Vivisection: performing what are generally painful/agonising experiments on other beings, without their consent, and ending in their death in the lab. It's a way of trying to benefit your own group at the expense of another group, treating them in ways you would not want to be treated yourself. A form of selfish cowardice. Depending on your viewpoint it may be more about profits and self-sustaining industries than knowledge (especially in the tests for me-too drugs, cosmetics etc); results from one species also can't be relied on to give any useful information about how another species would react in the same circumstances. The industry is rife with incompetence.
Universities are one of the types of organisations happy to take money to do vivisection. This is a common occurrence, as the Licensed To Kill site shows. The universities play it down as much as possible, and there are layers of secrecy to try and prevent taxpayers from knowing what is really going on, which is often massive-scale and pointlessly cruel research. Yes, Wales is involved too.
In some cases minimal protective laws are ignored or bypassed. For example, it is supposedly illegal to use wild-caught primates in experiments in the UK. So what happens? Institutes are set up elsewhere, and UK scientists travel to them to do experiments on wild-caught primates. Find out more about this on the Captive Cruelty website.
Cosmetics: just as laws are bypassed and people misled with primate research, the same thing goes on with cosmetics. Companies like Avon and Yves Rocher claim they don't test their products on animals. Great! But in reality they are fully aware that the products are tested; rather than avoiding selling products in countries which will then do these tests, Avon et al take the money in order to access the markets (e.g. China) despite knowing that as a direct result animals will be killed in horrible experiments for the sake of cheapo cosmetics. When they say their products are not tested on animals it is obfuscation and dishonesty on their part, just as we saw takes place with primate research. Avon know their products are tested on animals, and they could prevent it but choose not to because it would affect their profits.
Many of these companies flaunt their misleading "We don't test!" message, when the truth is that they aren't stopping the animal testing for ethical reasons - they're stopping because it is now illegal in Europe. Until it was made illegal they continued to test products and ingredients on animals. This is no kind-heartedness on their part.
The vivisection industry is rich. It is a global industry supported by multinationals and Governments and rich vested interests. It can afford huge sums to spend on marketing, media manipulation, "education packs" for schools, lobbying politicians and so on.
Thankfully there is good science which doesn't involve cowardly, flawed and cruel experiments: for example, see the work of the Dr Hadwen Trust and consider supporting them. When it comes to buying products, only buy those which are genuinely cruelty free. BUAV's leaping bunny is a trustworthy symbol, and you can find approved companies here. Be wary of unsubstantiated claims to be "cruelty free" and look deeper into the company. Ethical Consumer is really useful there. We also recommend exploring the other links we've included in this blog post: only with information can we make informed decisions.