Welcome All of You Who Prefer to Think Both Black & White Aspects.....

There are so many pros & cons about using animals in laboratory experiments spread in a vast field. In Future also there will be...

But without taking either side, this blog is just to explore the different aspects of using animals in laboratory experiments....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Animal Testing

Animal testing is also known as animal experimentation,(sometimes
vivisection) animal research & in vivo research, is the use of non-human animals in experiments. This has aroused much
controversy till its beginning in history.

  Worldwide it is estimated that 50 to 100 million vertebrate animals are used annually—from Fruit flies, Sponges & Zebra fish to non-human primates. Invertebrates, mice, rats, birds, fish, frogs, and animals not yet weaned are not included in the figures; one estimate of mice and rats used in the United States alone in 2001 was 80 million.

Most animals are euthanized after being used in an experiment. Sources of laboratory animals vary between countries and species; most animals are purpose-bred, while others are caught in the wild or supplied by dealers who obtain them from auctions and pounds.
The research is conducted inside universities, medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, farms, defence establishments, and commercial facilities that provide animal-testing services to industry.

While some people emphasises its advantages,
others critisizes it as one of the most inhumane things.

First lets see what are the pros…

Why They Say Using Animals in Laboratories is Essential?
Pure (Basic) Research

Pure research is an examination of organisms at a fairly broad level: how they develop, function, and
behave. This type of research tends to use animals of a wide range – from fruit flies to rodents to sea slugs.
Examples include behavioural experiments, breeding experiments which study genetics and evolution, and studies which explore developmental aspects of certain organisms – such as the effects of genetic changes during embryogenesis or fetal development.
Applied Research
Unlike pure research, which is more knowledge for its own sake, applied research is carried out for the purpose of finding answers to specific questions, and solving specific problems. In general, applied research is more likely to be carried out for commercial purposes than is pure research.
One very commonly-used example of applied research is the genetic modification of animals to examine specific diseases. Genes may be inserted, removed, or modified, to cause the animal to exhibit symptoms which mimic a certain disease. Such an approach allows researchers to examine the cause and development of the disease, and provides a medium for testing treatments.


Toxicology tests are generally carried out by drug companies which test the drugs they make, and by testing facilities which carry out contracted tests on behalf of other companies (an example of such a facility is Huntingdon Life Sciences, with laboratories in several countries).
Eye Irritacy Test
This type of testing is not only carried out to determine the toxicity of pharmaceuticals – pesticides, food additives, cosmetics, air fresheners, and in fact almost any synthetic substance may be tested for toxic effects.
Drug Testing
All new drugs must undergo several phases of animal testing before they can be trialled in humans. Several types of tests are carried out.
  • Metabolic tests – these investigate how drugs are absorbed, metabolized, and excreted. Often, several methods of delivery are tested.
  • Toxicology tests – determine toxic and sub-toxic levels of the drug in animals, and determine whether toxic levels of the drug or metabolites can accumulate over time.
    • Efficacy tests – simply test whether the drug works as intended. The disease is induced in experimental animals, which are then treated with the drug.  
    • Depending on the drug involved, and the law, other studies, such as embryonic toxicity, reproductive function, and carcinogenic potential tests may be required.

         When every member in our family is hale and hearty, it is very difficult to understand as to why the innocent animals are used for testing purposes that usually ends up killing them. But it usually starts to make more sense when someone in the family or you yourself starts suffering from a life threatening disease….
      It is a very symbiotic relationship that is also a very integral part of medical research.  Testing on animals has helped develop vaccines for many life threatening diseases like
    ·         Herpes Simplex
    ·         Hepatitis B,
    ·         Polio
    ·         Rabies
    ·         Malaria
    ·         Mumps
    ·         virus related to organ transplantation rejection
    In addition to this, animal testing has also helped in the refinement of procedures related to
    ·         measuring the blood pressure
    ·         Pace maker technology
    ·         The perfection of the heart and lung diseases.
    You will be surprised to read that anesthesia which is used to numb the body during surgery and acute pain is available today after it was successfully tested on animals first.

    Human beings are not the only living
    creatures that have benefited from animal testing.
    Heart worm medication was devised from research on animals and has today helped in saving the lives of many dogs.
    Animal research has also provided better understanding of cat nutrition and the reasons behind as to why cats live longer and remain healthier are better understood.

    Finding a cure and a vaccine for AIDS has become one of the most important goals of the medical research industry. The animal models for AIDS are a very important part of the research as they help in understanding the biology of immune-deficiency viruses.

    Therefore the fact of the matter is that to make advances in the field of medicines, animal testing seems to be a must. Restraining or banning the testing by animal activists suddenly may sometimes lead to an unexpected confusion.
    It is up to the people in this field and all individuals belonging to animal organizations and medical research to ensure that the same is carried out in a safe, ethical manner causing as little pain and discomfort possible to the animal. If animal testing was to be outlawed then there would be very little scope of obtaining information that would be very necessary to eliminate suffering and premature deaths in both humans and animals.
    Matters of Practicality
      Another fact which supports the allies of animal testing is the matters of practicality arising in many experimental fields if animals are not available for certain tests…
    The majority of the most important advances in medical history in the twentieth century were made using animals as test subjects. It is doubtful whether many of these would have been achieved if animals were not available for use by medical researchers.
    There are alternatives to animal research (these will be examined in the next article in this series), but in many cases they are simply not acceptable substitutes for a living, breathing organism. The Institute for Laboratory Animal Research of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences agrees that even the most sophisticated computer modelling is currently unable to successfully model the molecular and cellular interactions that occur in even the least complex of live organisms, particularly in an environmental context.
    Medical science is in agreement, for the most part, that the use of animals in medical research is a practical necessity. Both the United States and the British governments, among many others, support the use of animals in research, provided that suffering of experimental animals is minimized.
    These are the ideas which stand in the side of the people who emphasise the necessity of animal testing.

    Then Why There Is This Much Controversy?

    In animal testing, countless animals are experimented on and then killed after their use (Euthanized).
    Others are injured and will still live the remainder of their lives in captivity... 

    ·         The unfortunate aspect is that many of these animals received tests for substances that will never actually see approval or public consumption and use….

  • - It is this aspect of animal testing that many view as a major negative against the practice. This aspect seems to show the idea that the animal died in vain because no direct benefit to humans occurred from the animal testing.
    Opponents of animal testing argue that pure/basic reseach are not of any practical use; however researchers say that pure research can produce benefits which simply can’t be predicted, and that adding to our store of knowledge is never useless.
    ·         Another con on the issue of animal testing is the sheer cost.
    Animal testing generally costs an enormous amount of money. Animals must be fed, housed, cared for and treated with drugs or a similar experimental substance. The controlled environment is important but it comes with a high cost.
    On top of that, animal testing may occur more than once and over the course of months, which means that additional costs are incurred.
    The price of animals themselves must also be factored into the equation. There are companies who breed animals specifically for testing and animals can be purchased through them.

    ·         There is also the argument that the reaction of a drug in an animal's body is quite different from the reaction in a human. The main criticism here is that some believe animal testing is unreliable. Following on that criticism is the premise that because animals are in an unnatural environment, they will be under stress. Therefore, they won't react to the drugs in the same way compared to their potential reaction in a natural environment. This argument further weakens the validity of animal experimentation.

    ·         More than all these the ethical issues arising in animal testing has mostly come into the public consideration.
    In terms of ethics, the main issue in animal testing is simply that many experimental animals suffer in ways which are unnatural to them. Through the use of genetic manipulation, obese mice, diabetic mice, and mice with Huntington’s disease can be created. Surgical experiments can be performed on larger animals – such as pigs, sheep, and dogs, as “practice” for human surgery.
    Normally, such things would not happen to these animals. Any suffering they might experience during such experiments is entirely the making of the researcher – and often these animals are purpose-bred and would not even exist if it were not for the research. These animals have been bred by us, for our use, and suffer on our behalf.
    As humans—the dominant species on the planet—we can treat animals in any way we choose, and do with them what we please. The question is, is it moral, or ethical, to treat them in ways which cause suffering – even if it is to our benefit? To some opponents of animal experimentation there are no benefits which justify the use of animals; others believe that animal experimentation is acceptable providing that suffering to the animals is minimized.

    Animal Testing in Cosmetic Industry:

    The debate continues solely due to the fact that animals are being treated cruelly only for the sake of a few cosmetics which is not a life dependent experience for the humans.. Did you know the mascara you use can cause blindness to the animals during the process of testing?..
    Animal testing in the cosmetic industry has been used for thousands of years but today, due to the efforts of animal activist groups; alternative measures are being developed for the same, without the use of animals.

    Animal testing in the cosmetic industry is especially done for make up and soaps.
    Rabbits are used largely for such processes to know the effect that is felt by the animal upon the application of the cosmetics.
    Guinea pigs are used to test sunscreen products. This is done to know about the various reactions and allergies that may be caused by the products.
    Apart from this, a large number of rats and mice are also used for testing. Mice are most preferred due to their size and also because they are available at a relatively low cost.
    Dogs are used for biomedical research where as cats are used for neurological research.
    It is not only these groups of animals, but monkeys, are also imported into the U.S. for carrying out tests in the laboratory.
    There are certain laboratories that raise flies and worms.
    Animals have to suffer a lot of pain due to animal testing in the cosmetic industry. Although there have been arguments that animals do not really ‘feel’ pain to a large extent as humans do, animal activists argue these are indeed harmful and cruel ways to test products. Many animals end up suffering from injuries due to such testing in the cosmetic industry.
    For example: Rabbits are known to suffer from eye irritancy due to the testing of various cosmetics.
    So, is it really fair we spend exorbitant amounts on cosmetics to beautify our looks at the cost of the health of these innocent beings? Well, there are many cosmetic industries that claim to sell products, which are not tested on animals. Brands such as Avon and Clinique have made their stance clear by using alternative methods to animal testing. Aveda and Estee Lauder also avoid animal testing for their various products.
    No Animal Testing Products' Symbol

    The sad story about the authenticity about such claims remains in the fact that many statements are hardly genuine. Some companies do not really stick to the facts and distort the truth.

    Disadvantages of Animal Testing in Cosmetic Industry:
    Basically, this is a very inhuman practice caused by humans on animals. The various tests
    carried out on animals is not a guarantee for using cosmetics on our skin since animals react differently to certain chemicals as compared to humans. Cosmetic testing on animals cannot be considered to be completely reliable. It can cause permanent damage to animals, which in turn hampers their life.

    Alternatives to Animal Testing
    As one would imagine, in today's technologically advanced world, in which science has made monstrous steps in many promising directions, that many alternatives would exist to animal testing. This assumption is absolutely true. Many alternatives exist to the use of live animals in research (vivisection). Here are some alternatives to animals currently used:
    • "Synthetic skin," called Corrositex
    • Computer modelling
    • Improved statistical design
    • The Murine Local Lymph Node Assay (LLNA)
    Providing proof for this truth is that one of the top educational institutions in the world - Johns Hopkins - has a centre devoted entirely to developing and promoting alternatives to animal testing - The Johns Hopkins Centre for Alternatives to Animal Testing. It also manages Altweb, an on-line resource to "...serve as a gateway to alternatives news, information, and resources on the Internet and beyond [regarding alternatives to animal testing]."
    More information from these resources is found below.
    Another resource that exists to prove the viability and relevance of using non-animal testing methods is Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME). Located in England, FRAME seeks to promote a moderate, but nonetheless determined, approach, by encouraging a realistic consideration of the ethical and scientific issues involved and the widest possible adoption of the Three Rs.
    Refinement: minimize suffering and distress
    Reduction: minimize number of animals used
    Replacement: avoid the use of living animals

    More information from this resource is found below.
    Contact Information for all three organizations just mentioned follows. Please visit their web sites for more information on their missions and for more information on alternatives to the use of animals in research. These sites should provide a more-than-adequate start to address any questions you may have regarding animal testing and alternatives to animal testing.

    The Johns Hopkins Centre for Alternatives to Animal Testing
    Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
    840-111 Market Place
    Baltimore MD 21202-6709
    Tel: 414-223-1693

    How you can help to make a difference?
    Always buy products that are not tested on animals. Most companies have the message given on the products itself and ensure you influence others to join you in your endeavour against animal testing. Talk and spread the word to ensure people refrain from using such products. Check out with local groups that support such causes and lend a helping hand.

    With more people being aware of animal testing in cosmetic industry, things definitely change for the better. A small step in this direction can go a long way in improving the lives of these helpless creatures.

    Personal Choice

    While there are numerous pro's and con's of animal testing, the ethical aspect overshadows both of them, which means that emotion may be the ultimate determining factor in whether a person believes the benefits of animal testing outweigh the problems associated with the practice.