Mark Twain may be famous for his love of steamboats and jumping frogs, but some people may not be aware that he was also staunchly opposed to experiments on animals. He once wrote the following in a letter to the London Anti-Vivisection Society:
“I believe I am not interested to know whether Vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn’t. To know that the results are profitable to the race would not remove my hostility to it. The pains which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further. It is so distinctly a matter of feeling with me, and is so strong and so deeply-rooted in my make and constitution, that I am sure I could not even see a vivisector vivisected with anything more than a sort of qualified satisfaction.”
In honor of Twain’s spirited defense of frightened animals who are caged and killed in laboratories, PETA has presented its first Mark Twain Ethical Science Award to the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a nonprofit organization that has worked with scientists from hundreds of companies to design testing programs that replace tests on animals. PETA has donated more than $500,000 over the past decade to fund IIVS’ work to develop non-animal tests.
In one case, IIVS developed a rapid screening method that allowed a company to eliminate the use of 750 rabbits per year, while almost doubling the number of products that the company was able to test each year. IIVS also works closely with regulators such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on non-animal testing strategies. With partial funding from PETA U.K., IIVS was instrumental in obtaining European Union approval of a non-animal skin irritation test as well as the first stand-alone non-animal eye irritancy test for certain classes of chemicals.
We think that Mark Twain would have been proud to have his name on an award recognizing IIVS for saving thousands of unconsenting animals.
Written by Alisa Mullins