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Animal testing is the use of animals in experiments. Another term for it is vivisection. Although vivisection literally means to cut up alive, the term has come to include all experiments involving animals- from mice, to rabbits to non-human primates. Animal testing has been used for many reasons. One is pure research, wherein the purpose is simply to advance biological knowledge. Another is applied research, which is when animals are used as models to study human disease or in medical research. This includes testing by pharmaceutical industry to develop new drugs. But the most controversial reason is product testing. Most of us believe that that law requires animal testing on cosmetics. This is simply not true. Many of the products that we used everyday like Clairol Herbal Essences, Colgate, Johnson & Johnson, LOreal, Clorox, Pantene, Max Factor and Shiseido cosmetics all use animal testing. Long before these products reached our shelves, they went through a long and complex testing process that left millions of animals mutilated, burned and poisoned.
To begin with the long list of problems with animal testing, the most prominent one is that it is unethical. The tests done on millions of animals leave them suffering immense pain. The Draize eye and skin irritation test immobilizes rabbits in full body restraints while a substance is dripped or daubed into their eyes or on their shaved skin. Eyelids are held open with clips to keep the animals from blinking. This procedure subjects these animals to suffer from irritated and cloudy eyes, swollen eyelids, inflamed skin and sometimes they may even endure bleeding, blindness, bloody scabs and ulcers. After the tests are completed, animals are killed in order to study their internal organs. (National Anti-Vivisection Society)
Another test called the LD50, Ëœis the most common animal poisoning experiment. (Moore, 2006) Animals are force-fed increasing quantities of a substance until half of them die. This method leads animals to suffer from severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, convulsions, seizures, paralysis, and/or bleeding from the nose, mouth, and genitals before they die. At the end of the experiment, animals who manage to survive are also killed.
The saddest part is that these tests assess level of toxicity in products like over cleaners, soaps, detergents and wave solutions. They do not work towards consumer safety and even if a test has killed a rabbit it can still be sold into the market. No amount of experimentation makes these products harmless if ingested or used in a way different from what the manufacturer has stated.(NAVS, Animal tests)
These animals have no control over their lives, and on top of that, they have to endure horrific experiments. Animals are infected with diseases they would normally never contract- tiny mice grow tumors as large as their bodies, rats die after soap is pumped into their stomachs, kittens are purposely blinded, rabbits are made to suffer seizures and convulse after being soaked by chemicals. How impulsive is even just the thought of enduring so much pain and then being dumped back into your cage, often without painkillers. It is unethical that 50 to 100 million animals worldwide are usually killed during the experiments or subsequently euthanized and I would categorize this as no different from murder. Besides being unethical, it is also extremely unfortunate that in todays world of wisdom, animals lives are treated less importantly than humans lives.
Moving onto the other problems related to animal testing, a question I would like to raise is that, do animals and humans react and respond to the same substances in the same way? Animal testing is used in order to progress medical research as a reliable source of obtaining and testing hypothesis but the fact is that animal testing is not only horrible for the animals but also unreliable. There are many physical, biological and physiological differences between animals and humans and the results of any experiments could be a harmful guide to the humans. Å“Drugs like thalidomide, Zomax and DES were allÂ tested on animals and judged safe but had devastating consequences for the humans who used them. More than half of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1976 and 1985 were withdrawn from the market or relabeled because of the serious side effects they had on humans. They had all been tested on animals.(V) If we actually think about it, a certain milligram of lead could kill a mouse but it would not affect the human beings so much. This itself proves that animal testing can lead to unreliable results. In my opinion, in the name of scientific advancement, by cloning, euthanizing, killing and experimenting on animal people are trying to take place of the God by giving themselves the right to rule the lives of these helpless animals. Å“In fact, 90 percent of medications approved for human use after animal testing later proved ineffective or harmful to humans in clinical trials. It is humbling to realize that the flipping of a coin would have proved five times more accurate and much cheaper. Animal-tested drugs have killed, disabled or harmed millions of people and lead to costly delays as well. Among the most publicized are the delays of a polio vaccine by over three decades and a four-year delay in the use of protease inhibitors for HIV treatment - after animal testing showed these interventions to be useless. (Overton)
Next, I would like to discuss a problem which is often gone unnoticed. According to Rollin, Ëœinvasive stresser has negative effects on an animal; physically and psychologically and also has a strong relationship with the cognitive and emotional mental states. In an example given by him, he portrayed the difference between the rats that expected an electric shock and the ones that randomly got them. The rats predicting the shocks developed no gastric ulcers whereas other rats that got shocked randomly developed ulceration. This again shows us the inconsistency of results within the same species due to stress endured in the lab which makes the test results meaningless. This could be harmful to the human beings because if a test shows two different results on the same type of animal then the effect of it could definitely also differ between the animal and the humans.
This problem of animal testing can only be fixed by replacement of animal testing with other techniques, reduction in the number of animals tested, and refinement of animal tests to reduce suffering (Advocacy for Animals). However, in the rest of the essay I will focus on replacement because I personally feel that the solution to the problem is to stop practicing it completely. Some scientists and people may think this is something to worry about because the cure for cancer was found through animal testing. However, there are many other ways that are more effective. Since there is no law that requires animal testing, companies have no reason to not update and change their testing methods. Even the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) only urges on testing the cosmetics for consumer safety, though not necessarily on animals. (American Chronicle) Hence, as a part of my research, I would like to explore the other effective solution to stop animal testing. Other methods that are highly effective Ëœinclude computer simulators and imaging techniques, epidemiological studies (studies of human populations), clinical research, in vitro research (in a test tube) and replacing animals with human cells in safety tests(Adult Stem Research). (Vegan Peace Home) These are less expensive and more effective.
One of the methods that I find very effective is the Adult Stem research. This method reduces and to an extent nullifies all complications or failures due to tissue rejection. The Adult Stem research uses cells that are present in growing human tissues. This method has previously shown success in treating many diseases like thalassemia, Crohns disease and cardiac infarction.
"Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction." Â
-- Professor Charles R. Magel (http://www.veganpeace.com/animal_cruelty/animal_testing.htm)