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Friday, October 23, 1998 Published at 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK

Talking Point

Animal testing: Practicalities before principles?

If you were dying and the only medication you could take to ease the pain had been tested on animals, what would you do?

It is a moral dilemma that Sir Paul McCartney faced, when he realised the drugs his wife Linda took to treat her breast cancer may have been tested on animals.

The former Beatle, like his late wife, is a strict vegetarian and campaigner for animal rights.

In an interview with Des Lynham on BBC Radio 2, Sir Paul said he was now finding out that there is a lot of animal experimentation.

"If a drug has got to be used on humans then legally it has to be finally tested on an animal," he said.

He also revealed that Linda McCartney was apparently kept in the dark about how the drugs she took may have been tested on animals.

Would you put your principles first if you had to make the decision?

Sir Paul made his views very clear in a later statement.

"I am totally against experiments on animals. I don't know of a case where it is necessary and I haven't been persuaded of any case," he said.

However, Professor Gordon McVie of the Cancer Research Campaign, said all drugs in the UK and in America were tested on animals before being used by humans.

"To me there is a difference between testing cosmetics on animals and testing new, potentially life-saving drugs on animals.

"No one likes testing on animals, but it is something that is required by law," he said.

What do you think?

Animal testing: Practicalities before principles?

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Animal testing: Practicalities before principles?