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Animal Testing and its harmful effects

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Animal Testing
What product features grab the attention of the customer who strolls down the cosmetic aisle of the store? Is it the discovery of which perfume smells appealing or which brand of shampoo is the cheapest? Or does the consumer consider whether animals suffered during testing to ensure that the purchased shampoo or perfume was safe for human use? My guess is probably not. Little does our society recognize that many drugs, cosmetic items, and household chemicals have been rigorously tested on animals before ever lining the shelves of local department and grocery stores and in this process animals have been harmed or sacrificed.

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The definition of animal testing in its simplest form is defined as the use of animals in experiments and development projects that usually determine toxicity, dosing, and efficacy of test drugs before proceeding to human clinical trials (Webster). This definition clearly does not get into the specifics. There is a broad variety of animal testing ranging from non-harmful to irritating to deathly.

While humans investigate, produce, and market these products, the consumer is often oblivious to the history behind these products. Thorough and repetitive scrutiny and investigation of these products is required to achieve safety standards and Food and Drug Administration approval.

Most cultures highly value human health and life. That being said, humans take great lengths to promote and maintain this very health and life. In contrast, what gives humans the right to determine the health and value of an animal’s life. Just because humans have the power to manipulate an animal’s life, does not make animal testing justified. Clearly, animals with an inability to communicate or express an opinion cannot give an inform consent. This scenario is wholly unethical. Harmful testing on animals should be banned because it is immoral. Though some believe animal experimentation is vital for scientific advancements, viable alternatives for testing exist.

Approximately 100 million animals annually are subject to experimentation with three-fourths selected for medical investigation and the remaining to
test over the counter products such as cosmetics and food supplements. Multiple animal species are involved including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds. Some are sacrificed in U.S. laboratories for chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing while others are involuntary subjects for biology lessons and medical training. Though not all animals die after experimentation, some animals return to their former environments emotionally or physically handicapped due to the harshness of the experiment or living conditions (Thompson). Of these 100 million animals, an estimated eight million are used in experiments that result in the animals suffering in some manner. Reports show that at least 10 percent of these animals do not receive painkillers (PETA).

The three primary uses of animals for testing involve biomedical research, product testing and education. These experiments involve activities such as force-feeding, (shaven) skin and eye irritation, and chemical inhalation. Some studies are designed with the result of an “LD50” test. Meaning, the experimental animals are force-fed a particular substance until roughly half of them die from the poisonous effects of the product (SAAW). This translates to death of hundreds and in some cases, thousands of animals. Fixed Dose Test is a test in which a set dose is administered to an experimental group of animals until visible signs of poisoning occur, rather than death. However, at the conclusion of the study all the animals are sacrificed and then examined. For the Inhalation Test, animals are forced to breathe in a substance in spray, mist or smoke form. They may have the product sprayed heavily around the head and body; they may have an inhalation mask strapped to their face or they may be put into a sealed chamber. Again, they are all killed and examined at the end of the experiment (PETA).

The animals are obtained from a variety of locations such as Class A sources, which are companies that specifically breed animals for research. They are genetically pure and free from parasites and are, therefore, more expensive. However, most animals are retrieved from Class B sources which include random sites such as purchased dogs and cats from shelters, pounds or puppy mills. They may represent excess animals from zoos or animals caught in the wild. In fact, so prevalent is trapping of animals for biomedical research that some species are driven to near extinction. The capturing of wild rhesus monkeys in India has obliterated entire populations. Furthermore, the transportation of wild monkeys caught in Africa and Asia is harsh; they are crammed into crates with scarce food or water and many tragically die.

Another component of animal testing involves the living conditions. The animal is moved into a new cell without any familiarity or ability to anticipate the new setting. Kept in isolation in small and bare cages with no stimulation or socialization animals frequently become insane or develop repetitive or psychotic behaviors. Usually the cheapest Class B animals are purchased as they are easier to handle because they are used to humans. These animals are handled roughly, coerced and beaten into submission and this is just the beginning of their nightmare (SAAW). The only break they get from their solitary confinement is when they are dragged from their cages and now terrified subjected to forceful tube insertions into their noses and stomachs, open brain surgery, painful injections, exposure to cancers and diseases all while being restrained sometimes without anesthetics or painkillers.

Obviously, the benefits to animal testing include careful product study to ensure safety for human use. Animal testing has however, aided humans in a number of therapeutic ways. Because of toxicity testing, for instance, poison centers are able to aid parents when a child has swallowed a harmful product. Before animal testing, humans served as the first test subjects for new drugs; because of multiple accidents, however, the government eventually required drug companies to test new products on animals. Scientists have worked to limit the number of animals used in experiments; alternative testing methods have also helped to reduce the number of animals used. The complexity of human biology makes it impossible at present to eliminate animal testing (Mur).

Though animal testing has ensured product safety, scientists cannot always
compare animals to humans and assume the products will work the same on both species. Diseases that are artificially induced in animals in a laboratory are never identical to those that occur naturally in human beings. And because animal species differ from one another biologically in many significant ways, it becomes even more unlikely that animal experiments will yield results that will be correctly interpreted and applied to the human condition in a meaningful way (PETA). For example, according to former National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Richard Klausner, “We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans.” This test proves that some animal effects just don’t correlate to human effects. Although at least 85 HIV/AIDS vaccines have been successful in nonhuman primate studies, as of 2010, every one of nearly 200 preventive and therapeutic vaccine trials has failed to demonstrate benefit to humans. In one case, an AIDS vaccine that was shown to be effective in monkeys failed in human clinical trials because it did not prevent people from developing AIDS, and some believe that it made them more susceptible to the disease. According to a report in the British newspaper The Independent, one conclusion from the failed study was that “testing HIV vaccines on monkeys before they are used on humans, does not in fact work.” Furthermore, 92% percent of drugs, those that have been tested on animals and in a petri dish, do not make it through Phase 1 of human clinical trials, which determine reaction, effectiveness, and side effects of doses of a potential drug (PETA).

Animal testing may have been the only option for medical and scientific research in the past but with relatively recent studies, there are viable alternatives to animal experimentation. Because science has relied on animal experimentation for so long, it is difficult for many people to believe that alternative methods can replace traditional testing. which emphasized reduction, refinement, and replacement of animal use, principles which have since been referred to as the ‘‘3 Rs’’. These principles encouraged researchers to work to reduce the number of animals used in experiments to the minimum considered necessary, refine or limit the pain and distress to which animals are exposed, and replace the use of animals with non-animal alternatives when possible (Ferdowsian). Regulatory agencies in the United
States and in Europe recently approved another sort of replacement test. This involves the use of a “synthetic skin,” called Corrositex, which can be used in place of animals to test chemicals for skin corrositivity. That is, to see whether a substance will corrode or burn the skin (Valasquez). Similar to synthetic skin is in vitro testing which is human cell-based skin in a test tube or petri dish. In vitro is used for toxicity screening to test drugs, chemicals, cosmetics, and consumer products. A recent in vitro method resembles a human immune system to for testing the safety and effectiveness of HIV/AIDS vaccines. This in vitro method is faster than animal tests, can be used to test vaccines on the immune systems of many different human populations at once. These humane tests replace cruel tests that involve pumping substances into animals’ stomachs and lungs and dripping chemicals into animals’ eyes or onto their raw, shaved skin (PETA). An additional alternative that is often overlooked is using actual humans that have signed a consent to be tested on. Yet another substitute for animal testing is the use of actual human skin leftover from surgical procedures or donated cadavers can be used to measure the rate at which a chemical is able to penetrate the skin (PETA).

Whether animal experimentation should be allowed to continue has become a matter for public debate. Animal testing has been an opposing viewpoint topic for many years due to a roughly even amount of advocates for or against this subject. Many believe that animal testing is immoral and should be banned, while others believe that animal testing is necessary to enhance human safety. However, in the end, it seems rather cruel and unethical to force animals into harmful testing without their consent. In our world, humans tend to be egocentric, in other words, human health above all. But what gives humans the right to manipulate, harm, and even end the life of an animal all to ensure that a shampoo won’t lead to skin irritation. Just because humans have the power to manipulate an animal’s life, does not make animal testing justified. Testing on animals is entirely unethical and should be banned. Improvements in scientific inquiry now allow research to focus on in vitro, synthetic skin, and consenting humans in clinical studies. Humans have a right to live, so don’t animals deserve that same right?

Cite this Animal Testing and its harmful effects

Animal Testing and its harmful effects. (2017, Apr 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/animal-testing-and-its-harmful-effects/

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