National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

What is vivisection?


Vivisection literally means the cutting up of a live animal; however, dictionary definitions have been revised over the years, and this term has become a general label for all types of animal experiments.

"Vivisection” and “experiments” were thus used in an interchangeable way until the mid-1980s, in addition to “procedures” described in scientific literature. Then, when the Government revised the legislation on animal experiments in 1986, a new formal description was introduced into the legislation, “procedures". This term can be used to cover both scientific procedures on animals which are not strictly an experiment, as well as experiments. The reason for the different terminology is that an experiment is usually defined as something where the outcome, or effects on the animal, would not be known whereas a “procedure” takes in all of those uses of animals where the outcome/effect on the animal can be predicted, for example toxicity testing, breeding animals with a harmful genetic defect, production of antisera, maintenance of tumours, etc.

This description is used in the UK legislation - the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 - and government officials, those involved in the industry, etc.

In secret, inside the world’s laboratories, animals are burnt, blinded, mutilated; their limbs are deliberately broken; they are force-fed products; noxious chemicals dripped into their eyes; irradiated; deliberately infected with disease, and more.

Yet these experiments can never be trusted. The fundamental flaw of animal-based research is that each species responds differently to drugs and chemicals, therefore results from animal tests are unreliable as a means of predicting likely effects in humans. Thus, animal experiments are unreliable, unethical, and unnecessary.

Nevertheless, animals suffer and die to test products used in the home, at work, in the car, in the garden and personal body care products. They are used in biological, chemical, and ballistic warfare testing.

  • The United Kingdom’s Porton Down ‘defence’ centre tests weapons on animals - almost every country in the world has some kind of similar weapons programme, which they develop on animals.
  • Animals are used in space programmes - terrified animals were shot into space before people; tests previously conducted on Earth are repeated in space to see the difference.
  • Animals are subjected to deep sea pressure and raised quickly to the surface to suffer decompression sickness (’the bends’).
  • They are used to develop crude surgical procedures, despite the differences between the species.
  • Their bones are broken to see how they mend.
  • Animals skulls are drilled open and hardware inserted so that the function of their brains can be recorded.
  • Baby animals are deprived of their mothers to see what effect it has on them in later life.
  • Animals are used to develop and test pharmaceutical products - both medical and ‘pseudomedical’ products - for example illicit (recreational) drugs, slimming drugs, or a pharmaceutical company’s new, improved, drug which might in fact be introduced to the market simply to improve sales. Of the 20-30,000 pharmaceutical products on the market today, the World Health Organisation has listed only 250 as being necessary for human health programmes.

In the UK, over 2.5 million procedures take place on animals every year. NAVS investigations have also revealed that there is a high level of wastage in the UK’s animal labs - for every animal used, around 3 animals have been reared only to be killed because they are surplus to requirements.

Consistent and reliable records are not kept worldwide, but it is estimated that as many as 150 million animals are used globally, every year.

© National Anti-Vivisection Society