Sacred Cows and Golden Geese
(Published by Continuum, 2000)
by Ray and Jean Greek
Reviewed by Paul Carline
In the U.S., 15% of all hospital admissions are due to adverse drug reactions. Approximately 100,000 people each year are killed by legally prescribed drugs – more than all illegal drugs combined. The net extra cost in health care expenses is estimated at $136 billion per year. Over a 10-year period, 52% of new drugs approved by the Federal Drug Administration were subsequently withdrawn or ‘re-labeled’ following the occurrence of severe unpredicted side-effects. Similar levels of iatrogenic (doctor-induced) disease and mortality afflict the U.K.
Yet all the drugs involved had initially been declared safe as a result of animal testing, mandatory in the U.S. since 1961. Although the testing of cosmetics on animals was recently outlawed in the U.K., testing of new medicines on animals remains routine, carried out in centres such as the controversial Huntingdon Life Sciences laboratories in Cambridgeshire. When HLS’s funding problems – caused in part by threats to staff and sponsors from animal rights’ activists – hit the headlines recently, the British government and media strongly backed HLS’ work as being essential to medical progress.
In their new book, “Sacred Cows and Golden Geese” (Continuum, 2000), husband and wife authors Ray and Jean Greek comprehensively expose the myth of the necessity and validity of animal testing. Their conclusion: “… extrapolating data from animals to humans is either misleading, unnecessary, dangerous – or all three”.
The authors (Ray Greek is a doctor, his wife Jean a veterinary expert) rely only on scientific evidence, deliberately eschewing emotional appeals: “We do not use any ‘animal-rights’ arguments. To strengthen our position with emotional appeal, this book could have included pictures of monkeys with their brains wired, dogs with legs amputated or viscera dangling or other heart-wrenching images. However… we rely on the scientific facts and on the voices of those scientists who have personally experienced the ineptitude of the animal model..” That enormous cruelty is routinely inflicted on very large numbers of animals worldwide is undeniable. As Jane Goodall notes in the foreword to the book: “..we tolerate the shocking abuse of many.. sentient beings. If anyone other than white-coated scientists treated monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs and so forth as they do behind the locked doors of the animal lab, he or she would be prosecuted for cruelty”. That they are not is testament to the power of the prevailing myth.
As their search for evidence of the effectiveness of testing widened – and continued to draw a blank – the authors were forced to ask why, if testing is clearly so unreliable, it continues to be practised and aggressively defended. “Anyone who asks ‘why’ has only to follow the money to find an answer. Like the goose which laid the golden eggs, animal experimentation is a source of infinite financing. Tracing the funding dollars, we found a medical-research system corrupted by lobbying groups, opportunistic scientists, irresponsible drug companies, unlearned public officials and clogged bureaucracies, all profiting from the animal model’s golden eggs .. What we found… was not ‘science’, but mass confusion kept in spin by mass deception.”
The same kind of thinking which produced and maintains the obscenity of animal experimentation continues in the genetic modification of plants and animals. It is a thinking which seeks to reduce life to a mere mechanism to be manipulated for any imagined advantage. It implicitly denies the uniqueness and inherent dignity of all forms of life. It is the insanity which H.G. Wells recognised and portrayed in the character of Dr. Moreau: “The physiologist [animal experimenter/bio-technician] is not an ordinary man. He is a scientist, possessed and absorbed by the scientific idea he pursues. He does not hear the cries of animals, he does not see their flowing blood, he sees nothing but his idea and is aware of nothing but an organism that conceals from him the problem he is seeking to solve”.
This is an important book, perhaps one of the most important books of this decade, which faces its greatest threat from the mechanistic-materialist model which has become the central paradigm of modern science. Many people know that there can be no moral justification for subjecting animals to suffering, no matter what the imagined gain. Until now, their moral arguments have been set aside on the grounds of a supposed ‘greater common good’ deriving from animal experimentation. “Sacred Cows…” exposes the myth of that greater common good as yet another example of the unholy alliance between Bad Science and Big Business.
The Greeks have set up an organisation called AFMA (Americans for Medical Advancement), with a website at www.curedisease.com The site contains a link to the European branch of AFMA, called EFMA.