The Controversy of Animal Testing
Imagine a cute white little bunny. You couldn’t even fathom harming this creature, could you? However, every day bunnies, like the one you imagined, are used in trials where they are harmed. I’m sure you’ve heard of companies claiming that they are cruelty free or don’t support animal testing , but are you aware of what animal testing really is and what the animals endure during their trials? Companies every day torture animals in tests that don’t always prove to be beneficial to humans, and we support this, why? I am a firm believer in animal rights, so, I do not use any products that are tested on animals and do not support companies who choose to conduct these tests. This is because I believe it to be cruel and unnecessary. In this essay I will give you a look into what animal testing is, some of the different companies that use animal testing, alternatives to animal testing, and what is being done to stop this cruel practice.
First, let’s look at what animal testing is. According to the Humane Society International, animal testing refers to procedures performed on living animals for the purpose of research (About Animal Testing, 2017). This means the animals are alive while being tested on. The animals are used for a range of tests, from the effectiveness of new medications to the human health and environmental safety of consumer industry products. These products include household cleaners, cosmetics, and even food additives. These tests are not required in the United States, but still many companies use them every day.
In America, according to PETA, 100 million animals are killed each year. These animals include monkeys, cats, dogs, fish, rats, and more (“”Experiments on Animals: Overview””). These animals are forced into tests where they may inhale toxic fumes, have holes drilled into their heads, held in physical constraints, or even burned in order to study the physiologies of pain and healing. Along with the pain these animals endure, they are also stripped of anything that comes natural to them. They are locked alone in a barren cage often without food, water, or warmth for long periods of times. After their tests are done these animals are either used for another test or killed. All for tests that aren’t the most beneficial ways of determining whether a product is harmful to humans.
Next, let’s talk about some of the companies that use animal testing. Many people are surprised to hear that companies they use every day are paying thousands of dollars towards animal testing. There are many big companies that you probably use everyday that test on animals. A few examples are, Colgate, Windex, and Dove. Some of these companies claim that they don’t test on animals or that they don’t support animal testing, but this does not mean they are cruelty free, because they ship and pay for their products to be tested in China. In China, it is mandatory law that cosmetics products must be tested on animals before they are able to be sold there. This is why companies pay for them to be sent and tested there (CNBC, 2017). One example is Dove. They recently, as of October 8, 2018, declared that they no longer test on animals, however they still sell products in China. Which means that they are still tested on animals to be sold there.
Many companies that practice animal testing are ones that try to portray nothing but positivity and happiness in their advertisements. Again, Dove is an example of this, in their ads they are all inclusive and show women show women loving themselves with a positive attitude, but behind the scenes, the product they are advertising is used as a torture tool against innocent animals.
It it is not all the consumers fault for believing animal testing is reliable. The companies make these tests look much more accurate and beneficial than they actually are. Animal testing does not give us, as humans, as much of a benefit as it seems for many reasons. For one, according to the Animal Testing Organization, animals are very different than humankind, and they are too different in anatomic, metabolic, and cellular areas of biology that the tests the animals undergo do not benefit or stand for a good base that it will work well for humans( Animal Testing , 2017). This means that things will affect us and other animals very differently and will not give us a completely accurate idea of how a drug will work with our body as opposed a rat’s. Another reason that the ATO notes against animal testing is that often times, even if a drug passes its trials on the animal it will prove to be harmful to humans anyways. In a journal published by NEAVS, in 2004 the FDA estimated that 92% of drugs that pass preclinical tests –which include animal testing– did not move on to the market (Animals in Science, 2018). This was partly due to failed human trials.
One popular example of giving people a false negative of side effects in animal testing is the drug Vioxx. Vioxx was an arthritis drug that was passed in 2003. This medication proved to be completely safe through their animal trials with monkeys, but after being on the shelves they received over 8,000 claims and lawsuits from people that were suffering from heart issues after having taken the drug. It took the lives of 60,000 americans before being removed from the market in 2004 (Animals in Science, 2018). Unfortunately this happens far too often. Companies value monetary gain in their business than the ethical rights of living animals and organisms, more than often leaving the animals hurt or killed
So if animal testing is bad, how should we test our products then? There are a few alternatives that have been thoroughly studied. Those being, in vitro and in silico testing, human volunteers, and human patient simulators. In vitro testing is our most reliable and best option as an alternative. In vitro, according to NAVS, National Anti-Vivisection Society, uses primary cultures, cell lines, and 3-D cell cultures. Using these, they can create tissues and organ samples that are very similar to actual humans. These have been proven to be superior to animal tests, but are way less common because of costs. The next alternative is in silico where they use sophisticated computer generated models to create simulations of the human body. Another alternative is microdosing on human volunteers. This is when you give a small amount a drug or chemical to a volunteer and without harming them, you can collect vital information (Alternative to Animal, 2017).
My final example of an alternative is the rarest, but the coolest in my opinion, and this is human patient simulators. These breathe, bleed, talk, and even die like real people and they can be useful for practicing surgeries or other medical procedures. These are very expensive pieces of equipment, and are used in medical settings for testing and learning.
There are many companies that are actively fighting against animal testing. These companies, like Lush, e.l.f, and Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Products, are adamant against the cruelty of animal testing and use the big bunny on their products to state it. Along with these lesser known companies, larger brands, such as, Johnson & Johnson and L’Oreal are making changes to move towards cruelty free. Not only companies are speaking out against this though. There are a lot of people who are passionate the testing of products on animals and want to see a change.
In conclusion, the controversy of animal testing may have been something that had been apparent to you, but you may not have not thoroughly investigated it. However, there are various organizations as well as people, as I mentioned, who are truly passionate about animal rights, and want to see a change. Animal testing has been proven to show faulty and ineffective results, while there are many alternatives –while more expensive– much more reliable. That being said, animal testing is a cruel practice and should be banned, thus resulting in the saving of lives of millions of innocent animals across the globe. Animals, much like us humans, are sensitive creatures that can be emotionally, physically, and mentally distressed. We have no right to force these cruel practices and experiments on innocent animals, that we would never think to try on humans. After reading this essay, I hope you will take into consideration more about the products you use everyday and when you’re at the store shopping, you keep an eye out for the cruelty free bunny that lets you know you aren’t contributing to animal testing.