The Daily Mirror has been ordered to publish a correction by regulator IPSO after it was found to have reported without scrutiny a claim that an “immense body of empirical evidence” showed testing medicines on animals held no predictive value for how they would work in humans.
The complaint was brought by Understanding Animal Research, a non-profit organisation that says it “explains why animals are used in medical and scientific research”.
Understanding Animal Research complained about a March 2023 article published in the Daily Mirror and on mirror.co.uk and headlined online as: “Horrors of puppy factory as beagles kept in faeces-covered cages in a ‘view of hell’.”
The story was pegged around a video which appeared to show dogs at a laboratory in “small cages covered with excrement”. However, it also included broader claims about animal testing, with one expert quoted as saying: “An immense body of empirical evidence has supported the position that animal models offer no predictive value for human response to drugs and disease. But perhaps more importantly, recent developments have significantly increased our understanding of why animals have no predictive value for human response to drugs.”
Understanding Animal Research told IPSO that testing on animals “clearly held predictive value for determining the effects of potential treatments” and alleged that the report had omitted photographs of the laboratory and enclosures which would have been more representative of conditions there for the dogs.
IPSO dismissed the point on the Mirror’s choice of images, but agreed the publication could not simply attribute the claim about “an immense body of empirical evidence” to the expert without verifying it.
“While the claim was attributed to the professor, whether there have been recent scientific developments is demonstrable and quantifiable, rather than purely a matter of personal interpretation,” the regulator said.
“Instead of being able to produce examples of recent progress in this area, none of the matters relied upon by the publication could reasonably have been said to qualify as recent developments.”
Because the title could not support the claim there was an “immense body” of evidence, which IPSO said “was being used to further the article’s central argument that animal testing was unnecessary and cruel”, the regulator decided the error had been significant and required a correction.
IPSO ordered the Mirror to publish a correction in print and online acknowledging that, “while some studies have cast doubt on the predictive value of animal testing, other studies show the contrary”.
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