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Animal testing

In my opinion, animal testing is something that should be outlawed, because it is unnessary and extremely harmful. There are many different tests that are performed on animals today, from them being forced to consume cleaning products to see if they have any dangerous effects, to putting new cosmetic products on their skin to test if they would be harmful or irritant to human skin. The same is true for medical products, which many animals are forced to ingest, so that the medicine can be determined to be dangerous or not, or determined whether there are any side effects. Many products that contain harmful or corrosive substances are tested on animals, for example rabbits, whose fur is shaved off to expose the skin, whereby the corrosive substances are applied to their skin for very long periods of time to see how badly an effect they have. After the products are tested on the rabbits, they are then killed (Stop Animal Tests).

There are many forms of animal testing, with one of worst being vivisection, which is where the animal is dissected while it is still alive, usually under anesthetic. Most animal testing involves the eventual death of the subject, with things such as mutilation, poisoning, and subjecting the animal to infectious disease to name only a few. In some cases the testing is so violent that it is difficult to imagine anything worse.

Mice make up for over half of all numbers of animals tested on, though other more aware and intelligent animals are often subject to testing. For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency tests make it the law for pesticides to be exposed to dogs. The dogs are forced into inhalation chambers where they are forced to inhale harmful gasses, and in vain they try to get out and escape. The Food and Drug Administration requires for fluoride containing products such as toothpaste and mouthwash, to be tested on the teeth of rats for two weeks, after which they are killed. The vast majority of consumer healthcare products are tested on animals, with notable companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Clairol, Cover Girl, and Calvin Klein Cosmetics. Experts estimate that over 50,000 animals are killed each year to service a single company - Proctor and Gamble. There is evidence to suggest that many companies go beyond the law in animal testing, such as experiments sponsored by P&G, where secret filming at the client company Huntingdon Life Sciences, which is a large international animal testing firm, showed unacceptable brutality and murder of 48 primates (Uncaged Campaign).

There are some cases of animal testing which are more acceptable than others. Testing for medicinal products is one thing, but there are many cosmetic products and household products for instance that do not require animal testing, and for which alternatives are available, and yet animal testing is performed anyway as it is a cheaper alternative to other methods of testing. It is the fear of legal action for product liability, the fear for the safety of humans, and the fact that animal testing is cheaper than other more ethical methods, which keeps many companies continuing to test on animals, rather than use alternative methods.

The John Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing was established in 1981, and as the name suggests, is a center which performs research to find alternatives for animal testing in the laboratory. It is the vision of CAAT to be the leader in progress against animal testing, to help reduce, refine and replace animal testing with alternative methods, to enhance the safety of animals, and to do likewise for the public (Zawistowski). The leaders of CAAT, Alan Goldberg and John Frazier state that the primary disadvantages to animal testing are the pain, discomfort, suffering and death of animals, the differences between tested animals and humans which make for not always reliable extrapolation, and the time and expense (Zawistowski). The cosmetic company Revlon was one of the first to endorse and fund CAAT, alongside a $750,000 contribution from the University of Rockefeller in 1979. It is not all good with CAAT however, as for alternative tests that are new and under development, the same test is still needed to be performed on animals so that comparisons can be drawn.

What alternatives are available today? The primary methods are in-vitro tests, which mean testing outside of living tissue, predictive software which emulates cell and tissue function, human testing, and the new and controversial stem cell research. Stem cell research is controversial, but this alongside sophisticated predictive computer programs could be the solution to animal testing that we are looking for. People also state the use of animal tissue, organs and cells is an alternative, but this still requires the killing of animals (Stevens).

There is a major hypocrisy in animal testing. For example, it is illegal to be cruel to a dog, by kicking it in the street, but conversely, it is fine for companies to let dogs suffer for their own testing and research. The laws that protect animals in public are subverted when animal testing is involved. Animals don't have the power to resist, but humans do, and while we exist, there will always be opposition to animal testing. I appreciate that animal testing has saved countless human lives, but there are many forms of animal testing which are completely unacceptable and need to be stopped, not less because they are not helping to save human lives, but only to help make us look better, and make our lives more convenient. We dream for the day when other methods can be used, instead of being cruel to animals for our own gain.

References

Featured Cruelty-Free Company: Revlon.

Stevens, Karen Lee. "ALL FOR ANIMALS - Cruelty-Free Living." All for Animals. 2000.

Stop Animal Tests. 17 Dec. 2005

"UNCAGED CAMPAIGNS - WHO CARES WINS - Uncaged Campaign. 2005.

Zawistowski, Stephen L. Animal Use in the Lab. "The more things change..." ASPCA Animal Watch, Spring 2003, Vol. 23, No. 1. < https://caat.jhsph.edu/issues/aspca-animaluse.htm>