Animals in Laboratories

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Wistar rat

 

Experimentation on animals has a long and gruesome history, but growing popular support for animal rights around the world and emerging scientific alternatives are turning the tide.


What Is "Vivisection"?

Vivisection is experimentation on a live animal. The word comes from the Latin vivus, which means "alive" and the English section, which means "cut." "Vivisection" actually includes any type of experimentation on any type of animal, regardless of whether the animal is literally cut. The term includes both scientific experiments and product testing.

Testing on Animals Is Not Only Cruel, It Is Unnecessary

Unknown numbers of animalsmostly rabbits, mice, and ratsare subjected to tests to assess the safety of cosmetics, personal care and household products, chemicals, medical devices, and the component ingredients of these items. Testing on animals is based on the traditional assumption that animals respond the same way as humans do when they are exposed to certain products. It is difficult for scientists to extract data from animal tests and apply them to situations in which humans are exposed, mainly because reactions to the exposure of these products varies among species. Animal-based testing methods continue to disprove that they are necessary for legitimate human needs, and new discoveries of alternative methods to testing on live animals have led to new and improved testing techniques.

In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission regulate cosmetic/personal care and household products.  Neither of these agencies require companies to use animal tests to access safety of their products. There are sufficient existing safety data as well as in vitro alternatives (studies performed with cells or biological molecules outside of their normal biological context, sometimes called "test tube" experiments) to eliminate animal testing for cosmetic and household products. Unfortunately, many companies still are resistant to changing their testing techniques and U.S. agencies, like the FDA, continue to endorse animal testing methods as the "gold standard".

Consumers Care about Animals

Consumers care about animalsthey don’t want to support companies that cause animal suffering. According to a 2011 survey, 67% of Americans feel that companies should not test products such as cosmetics and dish soap on animals, and 60% are more likely to buy products that have not been tested on animals.

The European Union passed a law in 2004 that phased out the use of animals in the testing of cosmetic products and ingredients, as well as the sale of products containing ingredients subjected to new animal tests. Israel and India have passed similar laws. China has recently announced plans to limit mandatory animal testing for some cosmetic products. In March 2014, the Humane Cosmetics Act was introduced in Congress. It would also ban the use animals testing cosmetics and their ingredients, as well as phase out the sale of cosmetic products containing animal tested ingredients. The bill garnered bipartisan support; however, it has yet to be passed in Congress.

Laws in the U.S. Need Updated

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the primary law that covers laboratory animals in the U.S. The AWA was passed in 1966 and amended in 1970, 1976 and 1985. The scope of the AWA is limitedit does not restrict what can be done to an animal during a study. The following statement from this Act allows animal researchers to do as they wish during an experiment:

"Nothing in these rules, regulations, or standards shall affect or interfere with the design, outline, or performance of actual research or experimentation by a research facility as determined by such research facility."

The AWA only requires that research facilities count the number of dogs, cats, primates, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, some farm animals, and other animals that are used in experiments. Not protected by the AWA are: rats, mice, birds, and cold-blooded animals, which represent approximately 85 percent of the total number of animals used in experimentation.

Get Involved

Animal Advocates of WNY encourages people to do their own research into companies to find out if their products have been tested on animals or not, and to boycott products that have. 

For more information about testing on animals and non-lethal alternatives to such testing, we recommend the following websites:

American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS)

The AAVS is dedicated to the complete abolition of vivisection in the United States, advocating legislation, education, and alternative research methods.

About Animal Testing (Humane Society International)

Find Q&As divided into subjects including: Cosmetic & Product Testing, Animal Testing of Chemicals, Animal Testing of Pesticides and Biocides, and Cruelty-Free Spring Clean (an HSI initiative to raise awareness about animal testing for household cleaning products).

National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS)

Like the AAVS, the National Anti-Vivisection Society is dedicated to ending the exploitation of animals used in science. Their website features a cruelty-free product guide, access to legislation and legal matters pertaining to animals and the law and more.

Animal Testing and Alternatives (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

This section of the PCRM site has links to more information about the problems with animal testing, and discusses non-animal alternatives. Some eye-catching "infographics" are available for printing for posters, flyers, and leaflets.  A link called "What You Can Do" takes visitors to a page where animal advocates are encouraged to take part in the effort to end animal testing and cultivate the transition to more effective, reliable alternatives.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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