The term “animal testing” refers to procedures performed on living animals for purposes of research into basic biology and diseases, assessing the effectiveness of new medicinal products, and testing the human health and/or environmental safety of consumer and industry products such as cosmetics, household cleaners, food additives, pharmaceuticals, and industrial/agro-chemicals.
What types of animals?
Many species are used around the world, but the most common include mice, fish, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, farm animals, birds, cats, dogs, mini-pigs, frogs, and non-human primates. It is estimated that more than 115 million animals worldwide are used in laboratory experiments every year, but because only a small proportion of countries collect and publish data concerning animal use for testing and research, the precise number is unknown. In the United States, up to 90 percent of the animals used in laboratories are excluded from the official statistics, meaning that the figures are no doubt a substantial underestimate.
What do these animals go through?
Ear-notching and tail-clipping for identification
Short periods of physical restraint for observation or examination
Prolonged periods of physical restraint
Food and water deprivation
Infliction of wounds, burns, and other injuries to study healing
Behavioral experiments designed to cause distress, e.g., electric shock or forced swimming
Other manipulations to create “animal models” of human diseases ranging from cancer to stroke to depression
Killing by carbon dioxide asphyxiation, neck-breaking, decapitation, or other means
These animals are put through adverse conditions, with no sympathy whatsoever. A Malaysian minister in defence of animal testing mentions - “God created monkeys, and some have to be tested”.
Animal testing is also often quite ineffective. In fact, 92% of experimental drugs that are safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials because they don't work.
If lack of human relevance is the fatal flaw of “animal models,” then a switch to human-relevant research tools is the logical solution. The National Research Council in the United States has expressed its vision of “a not-so-distant future in which virtually all routine toxicity testing would be conducted in human cells or cell lines”, and science leaders around the world have echoed this view.
A few alternatives to help eradicate the cruelty faced by these animals could be:
Using Cell Cultures - Almost every human cell can be grown in a laboratory. These can be used instead of animals to study biological processes and drug metabolism.
Human tissues - Both healthy and diseased tissues donated from human volunteers can provide a more relevant way of studying human biology and disease than animal testing.
Computer Models - Computer models essentially replicate aspects of the human body, making testing even more effective in some cases.
Volunteer Studies - Advances in technology have allowed for the development of sophisticated scanning machines and recording techniques that can be used to study human volunteers safely.
How can you help?
Check for Cruelty-Free on the labels. This is usually represented by the Leaping Bunny Logo
Download the Cruelty-Free App for Smartphones. This helps check whether a product is Cruelty-Free or not.
Shop at Cruelty-Free Stores.
Buy only Cruelty-Free cosmetics, household items, and other products.
Donate to organizations committed to helping end animal cruelty such as PETA and Leaping Bunny
Sign the Cruelty-Free Pledge! https://action.hsi.org/page/25047/petition/1
Research Coordinator - Avani Sood
Editor - Vaishnavi Bhojane
Illustrations and Graphics - Georgia Bernhard and Lily Tan