From the general secretary of Catholic Concern for Animals SIR – I write concerning your report “EU ‘to put animals before embryos’ ” (March 20).
While members of Catholic Concern for Animals rejoice that our species will, to a limited extent, no longer be torturing other species – a “satanic” practice, according to Cardinal Newman – we regret deeply the continued use of other innocents: human embryos.
Two points on the first issue: first, a moral one – as rational creatures divinely privileged to care for and protect the whole of God’s creation, we human beings have no right to abuse others of God’s sentient living creatures. Then, practically, there is a mass of documented scientific research (I can direct inquirers to it) showing the useless and even counter-productive nature of toxicology and other pharmaceutical testing on non-human species.
This outdated and immoral practice continues only to give drug companies spurious “testing history” in order to avoid being sued when the drugs fail to work or actually make people more ill.
The second issue can be dealt with similarly: testing on human embryos is both immoral and, as your report shows, ineffective. The thousands of “surplus” embryos created during the in vitro fertilisation process are not, alas, destined to develop but to be destroyed outright or used for testing. The adult stem-cell testing could replace, as your report again shows, the use of embryos in tests – but not their destruction.
So this is really a separate issue, and one that also needs EU legislation, but while infertile couples resort to this means, is one unlikely to succeed.
Yours faithfully, DEBORAH JONES By email