Animal Extremists Not Affecting Support for Medical Research in the UK

A new study of British views of animal research suggests that extremists such as Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty are not winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the British public and may, in fact, be driving up support for medical research.

In a poll conducted by Mori and commissioned by the Coalition for Medical Progress, 90 percent of respondents gave conditional approval for animal research. A similar poll in 1999 found 84 percent of respondents conditionally approving animal research.

In both years, those agreeing favored animal research so long as experiments are for life-threatening illnesses that do not impose unnecessary suffering and use non-animal alternatives where feasible.

The poll did find a lack of trust, however, of both researchers and of the regulatory regimes that govern them. Only 39 percent said they trusted researchers did everything they could to minimize suffering — although that was an increase over the 29 percent figure from the 1999 survey.

Meanwhile, 50 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t trust the regulatory regiment that covers animal research, although again this was a big improvement over the 1999 survey when 64 percent of respondents said they didn’t trust regulations of animal research.

The message of this poll, which is pretty consistent with other polls of people in the United States and Great Britain, is that most people are essentially animal welfarists — they support the human use of animals provided human beings do as much as possible to reduce animal suffering. And despite their very public protests and often extremist tactics, SHAC, PETA and the rest of the usual suspects are having no success at replacing this animal welfare view with their animal rights nonsense.


Key Finding from the MORI Surveys. Coalition for Medical Progress, 2003.

Support grows for animal experiments. David Derbyshire. The Daily Telegraph (London), March 19, 2003.

Animal rights extremists boost backing for live tests. Mark Henderson, The Times (London), March 19, 2003.

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