BOOKS: Animal Experimentation: A Harvest of Shame
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1997:
A Harvest of Shame
by Moneim A. Fadali, M.D.
Hidden Springs Press
(POB 29613, Los Angeles, CA 90029), 1996.
233 pages, paperback, $14.95.
Mark Twain once said, “Man is the only animal capable of
blushing…but he is the only one who has plenty of reason to do so.”
The subject of Dr. Fadali’s treatise makes it abundantly clear that
blushing is the least man can do.
Animal Experimentation: A Harvest of Shame overflows
with the author’s anti-vivisectionist sentiments. The author’s heart is
obviously in the right place, but judicious editing and a more rigorous
scientific approach could have streamlined the presentation to the
point that it could not fail to impress a reader unconvinced of the ultimate
futility of animal experimentation. It also would have won a
wider audience. Compelling facts are within these pages, yet require
fortitude to glean.
In this regard, the chapter devoted to the ways in which animal
models differ from human models is particularly fascinating.
There are concrete facts here, strong enough to sway many. For
example, fenclozic acid, an antiarthritic medication, tested as a safe
drug on rats, mice, dogs and primates. Thus the FDA approved and
released it for use by humans, in whom it caused severe liver disorders.
It was subsequently withdrawn.
Conversely, Dr. Fadali details the well-known case of
aspirin––a relatively safe, widely-used anti-inflammatory agent for
humans, that caused death in cats and birth defects in dogs, monkeys,
and rats during its testing history. How long did these test results
delay the approval and release of aspirin? How many other important
drugs are in stasis because of inapplicable data from animal testing?
Dr. Fadali encourages readers to ask themselves these questions. The
chapter is filled with gems like these, and demonstrates clearly that
what does or does not work on an animal model frequently has the
opposite effect when a human is the subject. In this way, the author
concludes, animal testing is really human testing.
Another enlightening chapter discusses the many technological
alternatives to animal experimentation available today, which
segues into a fascinating section on the teaching of surgery, and a discussion
of creative alternatives to animal use in this venue. Dr. Fadali
contends that the minute, delicate vessels of the human placenta may
be the appropriate and humane way to learn and practice micro-surgical
technique. He further explains several other viable alternative
teaching methods, such as the use of human cadavers, silicone models,
and more, from his perspective as a practicing vascular and cardiothoracic
surgeon. This information has authority behind it.
One unfortunate aspect of the book is pervasive absolutism,
bordering on dogma. Dr. Fadali appears to have no emotional or intellectual
tolerance for the moral ambiguity of reality. Much to the chagrin
of those of us engaged in stamping out the great crimes perpetrated
by our fellows against others, we often find that grey areas abound,
both in good and in evil. Such dichotomies are not addressed in
Animal Experimentation: A Harvest of Shame.
There is plenty of good information here, writing style
aside. Animal people will be further educated, and perhaps more than
a few non-believers will see the light.
—Linda Lightfoot Greanville