Animal testing is a hot button issue with a multitude of opinions on each side. It’s an industry where there are entire companies dedicated to the breeding of animals used for experimental purposes. You can order whatever sort of beagle, rat, pig or mouse (to mention a few) that your laboratory wants to test on. Universities, corporations and companies all play a part in perpetuating the use of animals as research subjects.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. The future of research is becoming more humane and positive each day. To start helping animals, it is important to understand the issue of animal testing and we hope that this article gives you a beneficial overview of the topic.
We encourage you to share this information with friends and people you know. We do not need to continue testing on animals, and here are five great reasons why.
1. Alternative testing technologies exist.
Humane alternatives are out there, and they’re becoming more accurate as technology improves. Here’s just a sampling of some of the new testing technologies that have the potential to replace animal experimentation for good:
- A newly developed technology created by professor James Hickman, at the University of Central Florida, mimics standard human muscular function which allows researchers to monitor muscular function and its response to different treatments without using human or animal subjects.
- Bioengineering PhD student Alan Faulkner-Jones began pioneering the use of 3-D printing to replace medical animal testing.
- A team of Maryland scientists is “using adult stem cells that can grow into cells from just about any of the body’s organs, which they believe will allow them to more accurately and more quickly test effects of a toxin or a drug–potentially any substance–on a person, eliminating the need for animal subjects.”
Entire organizations such as New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS), to name a few, are dedicated to raising awareness about animal testing and supporting and developing humane and accurate alternatives, which are becoming increasingly available. Soon, there will be no excuse not to use alternatives.
2. Public awareness about animal testing is growing.
Did you know that even items like contact lenses, pet food, diapers, Splenda, and some “green” cleaning products are tested on animals? If you didn’t, now you do. It’s now simpler than ever to get information on what products are tested on animals, and in some cases even know how the research is performed (check out our list of ten commonly performed experiments on animals for more information).
We may not be able to end all forms of animal testing as quickly as we want, such as experiments in medical facilities or at pharmaceutical companies, but we can control what we purchase. We can also let our universities know that we do not support testing on animals.
3. Cruelty-free products are on the rise.
Websites like the Leaping Bunny, and PETA’s cruelty-free search engine make it easy to start finding products that do not test on animals. Brands like Lush use their anti-animal testing stance as a selling point and to raise awareness. We have published shopping guides on cruelty-free mascara, shampoo, and lip balm, as well as a guide on recognizing animal ingredients in makeup, illustrating that cruelty-free is becoming the preferred choice for many conscious companies.
From our article on vivisection (which is also worth a read), Caroline Lennon compiled this super helpful list of companies and products that are 100 percent vegan (i.e. no animal testing and no products derived from animals):
- Companion animal food: Natural Balance
- Cosmetics: Beauty Without Cruelty
- Household goods: Method
- Office supplies (incl. pens): Pilot
- Skincare: Hugo Natural Products
- Supplements and vitamins: NuTru
In addition, we can now ensure that our charitable contributions are not going toward non-human animal experiments. Animal Aid and Humane Seal provide information to donors on which charities are cruelty-free.
4. Non-human animals are imperfect analogs for the human body.
In the words of Biomedical Science and Electrical Engineering Professor James Hickman, “We have cured over 200 diseases in rats and mice that hasn’t translated to humans because our physiology is different, a lot of the basic functions you know … There is all kinds of things a rat can do that looks like things that we are doing. The problem is the small little modifiers, you know the channels and the receptors in those cells are just a little different than ours.”
Physiologist Ajay Chawla of the University of California in reference to testing on mice, said, “An important issue that I think most of us have ignored … I tell my colleagues, ‘You’re modelling human disease and pathology in an organism that is like somebody who is on speed.’”
According to NAVS, “People, in general, have longer life expectancies than most nonhuman species, metabolize substances differently, and are exposed to a multitude of different environmental factors over our lifetimes. Diseases that develop in people differ in significant ways from artificially imposed symptoms or in animals that have been genetically engineered.”
There are a wide variety of studies and books that demonstrate the weak link between testing on non-human animals and producing usable results. To scratch the surface, visit Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, read research by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and catch up on chapters dedicated to the subject in Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation.”
5. Animal testing has no place in our modern world.
It was a sad day when the first animal was used in an experiment for human benefit — when the human race decided that because we could, because they cannot say no, we would use them as test subjects. These animals have a right to live in a world without suffering just as much as we do. We should know by now that asserting our dominance over another species does not make us look strong, but rather makes us look weak, as if we’re moving backward, not forward.
We have the capacity to research and develop alternatives that are more accurate and more humane. These alternatives, medically and within product testing, are the way of the future. It’s time to let animals out of the world’s laboratories.