Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Animal Research and Media Spin

The Rise for Animals Team, December 14, 2023

In March, the UK’s Daily Mirror published an exposé about the horrendous living conditions of beagles being bred and raised for use as experimental subjects. The piece focused on one such breeding “mill” located in the UK but owned by US-based Marshall BioResources, “a global provider of purpose-bred animals for biomedical research and related services.” 

In March, the Daily Mirror published an exposé about the horrendous living conditions of beagles being bred and raised for use in experiments.

The Daily Mirror quoted a professor and research expert for the proposition that “[a]n immense body of empirical evidence has supported the position that animal models offer no predictive value for human response to drugs and diseases.” 

This statement is true and can be proven, but the animal research industry does not want you to believe it.

Understanding Animal Research (UAR) – a UK non-profit organization that works to “maintain and shape” public support for animal research and is financed by its membership (including Marshall BioResources!) – was quoted in the same article, defending the dogs’ living conditions. 

But, in the face of photographic evidence of the dogs’ neglect, UAR found itself desperate to distract and discredit – so, per usual, it relied on its raw political power and filed a complaint with the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), alleging “that testing on animals ‘clearly held predictive value for determining the effects of potential treatments’”. 

This statement is not true and cannot be proven, but the animal research industry wants you to believe it.

The IPSO – a self-purported “independent regulator of most of the UK’s newspapers and magazines” that claims to “uphold high standards of journalism and help maintain freedom of expression for the press” – proved to be no match for the animal research industry.

Under pressure from UAR, the IPSO determined that – because the Daily Mirror had not expounded on the expert professor’s statement (i.e., provided the evidence the expert referenced) – the Daily Mirror would be forced to publish a “correction”. 

Moreover, rather than merely providing evidence to support its expert’s assertion, the Daily Mirror was directed to state that, ‘while some studies have cast doubt on the predictive value of animal testing, other studies show the contrary’.” (It was actually forced to change the statement, not just back it up.)

At the very same time, UAR itself continued to peddle baseless, unevidenced claims without even citing any sources. 

UAR’s webpage is littered with example after example of propagandized deceptions and lies, but the most poignant for our current purposes may be this statement, which UAR issued in support of the proposition that animal research is necessary for human wellbeing: “Each decade since the discovery of insulin has seen the introduction of new kinds of treatments for many diseases. Each of these and many other advances were critically dependent on animal research.” UAR provides no expert commentary, no examples, and no source citations.

Even more disturbingly, the revised version of the Daily Mirror’s article features UAR’s entirely unsupported and uncited assertion that “[d]ogs alone predict the safety of drugs in stage 1 human trials with up to 96% accuracy.” 

[The animal research industry has a long history of making blanket statements without any supportive evidence. Check out this blog for one of the starkest and most well-known examples.]

This reminds us that – in addition to controlling most medical journals – the animal industrial complex also often controls the press. 

UAR succeeded in forcing a mainstream publication to swap out a factual, easily evidenced statement with a dishonest, baseless – albeit  industry-crafted and and industry-serving – claim. In so doing, UAR forced the media to lie to the public. 

Indeed, the Daily Mail has published a retraction, specifying as “inaccurate” their expert’s statement that there exists “[a]n immense body of empirical evidence” supporting “the position that animal models offer no predictive value for human response to drugs and disease”. 

Only the expert statement remains accurate: there does exist an “immense body of empirical evidence” demonstrating that nonhuman animals do not and cannot meaningfully predict human responses to drugs and diseases. 

Rise is working on building a publicly-accessible resource library that hosts this evidence. In the meantime, please sign up for emails below to receive regular news, insights, and actions for animals delivered straight to your inbox.