Why it is an injustice and should be stopped.
Trigger warning – Abuse, explicit
What is animal testing?
Animal testing refers to the procedures performed on living animals for the purpose of research into basic biology. It seeks to gather more information on a particular species and add to the current scientific knowledge. Animal testing is done for assessing the effectiveness of newfound medical products or drugs, cosmetics, household cleaners, food additives, pharmaceuticals, agro-chemicals etc. All procedures, even those classified as “mild,” have the potential to cause the animals physical as well as psychological distress and suffering. Often the procedures can cause a great deal of suffering. Most animals are killed at the end of an experiment, but some may be re-used in subsequent experiments.
Examples of some procedures carried out on animals:
- Forced chemical exposure for toxicity testing
- Exposure to drugs, chemicals or infectious diseases which may cause the animals intense pain and suffering
- Surgical procedures
- Infliction of pain on the animals to study its physiology and treatment.
Most commonly used animals for testing are – mice, rabbits, monkeys, hamsters and guinea pigs etc.
Why is animal testing unethical and an injustice?
Each year, more than a 100 million innocent animals are killed in the name of medical experiments, biology lessons and testing.
Before their deaths, these animals are forced to inhale toxic fumes, others are immobilised for hours, some have holes drilled into their skulls and others even have their skin burned off.
In addition to the torment of the actual experiments, the animals in the laboratories are deprived of anything natural or resembling their home environment as they are confined to barren cages, socially isolated and psychologically traumatised.
Now, the main question at hand is, what can be done in place of animal testing? Animal testing is the age-old method that has been practised since the commencement of scientific advancement, but not only is it unethical and cruel, it is also not cost effective.
Replacing animal tests does not mean putting human patients at risk or hindering scientific progress. Independent scientific reviews demonstrate that research using animals correlates very poorly to real human patients. In fact, the data shows that animal studies fail to predict real human outcomes in 50 to 99.7 percent of cases.
Guiding principles for more ethical methods of testing were stated by Russell and Burch in 1959 as the Three Rs :
- Replacement – it refers to the preferred use of non-animal methods over animal methods whenever possible to achieve the same scientific aim,
- Reduction – refers to methods that enable scientists to acquire comparable levels of information from fewer animals (although, animals should be used as little as possible),
- Refinement – refers to usage of methods that minimise or alleviate potential pain or suffering and enhance animal welfare.
Here are some alternatives to animal testing –
The sequencing of the human genome and birth of functional genomics, the explosive growth of computer power and computational biology, and high-speed robot automation of cell-based (in vitro) screening systems, to name a few, has sparked a quiet revolution in biology.
- Cell cultures – Almost every type of human and animal cell can be grown in the laboratory. Scientists have even managed to coax cells to grow into 3D structures, such as miniature human organs, which can provide a more realistic way to test new therapies.
- Human tissues – Both healthy and diseased tissues donated from human volunteers can provide a more relevant way of studying human biology and disease than animal testing.
- Computer models – With the growing sophistication of computers, the ability to ‘model’ or replicate aspects of the human body is ever more possible.
- Volunteer studies – Advances in technology have allowed for the development of sophisticated scanning machines and recording techniques that can be used to study human volunteers safely. An innovative technique called micro-dosing can also be used in volunteers to measure how very small doses of potential new drugs behave in the human body.
Apart from the medical field, animal testing is absolutely and completely unnecessary in the cosmetics field.
Animal testing for cosmetics is not cute little bunnies wearing lipsticks, it is very cruel and painful for the animals who may suffer burns and various skin complications.
As hard as it is to believe, animal experiments for cosmetics and household products continue even though non-animal tests are widely available. Instead of measuring how long it takes a chemical to burn the cornea of a rabbit’s eye, manufacturers can now drop that chemical onto cornea-like 3D tissue structures produced from human cells.
In conclusion, there are various alternatives available to animal testing which we need to make use of and slowly but surely eradicate the practise of animal testing.
By Srishti Sreeram
I’m Srishti and I study in grade 11
I’m a vegetarian and I try my best to speak out against injustices and animal cruelty.
I enjoy playing sports, dancing, singing, writing and reading during my spare time.
I try my best to take part in activities for the betterment of society and our environment, and I also enjoy volunteering for various organisations.