Tuesday 16 August 2022 | 4

Forced swimming: the businesses moving forward and the industry that resists


Mis à jour le 10 January 2023

After our denunciation of electric shock procedures and forced swimming authorised in France this year and us bringing to light the images and practices of forced swimming in France, the Ministry of Research did not react. Elsewhere in the world, businesses and universities are abandoning this test, while anglophone lobbies defend it and pass it off as being essential to the general public, even if it means making muddy comparisons and abandoning any critical thinking

Hr blog

Image: screenshot of "Animal Models of Depression - Chronic Despair Model (CDM)"

For several weeks, you have rallied with us on social networks to appeal to the Ministry of Research and ask them to ban forced swimming tests. You can keep the pressure on with the model tweets and the letters presented in our previous articles and encourage businesses and French universities to join in with the model tweets proposed at the end of the article.

Interrogated by the media, the Ministry limited itself to repeating the usual clichés on the regulations and ethics committees, failing to comment on the suffering of these animals and to mention the letter that we sent them asking for them to communicate the details of the project reported in order to be able to verify how the existence of alternatives has been evaluated — a letter that they only recently responded to with the same clichés they gave to the media.

Leaders in research are abandoning the forced swimming test but the industry is resisting

Abroad, the PETA association has been campaigning since 2018 against the use of the forced swimming test by large research companies. Between 2018 and 2021, around fifteen companies confirmed that they would no longer use these tests. When Johnson & Johnson, Roche Pharma, AstraZeneca, Sage Therapeutics, Pfizer, Bayer, or GlaxoSmithKline have gone in this direction, we have to ask why this test does not purely and simply disappear from authorised practices.

In reaction to these campaigns and their broadcast in the media, the United States lobby Speaking of Research (SoR) did not hesitate in writing a post at the beginning of 2020 to condemn ‘irresponsible journalism’, while the British lobby Understanding Animal Research (UAR) published a summary sheet in October 2020 (unpublished since but recorded on the web archive), then a new article and video in Spring 2021 on this subject. This supported the English University of Bath’s refusal to stop forced swimming tests in particular (condemned by PETA in a video published at the end of 2020, below).

Animal testing lobbies ruin their own credibility

As usual with animal testing lobbies, their content talks more about depression and good practice than the animals and the impact of this test on them. SoR maintains that animal advocates exaggerate their suffering and UAR explains that the animals are not left in the water until exhaustion and that they float naturally.

The two lobbies however carefully avoid finding out why the animals give up fighting and what this involves psychologically for them. The summary sheet by UAR was content in saying that this test stresses the animals “in the same way as when a wild rat finds itself in a cold climate in winter”... based on a 1979 study that compares leaving rats in a cold room at 4°C for hours and making them swim five times for one minute at thirty minute intervals in 10°C water. Nothing to do with this subject, which may explain why their 2021 post just does not address the issue of the stress inflicted upon these animals.

And SoR’s credibility regarding strict methodology is not the best: the post cites a study from 2012 saying that they were making the mice swim for six minutes and the rats for fifteen minutes... while the fifteen minutes mentioned in the study relates to a ‘pre-test’ carried out the day before, and not the test itself (which lasts five minutes for the rats). When we know that there are these organisations that regularly criticise animal associations and present themselves as specialists available to the media, we are right to ask questions on their motivations...

Help us to put a stop to these tests

It is unacceptable that these tests carry on nowadays. We have no right to make these animals suffer for our own interests. Over the next few weeks, we will tell you more about the alternatives worth considering to help people suffering with depression.

You can act by supporting PETA France’s petition which asks Sanofi to stop forced swimming tests, and by soliciting major universities on Twitter and French businesses who have participated in these tests in recent years:

A request for engagement

I am asking the @PierreFabre company to lobby against forced swimming tests – rodents are not laboratory equipment! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking the @PierreFabre company to lobby against forced swimming tests – rodents are not laboratory equipment! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

I am asking the @activinside company to lobby against forced swimming tests – rodents are not laboratory equipment! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking the @activinside company to lobby against forced swimming tests – rodents are not laboratory equipment! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

I am asking the @GustaveRoussy company to lobby against forced swimming tests – rodents are not laboratory equipment! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking the @GustaveRoussy company to lobby against forced swimming tests – rodents are not laboratory equipment! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Development of alternative methods

I am asking @InsermIDF to lobby against forced swimming tests at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Paris and to develop alternative methods! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking @InsermIDF to lobby against forced swimming tests at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Paris and to develop alternative methods! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

I am asking @INSB_CNRS and @Inserm to lobby against forced swimming tests and to develop alternative methods! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking @INSB_CNRS and @Inserm to lobby against forced swimming tests and to develop alternative methods! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

I am asking @IBPS_Paris to lobby against forced swimming tests and to develop alternative methods! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking @IBPS_Paris to lobby against forced swimming tests and to develop alternative methods! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Research on prevention

I am asking @NCMagendie to lobby against forced swimming tests and to favour research on the prevention of depression! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking @NCMagendie to lobby against forced swimming tests and to favour research on the prevention of depression! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

I am asking @unistra to lobby against forced swimming tests and to favour research on the prevention of depression! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking @unistra to lobby against forced swimming tests and to favour research on the prevention of depression! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

I am asking @UnivParisSaclay and @InsermIDF to lobby against forced swimming tests and to favour research on the prevention of depression! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking @UnivParisSaclay and @InsermIDF to lobby against forced swimming tests and to favour research on the prevention of depression! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Development of serious training in psychology

I am asking @AgenceRecherche to no longer support forced swimming tests and to support the development of training in psychology deserving of the 21st century! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking @AgenceRecherche to no longer support forced swimming tests and to support the development of training in psychology deserving of the 21st century! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

I am asking @ APHP to no longer support forced swimming tests and to support the development of training in psychiatry deserving of the 21st century! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

Tweet: I am asking @ APHP to no longer support forced swimming tests and to support the development of training in psychiatry deserving of the 21st century! #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting #AnimalTesting https://bit.ly/3T5XLv1 via @onevoiceanimal

This article is the third in a series of five on forced swimming:

  1. Electric shocks and forced swimming in France in 2022
  2. Forced swimming: footage
  3. Forced swimming: the businesses moving forward and the industry that resists
  4. Forced swimming: other approaches are possible
  5. Forced swimming: a long-term battle (to come)

Translated from the French by Joely Justice

Nicolas Marty
Hr blog

In the subject

Urgent: let’s act together to stop monkeys being sent to the United States In response to Aymeric Caron and One Voice, Air France communicates the date on which it will stop transporting primates for animal experimentation

Comments 4

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

Mic | Wednesday 24 August 2022

Que de souffrances inutiles pour quel résultat ???

Laetitia | Wednesday 17 August 2022

Stop à ces tortures !

AuréliaP | Wednesday 17 August 2022

On est en 2022 et force est de constater que les mentalités n'évoluent pas beaucoup.

trochu | Wednesday 17 August 2022

Non mais franchement, c'est scandaleux et honteux, tous ces lobbies n'ont aucune morale, aucune conscience et encore moins aucun respect des animaux pour pouvoir encore agir ainsi en les forçant à nager, c'est inacceptable, à se demander vraiment si ce sont des humains ? Car comment est il encore possible d'expérimenter de tels tests ignobles sur des souris ou des rats, alors que d'autres grandes enseignes et entreprises ont cessé et se sont tournées vers des mesures alternatives et de substitution ETHIQUES. Le combat doit continuer afin que soient définitivement interdites de telles pratiques abominables envers des animaux et dans quels buts ? Que de sadisme et de perversion une fois de plus ...