Animal testing has been going on since the late nineteenth century. Over the years, billions of animals have been killed from experiments, but the amount of animals tested on has fallen 50% since 1968 (Davis 22). With that much of a decline, I cant imagine how many animals were once used and for what purposes. Even with the 50% decline, the number of animals sacrificed for medical and biomedical ends in the United States each year is unknown, but certainly exceeds 60 million and may possibly be as high as 100 million (Kuker-Reines 1). That amount of animals sacrificed each year is horrible especially when a lot of the test turn out to be inaccurate. Of animals currently being used today, about 85% of these are rats and mice, and less than 2% are cats, dogs and non-human primates (National 18). While researchers do their jobs to find alternatives, one easy way anybody can help animals is start watching what they buy and make sure they arent indirectly supporting the cruelty to animals.
Many corporations test on animals, but probably the largest is Proctor & Gamble. People may think they arent contributing to the torture of animals, but Proctor & Gamble has over a hundred everyday products that were at one time tested on. Some of their main products consist of Old Spice, Secret and Sure deodorants. Some other products are Head and Shoulders, Ivory, Pantene, Pert, Vidal Sassoon, Always, Tampax, Tide, Febreze, Crest, Scope, Clearasil, Cover Girl, Noxzema and Oil of Olay. That may seem like a lot, but those are just some of the products that Proctor & Gamble test. Testing cosmetics consist of placing rabbits in stocks that immobilize their heads and researchers dropping the substance into one eye, using the other as a control. The pain may be so great the rabbits break their backs trying to escape (Regan 198).
I bet that even after the animals break their backs, the researchers continue until they have the info they need without giving the animal anything for the pain. In other experiments, the animals may be force fed products or have them rubbed or injected into their skin (Regan 198). Forcing millions of animals to go through the trauma is definitely animal cruelty. In most cases, the animals will probably end up dead, but in some experiments the tests will run until the animal dies. Such a case is determining the lethal dose of radiation used in cancer therapy (National 19). No matter what the test is or how it is performed, there is always an alternative to hurting and killing an innocent animal.
Another thing wrong with animal testing is a lot of times the tests are wrong or inconclusive. There are several issues that effect test results. A reason test are inconclusive is because animals cannot describe their experiences including the aches and pains that are sometimes the side effects of drugs (Regan 202). I believe that that is a big problem with any test, the animals cant tell you how they really feel. Without the results of controlled clinical trials, it is impossible to be sure whether a treatment developed through animal research is really effective in man, or is it actually doing the patient more harm than good (Kuker-Reines 1)? Those are some reasons test are inaccurate, but some others are because without humans having the same susceptibility as animals, the drug may actually turn out to be bad for humans. With different susceptibilities, of 19 chemicals known to cause cancer in humans when ingested, only seven caused cancer in mice and rats (Barnard 82). Considering cancer is one of the biggest tests done on animals, I think that is a huge factor that should be considered every time researchers get their results.
An example is the drug fialuridine which was safe in animal trials, yet caused liver failure in seven of 15 humans taking the drug. Five died and the other two had transplants (Barnard 81). Results can be even more emotional if you take the drug and it hurts somebody else. Thalidomide was introduced to treat morning sickness in pregnant women and was tested on a wide variety of animals before being made available to humans. Its use by pregnant women caused severe abnormalities in newborn babies (Regan 201). I dont understand when a pill is introduced to help a specific person, how can the research be so off?
Other factors that cause test to be inaccurate are many of the apparent anomalies seen in animal experiments merely reflect the unique biology of the species being studied, the unnatural means by which the disease was introduced or the stressful environment of the laboratory can change results (Barnard 80). I personally think that in many cases the lab results are inconclusive or harmful to humans. I just showed a couple situations when drugs were supposed to help humans but instead did the opposite. There are many more cases like those and I dont think millions of animals should be sacrificed when there are still too many unknowns about a product or substance.
I keep saying animal testing should be stopped, but there MIGHT be a few cases where animals might need to be used. If animals were used, they would be in big medical experiments, nothing like checking make-up or shampoo. Companies say animals need to be used because they are very like humans, therefore use of them as anatomical, physiological, biochemical, and psychological models of humans should be allowed (Kuker-Reines 1). That statement is like saying we can use unwanted babies because they are humans and nobody will miss them. Although animal experiments are sometimes intellectually seductive, they are poorly suited to addressing the urgent health problems of our era such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, AIDs and birth defects (Barnard 81). Those are the only things, if any, that should be tested on animals. If researchers are really trying to save lives, those are the areas of study that should be focused on. But even some of those issues may still have alternative methods.
With all the animal right activist groups out there, many alternatives are being found instead of using animals. In the current usage of the term, alternate methods includes replacements for mammals, reductions in the use of animals and refinement in experimental protocols that lessen the pain of the animals involved (National 4). In that term, animals are still being used, but at least there is a cutback in the amount of animals and pain involved. But one way around the suffering and one of the most popular alternative methods is in vitro. With in vitro, tissue stays alive for some time. An animal could be anaesthetized by an injection of Nembutal or other anaesthetic and the required tissue is removed while the animal is anaesthetized. Thus the total pain inflicted is a single injection (Symth 106). This is a simple way to not kill an animal, get what researchers need, and not really harm the animal at all.
Human tissue can also be used in the same way. The use of human tissues removed at surgery or at an autopsy is another alternative (National 43). Those are both very good methods and should be used much more often. Going back to my paragraph where I said animals could be used in cancer research, there is also an alternative to that. Plants resemble animals in a way that they are both susceptible to certain poisons. The closest resemblance between plants and animals is genetic mechanisms and hence claims have been made for the use of plants in cancer research (Symth 121). I dont know how well plants would work in relation to humans. Plants may resemble animals but obviously animals dont always resemble humans. Another alternative is dummies. Dummies are inanimate objects which resemble living creatures in a way which makes them useful for studying some features (Symth 103).
I really think this isnt a great alternative, but schools can try out dummies for dissection instead of using the real thing. The last and most obvious alternative is humans themselves. I dont know how many people would volunteer but its worth a try. In cases where people are dying anyway like AIDs or cancer, all they are doing is helping other people. Before humans cant volunteer though, the FDA must approve human testing. It might be the year 2000 before human trials begin in earnest (DeSilver 5).
I dont see why the FDA is holding back. If people are willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of science, it should be aloud. Willingness to use alternative methods is increasing in industry, but many companies wont be able to switch until new methods have been rubber-stamped by regulatory bodies, which still exhibits a huge conservatism (Roush 1). Until then, any alternative method no matter what it is should be taken in consideration.
Cruel animal testing has gone on for many years. I believe unless the test being done is for critical medical reasons, animals should not be used. There are too many alternatives that can test the same way an animal can. With all the medicines that were tested to work but didnt on humans, I wonder how many potentially useful drugs have been needlessly abandoned because animal test falsely suggested inefficacy or toxicity (Barnard 82). The killing of innocent animals is not the key to finding out if a product is harmful, whenever possible an alternative method should be used.