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Book Chapter

Publication Date



With new legislation to replace the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 near at hand, the powerful vested interest groups whose profits and livelihood depend on laboratory animals are stepping up their campaigns to ensure the survival of vivisection. Have the benefits really been so great, and can vivisection achieve major advances in our present state of health?

History shows (McKeown 1979) that the real reasons for the dramatic increase in life expectancy since the middle of the last century are improvements in nutrition, living and working conditions, hygiene and sanitation, with medical measures only having a relatively marginal effect. The reduction in Britain's death rate from the 1850s was almost exclusively due to the decline of the infections-mainly 1B, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, whooping cough, measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, smallpox, and the waterand food-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, and dysentery. Mortality for nearly all the infections was declining before, and in most cases long before, specific therapies became available.


Reprinted with permission from Animals' Defender and Anti-Vivisection News, May/June 1985.