StateUniversity.com – U.S. University Directory » State University List » College and University Blog

Animal Testing - Is It Necessary?

College and University Blog - Resources, help, and insight for your college experience

If your dog got sick and were dying, do you think you could cure him by conducting research on your healthy aunt Edna? Since it is not possible to cure a sick animal by conducting research on healthy humans, is it possible to cure a sick human by conducting research on a healthy animal?

Every species of animal has a different biochemistry. This would mean that it is impossible to conclude connections between non-human animals and human beings with absolute certainty. This would also be true in comparing one species of animal to another. It is also impossible to recreate a spontaneous disease in the lab in both animals and humans. Infectious diseases are the exception. Remember though that animals do not get human infectious diseases and we do not get theirs.

Unfortunately, most medical research is based on “the animal model of human disease”. This model maintains that it is possible to reproduce spontaneous human diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, etc.,on healthy, non-human animals.

Diseases of all kinds are affecting an increasing number of Americans. This is in spite of decades of animal-based research that costs billions of dollars. It is estimated that by the year 2030, health care will have an annual price tag of $16 trillion – an overwhelming 32% of the projected U.S. economy. This projection causes one to ask the obvious question: If animal research works, why do “miracle cures” and “medical breakthroughs” never materialize.

Some believe we are going backwards and not forward. In 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on cancer”. Since this time billions of tax dollars have been spent infecting perfectly healthy animals with artificially-induced cancer tumors. The result has been an increase in cancer rates by 18% and cancer deaths by 7%. We’ve seen birth defects skyrocket in the last 40 years. Presently, 1 child in 7 is born with some kind of birth defect. The U.S. consistently ranks at the bottom of every health statistic, but we spend more money per capita on “health care” than any other nation in the world.

Pharmaceuticals that have been found “safe” for humans based on animal testing often cause physical damage and even death. If animal testing is a valid way of determining human reactions to drugs, why do so many serious side effects remain unknown until humans are exposed to the drug?

It is a fact that animals react differently than humans to different substances. This is also true between different animals. Aspirin kills cats and penicillin kills guinea pigs. Yet, the same guinea pigs can safely eat strychnine. Strychnine is one of the deadliest poisons for humans, but not for monkeys. Sheep are not affected by arsenic. Potassium cyanide, which is deadly to humans, is harmless to owls. This list is endless.

So what do we do about research on animals? An increasing number of doctors and scientists agree that today’s biomedical research is invalid and counterproductive. They suggest two ways to deal with human health problems. First, and foremost, we must learn how to practice prevention. An overwhelming number of diseases can be prevented by proper diet, a healthy lifestyle, and the elimination of environmental toxins. Prevention involves the patient taking responsibility for their health, the medical community educating patients, and insurance companies covering preventive care. This is by far the most intelligent choice and deserves most of our resources.

Once people get sick, the only way to gather reliable and thus useful information is to examine the patients who have the actual disease or condition. Only this vital information, obtainable through human clinical research, can lead to effective treatments and real cures. Medical research has played an important role in improving people’s lives. Advances that have been made without the use of animals are extensive. They include the isolation of the AIDS virus, the discovery of penicillin and anesthetics, the identification of blood types, the need for certain vitamins, and the development of x-rays. The identification of risk factors for heart disease—probably the most important discovery for decreasing deaths from heart attacks—was made through human population studies.

Neurological diseases are another major cause of death and disability in the U.S. Once again, animal experiments in this area have not correlated well with human disease. Of the 25 compounds “proven” effective for treating strokes in animals over the last 10 years, none have proven effective for humans. Of the 198 drugs that were tested on animals in accordance with FDA guidelines between 1976 and 1985, 51.5 percent caused reactions serious enough to result in withdrawal from the market or warranted substantial labeling changes.

Using animals in health care research also presents another problem: the risk of animal viruses infecting the human population. Some primate viruses, when transmitted to humans, can cause disease and even death. Most scientists now believe that the virus that causes AIDS is a descendent of a virus found in primates. If we practice xenotransplantation (the transplant of animal organs or tissues into humans), the risk of animal viruses entering the human population could have devastating consequences.

Biomedical research is a billion dollar industry. The majority of federal health care funds are channeled through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Approximately 80% of the NIH budget goes to actual research projects. According to the NIH, at least 40 percent of its grants currently have an animal component. While these enormous sums of money are being consumed by animal experimentation, greater emphasis on other types of research could lead to huge improvements in the health of our nation. These include human clinical and epidemiological studies, prevention initiatives, public health programs, and in vitro research.

I can’t deny that animal research hasn’t produced valuable medical breakthroughs that have changed the world. The discovery of insulin; organ, corneal, and bone marrow transplants; antibiotics for pneumonia; surgery for heart diseases; and the development of nonaddictive painkillers were all made possible through animal testing. Testing on monkeys led to the polio vaccine.

Unfortunately, disease prevention can never eliminate the need for medical research, and medical research will probably always require the use of animals. The sacrifice of any animal is unfortunate, but can be justified if that sacrifice saves human lives.

The study of human cell cultures (in vitro research) has been touted as a possible alternative to animal experimentation. In vitro experimentation does have its limits. A cell culture cannot tell us the effects a drug will have on an entire human body. It can’t help doctors develop new surgical procedures. It is also a political issue that will not be settled anytime soon. Computer-based approaches to medical research also have limitations.

There is not a person in the United States who has not somehow benefited from the results of research involving animals. I look forward to the day when medicine is so advanced that the use of animals will not be necessary, but until that day, we cannot abandon the use of animals in medical research.

Comments on this Article

Make a Comment …

Have something to say? Feel free to add comments or additional information.

Taylor over 4 years ago Taylor

AGAINST animal testing. Animal testing is “the use of non-human animals in research and development projects, especially for purposes of determining the safety of substances such as foods or drugs” (“animal testing”). Animals get injured, live through pain, and are sometimes left to suffer or die. Those are reasons why this remains a controversial topic (“Animal Testing”). Although the use of animal testing has contributed to life-saving treatments and curing humans, animal testing is cruel and inhumane, the tests that pass on animals aren't necessarily safe for humans, and alternative testing now exist that can replace animal testing. Rabbits, mice, rats, monkey's, cats, and dogs, the animals used for testing, are put through “force feeding, forced inhalation, food and water deprivation, prolonged periods of physical restraint, infliction of burns and other wounds to study the healing process, infliction of pain to study its effects and remedies (Humane Society International).” For example, the Draize eye test, which is used my most cosmetic companies to assess shampoo's and other products irritation, uses rabbits, which are incapacitated in stock, with their eyelids forced open for multiple days with clips so they can not blink away the product tested (Rodrigo Netto Costa et al). In the year 2010 the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported 97,123 animals were suffering through pain during the experiments with out being given anethesia for relief. This included 1,365 primates, 5,996 rabbits, 33,652 guinea pigs, 48,015 hamsters, and 8,065 mice (“Annual Report Animal Usage by Fiscal Year”).

Romeo over 6 years ago Romeo

PRO to animal testing. how else will people test medicine that can possibly cure humans? do you want scientists or doctors to test you if you were suffering from an illness no one has heard of? it will be a 50/50 for you if that does happen, you will either die or live, maybe be in more pain. So i say, let scientists test on animals. The benefits of it, more datas. More datas equal a higher chance of saving you, a human! humans are way more valuable than animals. humans can create. imagine creating a substance that is like food but doesnt even come from animal. how amazing is that! imagine if that person who could have created that died because animal testing was abolished.

SomeDude68 almost 7 years ago SomeDude68

Unfortunately, for now, animal testing is a needed evil. And to answer your opening paragraph's questions... the answers are yes... not no. We CAN discern sick from healthy by examining the differences. Science can watch for changes and actually discover why a sick organ or tissue is behaving differently from the healthy one and create methods of treatment or replacement. This topic is not, and never was, about science. It is about emotion. Empathy. Humans often develop complex attachments to animals and love them. There is a bond. For some reason, I get more emotional over animal cruelty commercials than starving children ones. There is a real difference. The fact that there even ARE starving children in today's world is a sad testimony to human greed. I guess humans can do something about it to fix it themselves. Animals, however, can do nothing but take the evil. And that is why this topic is so emotionally charged... good people stand up against perceived evil and injustice. But focus on the people who are by nature cruel to animals and leave science a hidden ugly facet we have no viable alternative for.

ISABELLE almost 7 years ago ISABELLE

I am completely against animal testing, it is very wrong and cruel. it is very hard to see pictures of animals with their face all cut up with no skin covering it while they are still alive. think of all the pain they are going through, what if that were you. animals feel the same pain as we do here is a quote i found: "If an animal feels pain, the pain matters as much as it does when a human feels pain--if the pain hurts as much. how bad pain and suffering are does not depend on the species of being that experiences it." that says it all right there in the quote,and it does matter. 17 to 22 million animal are used in the lab each year, many, however, never get to see the light of day. all they see are darkness. they live in small areas with more than one other animal in there at a time. I once saw a picture of a puppy with no skin on his bottom or hind legs and was sitting in the corner of the wire cage in a pool of blood. it hurt so bad to look at, i could almost feel his pain. it made me want to run up to my dog, hug and kiss her and to know that she is safe and sound and i love her and this kind of thing will never happen to her. i couldn't stand to watch 30 seconds of a you tube video, let alone read the comments of people who wrote something like: i don't even care or whoo I'm crying well just kidding. it was sad and i don't know how these people have no respect for animals that are going though such a terrible time in their life wait hold on a second, that is their life and they don't have a voice to try and stop the torture that's awaiting them. i cant do anything to change peoples thoughts but to say what i believe in and right now being a 14 yr old girl nobody will want to listen to me anyway. many animals live their entire life in cages waiting to die. some are tested on even before they can take their first breath and open their glowing eyes to see the world or have some to care about them and that's all they want really. man i wish people would just try to get into their paws and try and feel the pain and anxiety they feel to try and make people look at this situation differently. i have never felt so committed and into something that i would feel as if i want to get my word out to everyone and change this animal abuse. there are other ways of testing products and having medical research done, it does not have to be done on poor innocent animals, it may be the easy was but do you think its the right way. thanks for your time on hearing me out remember that making a difference starts with you! Stop animal testing!!! -Isabelle (age 14)

isabelle almost 7 years ago isabelle

i am completely agianst animal testing. but mainly agianst people testing makeup on animals. it is very cruel and its a crime. i dont believe that people should stick chemicals into animals bodies to see how they react to it. i could not even watch 30 sec. of a video about animal testing before i almost broke down crying its very sad. its even worse when you see peoples coments who say things like: this is stupid i dont even care, whooo im crying well just kidding. here is a quote i found: "if an animal feels pain, the pain matters as much as it does when a human feels pain--if the pain hurts as much. how bad pain and suffering are does not depend on the species of being that experinces it." doing all this research and finding the longest list of people who do animal testing makes me wonder if they continue it will there be any animals left in the world. 17 to 22 million animals are tested in the laboratory each year, they continue to test until the animal has his or hers last breath.some animals are rasied in the lab ever since they were born and have a very short life. after thinking for awhile i try to see it from their shoes the pain really does hurt as much as it does to us. and they do fear the people who test on them. the pictures ive seen i wish i could turn this whole world around to seeing it the way i see it and it may possibly change their thinking. but i think in the end, im just one person what difference could i make, but then i think, it all starts with you! stop animal testing!!!

Tia about 7 years ago Tia

This is one company that I have contacted about animal testing. Below was the response I received from them. Seems like a pretty pathetic explanation to me.... "In the U.S., we are almost never required to do animal testing to support the safety of an ingredient. This is because the materials we use have been available for years (in some cases decades) and have been extensively tested and proven safe for use. Unfortunately, animal testing is still a government requirement in some countries around the world where we market our products. In these situations, our products may undergo animal testing to meet the regulations of a specific country. We are working with other companies in the industry to provide data to regulators in these countries that still require animal testing to encourage them to discontinue this practice."

Itay B. over 7 years ago Itay B.

Im a vet student who devotes my life to the health and safety of animals yet even i can see that the arguments left here are just false. There are many justified arguments to make against animal testing - non appear here. Your main argument is that there is very little use in using animals as physiology is different. Way to fail biology 101. More importantly... do you know how most testing for diseases, along with cures, were discovered? Heres a fun one.. know how snake antivenom is created? Horses. We cant biosynthesize it with the use of them - period. Your argument becomes invalid within your first paragraph.

Jhon over 7 years ago Jhon

Ignorance is Bliss isnt it Gayla. You ,like every one else,have failed to understand wha animal testing has done. You have also failed to notice that important immunizaitions,like the flew shot, have been testing on animals. Without that you would probably be dead by now.

Stephanie N. almost 8 years ago Stephanie N.

The first paragraph or point of this blog stuck out to me most. Before coming to this blog, I thought that it was best if vaccinations be tested on rats, mice or other harmful creatures but it makes more sense to test them on sick animals. That way, if it does not work, the animal was going to die sooner or later but if it does work, that animal will be saved and many humans following that.

Lauren M. over 8 years ago Lauren M.

Animals Bodies are completely different than humans, and function differently, too. It's makes absolutely no sense to test things on animals that are going to be used on humans. It takes a complete fool to think that. I just don't understand WHY the scientists do these tests on them. How can they not see the pain they are feeling ? It makes me sick. And I can't stand thinking about it. Those animals don't deserve that. Not even one bit. Why couldn't they just test on the people who are on death row in prison or something ?

Christy H. over 8 years ago Christy H.

Animal testing is incredibly unnecessary and inaccurate. There are so many alternatives now, such as EpiSkin, that testing is not needed, but done by many companies anyways. In addition to it being excessively expensive, animal testing in many cases results in abuse as well. Many cases have been reported, which can be found on PETA's website under investigations. In addition to campaigns and donating money, the most effective and important action we can take against animal testing is simply not buying the products that are used on animals in experiments. Though many would not be able to sacrifice their favorite lipstick or hair product, it is the least we can do to help the poor and innocent animals being injected and pumped with dangerous and many times fatal toxins. Each person’s protest can help, for if companies began to lose customers, they’d be forced to change their ways.

holly over 9 years ago holly

you may think that the tests being conducted on these defenceless animals are helping human medical science to progress but as animals bodies function differently to humans, these tests are often much more detromental than useful to human health. An example of this could be the fact that whilst lemon juice is a deathly poison to cats, both arsenic and hemlock are safe. Also the thalidomide experiment...

Christin over 9 years ago Christin

ANIMAL TESTIN STINKS..Im doin my speech at school on how bad it is !

soccerluver over 9 years ago soccerluver

this is to Elaine, maybe you should educate yourself before commenting. Have you researched what goes on in animal testing laboratories and such? Do you know how animals are abused? Do you not even care? How would you like it if it were you stuffed in a small metal cage, starving, and being testing while you suffered? Maybe you should think about this subject with more of a heart and also research before you make such rude remarks regarding animals that have to go through such torchure.

Elaine almost 10 years ago Elaine

Oh for goodness sakes, educate yourselves before commenting. There are incredibly strict regulations in effect to maintain that animals are treated well. In laboratories often times the animals are better treated than the lab techs. Sure for more frivolous things like cosmetic testing I think human's can be used. BUT without animals there would be no by-pass surgery, no transplant surgeries, no vacines, no burn therapies (to name a few) and a lot more dead people or a greater population of people with a much lower quality of life. Can you really justify getting rid of animal research just because you feel sorry for them? They wouldn't be alive if not for the testing and their contributions are greater than many in our current world's population.

Tanya G almost 10 years ago Tanya G

This comment goes to Anony & Maddie I hope that you did not take the flu shot this winter because guess what.. it was tested on an animal before it was given to you. Also when you get sick, I hope you do not run to the doctor to get medication because guess what, your insulin, and antibiotics that your taking to make you feel better would not have been discovered had it not been for animal testing!

Austyn Byrd over 10 years ago Austyn Byrd

Animal testing is ineffective and wrong. Animals feel pain too. Lab workers are asked why do you test on animals? A: because theyre like us When theyre asked how can you have the heart to test on animals? A: because theyre not like us Just because we have the power of being high on the food chain doesnt mean we should abuse that power like a dictator, and a cruel one at that.

anony over 10 years ago anony

sign petition to make cosmetic companies indicate weather they sponsor animal reasearch in the making of their products. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/make-companies-that-test-on-animals-indicate-it-in-their-logos

Maddie over 10 years ago Maddie

We need to stop animal testing!!! its not right!!! think of how the animals feel... ... dont you care??? ='[ i know i do.