The Contribution of Animal Experiments to the Control of Disease

Jack Botting Animal ResearchDr Jack Botting (1932-2012) was a keen advocate of informing the public about the important role of animals in research. Following a successful career in pharmacology, Dr Botting became the Science Director for the Research Defence Society (RDS), an organisation which would later merge with the Coalition for Medical Progress to form Understanding Animal Research. During his five years at RDS, he wrote many essays for the newsletter on the contribution of animal studies to our understanding of diseases and treatments, as well as address many of the activists pseudoscientific claims denying the role of animals in modern medical developments.

Recently, his wife, Renia Botting, collated his essays and published them in a free-to-all online book. Across nineteen essays, Jack Botting explains the contribution of animal experiments to the treatment of infectious diseases, the development of life-saving procedures, and the creation of drugs for organic diseases. See the chapter overview below:

Animals and Medicine - The contribution of animal experiments to the control of disease

You can read the whole book by clicking here. Choose either “Read the pdf” or “Read the HMTL” to view the whole book for free in two different formats.

Renia Botting writes in the introduction to the book:

“One of the most damaging aspects of antivivisection campaigning was that they had started to hijack the scientific argument, claiming that animal experimentation was scientifically misleading, “a failed technology” etc., and that an examination of the research behind major medical advances showed that non-animal techniques were crucial and that the animal experiments had contributed nothing, or worse still, held up progress. Antivivisectionists were deliberately shifting the debate from the traditional “science vs animal welfare” argument to a “scientific” debate giving their arguments a cover of scientific respectability.

To respond to this style of campaigning, Jack was given the specific task of reviewing the research behind the major medical advances and writing non-technical reviews explaining the role played by animal experimentation. His work effectively put an end to this aspect of antivivisection campaigning. The articles which Jack wrote at that time have been collected in this book.”

It would seem that Jack faced the same challenges we do now in correcting misinformation put about by animal rights groups, as “scientific antivivisection” is sadly still up to its old tricks – if under new guises. His essays address many of the exact same myths that we have worked to debunk. For instance when discussing the development of penicillin, Botting directly answers the animal rights claims that it would never have been further developed if guinea pigs were used in initial tests; when discussing similarity in drug reactions he looks at claims that aspirin has teratogenic effects in rats. The book is well worth a read, especially for anyone who is new to this debate.

Animals and Medicine: The Contribution of Animal Experiments to the Control of Disease by Jack Botting.

2 responses to “The Contribution of Animal Experiments to the Control of Disease

  1. Dr Agnieszka Werpachowska

    It’s a pity that he didn’t write how medicine was delayed by animal testing as its results have been dubious, misleading (at best inconclusive) and costly. I wonder if he mentions that 96% of animal tests’ results are not confirmed in humans and that there are cheap and reliable novel in-vitro and in-silico methods. In fact, the animal testing is a multi-billion dollar industry and it’s all about financial profits.

    • Actually he did. For example, chapter 12 where he addresses the accusations that animal experiments delayed the development of blood transfusions, and finds these claims baseless: http://www.openbookpublishers.com/htmlreader/978-1-78374-117-5/Ch-12.xhtml#_idTextAnchor053

      96% of results not confirmed to humans?! Where do you find this nonsense?

      Also, while non-animal methods are usually cheaper, they are not available for most work which is currently done in animals. Do you not think profit-seeking companies, and cash-strapped universities would all be using alternative methods if they existed?!