Some of the world’s most beloved animals are exposed to brutal and intolerable conditions each day, merely for the benefit of humankind. These conditions are highly unacceptable because animals are utterly stripped of their freedom as they undergo multiple commercial and scientific tests each year. Harmless creatures, including dogs, cats, and rabbits, are subjected to intense situations that are incredibly physically and emotionally demanding. The Animal Welfare Act saves certain animals from extreme abuse, however the amount of protection given to each animal is very minimal. Because the Animal Welfare Act is unable to protect nearly 100 million animals in experimentation processes from inhumane treatment, commercial and scientific testing in laboratories should be banned when cheaper alternatives can be used as replacement.
Animal experimentation can be categorized into two sections: basic and applied. Basic experimentation examines the fundamental biology of humans and human diseases, while applied experimentation focuses on developing medical treatments, researching drugs, finding the toxicity level of medications, and performing safety tests. Additionally, commercial testing is one of the most common processes in safety testing where commercial products are experimented on animals to identify if substances threaten the health of human individuals. Some of the most common household items are tested, not only including items produced by top cosmetic brands like Maybelline, CoverGirl, Chanel, Sephora, and L’Oreal, but also pesticides, windex cleaners, vaseline, band-aids, post-it notes, deodorant, toothpaste, perfumes, food additives and countless others that abuse the existence of animals.
The key objective of animal experimentation processes is to promote the efficiency and safety of undeveloped treatments and research new information regarding human biology and health. Three crucial circumstances undermine the reliability of nonhuman animal experimentation methods to human studies. Laboratory environments, differences between human diseases and strains of diseases inflicted on animals, and the distinction between biological and physical composition of animals and humans greatly impact research results. Animals experience trauma and stress through a multitude of artificial situations where they are confined in small areas for a duration of their lives.
Windowless rooms, artificial lighting, and human-made sounds are some of the harsh situations where animals are physically incapable of displaying normal behaviors which, in return, alters the success rate of the procedure. For example, when rats increased their stress level they began to develop chronic inflammatory conditions and intestinal leakage which yielded perplexing data. This deceitful data causes significant change to the overall study outcome and will proceed to prevent precise predictions of human health.
Another factor contributing to inaccurate research is the implication of artificial human diseases to animal subjects. It is purely impossible to create an exact replica of human diseases because of the intricate complexity of the human species. Even in the most reasonable and regulated cases, the studies are of limited use because of the major differences between the animals and human intricacies.
Drug developments in cancer are the simplest model to determine biochemical and physiological cancer properties, where an artificial tumor is placed in an animal. Evidence shows that cancer drugs are among the greatest clinical fail rate in the disease category, and proves that animals cannot effectively imitate the complexity of human cancer. Similar situations occur in diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, or Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, the failure rate of clinical tests is at a high 94% and has been increasing over the years, which clearly exhibits that attempts to improve success rates continues to be inadequate.
The genetics, physical traits, and set of behaviors are critical variables that uniquely identify and differentiate the human species compared to the animal species. The characteristics each species hold are so diverse that completely accurate data is rare and the dependability of animal studies is highly limited. Mice are used extensively as test subjects to observe human inflammatory diseases, however during a 2013 study, researchers investigated that the mice were remarkably deceptive. The study led to the discovery that responses to inflammatory conditions greatly differed from the genetics of humans, and even from other mouse subjects. This contradicting data in genetics partially explains the grand increase in drug failure rate. Though humans and animals, for the most part, share identical genes, the functionality and how genes are expressed individualizes the genetic composition of the two species.
Forced feeding, deprivation of food and water, physical restraint, and the infliction of burns and wounds are among some of the most disturbing types of procedures. One typical product safety test includes the LD50 test, or the lethal dose 50 percent test, which determines toxicity levels of gases, powders, and injected substances that damage animals’ body systems. The test forces animals to ingest chemicals by inserting tubes directly into their stomachs without the use of anesthesia, and as a result, kills 50 percent of the animals.
Fortunately, in 1985, the amount of animals used in this test was lessened by an astonishing 88% to a maximum of ten animals, however the affects continue to be strongly impactful. Similarly, the Draize eye test is incredibly harmful to the health of animals as they are heavily restrained with no anesthetic for up to 14 days. Eye irritation and overall reaction to chemicals is measured and observed by adding intense amounts of a test substance, such as shampoo or conditioner, onto the eyes of an animal. Among these tests are numerous other complicated and dangerous techniques which place animals in constant cycles of physical and mental agony. The need for animals in scientific and commercial testing is one of the greatest debates of society today.
Those who support animal experimentation believe that without the use of animals, thousands of life-saving treatments would never have been developed and performed. In fact, studies show that laboratory animals excelled almost half of all biomedical tests in the United States. To some degree this argument is true, however the current animal procedures in laboratories are extremely expensive.
Around 16 million dollars are spent annually on animal experimentation research, and furthermore takes up 40 percent of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) budget each year, according to the People for Ethnical Treatment for Animals. The NIH continues to waste millions of dollars by funding to receive duplicated animal research each year. An estimated 40% of the grants funded by the NIH in 2010 included forms of animal research. Developing computer models or simulations and creating human cell-based in vitro methods, or test tube methods, are cost efficient alternatives to animal testing. For example, one test measuring the genetic toxicity of animals is called the Unscheduled DNA Synthesis test and costs $32,000 to perform on animals.
With the use of the in vitro method, the cost would decrease 66 percent to only $11,000. Additionally, the Rat 24-month Cancer Bioassay is a $700,000 animal test that can be reduced to $22,000 with the in vitro method. Computerized databases and models, stem cell or genetic tests, microdosing, and imagery techniques like CT scans also contribute to effective replacements. Microdosing is described as the process where certain drugs are tested in very low doses on humans to observe exactly how the body responds at a cellular level. Not only are these cheaper alternatives, but they do not require animals for research and therefore prevent excessive harm to animal test subjects. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was signed and passed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 to regulate animal treatment and keep creatures from facing the most traumatic of events.
It covers less than 10% of animals used in commercial and scientific testing from stressful situations, yet these animals are still provided with the slightest of protection. From guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters to primates, dogs, pigs, cats, and sheep, the variety of animals covered by the act seems endless. The AWA continues to exclude rats, mice, and birds who let alone make up 90 to 95% of animals in laboratories. Cold blooded animals and farm animals are also excluded from the act. As a result, these species are more susceptible to great forms of mistreatment.
Unfortunately, the AWA has not stopped horrific cases of animal abuse in research laboratories because some institutions simply do not adhere to the laws enforced. In particular, 338 violations of the act were found at the New Iberia Research Center (NCIR) in March of 2009. Primates at NCIR endured such psychological stress that they began severely harming themselves, infant chimps caught on tape were screaming as they were forced away from their mothers, infant primates woke up and responded to painful experiments, and chimpanzees were intimidated and shot with dart guns. There have been several revisions of the document since it first was established, however animals need to receive further respect and care. As a society, it is vital that we discern the simplistic beauty of animals and work to change the current insufferable living conditions animal subjects endure daily. Albert Einstein once stated, “Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty,” on a written letter. Einstein stresses the importance of accepting all living creatures, like these unkept animals, as representations of natural elegance. He reinforces that it is necessary for people to further embrace the beauty of all creatures and their environments.
Nations worldwide can help prevent the use of animals in commercial and scientific testing by purchasing, using, or creating cruelty-free products, educating yourself and others on this issue, contacting chemical laboratories about the drastic effects, or donating to organizations that strive to reach the same goal. If the roles were switched, human beings would endure restless days of endless physical and emotional suffering as test subjects benefitting the animal kingdom. Although animals have different physical traits, they are still sensitive creatures that are capable of feeling pain both inside and out. A positive shift in the course of scientific history depends upon society to create, enforce, or advocate for a more effective transition.