are in fact indirectly supporting animal cruelty, whether we like to hear it or not. The National Operation Anti-Vivisection has taken it upon themselves to attempt to combat the shameful ongoings on a more local level.

Although NOAV’s tactics may be seen as bribery, all students involved have volunteered rather than being pressured by the organisation. The money incentive is an obviously tempting encouragement, with the opportunity to earn between £50 and £1000 for the simple revelation of, for example, a friend’s name. However NOAV revealed that despite the money incentive it has more often been the concern for animal welfare which has encouraged student’s contact with the organisation.

A poster advertising the campaign, states that the information obtained will be used to “make polite contact (with those involved in the animal testing) about alternatives to animal research”. Despite this affirmation, the organisation has been guilty of sharing photos and names of students in order to ‘name and shame’. However, if students know what they are doing to animals is wrong, and are consequently embarrassed or ashamed by their actions, shouldn’t they simply stop participating in the behaviour altogether?

NOAV’s website states: Those that abuse animals for a living don’t want others to know what they do, many are ashamed to even tell their children how they make their blood money. We do not believe they should be given the cover of anonymity. We believe social pressure from their peers is the best way to get them to reconsider their career choice.This stands in some form of defence towards the tactics of “naming and shaming” used in the campaign.

The campaign, which has been ongoing for around 6 months, began in Cambridge where it also received condemnation. The organisation has been regarded as using tactics of “terrorism” and hindering scientific advances which could ultimately benefit our health. However, we must question to what extent our health should come before the basic rights of other living beings. The idea that animals should suffer in favour of our own desires is extremely outdated and as the organisation suggests, we must make a move in the direction towards finding new, safer, more reliable, and more ethical ways of experimentation. The use of computer modelling, or micro-dosing, using human volunteers would be a step in the right direction.

BUVA, the British Union for Abolition Vivisection, although claim to disagree with NOAV’s tactics in this campaign, argues that human studies will give a much more realistic outcome than animal studies ever do. Additionally, the question must be raised that if companies feel their products are not safe enough to test on humans, who are we to pass that threat on to those who don’t have a voice to object?

A Director of Research at the University of Edinburgh described the efforts of the organisation as, “an extremely unpleasant campaign.” This statement can be seen as highly ironic in regards to the animal abuse she is condoning, which itself cannot be regarded as anything but unpleasant. With the NOAV campaign, our biggest concern should not lie with the invasion of privacy of students, or the embarrassment the ‘name and shame’ tactics may cause. We must instead focus here on the bigger picture, the growing problem of animal enslavement in highly self-beneficial acts.}