British Airways Impede Cancer Research

British Airways announced today that they have capitulated to the demands of a small group of animal rights extremists and will no longer carry laboratory animals. These animals –usually genetically engineered mice- are essential in the development of treatments and cures for diseases such as cancer, which more than one in three people will develop over their lifetime. The decision by British Airways illustrates that the health and happiness of their passengers and their families is not a priority, mice are.

Medical Advancement Depends on Animal Research

There are millions of people alive today and free from suffering thanks to animal research in life sciences. For example, cure rates for cancer have doubled in the last forty years, an achievement which simply would not have been possible without laboratory animals. Further, in the 1960s, only a quarter of children with cancer survived to adulthood and now, as a direct result of animal research, more than three quarters of children survive cancer. The list is endless and arguably every medical achievement in the 20th century has relied on the use of animals in some way, according to the British Royal Society (who act as scientific advisers to the government).

Scientists Take Animal Welfare Seriously

Strict legislation governs the use of animals in experiments so that suffering is reduced to a minimum at all stages, including during transportation. Animals are never used in research unnecessarily and it is actually a legal requirement not to use animals if there is an alternative. However, it is also a legal requirement that drugs are tested on animals before they’re given to patients, so preventing or stalling animal research stops life-saving treatments from reaching those who desperately need them.

British Airways Are Delaying Vital Research

British Airways have allowed themselves to be intimidated by a few extremists who have convinced them that passengers will boycott an airline that ‘supports animal suffering’. Our flagship airline should consider the millions of people in the UK currently suffering from cancer and other life-threatening or debilitating conditions. The cowardly actions of British Airways will delay vital research, thus preventing new therapies from being developed that have the potential to reduce human suffering and save lives.

Passengers SHOULD Boycott BA

Rather than be concerned about the views of a handful of extremists, British Airways should be more concerned about the views of their passengers. With cancer affecting one in three people, there are very few whose lives have not been scarred by it, not to mention the countless other illnesses and diseases researchers are trying to prevent and cure. Our health and the health of our loved ones depend on the efforts of research scientists in this country, who work tirelessly to develop effective life-extending and life-saving drugs, which sometimes necessitates animal research.

4 Responses to British Airways Impede Cancer Research

  1. Karen says:

    This is absolutely outrageous. Genetically modified animals are pretty much the only way of researching a variety of dieseases (not just cancer) and working out disease processes and therefore treatments before testing drugs on humans.
    BA aren’t going to accomplish much by refusing to carry these animals – there are countless other airlines so I’m sure that BA are just losing profit to other companies by doing this.
    Many of these extremists are ill-informed about animal research and seem to be under the impression that scientists kill animals unnecessarily and for fun. (Incidentally, I went home and cried after the first time I dissected an animal then didn’t eat meat for a week!)
    There’s definitely a need for better awareness about the nature of animal research, rather than big companies like BA jumping on the band wagon before finding out what exactly they are banning.

  2. Freya says:

    Wow, didn’t eat meat for a WHOLE WEEK you are so selfless. Sorry for the sarcasm, but your response has angered me. Animal activists are not extremists, to use that word damages their efforts by making people assume they are all violent and aggressive. There *are* some extremists, but don’t label all with that word, please.

    Most animal activists believe in equality for all life – therefore, though they don’t want any person to suffer needlessly and certainly don’t place the lives of animals above the lives of humans, they feel the same way about all life. That means that we should never cause the suffering of one creature for the sake of another if we can help it – humans are not more important than animals, animals are not more important than humans. We are intelligent enough to have morals and to empathise with the treatment of other creatures, we must understand that causing them to suffer, to take them out of their natural environment and put them in sterile cages is a terrible thing. Imagine someone doing that to you, even if it was to help hundreds, thousands, millions of other people – your life would still be miserable wouldn’t it.

    There are other ways to carry out experiments and tests, and of course we can always use ourselves as test subjects. On top of this, a lot of animal research is repeated needlessly as big pharma cos don’t share their results (obviously, because this would cost them money, the only thing they REALLY care about).

    Think more about animals as creatures with lives and emotions, and less as scientific resources.

  3. Emma Wilson says:

    Firstly, just need to say, there is nothing in the word “extremist” that insinuates violence, the word simply depicts an individual and/or group thats view or ideology is far outside that of the majority of society, which obviously, the said article is, apologies for the patronisation, but your comments have annoyed me!! 

    Majority of western society hold value for ALL life, and would never needlessly harm any living thing, however, there is a NEED to test certain aspects of medical research on living creatures, in order to gain a valid result. 
    This may seem crude and harsh to some, but evolution has put us at the top of the food chain, and has given us the ability and intelligence to learn, develop and create ways to extend our lives. 
    If all life is intelligent and to be valued in the same way, then why is it ok, for animals to eat/kill/harm/fight with other animals, in order to survive, and essentially extend their lives?? Surely, that’s what we’re doing!! 
    It would be interesting to see, how an extremist would respond if their child was refused a medication/treatment for cancer, or any other life threatening disorder, because the said, had been tested on animals, I think their reaction, would then most likely give a link between the label “extremist” and the words “violence” & “aggression”….. IRONIC!! 

  4. Karen says:

    Did I ever say my not eating meat for a week was an act of selflessness? I was merely highlighting that it IS upsetting to carry out experiments on animals, and scientists aren’t the insensitive blood-thirsty animal killers portrayed by the media.

    Perhaps the use of the word ‘extremist’ is a bit strong, but again I didn’t say that all animal activists were these. It is, however, the case that it is often the acts of extremists which lead to ill-informed decisions being made on the behalf of large corporations and a skewed impression of medical research on behalf of the general public. Many animal activists present erroneous cases of medical research, not entirely understanding the other half of the story.

    Furthering Emma’s point, would you refuse medication on the basis that it had come from research done on genetically modified animals? If you had cancer would you have either the time or energy to think about this?

    As for these “other ways to carry out experiments and tests”, how exactly do you propose to research the effects of a certain gene and draw conclusive results that you would feel 100% confident being used to treat your loved ones, without the use of genetically modified animals? This is often the only way to see the true effects of dysregulation of a specific gene and therefore better develop understanding and treatments. If we were to randomly develop medications and HOPE that they worked, it may in fact cause more pain and suffering than testing on animals first. And that brings me to your point about using ourselves as test subjects for drugs. Of course, drugs are put through several phases of trials on humans before being released for general clinical use. However, there remains so much unknown about the mammalian body that it would be simply impossible to create a drug in the lab one day and have it given to humans the next. Also there is so much variation between humans (thus giving such varying effects of medications) that this would not be a reliable way of carrying out primary tests on drugs – it would be difficult to know where to begin in improving the medication! I think we would also struggle to find enough people willing to try drugs which hadn’t returned positive results in animals first. How would you feel about entering a drugs trial which could potentially turn a simple issue into something more complex? There is often no telling what the adverse effects of drugs can be due to the complexity of interactions with myriad factors throughout our bodies. I certainly wouldn’t be in a rush to try something with completely unknown side effects because animal research had been deemed unethical!

    Although most people would avoid needlessly harming an animal, it is not fair to say that mice are 100% equal. Their prefrontal cortices are not as highly developed as those of humans, meaning that their capacity for emotion and fear is not as great as ours. They are also not kept in stressful conditions – this would not be in the interest of science as stress can affect such a wide variety of factors in scientific research. Granted, it’s not their natural environment, but by that logic we should also be banning people keeping any animals as pets. Animals such as mice have a great capacity to adapt and are kept in decent conditions.

    Everybody’s entitled to their opinion on the subject, and it’s obviously something that we can’t all see eye to eye on. However, it is not the place of large corporations such as BA to stand in the way of research. I personally feel that allowing or disallowing research on genetically modified animals is a decision to be made by the government, and as long as it is legal and its benefits recognised, companies should not be standing in the way and potentially impeding life-saving discoveries.

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