We have all seen images of horrific animal tests. These images are in all likelihood seared into our memories forever. It is difficult for us to believe that these grotesque examples of humanity’s inhumanity are still consistently being re-enacted for virtually every product available. Everything from medication to cosmetics and foodstuffs is still being tested on animals regularly.
The Nature of Animal Testing
Dr. Gerhard Zbinden, one of the world’s leading toxicologists, once described a standard in vivo test as little more than “a ritual mass execution of animals.”
Animals are used in repeat toxicity testing in a variety of ways, which include oral, dermal, and inhalation. There are no survivors. All the ‘test subjects’ are killed at the end of the test phase so that the researchers can examine their organs to measure the effects of the toxin.
Results from animal research come at a terrible price to the laboratory animals. The animals suffer immense physical, psychological and emotional deprivation, suffering and pain. They are mutilated without anaesthetics as this could alter the test results. Unlike the potential human patient, they are healthy to begin with. They are intentionally injured and diseases are artificially induced. They are subjected to sensory deprivation, caustic burns, food and water deprivation, extremes of temperature, long and painful deaths and conscious dissections. In fact the heinous nature and variety of ways that animals are tested on would be far beyond your ability to imagine.
Animal Testing is Not Good Science
Animal testing is based on a 150 year old scientific premise by Claude Bernard that stated “The similarities between animals and people are more important than the differences”. Whereas today we know the differences are more important, thus rendering the millions of animal experiments undertaken irrelevant to human health.
Animals are biologically and genetically different from us. Each species has its own unique DNA repair mechanism, toxin metabolism and drug absorption rate. The results obtained with animal subjects cannot be extrapolated to humans and are often misleading. Penicillin is toxic to guinea pigs yet it has saved numerous human lives. Paracetamol is fatal to cats, but is gentle enough for children. Morphine produces an excited state in cats, yet it sedates humans. Aspirin is used by humans on a regular basis, but causes allergic reactions in animals.
On the other hand, good science needs to target the specific species to which the results will be applied. The conclusions should be based on indisputable evidence of how the same treatment would affect a human subject and not be based upon a stretch of the imagination. Most systematic reviews show disparate results between human and animal research.
The FDA reports that 92% of drugs approved for human trials are never approved for human use. There have been a number of drugs that failed diabolically after being tested safely on animals. These include Thalidomide, which resulted in tragic birth defects in thousands of children. Vioxx killed about 140,000 people after successful tests on six species of animals. Eraldin has yet to fail a test on animals, but adversely affected thousands of people. Opren was passed after seven years of animal trials, yet killed 76 people and made another 3,500 people seriously ill.
“During the past fifty years scientists experimenting with thousands of animals have found 700 ways of causing cancer.
But they had not discovered one way of curing the disease.”
— Dr J F Brailsford, 1956
Human Based Research
Numerous ethical organisations are dedicated to researching alternatives to animal testing and great strides have been made in this direction.
Human Cell and Tissue Cultures (in vitro) allow scientists to study a smaller number of components and have been highly successful in understanding the blood-brain barrier.
Computer Modelling creates disease and treatment models using human research data. By applying mathematical models, the programs are able to simulate the entire human organism and its response to possible treatments.
Lab-on-a-Chip Technology introduces human cells into a representation of a connected living organism and can simulate the physiological response of entire organs and organ systems.
Autopsies and Post-Mortem Studies are useful for researchers when they are granted access to the patient’s detailed medical history.
Epidemiological Studies and Clinical Trials collect data over years of naturally occurring disease in human volunteers, thus taking into account the causes, treatment and prevention of these illnesses.
Putting Animal Testing Into Perspective
The sheer horror of vivisection may seem overwhelming, but there is something you can do: you can choose cruelty-free products.
Think about this:
- 115 million laboratory animals are used in animal tests every year,
- 62 billion farm animals are slaughtered every year,
- over 1 trillion sea creatures are killed every year,
- the majority of diseases studied today, for example cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart attacks, are caused by eating animals.
If you care about the suffering of animals, then you need to be vegan. It is the most effective lifestyle choice you can make to end the suffering of thousands of animals. You are welcome to contact me if you need further information, advice or support.
Sources and Useful Links:
* In vivo (Latin for ‘within the living’) in a whole, living organism, human or non-human animal.
* In vitro (Latin for ‘within the glass’) in a test tube, petri dish or lab-on-a-chip.
– Dr Hadwen Trust
– Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
– Beauty Without Cruelty South Africa
– ‘Good Science Versus Bad Science’ – Dr Andre Menache
– Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT)
– Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME)
– New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS)
– In Vitro Testing Industrial Platform (IVTIP)
– Leaping Bunny: The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC)
Disclaimer – The above websites are organisations that promote research into alternatives to animal testing. Elated is dedicated to the abolition of all animal testing and on that matter we agree. However, we do not necessarily endorse or agree with all of their campaigns and policies. In fact we are opposed to their actions when they promote welfare reforms, single issue campaigns and violent direct action. Elated believes that educating people about ethical veganism is the only effective strategy to counter all animal use including animal testing.