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March 2, 2012

Animal Experimentation; The Truth

I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't. ... The pain which it inflicts upon un-consenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further. - Mark Twain 
I’m with Mark Twain…I believe that nothing good could come from harming other animals; and that includes toxicology testing on animals for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, cleaners, or for medical research. On the rare emergency occasion, I have opted for using pharmaceuticals; particularly for dogs in my care. Otherwise I’ve made certain that I was not a part of the demand for animal experimentation. There’s no way to get around the speciesism that is tied to pharmaceuticals; other animals die in horrific experiments to allegedly benefit humanity and their chosen companion animals. Frontline Plus; flea and tick control, for example, may help to control our furry friend’s fleas, but other animals had to die to test this product. Its main ingredient is Fipronil which has been tested on countless animals; using a test that administers a dose that kills 50% of the animals involved in the study, according to this Fipronil fact sheet: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/fiptech.pdf - and I suspect that many laboratory test subjects (unwanted dogs and cats) were killed in order to test the finished Frontline Plus product. Is it morally acceptable to experiment on animals to benefit human beings or a favored species of animal?

Certainly knowledge has been gained by animal testing. However, this knowledge is not worth having because it is violating the inalienable right that every sentient animal possesses; that of not being assaulted by humans. Although not widely accepted, but gaining momentum, is the abolitionist view in animal rights that maintains there is no moral justification for harmful research on animals that does not benefit the individual animal. The benefits to humans can't outweigh the misery they bring to other animals.

We can compare the case of testing on animals to the Tuskegee syphilis case. Knowledge about syphilis was learned, but they did so by violating the inherent birthrights of a sentient being. Just as racism allowed the Tuskegee syphilis experiment or the Nazi human medical experiments -- speciesism accepts animal experimentation. Being human, you will probably better relate to the Tuskegee experiment or Nazi experiments as an example that makes the point that “the ends does not justify the means”. If we asked animals used in experiments – they would also tell us that the end does not justify what humans do to them. Every animal; human or nonhuman, inherently has the right not to be harmed by humans, and that basic right is violated by most of human society. The whole of human consciousness is waking up to this viewpoint as is evidenced by the progress being made in the last decades.

Preventative measures are an alternative to heavily relying on pharmaceuticals; which are tested on animals for toxicity. Eating a healthy whole foods plant-powered diet, getting moderate sun exposure, fresh-air exercise, and using healing herbals and nutraceuticals - is a path to follow that leads one away from pharmaceuticals. 'Cruelty-free' is a term that means the product is not tested on animals. There are now cruelty-free cleaning products and cosmetics widely available, especially in natural food stores. We simply need to stop demanding animal toxicology tests by purchasing products that have not been tested on animals nor do they contain animal-derived ingredients. It’s not as hard as it sounds…but I remember a time, three decades ago, when it was! There are many ethical 'vegan' products now being marketed; showing that there is concern about the issue. A whole new paradigm in living and thinking is needed. I have been vegan for 33 years and have rarely needed to use products that were tested on animals; there is another way. We need to use humans as the “guinea pigs” in an experiment entitled “What would happen if humanity adopted veganism?” Extrapolating from the microcosm of the present vegan community; human health would improve, and diseases presently afflicting humans would lessen; eliminating the need for animals used for research and experimentation.

There has been progress in finding alternatives to animal testing and if we put our brilliant minds to it, we will find more alternatives. If other animals are so unlike humans that we feel we can inflict misery on them, then why would we think they’re similar enough to extrapolate findings from them to humans? Animal physiology is different between the different species. If they’re enough like us that we can extrapolate findings from studying them to humans, then we can see that they, like us, have sense perception, and therefore we should obviously behave towards them as we would want them to behave towards us; with respect and basic decency. That would leave out using them as a resource, a commodity, a means to an end, as well as killing them.

Animal Experimentation FACTS: From then to now…along with commentary

Authorities estimate hundreds of millions of animals a year are used in animal experimentation, worldwide. Generally, animals either die because of the experiment or are killed afterward.

The terms animal testing, animal experimentation, animal research, in vivo testing, and vivisection have similar meanings but different connotations. Vivisection means operating on a living animal for experimental rather than healing purposes, and this term is generally used by those who oppose it, such as:  George Bernard Shaw; 1925 Nobel-Prize recipient, who said: “Atrocities are no less atrocities when they occur in laboratories and are called medical research.” Also opposed was Indian statesman, Mahatma Gandhi, who stated: “I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence.” Dr. Charles Mayo; a skilled surgeon and on the governing board of the Mayo Clinic said: “I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil.” Russian author; Count Leo Tolstoy said "What I think about vivisection is that if people admit that they have the right to take or endanger the life of living beings for the benefit of many, there will be no limit to their cruelty."

Aristotle was among the first to perform experiments on living animals. In the 1880s, Louis Pasteur demonstrated the germ theory by inducing anthrax in sheep. In the 1890s, Pavlov used dogs to demonstrate classical conditioning. Insulin was first isolated from dogs in 1922. In 1957, a Russian dog was the first of many animals to orbit the earth.

Around 1937, the U.S. congress passed laws that required safety testing of drugs on animals before they could be marketed, and then other countries did the same. Currently, all new pharmaceuticals undergo rigorous animal testing before being licensed for human use. European legislation demands that "acute toxicity tests must be carried out in two or more mammalian species" covering "at least two different routes of administration".

There has always been a history of criticism and controversy over vivisection. In 1655, physiologist Edmund O' Meara said that "the miserable torture of vivisection places the body in an unnatural state." O' Meara and others argued that animal physiology could be affected by pain during vivisection, rendering results unreliable.

The welfare of animals being regulated by such groups as the USDA is of little consequence. The USDA looks at other animals as “food”. No animal used for experimentation will ever be treated with the respect they are due. Presently, animal rights advocates are not calling for more humane welfare standards or laws; but for animal experimentation to be abolished.

Research using animals is conducted inside universities, medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, farms, defense establishments, and commercial facilities.

Animals commonly used are mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, fish, and amphibians. Rabbits are used in eye irritancy tests because they have less tear flow, and are also used for the production of polyclonal antibodies. Cats are most commonly used in neurological research. Dogs are widely used in biomedical research, testing, and education; especially beagles, because they are easy to handle. Dogs are commonly used as models for human diseases in cardiology, endocrinology, and bone and joint studies; research that is often highly invasive. Non-human primates are used in toxicology tests, studies of AIDS and hepatitis, studies of neurology, behavior and cognition, reproduction, genetics, and in transplantation research. They are caught in the wild or purpose-bred. To the non-speciesist person, no animal of any species should be experimented on; with the exception of a consenting human.

Animals used by laboratories are supplied by dealers; including those who supply purpose-bred animals, businesses that trade in free-living animals, and those who supply animals sourced from pound seizure, auctions, and newspaper ads. Some animal shelters supply laboratories directly. Four U.S. states, Minnesota, Utah, Oklahoma, and Iowa, require their shelters to provide animals to research facilities. Fourteen states prohibit the practice. In the U.K., most animals are bred for the purpose, but free-living-caught primates may be used if justification can be established. The U.S. allows the use of free-living-caught primates. Charles River Laboratories and Covance; the largest importer of primates in the U.S., are responsible for more than half of the primates used in experiments.

According to the U.S.D.A. in 2006, about 670,000 animals (57%) (which does not include rats, mice, birds, or invertebrates strangely enough, as if they are not animals to be included in their statistics!) were used in procedures that didn't include more than momentary pain or distress. About 420,000 (36%) were used in procedures in which pain or distress was relieved by anesthesia, while 84,000 (7%) were used in studies that would cause pain that would not be relieved. That’s coming from the USDA who does not recognize the basic rights of other animals and sees living beings as a commodity for human use. I’m sure 100% of the animals used were distressed from their unnatural conditions and very sad lives.

What kind of person would want the job of killing laboratory animals when they are no longer needed for study? Methods include: the animal can be put in gas chambers or made to inhale gas with a face mask; with or without being sedated or anesthetized. Sedatives or barbiturates can be given intravenously, or inhalant anesthetics may be used. Decapitation (beheading) is used for rodents or rabbits, with or without sedation or anesthesia. Cervical dislocation (breaking the neck or spine) can be used for birds, mice, and immature rats and rabbits. Maceration (grinding into small pieces) is used on 1 day old chicks. High-intensity microwave irradiation of the brain can preserve brain tissue and induce death in less than 1 second; which is currently used on rodents. Captive bolt to the brain is typically used on dogs, ruminants, horses, pigs and rabbits. Gunshot may be used, but only in cases where a penetrating captive bolt may not be used. Electrocution can be used for bovines, sheep, pigs, foxes, and mink after the animals are unconscious, often by a prior electrical stun. Inserting a tool into the base of the brain is usable on animals already unconscious. Slow or rapid freezing, or inducing air embolism, are acceptable only with prior anesthesia to induce unconsciousness. Sadism or research; that is the question?

Toxicology or safety testing, is conducted by pharmaceutical companies testing drugs, or by contract animal testing facilities such as Huntington Life Sciences, on behalf of a wide variety of customers. Approximately 5,000 animals are used for each chemical being tested and 12,000 used to test pesticides. The tests are conducted without anesthesia, because interactions between drugs can interfere with the results.

Toxicology tests are used to examine finished products such as pesticides, medications, food additives, packing materials, etc. The substances are applied to the skin or dripped into the eyes; injected intravenously, intramuscularly, or subcutaneously; inhaled either by placing a mask over the animals while restraining them, or by placing them in a gas chamber; or administered orally, through a tube into the stomach, or simply in the animal's food. The LD50 test is used to evaluate the toxicity of a substance by determining the dose required to kill 50% of the test animals. In 2002, this test was replaced by methods which use fewer animals and cause less suffering. However the test still accounts for over a third of all animal toxicity tests worldwide. Irritancy is measured using the Draize test, where a test substance is applied to an animal's eyes or skin, usually an albino rabbit. Scientists have criticized this test for being cruel. Although no accepted alternatives exist, a modified form of the Draize test may reduce suffering, provide more realistic results, and was adopted as the new standard in September 2009. However, the Draize test will still be used for substances that are not severe irritants.

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for assuring that cosmetics are safe and properly labeled, in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, they do not actually require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety. However, they advise cosmetic manufacturers to employ whatever testing is appropriate and effective for substantiating the safety of their products. If a company truly wants to be “cruelty-free” it seems the FDA is okay with that: “FDA supports the development and use of alternatives to whole-animal testing as well as adherence to the most humane methods available within the limits of scientific capability when animals are used for testing the safety of cosmetic products. We will continue to be a strong advocate of methodologies for the refinement, reduction, and replacement of animal tests with alternative methodologies that do not employ the use of animals.” Source

Cosmetics-testing on animals is still conducted in the U.S., but it is banned in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK. In 2002, the European Union agreed to phase in a near-total ban on the animal-tested cosmetics throughout the EU from 2009, and to ban all cosmetic-related animal- testing. The ban is opposed by L’Oreal whose headquarters is in France, as well as by the European Federation of Cosmetic Ingredients; which represents 70 European countries. Uh-hum…True beauty is found in being just and compassionate; not in “make-up” that has caused animals to suffer. Only a very shallow and speciesist person could debate the validity of testing cosmetics on animals.

Animal testing of cosmetics is neither banned nor required under U.S. law, but regulations in China (and a few other nations) still require the use of skin and eye irritation tests on animals. There are non-animal tests for eye and skin irritation that are accepted all over the world, but not recognized by Chinese law. A few major U.S. cosmetic companies have misleadingly reported that their products are cruelty-free (because they are in the U.S.), but the company still chooses to sell their products to China. It has been done by a few major cosmetic companies (Avon, Mary Kay, etc). There are thousands of companies that don’t test their products on animals and lists can be found online.

Efficacy studies test whether experimental drugs work by inducing the appropriate illness in animals.

Animals are bred in laboratories to be used by the military to develop weapons, vaccines, battlefield surgical techniques, and defensive clothing. In 2008 the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency used live pigs to study the effects of improvised explosive device explosions on internal organs, especially the brain. World peace will NOT be achieved through war and military, through torture and killing, but through rising to a new perception of respecting fundamental rights of all other sentient animals; humans and nonhumans alike.

In 1997, Dolly the sheep was born; cloned from tissue taken from another adult sheep. Dolly appeared to be normal. She lived 6 years and gave birth to several lambs. She was killed in 2003 after contracting a progressive lung disease. Although the production of Dolly was a genetic scientific breakthrough, it was controversial since it meant that cloning a human being had now become a possibility; another valid reason for ending animal experimentation.

Many countries are trying to find alternatives to using animals in education. Horst Spielmann, German director of the Central Office for Collecting and Assessing Alternatives to Animal Experimentation, said in 2005: "Using animals in teaching curricula is already superfluous. In many countries, one can become a doctor, vet, or biologist without ever having performed an experiment on an animal." In the U.S., 95% of medical schools have completely replaced the use of animal laboratories in medical training with sophisticated human-patient simulators, virtual-reality systems, computer simulators, and supervised clinical experience. The American Medical Student Association now states that it "strongly encourages the replacement of animal laboratories with non-animal alternatives in undergraduate medical education."

A great number of drugs that have been approved in both the U.S. and U.K. after animal testing, subsequently have had to be withdrawn because they have caused serious side-effects or death when given to people. Animal experiments can be unreliable because animals’ bodies are different from ours. Thousands of chimpanzees have been used in useless experiments to find a cure for AIDS, but it is now known that AIDS won't kill chimpanzees. The link between smoking and lung cancer was first observed in people, but because no animals developed cancer when forced to inhale tobacco smoke, human health warnings were overdue by many years while chimps were tormented. Animal experiments give us misleading information because other animals don’t necessarily get the same diseases as we do. Also drugs affect other animals differently. A drug such as aspirin, commonly used by people, is highly poisonous to cats, for example.

CeeTox is a pioneering research laboratory that uses human cell-based in vitro toxicity screening to test drugs, chemicals, cosmetics, and consumer products; that replace cruel tests on animals. In a 2007 report, the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that scientific advances can "transform toxicity testing from a system based on whole-animal testing to one founded primarily on in vitro (non-animal) methods."

An innovative biotechnology firm has developed a 3-D (test tube) human "liver" that scientists can use to study the breakdown of chemicals in the human body. This technology effectively mimics human organs and can be used to test cosmetics, drugs, and chemicals.

VaxDesign's groundbreaking Modular IMmune In vitro Construct system uses human cells to create a small working human immune system for testing the safety and effectiveness of HIV/AIDS vaccines. This faster method replaces cruel tests on animals.

Researchers with the National Cancer Institute, the U.S military, private companies, and universities across the country have shown that MatTek's in vitro 3-D human skin tissue equivalent is an excellent substitute for animals when it comes to conducting burn research, cosmetics testing, doing research related to radiation exposure and chemical weapon attacks.

Antibodies have traditionally been created by injecting cancer cells into mice. They can now be produced using DNA that's made in a laboratory or taken from human cells.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing is a non-profit center; a part of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. From their site: “We promote humane science by supporting the creation, development, validation, and use of alternatives to animals in research, product safety testing, and education.”

The U.K.'s 'Dr. Hadwen Trust' is a medical research charity that funds and promotes non-animal techniques to replace animal experiments. Established in 1970, the work undertaken by the Dr. Hadwen Trust benefits humans with the development of more relevant and reliable science while also benefiting laboratory animals. Projects receiving funding from this trust include epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, breast and skin cancer, meningitis, asthma, diabetes, drug testing, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, lung injury, whooping cough, vaccine testing, dentistry, heart disease, tropical illness, fetal development, brain tumors and AIDS.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., which promotes a vegan diet, preventive medicine, alternatives to animal research, and encourages what it describes as "higher standards of ethics and effectiveness in research." Its primary activities include outreach and education about nutrition to healthcare professionals and the public; ending the use of animals in medical school curricula; and advocating for legislative changes.

University of California Davis Center for Animal Alternatives disseminates information on alternatives to animal experiments.

Response to drugs are demonstrated and taught by computer simulation exercises at the Alternatives to Animal Experimentation Laboratory, Department of Pharmacology, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College. This is the first such lab in India. India is also home to the Mahatma Gandhi-Doerenkamp Center for Alternatives to Use of Animals in Life Science Education.

European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods is an online database of toxicology non-animal alternative test methods. Categories presently include 'in vitro' methods, QSAR models, and bibliographic section.

The time has come when we, as a human race, should look at animal experimentation as we would look at using humans to experiment on. 


5 comments:

Renard Moreau said...

[ Smiles ] Thanks for another great post, M.

I look forward to reading more great, mind-opening articles from you!

LoVegan said...

Great !! I've spent the last 30 years of my life on the issue, I rescued ex-tortured and rehab them, that's why I thank you a million for this post xox

paulina roybal said...

Thanks for all the information and links to further my knowledge. This is agreat thing you are doing.

murry cohen said...

There is a fine line between human and animal vivisection. Contrary to popular myth, Nazi Germany was NOT against vivisection. In fact, the vivisection background of the Nazi doctors probably helped to allow the process of epistemological distortion, whereby "healing" came to be "killing", to proceed. The Nazi doctors' victims were "untermenschen"....similar to the way many of us consider nonhuman animals....as lower ("unter") life forms. The rationalizations of Nazi doctors and current vivisectors is the same....sacrifice (read "kill") lower life forms for the greater good of the superior life forms (in Germany, Aryans, in modern times, humans in general.) Just as Gypsies, homosexuals, Slavs, the disabled, Jews, etc. were terrified of Nazis, Isaak Bashevis SInger has written something to the tune of "to animals all humans are Nazis."

Taylor @ What Vegetarians Eat said...

Just found this through searching for flea medicine for my cats and was making sure the companies don't test on animals. I just listened to a "Vegetarian Food For Thought" podcast episode last night about feathers and was horribly saddened. I've been vegan for 6 months now and vegetarian for longer but only now am I really taking the time to purposefully avoid products that are produced by companies who test on animals. I always was ethically against it but now I am putting an effort into living those values. I've talked with my husband about wanting to avoid these products and he is 100% behind me. It's very sad that we live in a world where it takes SO much energy to avoid unconsciously harming animals! Thank you for your post - this is an issue that really needs to brought into the light.