Research Defence Society Goes On the Offensive Against Animal Rights Misinformation

Earlier this month Great Britain’s Research Defence Society launch a campaign to publicize the benefits of medical research with animals and dispel some of the misinformation about that research commonly spread by animal rights activists.

The campaign features 16-year-old Laura Cowell. Cowell suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and Diabetes. Like many cystic fibrosis sufferers, she has to take dozens of pills a day simply to stay alive. Even with enormous advancements made in treating her disease over the past couple decades, Cowell will be lucky to live to 50 without further medical advances. Advances, of course, which animal rights activists are doing everything in their power to prevent.

Cowell told The Guardian (London),

All my life I have been aware of how important this research is. Ever since I can remember I have been taking medicine. So far I have managed to live a fairly normal life. My mum says I should fit cystic fibrosis around my life rather than the other way around. I love animals and I have pets of my own but I owe my life to medical research. Without it I would be dead.

|Mark Matfield|, the director of the Research Defence Society, told The Guardian that it was time more people in the research industry spoke out against the animal rights movement. “There is a real fear about being targeted by the animal rights movement,” Matfield told the newspaper. “There may be risk involved in speaking out, but people like myself, with a high profile . . . should lead by example.”

Matfield has received death threat from animal rights activists and had his car vandalized for speaking out in favor of animal research.

Nancy Rothwell, a researcher at Manchester University, echoes this Matfield’s sentiment, telling The Guardian, “It is important that we are challenged about the research we carry out, but unfortunately the minority who take extreme action, like sending death threats, stifle that debate. We have been too apologetic in this country to make the case, but we have also been frightened because of the threat of physical violence.”

The Research Defence Society has produced a slick, thorough pamphlet about the role of animal research, Understanding Animal Research in Medicine which is available for download as a PDF file from its web site.


Researchers hit back at animal rights activists. Paul Kelso, The Guardian (London), January 16, 2002.

Researchers hit back at animal rights activists. Paul Kelso, The Guardian (London), January 16, 2002. (Note this article is cited twice since The Guardian published two different version of it in two different editions of its paper).

Living proof defends animal research. Mark Henderson, The Times (London), January 16, 2002.

Leave a Reply