Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine

About DLRM

News & Campaigns


- Books
- Newsletter
- Speeches
- Soundbites
- Leaflets/Papers
- Contributions
- Links
- Miscellaneous

Contact Us

Join us



“We warned them, once, twice, many times – but all in vain …”

Professor Pietro Croce

A New Methodology and An Ironic Situation …

In this conference, I shall focus on a single subject – one, however, of very topical importance: that is, a new methodology used by researchers who, presumably unintentionally (and in fact most ironically), are strengthening the fundamental principle of our movement, which maintains that no animal species can be considered an experimental model for any other animal species, HUMANS INCLUDED. Note especially, please, that phrase HUMANS INCLUDED: it will recur frequently as a theme in my speech. This elementary obvious concept has been denigrated and derided constantly by our opponents.

What is the present situation?

As might have been anticipated, this same concept has now not only apparently been adopted by them, but, again ironically, it is even boasted of with pride. For it is with pride that they announce the new Gospel: “By genetic engineering we have conferred on rats and mice some of the most important human characteristics” (Nature, 28 April 1994) – again I stress, “human”.

I would now like to remind you that the aim of working on human characteristics may be achieved either by experimenting directly on humans – which we call human clinical experimentation – or by conferring on animals “human characteristics” – which latter is what these researchers in transgenics are now announcing so triumphantly.

The significance of this, from our standpoint, is that researchers have finally recognised that we were right when we tried (in vain) to warn them that all research performed on species other than man (in case of human medicine) is doomed to inevitable failure. This is because a biological quality – any biological quality – characteristic of humans cannot be dealt with unless the same quality is present in the humans themselves. However, despite the obviousness of this statement, our detractors still seek to cover us with discredit and derision. But now the situation is turned upside down, and derision and discredit have become a boomerang – a boomerang against themselves, of course.

An Astonish and Reckless Promise

My motivation in treating this very up-to-date subject was prompted by an editorial in the Italian Corriere della Sera of 8 May 1994, which opened with the following announcement: “It is, once again, mice which offer to mankind a discovery which is going to revolutionise the entire field of immunology; and, in the very near future,” – take note of that last phrase – “will allow scientists to find an appropriate therapy for many pathological conditions, such as cancers, leukaemias and infectious diseases, including most of the viruses such as viral hepatitis and AIDS and, furthermore, diseases caused by the production of toxins.”

The history of this astonishing and reckless promise of such a discovery can be summarised as follows: Robert M Kay and Nils Lonberg have “created” transgenically modified mice, capable not only of producing HUMAN antibodies but also of transmitting them to their progeny.

However, researchers are carefully concealing two facts:

1. The intervention of an immunological mechanism has never been demonstrated in the struggle of the human organism against cancers, leukaemias, viral hepatitis and, more recently, AIDS – that is, the diseases for which the researchers’ so called discovery, to quote them, “opens up vistas of enormous importance”.

2. Another point – another uncomfortable truth that researchers prefer to pass over in silence – is that the value of human antibodies produced by trangenically modified mice against cancers, leukaemias AIDS and so on is, in practice, irrelevant to the above-mentioned diseases and to the needs of those who are afflicted with them at this very moment.
Should we, then, conclude that scientists are seemingly so sensitive that they don’t want to disappoint the expectations of an audience eager for immediate scientific miracles?

Homeopathy – A Past Warning Ignored

There is a further aspect to the argument. We tried – again in vain – to warn our opponents that they were following a wrong path when they cast discredit and even derision upon homeopathy, a medical science which tackles medicine by taking an holistic approach, aimed at the welfare of man but never against or exploiting any other living creature. We tried to warn them – and what has, in fact, happened? Homeopathy is now recognised in many countries as a bona fide medical science (not only for humans but for other species as well), just as we had repeatedly foretold.

Axenics – a Historical Antecedent for Transgenics?

And now, let us come to yet another point, closely connected with that of transgenic animals – has the story of such animals any significant historical antecedent? In other words, is there anything comparable to genetic engineering in the history of vivisection or in the history of experimental medicine in general? Well, such an antecedent does indeed exist, and I shall now recall it for you.

Some forty years ago, a new (at the time) approach to vivisection was devised – then, as today, with the purpose of making vivisection scientifically more credible (as evidently this was not!). This approach consisted of the ‘creation’ (or rather, the production) of so-called axenic or germ-free animals (or “animals without guests” – guest being bacteria, fungi, viruses and other parasites, mostly microscopic). This harebrained idea was announced, supported and thus rapidly spread, with that same triumphalism and enthusiasm, but also with that same thoughtlessness, which nowadays endorses the ‘creation’ of transgenic mice and rats.

In order to keep animals born sterilely by caesarean delivery in conditions of the strictest sterility, industry invented, amongst other contraptions, the Reyniers isolator, the Gustafsson isolator, the Trexler isolator and the Lev isolator. Meanwhile, the food industry offered sterilised food for feeding these germ-free animals in germ-free conditions – an enormous and widespread example of business enterprise!

Antivivisectionists, animal rightist and animal lovers tried vainly to call attention to the absurdity of the whole unsavoury affair and foretold its complete and ignominious failure. On that occasion, too, we had to put up with charges of being “enemies of Science”, “prophets of misfortune”, “Cassandras” and the like – the same charges laid against us by today’s inventors of transgenic animals.

However, now – after forty years or more – researchers are illustrating what John Stuart Mill predicted more than a century and a half ago, when he said: “Every great movement knows three phases: first, derision; second, discussion; finally, adoption.” In fact, researchers, in accordance with our warning, have recognised that the method of using germ-free animals has been a scientific failure – as we could easily foretell.

To Be, or Not to Be, Sceptical?

Returning to the main subject of this speech – transgenic animals – I should like to pose the following question: do we not have good reason today to be sceptical about the triumphalism, the expectations and the promises implied by today’s new methodology of transgenic animals – just as, some forty yeas ago, we were sceptical about the hype attaching to axenic animals?
To be sceptical, however, does not mean that we wish a new failure on researchers. It simply means that we do not share an optimism which carries with it, amongst other factors, a dramatic impact – and one which is calculated once again to concentrate the attention of orthodox medicine upon a newfangled methodology per se.

Improbable Promises, but No Certainties …

Furthermore, this is indeed a methodology which offers only improbable promises to a humanity which is crying out for concrete certainties. One of these would be the certainty of being welcomed promptly and kindly (I stress kindly) into the public-health system (with the stress now on public), there to be cured with that skill and efficiency which (as I am led to understand) you have in this county by which we certainly do not have in Italy; nor do they in many other countries of the so-called civilised world, including the USA.

… and Yet Another False and Unscientific Method …

This is, moreover, a situation which, in my country, is deteriorating daily – mostly because it has not yet been recognised by our scientific community in general – so that we are now being even more greatly exposed to the dangers of yet another false and unscientific method of medical research – GENETIC MANIPULATION.

Return to top Back to list of speeches


| About Us | News & Campaigns | Resources | Contact Us | Join Us |