The Cruelty Of Animal Testing Essay, Research Paper
During the seventies, Americans fought against animal cruelty. Animal cruelty is still a major problem in today’s society. For many years we have been watching advertisements on television, then going out and buying that new shampoo, or facial cleanser that has those new revitalizing ingredients. Do we really know how the manufacturers came up with these ingredients, or the process that these products go through before they reach the supermarket or corner store shelf? During the seventies there were protests against animal testing. Through these protests animals began getting better treatment, but now it has been shoved under the carpet.
Some people believe that testing on animals will help them compete in the marketplace. Consumers are constantly demanding new and exciting ingredients in their products. Animal tests are often considered the easiest and cheapest way to “prove” the new ingredients are “safe”. Companies also can use the fact that their products were tested to help defend themselves from and in lawsuits. Most Americans apparently would find it a great legal and philosophical stretch to grant animals the same rights as humans. 20 percent donate to animal welfare organizations. A large majority, nearly 70 percent, according to some polls, approves of animal research, particularly if it advances medical sciences. The Congress of Technology Assessment estimates scientists use 17-22 million vertebrate animals a year in research, including 15 million rats and mice; 60,000 primates; 180,000 dogs, and 50,000 cats(Dietrich, A1). Animal testing comes in many different forms.
Vivisection is animal experimentation by burning, shocking, blinding, drugging, starving, irradiating, blinding and killing animals. Vivisection began because of religious prohibitions against the use of human corpses. The religious leaders finally removed these prohibitions but it was too late. Vivisection was already entrenched in medical and educational institutions(NEAVS).
The largest breeding company in the United States is Charles River Breeding Laboratories(CRBL). It is headquartered in Massachusetts and owned by Bausch and Lomb. It commands between 40-50 percent of the market for mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rhesus monkeys, imported primates, and miniature swine(PETA, campaigns). The University of Washington was the worlds largest monkey nursery, with 150 infants, which you can find in the Health Sciences basement. Baboons that carry backpacks to monitor stress are among 450 primates on the seventh floor. Infected monkeys on that floor are used to test Aids Drugs(Dietrich, A1). Since the University of Washington was unable to get a renewal grant for the federal government. It had to move more that 1,200 primates to Louisiana, Oregon and Seattle. Animal studies range from benign to unpleasant. They go from observing bird intelligence in aviaries to using pistons to crack the skulls of rats. This is used so that Harborview Medical Center researchers can learn to cope with human head traumas. Research animals are used to test drugs and vaccines, pioneer medical procedures, determine poisonous doses, indicate which products in animals might cause cancer, test cosmetics, toiletries and household cleaners. Animals are also used to study the behavior that ultimately influences human psychology. Much of the human benefit comes at a price to animals. For instance, an estimated 1-5 million monkeys died in the hunt for the oral polio vaccine. In the last few years there has been no shortage of horror stories about laboratory cruelties with dubious benefit. Thus resulting in a complex thicket of laws, regulations, and oversight committees(Dietrich, A1).
In the 60’s, Harlow isolated monkeys in cone shaped enclosures he theatrically called “pits of despair”. The purpose of this particular experiment was to drive the monkey insane. This is only one of many examples of animal cruelty by scientists. After a visit to one of the laboratories Kenneth Burrell said that the,
“Researchers ordinarily use something similar to a Q-tip to swab toothpaste on the teeth of lab rats, brushing the two big incisors up front and the molars on each side”.(Ahrens, C1)
Since rat saliva is not all that different to humans. At the end of the tests the rats are killed and their jaws cut off so their teeth can be viewed under a microscope. This is how most toothpastes today are tested.
Jay Tokasz wrote in one of his articles about how rabbits blood is drawn to be tested. He said,
“An animal technician grabs the ear of the Giani Flemmish and chinchilla crossbreed rabbit, and then sticks it with a needle. The technician then begins to draw 10 milliliters of blood. After the animal is stuffed into a small metal contraption, so it won’t move, or harm itself. The flow of blood swells the ear, and turns the ear purple. A grotesque sight.”
These tests are an example of how cruel science can be. It can range from drawing blood from a rabbit to actually killing an animal like a rat, to test a product before it is put on the market. The conditions these animals live in their whole lives are inhumane. Behind the corridor’s door are rooms in which rabbits cages are stacked up in tiers like an apartment complex. In their rooms rats lie sluggishly in clear plastic tubs. Collies bred to mimic a rare human immune deficiency wag their tails happily when scientists come into their room. Pigs are painted with numbers and lie in a clean pen.
There are so many tests out their that are inhumane and can have devastating effects. The Uterotrophic Response Assay is used to detect Endocrine Disrupting Compounds. This test examines the weight of accessory sex glands and muscles in rats exposed to the test chemical. This test is unreliable because the amount of estrogen in the diet can make the uteri more or less responsive to the drug influencing the results. There is no standard diet that scientists use. Rats also have great variability. Rats have statistically significant differences in the uteri of untreated control animals. Only the uteri in rats are examined and the many other tissues that could be affected by the drug are ignored. This test is very time consuming and expensive(Kelsey & Parker, 165). Rats are also used to determine the Carcinogenicity of Fluoride. Approximately 520 rats and 520 mice are given daily doses of the drug for two years. It doesn’t effect a single mouse, but in rats it can cause health problems such as cancer of the mouth and bone(PETA, tests).
Rats and mice are not the only animals that are tested. Most of the cruelest tests are done on rabbits. Rabbits eyes are used to test the toxicity of cosmetics and cleaners. These Eye Irritancy Tests are extremely cruel to the rabbits. A liquid, flake, granule, or powdered substance is dropped into the eyes of a group of albino rabbits. These animals are often immobilized in stocks from which only their heads protrude. They usually receive no anesthesia during the tests. After placing the substance in the rabbits eye tissue, at specific intervals over an average period of 72 hours, with some tests lasting eighteen days. The rabbit’s reactions include swollen eyelids, inflamed issues, ulceration, bleeding, massive deterioration, and blindness. During the tests rabbits eyelids are held open with clips. Many animals break their necks as the struggle to escape.
Another common test done on animals is the Acute Toxicity test, or otherwise known as the lethal dose or poisoning tests. These tests are used to determine the amount of a substance that will kill a percentage, even up to 100 percent of a group of animals. A substance is forced by tube into their throats. It may also be injected into the skin, into a vein, or into the lining of the abdomen, mixed into lab chow, inhaled through a mask; or introduced into the eyes(PETA, tests). These experiments observe the animals reactions which can include convulsions, labored breathing, diarrhea, constipation, emaciation, skin eruptions, abnormal posture and also bleeding from the eyes, nose, and mouth. The most widely used lethal dose is 50(LD50) tests were developed in 1927(PETA, tests). The LD50 testing period continues until at least 50 percent of the animals die, usually 2-4 weeks. Like Eye Irritancy tests, Lethal Dose tests are unreliable at best. Rodger D. Curren of Microbiological Associates says,
“Researchers looking for non-animal alternatives must prove that these in vitro models perform at least as well as animal tests. When they conduct the validation exercise it becomes more apparent the animal tests themselves are highly variable”.
There are many laws concerning animal testing, but they are not adequate. Manufacturers determine testing methods. The very unreliability of the animal tests make them appealing to some companies. Since these tests allow manufacturers to put virtually any product on the market. Enormous physiological variants exist among rats, rabbits, dogs, pigs, and humans(PETA, tests). The drugs thalidomide, Zomax, and DES were all tested on animals and judged safe, but had devastating consequences for the humans that used them. A General Accounting Office report, released in May 1990, found that more than half the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) between 1976 and 1985 caused side effects that were serious enough to be withdrawn from the market, or relabeled. All of these drugs were tested on animals.
Most of the money that is funded for these experiments comes from our own pockets. In the military there are many of torturous taxpayer funded experiments. At those military facilities they do wound experiments, radiation experiments, studies of the effects of chemical warfare, and other deadly and maiming procedures. The military does not offer and detailed rationale in its reports, or congressional hearings. The National Institute of Health(NIH) in the United States is the worlds largest funder of animal experiments. It dispenses over 7 billion in tax dollars in grants annually, thus of which 5 billion goes toward studies including animals. The Department of Defense spent about 180 billion on experiments using 553,000 animals in 1993. This figure represents a 36 percent increase in the number of animals used over the past decade(PETA, military). Private institutions and companies also invest in the vivisection industry. Many household products and cosmetics companies still pump their products into animals stomachs, rub them into their shaved, abraded skin, squirt then into their eyes, and force them to inhale aerosol products. Charities such as the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes use donations from citizens to fund experiments on animals(PETA, experiments).
Those who make money on animals are supplying vivisectors with cages, restraining devices, and food for caged animals, like lab chow made by Purina Mills, and tiny guillotines to destroy animals whose lives are no longer considered useful. These companies also insist that nearly every medical advance have been made through the use of animals. Although every drug and procedure must now be tested on animals before hitting the market, this does not mean that animal studies are invaluable, irreplaceable, or even of minor importance of that alternative methods could not have been used. In medicine, perhaps the most informative research takes place not in hospitals and clinics, not even statisticians, or epidemiologists. Clinical surgeries, human volunteers, case studies, autopsy reports, and statistical analyses permit far more accurate observation and use of actual environmental factors related to human disease than possible with animals confined in laboratories, who contract diseases in conditions vastly different from the situations that confront humans(PETA, experimentation). Animal experimentation also misleads researchers in their studies.
Dr. Albert Sabin, who developed the oral polio vaccine, cited in testimony at a congressional hearing this example of animal based research.
“Paralytic polio could be dealt with only by preventing the irreversible destruction of the large number of motor nerve cells, and the work on prevention was delayed by an erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys”.
If scientists would have used information from humans we would have had a polio vaccine much quicker and fewer animals would have died. There is no need to test on animals with the technology we have today.
More than 500 manufacturers of cosmetic and household products have refused to test their products on animals. These companies take advantage of the many alternatives available today, including cell cultures, tissue cultures, corneas from eye banks, and sophisticated computer and math models. For toothpaste some companies, such as Toms of Maine found a way of testing their products without the use of animals. Toms of Maine is still approved by the American Dental Society(ADA). They took molars or bits of molars that were extracted from humans. They then fixed them in a plastic retainer that will hold them snuggly between the cheek and gum. Toms of Maine had the subjects wear the devices over three, thirty-day periods, and brush regularly with their toothpaste. At the end of the test, the molars are removed and looked at under a microscope. No animals are killed during this experiment(Dietrich, A1). Another problem with tests done on animals is their sensitivity. There are so many differences in animals that most tests lack sensitivity. In vitro, or non-animal tests, are extremely sensitive. One recombinant cell bioassay was five times more sensitive that the Uterotrophic Response assay. In-vitro assays have identified metabolites of DDT as acting on the human endocrine system, when they had previously been reported inactive in whole animal models. In vitro assays enable the researcher to look at the effects of chemicals on many different tissues that might be affected. With estrogen, this is not just the male and female reproductive organs, but bone, heart, blood vessels, and the brain as well. In vitro assays help illustrate molecular and cellular mechanisms of toxicity not possible with animal models(PETA, experimentation). Instead of dropping products into animal’s eyes to test toxicity, researchers can now grow a thin layer of cells on a membrane, and monitor the changes in electrical resistance in the cells as they are exposed to the test chemical. There is no need to have rabbits be exposed to the different chemicals(PETA, experimentation). Corrositex is an in vitro approved by the Department of Transportation as a substitute for the rabbit skin test. The test arouses corrositivity using a protein membrane designed to function like skin. The method gives results in a few hours and only cost $100 a test. Animal tests cost a lot more, and most of the time it costs the animals life also.
There is no law that requires animal testing for cosmetics and household products. The Food and Drug Administration requires that each ingredient in a cosmetic product be “adequately substantiated for safety” prior to marketing, or that the product carry a warning label indicating that its safety has not been determined. FDA does not have the authority to require any particular test. The Animal Welfare Act requires laboratories to report the number of animals used in experiments. However this Act does not cover mice, rats, and birds, which are used in some 80-90 percent of all experiments. Mice and rats are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act regulations, or the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) does not require that commercial breeder of these rodents be registered, or the USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service(APHIS) inspect such establishments(Gordon,A1). These laws help fight the cases of animal cruelty, but they still are not enough to stop it.
Protesting from different animal rights groups helps bring about new laws and changes. PETA’s four year international campaign stopped leading companies, such as Avon, Revlon, Estee Lauder, and L’Oreal from using animal tests. According to the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, the number of animals has dropped by as much as 50 percent over the past twenty five years(Knickerbocker, 15).
Animal testing is still a problem today, that can harm us by misinformation and possibly. Next time you go to the store take a more careful look at the label on the back of the product and see if it was tested on animals.