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The increasingly militant tactics of grassroots animal rights activists that have made headlines in recent years include protracted protests, home demonstrations, staff harassment, laboratory raids, animal rescues, property destruction including vandalism and arson, threatening behaviour and even grave robbing. Yet are these the most intelligent and productive strategies for ending animal experimentation?
While some undoubtedly increase opposition to animal experimentation, others seem to be achieving the opposite effect, at least in the UK and US. As long as governments, scientists and the public believe animal experimentation remains essential to the advancement of human health, it is destined to continue, through direct government intervention where considered necessary, or translocations to developing countries in which animal protection is minimal.
Truly ending animal experimentation requires awareness by governments, ethics committee members, scientists and the public of the poor human clinical and toxicological predictivity and utility of animal experiments, and of their burdensome cost:benefit ratio when compared to other means of protecting and advancing human health. A range of strategies to advance these goals could be employed by scientific, economic, student and public activists. Such intelligent, strategic activism would significantly speed up the abolition of animal experimentation, yet is rarely pursued by the animal protection movement as a whole. The abolition of animal experimentation is likely to take a very long time at best, without such fundamental changes in strategy.
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