"I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil." Dr. Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo clinic.
Every second, three animals die in laboratories across the U.S., leading to an annual toll of sixty million sacrifices on the pyres of medical research. For Dr. Moneim Fadali, this appalling fact is an indictment of his peers in the medical world. A cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, Fadali offers a rare insider of the world of vivisection. He seeks to unwind the "pretzel logic" of animal experimentation, the fallacious and distorted arguments that vivisectionists use to justify the torture and killing of animals for alleged human benefit. For Fadali, vivisection is not a "necessary evil," it is simply evil and he advances an unequivocal call for its total eradication.
Fadali presents arguments that should be familiar to readers of critics like Peter Singer, Hans Ruesch, and Dr. Robert Sharpe. Fadali decries vivisection as cruel, unethical, and unnecessary. As persuasive as moral arguments against vivisectionism are, the pragmatic arguments are even stronger since they refute animal experimentation on its own grounds. As Fadali emphasizes, experimentation on animals ultimately is experimentation on human beings, since animal behavior, physiology, and reaction to drugs is significantly different than that of human beings.
Thalidomide, Opren, Eraldin, and Isoprenaline aerosol are just a few of the drugs that were tested "safe" on animals, but caused thousands of deaths and defects when introduced into the human population. According to the U.S. Surgeon Accounting Office, 52% of the drugs introduced in the market between 1975 and 1985 were found to be dangerous and revoked. Thus, the scientific salve that animal-tested drugs are "safe" therefore gives consumers a false sense of security, and should be seen to be about as trustworthy as the "USDA approved" stamp on meat products.
If animal research is inherently flawed, then all the time, energy, training, and money that goes into it is a tremendous waste and would be better spent on alternative forms of research, such as tissue cultures and computer modelling. Fadali describes these alternatives in detail and he advances the important argument that animal research, far from the path to medical progress, is a major obstacle in the way.
Although this book is praised by highly regarded doctors like Neal Bernard and Michael Klapper, I cannot share their unqualified enthusiasm. Animal Experimentation is a much better book for people already somewhat knowledgeable about anti-vivisectionism literature than those who might explore it for the first time. The main problem is Fadali's writing style, which is repetitive, badly organized, and rhetorically overblown. These flaws might well put anyone off, but I think that someone potentially sympathetic to arguments against animal research will quickly turn around once they run headlong into Fadali's excessive sarcasm and rhetoric. His passion is admirable, but it is unrestrained, and cooler, more rigorous arguments would serve this doctor-poet's cause better.
Still, there is much valuable information in the book and perhaps its greatest value lies in the man Dr. Fadali, a brilliant example of someone who has learned the art and science of medicine without doing harm to animals.