Victoria Derbyshire: There. So You Don’t Have To Be


Image via flickr.

The friendly face of animal testing put in an appearance on Victoria Derbyshire’s Radio 5 show this morning.

Derbyshire, whose abilities as a journalist are frequently wasted on the human interest stories that have become the staples of mid-morning radio, was stripped, disinfected and encased in some sort of hazmat suit before being plonked into the lab, where staff strained to demonstrate how humane and necessary their experiments on mice are to our future survival.

And they did a great job. The lab sounds like a lovely, friendly environment, where the mice are treated with respect, care and their happiness is paramount. They live in nice, perspex boxes, have nice toys to play with and nice food. There’s even a nice person dedicated to looking after their welfare.

Why, I almost fell for it myself. I am merely a human being, and therefore just as susceptible to the guilt that tacitly endorsing the infliction of pain on living creatures can bring. Medical research on animals is, after all, socially acceptable because a few animals suffering is nothing compared to a loved one getting cancer, Alzheimers, diabetes or any other debilitating conditions that ravage our lives.

There’s an argument for that. But when 56% of people surveyed state that they are more comfortable with the use of mice for research into diseases than they are with the use of cats, dogs and monkeys, you have to ask whether shielding people from reality is actually helping, or creating a generation entirely unfamiliar with the concept of consequence for ones actions.

Victoria Derbyshire confronted that reality on our behalf today, when a mouse who had outlived her functional usefulness had her neck broken live on air – her handler speaking in soothing tones about how humane the whole process was. Derbyshire didn’t sound convinced, but her personal opinion is not what is important here today.

It’s the fact she was prepared to put herself in that position and see what the brutal truth behind the propaganda looks like. So few of us are these days.

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