Top 10 Reasons Animal Testing Should Be Banned
Whether or not products for human use should be tested on animals before proceeding to full scale human trials is one of the most emotive subjects ever to be debated. People on both sides of the fence have very strong views. Some argue that there is no price to be put on human suffering and that the benefits of animal testing outweigh the negatives (indeed there is a Listland list that sets out the various arguments in favor of animal testing). Other people feel, very strongly, that there is no possible justification for the suffering caused by animal testing and that it is, in any event, an outdated and inaccurate method of evaluating drugs for human use.
We have taken the opportunity to list here, in answer to the other list on this site, the 10 reasons why the author of that article is wrong and why animal testing is not only cruel but also inefficient, expensive and dangerous. After reading this article we hope that you will agree with us that it is time to end this outmoded, appalling practice for good.
10. Animal Testing Causes Unimaginable Suffering
Do you have a pet? Many families either own or aspire to own a pet dog or a cat and many of those who cannot know friends or family members who do. Of course there are people who are not pet owners either because of pressures of work and accommodation requirements, allergies or because they just do not want the responsibility but even the most animal phobic of people will be able to understand (and often view in friends) the close bond that exists between a human and their pet.
People who spend time with animals know that they experience the same range of emotions as people. They are capable of love, joy, sadness and grief and above all, they are capable of suffering. Most mammals will need some form of contact, either from a human or from another animal, in order to enjoy their life to the fullest. Like humans, they need access to fresh air, exercise and comfort.
Animals used in testing often undergo procedures that result in terrible pain and trauma – examples include being forced underwater for long periods of time without warning or being infected with diseases which are allowed to progress too far before the animal is euthanized humanely. Some research facilities pay little attention to the care and welfare of test subjects which can lead to distressing incidents such as when animals break their legs on cages or are scalded to death in horrible accidents.
9. Animal Testing Is Cruel And Debases Humanity
At the end of the Second World War it was discovered that the Nazis had used Jews and other people that they regarded as ‘subhuman’ for medical testing. There have been some attempts to use the data in the past but the overwhelming response is that to do so would be to minimize the suffering of those who were subjected to the appalling experiments and tortured so dreadfully.
While we would in no way want to conflate the suffering of animals in test laboratories with the horrors of the holocaust – a planned genocide – it cannot be denied that animals used in labs do suffer.
As you can see from point 10 (above) many animal testing facilities give little care or thought to the way in which animals used for testing are treated. It is comforting to think of mice, rabbits or dogs being kept in decent cages and enjoying good food until the time comes for them to do their job and submit to tests but the reality is that this is not the case.
The people who work in these laboratories are not automatons, they are living breathing human beings who go home to their families at the end of the day and who may even have pets of their own yet they are debased, made to behave in a manner that is less than desirable by the system in which they are forced to work to make their living. And it is not only those who work in these facilities (and whose presence there is, at the least, voluntary) who are debased, but indeed everyone who uses the drugs and cosmetics that result from the testing.
The US and much of the western world are majority Christian nations and as such, this forms the basis of a collective morality. The old testament of the Bible tells us to have regard to the lives of animals. It is not just Christianity which requires us to have regard to the welfare of animals – it is an important tenet of Hinduism and Buddhism (and many other religions as well).
8. Most Animals Used In Tests Are Not Covered By The Animal Welfare Act
Many people in favor of animal testing claim that stories of cruelty are old and out of date and that safeguards such as the Animal Welfare Act are in place to ensure that the animals used in testing are well treated. At first glance the Animal Welfare Act looks as though it would provide good protection in that it sets out minimum standards of accommodation and access to water as well as access to pain relief.
Sadly the Animal Welfare Act is cold comfort; of the 26 million animals used for testing in the US every year only 5% are covered by the terms of the Animal Welfare Act. Animals that are not covered include birds, fish and rodents.
Even in tests that involve animals that are covered by the Act breaches are distressingly common. It is all too easy to stick our heads in the sand and believe that our cosmetics and pills were ethically tested but are you happy to use products tested on chimpanzees who were kept awake and aware of what was happening to them during painful and frightening procedures? Are you happy to be (indirectly) responsible for the distress to mother and baby as young chimps are torn from their mother’s arms? We condemn the slaughter and mistreatment of these amazing animals for meat or land in the wilds of Africa but condone their torture on our own shores.
7. The Results Of Animal Tests Are Not Reliable
Animals are not people! No matter how much loving pet owners will enjoy anthropomorphizing their pets or how we admire the intelligence of elephants, whales, dolphins and primates it is an unavoidable fact that we are very different and our bodies and minds work in a different way to those of even our closest living relatives. It is instructive to note that over 90% of all substances tested in animals (and that appear promising at first glance) fail clinical trials.
Those in favor of animal testing point to the fact that many test subjects, like rats and mice, have short lifecycles which enable them to see how a medicine or other substance will behave over a lifetime. This premise is, however, deeply flawed; our lives are so long that there is more time for side effects to show in a human than in a rodent. Not only that but while they are similar to us, sharing a large percentage of our DNA we are not, as a professor at Johns Hopkins University is fond of saying ‘70kg rats’. We differ from them too much, on a cellular, metabolic and anatomic basis and that makes animals a poor testing subject for substances designed for human use. Indeed they are such a poor substitute that they often have to be subjected to nasty, painful procedures simply to ensure that they can be used as a subject for the test.
6. Many Animal Tests Are Horribly Flawed And Inaccurate
In order for animal based research to be of any benefit it should comply with the rigorous standards expected of scientific studies. Sadly not all animal testing is as rigorous as human trials. This is a major concern because if the research is flawed so are the results which can lead to them being invalid. In 2009 a peer reviewed study of 271 studies undertaken with animals (rats, mice and primates). The results were shocking; the objective of the tests was clearly set out in less than 60% of the studies. More than 85% of the studies failed to use procedures such as randomization or blinding in selecting the animals used for the trial and at least 30% of the studies described their methodology or set out their results in a way that measured errors or validity in a verifiable way.
The potential for problems caused by such inaccuracies is clear. In one famous case animal trials of a potential stroke drug had looked very promising. When the drug progressed to clinical trials it failed, it simply did not work. When the reasons were investigated it appeared that the animal tests may not have robust enough, with no blinding or randomization meaning that there was potential for cherry picking of statistical outliers (tests which include no reported randomization are 5 times more likely to render a positive result than those that are conducted against rigorous guidelines).
While it is inevitable that some potential drugs will fail it is appalling that animal lives are sacrificed in such as lazy and inefficient way. They gave their lives for nothing!