Problems with Animal Testing: Inhumane Practices and Neglected Interests
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA), enacted in August 1966, regulates the treatment and care of animals in research (Murnaghan 4). However, researchers annually exploit approximately 26 million animals for scientific and commercial testing in the United States (The Flaws and Human Harms ). These exploitations occur while developing medical treatments, determining toxicity levels in medicine, and ensuring the safety of cosmetic products prior to human utilization. While conducting a study on animal welfare, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) categorized data into three types of pain faced by animals: (1) pain suffered and drugs given, (2) pain suffered and no drugs given, and (3) no pain suffered and no drugs given (Annual Report Animal Usage ). Regardless of the welfare of animals and its impact on human health, the efficacy of animal experimentation should be scrutinized in further detail. Evidence shows the combined harms from animal experimentation overshadow the benefits for humans. Instead of using resources on animals, resources should be better invested in developing human-, or non-animal-based testing methods.
A deeply divided subject, animal testing involves a great deal of sentiment and ideas on both controversial sides regarding the ethics of this practice. It becomes a public health issue when authorities have to decide between the welfare of humans and that of animals. According to the majority, people will sacrifice the lives of animals for animal testing in order to save human lives, but is this ethical? Lori Gruen, a Stanford philosophy professor states, we disrespect our humanity when we act in inhumane ways towards non-persons, whatever their species (Gruen 5). Even though human welfare is a top priority, the welfare of animals is still taken into account. The word welfare is an umbrella term for feelings and needs, not just physical, but also mental. After confrontation, researchers still conduct experiments on animals. And the distress of animals is alleviated, but is this good enough?
It is recommended that researchers use the least number of animals and resources while conducting research in order to obtain the fastest results in an experiment. The researchers’ compliance shows they recognize the limitations and have the willpower to reduce the intensity of animal cruelty. In addition to using fewer animals, the animals that the scientists did work with were administered little to no pain. Without laboratory experiments performed on non-humans, people would not be able to mitigate risk factors and get the proper medications available today. Public health professionals, at the very least, need to acknowledgeif not actively advocate forthe value animal research has in improving the health of the broader public. Animals have no opportunity to stop the torment, simply because they are labeled as just animals ; animal activists believe that humans are the voice for the animals. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that 9 out of 10 experimental drugs fail during clinical trials because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people based on laboratory animal studies (McInerney 32). Despite meticulous animal tests, prescription drugs still kill over 100,000 people each year, making it our nation’s fourth-largest killer (Animal Testing Is Bad Science ). Putting animals in poor conditions and using them in sccience only results in scientists wasting their resources and time. As a result, animal testing proves to be more detrimental than beneficial. Animal testing is considered ethically wrong and people should start advocating for the animals and promoting non-human experiments.
This research paper aims to provide an insight into the woeful conditions animals face while being tested on and present an overview of the health challenges encountered by humans. The methodology section will describe the motives behind the advocating for non-human laboratory testing and why it is a highly debated topic. The findings section will briefly discuss the data behind research conducted on animals and its correlation to public health. I will include graphs and pictures to show evidence of the toxicity of medications and public health policies set to protect both the health of humans and non-humans. The discussion section of the paper will provide solutions to the problems faced in this topic and recent information on researchers who call attention to it. It will include facts about alternative methods to lab testing on animals. Finally, the conclusion will show previous findings about how millions of animals unethically suffer and die in testing and other experiments for human benefit. I will prove that animals are sentient beings and thus should be labeled as legal persons who do not deserve to be tested on. This paper will show alternative, more humane experimentation methods which pose economic and moral advantages to humans.
Providing adequate medical research by testing on laboratory animals is a growing issue of concern both globally and domestically. Although the United States continues to experience difficulties in ensuring safety of drugs, this paper focuses on a significant portion of the population who deems animal as unethical and find that the issues outweigh the advantages. Although large companies and those for animal testing might think that animal testing is essential for products to be declared safe for human use, that is entirely untrue. Due to the current use of animal experiments for cosmetics and household products even though non-animal tests are widely available, it is essential to explore and analyze this issue and all of its aspects.
To take a further look into the problems laboratory testing on animals can instigate, the research started with the history beforehand. Although animal testing in the past have prevented human diseases, at what cost will scientists test on animals. The economics of animal exploitation is important because it is using animal products to fulfill the demand for those products, thus turnover and profit drive businesses. When the demand for a product declines, advertising is done to increase the demand or diversifying products is done to result in a higher turnover rate. Demand drives supply, thus abolitionists focus on reducing the demand for animal products (Mclnerney 3). Being cognizant of animal welfare in the animals’ best interest is an economic issue which affects the public’s health. Animal welfare is an issue because the public is exposed to products on shelves marked safe by the FDA and stocked on shelves. On the other hand, people who identify as utilitarian, believe that animal use is acceptable if and only if it serves the greater good, being the health of humans. They postulate that death is not harm to animals the same way death would be harm to humans. Utilitarian say that as long as the animal has not suffered unnecessarily, then it is morally acceptable for humans to test on them
Millions of animals get tortured and die during each year of testing drugs, chemicals, and cosmetic items. People often disregard animal testing and allow it to happen because they think it is necessary for medical advancements. For testing purposes, animals may be blinded, poisoned, forced to inhale toxic fumes, have their skin burned off, have their spinal cords crushed, or have holes drilled into the skull (Prasad 5). The truth is, a majority of experiments performed on animals do not result in medical improvement. A variety of poor laboratory conditions can affect animals: unusual noise levels can damage blood vessels, the type of flooring under animals in cages stand on can cause spinal cord injuries, and the inhalation of toxic fumes is forced. These can all affect whether or not a drug shows a benefit, but these experiments do not have statistically robust data. Animal experimentation is not as necessary as companies may lead consumers to believe; this is because the outcomes from the experiments do not have enough substantial data to be of value, thus millions of animal lives are sacrificed for no reason.
The Animals Scientific Procedures Act of 1986 includes all scientific procedures that may cause pain, misery, discomfort or any long-term harm (Murnaghan 6). Therefore, the methodological change as shown in figure 1 accounted for the increase in figures from 1987 onwards. Figure 1 shows how the legislation put in place effected the total number of experiments performed on animals.
To show how a more depth explanation of how these scientific procedures were completed, we can study the dose-time relationship to understand the concept of extrapolation of dose between species. This is important for pharmaceutical researchers when initiating new animal or human experiments (see fig. 2). The dose by factor method is an empirical approach and uses the no observed adverse effect levels (NOAEL) of drug from preclinical toxicological studies to estimate human equivalent dose (HED) (Nair 2). This data shows the allometric scaling for dose conversion from animal to human studies, showing that the data gathered for dose for animals cannot be directly converted into the dose for humans.
Figure 1: Total Experiments/Procedures, 1945“2014
Source: Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain 2014
Figure 1 shows that number of experiments increased considerably between 1945 and 1971, rising from 1 million to 5 million, and from that period on to 1986 the number decreased to 3 million.
Figure 2: Dose-Time Relationship Between Species and Human Variability
Source: A simple practice guide for dose conversion between animals and human
Figure 2 shows that the dose selection is based on minimum risk of toxicity, instead of choosing one with minimum pharmacologic activity in humans.
A multitude of alternative methods to animal testing exist; some non-animal tests currently run faster and more accurate at predicting human reactions to a product than current animal tests. Not only do these non-animal tests prove to be more humane, but they also have the potential to be cheaper, faster, and more admissible to humans. Another concern for animal testing concern cosmetics testing. Europe banned animal testing for cosmetics in 2009, but other countries still use animals for cosmetics testing (Animal Testing Is Bad Science ). Because all scientific procedures during animal testing included inducing pain, suffering, distress or long-term damage, many cases of abuse from the scientific community have been indicated and such abuses will not be tolerated; researchers should use non-animal testing methods instead.
Laboratory experiments performed on animals 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 (Animal Testing Is Bad Science ). Furthermore, researchers have access to human skin cultures which can be grown for skin irritation testing; as a result there is no need to cause harm to a living organism. For a product to be cruelty-free, it needs to be free from all animal use: no animal products, animal byproducts or animal testing. Labeled products like cruelty-free refer to animal testing and do not prohibit the exploitation of all animals.
There is also the argument that the reaction of a drug in an animal’s body is distinctive from the reaction of a drug in a human’s body. A lethal poisoning test, discovered during the World War I era, is the single most common animal test in use today. The test includes the dose-by-factor method; this method is a factual advent and use the NOAEL of drug from preclinical toxicological studies to estimate HED. The total of how much drugs are metabolized in the body systems, and how the drug is excreted is vital to ensuring the safety of drug development. After knowing these hard facts, the public should be aware enough to switch to non-animal tests.
Humans subject millions of animals to be tortured and killed, despite the fact that the use of animal testing can be replaced with non-animal methods. Animals have done nothing to deserve inhumane treatment such as this, and humans cannot continue to shamelessly approach living creatures in this manner. This principle of the Three R’s “ refinement, reduction and replacement. There exist laws that mandate replacement alternatives, reduction alternatives, and refinement alternatives in scientific research (Zurlo 168). How effective this legislation is, depends on the researcher’s ability to comprehend the welfare issues pertaining to animals and accept the validity of the public’s concern in the conduct of science.
Alternative methods should be used when deemed necessary to reduce the use of animal testing. After looking at both sides of the controversy of animal testing, one thing appears to be unanimous “ that at the very least, animal suffering should be minimized, and animals should be respected during their respected in the tester’s care. As sentient beings, animals have an interest in not being used as resources; they do not like to suffer; they just have a desire to live. Just as these fundamental interests protect humans, animals should have the right to moral personhood and the right to defend these interests. Animals are legal persons; the animal rights movement strives to enhance the legal status of animals from property to that of legal persons, thus animals will be recognized as legal entities having rights. Through the lenses of public health, society needs a paradigm shift; it is required to move society away from the belief that animals can be disposable resources, and towards viewing animals as sentient beings who qualify as members of our moral community.