Damien Grant: Better a beagle dies than a drug-dabbling teen

If you are a parent, know this: Your children will take drugs to get high. Photo / Sarah Ivey
If you are a parent, know this: Your children will take drugs to get high. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Beagles are cute, with big eyes and floppy ears. Still, if I was hungry I'd eat one and if I am going to take a drug I do not care how many cute beagles need to die for me to be safe.

The luddites marching against animal testing do not want psychotic drugs that humans are going to consume to be tested on animals. Apparently, getting high is not a sufficient justification for animal testing; which makes me wonder if they have ever encountered a teenager.

If you are a parent, know this: your children will take drugs to get high.

Do you really care how many cute beagles need to be tested so your children will survive that extended period of psychosis known as puberty?

Thalidomide is at the heart of the animal testing debate.

The drug was tested on animals, found to be safe and released to market as a sedative and proved effective in dealing with morning sickness.

For most mothers the drug worked well but at least 10,000 children worldwide suffered heart-breaking deformities. In response, the US and other nations imposed far more prescriptive regulations around animal testing before drugs could be licensed.

Because animal testing failed to detect the birth defects in Thalidomide it has been argued that animal testing is ineffective, but comprehensive animal testing on pregnant mammals was not done. When it was done, evidence of birth defects emerged.

It is immoral to cause needless harm to another creature and I take comfort in the strict animal testing regime we have in New Zealand. I was surprised to read more than 300,000 animals were used for research, testing and training, but most of these appear farm animals testing feed types.

Most laboratory tests are done on rodents and more than 80,000 of them made the ultimate sacrifice, although for what purpose the data is opaque.

Like most western nations, New Zealand subscribes to the three Rs of animal testing: refinement, to reduce suffering; reduction, to limit the number of animals used, and replacement, where possible. However, for much research there is no alternative to animal testing. The Royal Society in Britain puts it bluntly: "Virtually every medical achievement in the past century has depended directly or indirectly on research on animals."

I do not want to see cute beagles or even smelly rodents suffer, but I really do not care about them.

I care about myself and those close to me. I want to live and live well.

I want to benefit from advances in medical research and I do not want to collect my son from the morgue because he overdosed on a psychotic substance that was not sufficiently tested.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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