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Why the need for Antidote Europe ?
We live in an era of unparalleled scientific knowledge, as evidenced in the huge number of specialised and popular science publications available today. We cannot help noticing the unfailing media coverage of never-ending medical breakthroughs. Yet despite all of this, we are witnessing a significant increase in the number of people who suffer from serious disease in the very same developed countries that have access to modern medical technology.
One of Antidote Europe's primary objectives is to expose and explain this paradox, much of which has its origins in research methods that are outdated as they are unscientific. It should be noted that a significant proportion of this research is founded on animal experimentation.
Since its formal introduction at the end of the nineteenth century, animal experimentation has been shadowed by debate and controversy. Yet despite the ethical and scientific objections to this practice even within the scientific establishment, animal research became accepted dogma in teaching and research institutions well into the first half of the 20th century.
Antidote Europe considers animal research to be flawed on scientific grounds and has no wish to delve into the moral debate concerning animal rights.
Antidote Europe is a scientific committee
Our president and a great number of our members are researchers with established credentials and are therefore competent to express an informed opinion on this subject. Hence Antidote Europe's raison d'etre: firstly, to inform the public about the harm done to human health and the environment as a result of flawed research methods, and secondly, to promote genuine scientific research. Our committee is opposed to animal experimentation on strictly scientific grounds.
The underlying pitfall lies in the fact that the results of animal experimenting can not be extrapolated to the human being, and neither can they be reliably extrapolated between different animal species. As a result, no amount of animal testing of a novel drug or therapy can realistically predict or reveal the toxic risk of the product with respect to human beings. Whilst thousands of chemicals currently in use have been passed as 'safe' on the basis of animal tests, many more thousands have not been assessed at all. It is now common knowledge that a substance considered harmless to some animal species may be highly toxic to others, as well as to humans.
Ultimately, we are just as much 'guinea pigs' as the laboratory animals. This sad state of affairs is confirmed by the enormous number of deaths associated with drugs and chemicals. Prescription drugs are one of the leading causes of death in industrialised nations today. An even more dramatic statistic is the exponential increase in deaths due to cancer, associated with exposure to carcinogenic chemicals in the environment - also found in blood samples of every European or North American inhabitant. To this toll must be added the increasing number of people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis), and problems associated with hormonal function, such as male infertility.
Promoting responsible science
Reliable methods of toxic risk assessment do exist. In fact, they are simpler and less expensive to conduct than animal tests, and they yield results more quickly too. Why, then, is industry not using them? This is one of the central questions that Antidote Europe has put to the authorities.
By carefully selecting an appropriate species of animal, it is possible to prove that a particular chemical may cause cancer - or that it is harmless. On this basis, animal tests may be helpful in obtaining the regulatory approval necessary to put a product onto the market, while protecting the manufacturer from being sued for negligence. Whereas this regime may spell profits for industry, there will be a price to pay in terms of the damage done to public health and the environment.
Antidote Europe calls upon those in private or state-owned laboratories conducting this sort of research to face up to their responsibilities. Killing animals will not improve human health, nor will it help to prevent chemical pollution of the environment.
Antidote Europe also calls for transparency and accountability in all dealings between national or European regulatory authorities and chemical corporations, whose profits should not be put above human health.
Why "Antidote" and "Europe"?
"Antidote" denotes the solution to a problem - before it's too late. Although we are all exposed to the risks posed by tens of thousands of chemical molecules in the environment, the solution lies in assessing the toxic potential of these substances in a reliable manner and then banning the most dangerous ones. Thanks to our Scientific Toxicology Programme, the solution is partly underway.
"Europe" because molecules are not restricted by national boundaries and pollution is a worldwide phenomenon. However, before creating an "Antidote International", it is necessary to begin by spreading our message within the EU establishment, since its decisions and directives influence the national laws of all the member states. This seems workable as an initial goal, especially as our president is also a scientific adviser to a UK-based organisation (Europeans for Medical Progress) and is in contact with numerous other EU groups as well.