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Debates spark amid leaked animal testing footage

by Brianna Bush - Executive Editor
Tue, Oct 29th 2019 01:00 pm
Recent footage from a lab in Germany is raising questions about animal testing and other possible, more humane options. The footage showed monkeys being held in metal clamps, and dogs and cats bleeding in cages (left, right).
Recent footage from a lab in Germany is raising questions about animal testing and other possible, more humane options. The footage showed monkeys being held in metal clamps, and dogs and cats bleeding in cages (left, right).

In the modern world, cosmetics and medications rule and control parts of our lives. People take pills or other supplements to control their health, while others apply makeup to feel better about themselves or help them feel more comfortable. But before any of these products hit the shelves, they must be tested.

Testing, for the most part, is done on animals. There are some people who volunteer themselves for money, but testing is usually done on animals to ensure the safety of the product for people.

For the most part, animal testing has seen a decline since 1966, after the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). According to gpo.gov, AWA defines an animal as “any live or dead dogs, cats, nonhuman primate mammals, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits or such other warm blooded animal.” The AWA excludes birds, rats and mice bred for research, cold-blooded animals and farm animals used for food and other purposes.

AWA is in place to help regulate facilities and requires that each facility develop an internal Institutional Animal Committee to represent society’s concerns regarding the welfare of animal subjects. 

In the United States, animal testing is still around but is almost entirely regulated and the animals must be taken care of properly. Unfortunately, that is not the same for all countries. In a recent video posted by an undercover activist, monkeys are seen strapped into metal harnesses while cats and dogs are left bleeding and dying in cramped cages. The footage was taken in the Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology (LPT) in Mienenbuttel, Germany.

Animal testing isn’t a completely sound science either, humans and different species do not share the same genetic makeup and will not show the same symptoms that humans would. It is the same for some people, while one could show side effects for a certain medication others do not. 

According to the hsi.org, “very often the symptoms and responses to potential treatments seen in other species are dissimilar to those of human patients. As a consequence, nine out of every 10 candidate medicines that appear safe and effective in animal studies fail when given to humans.”

So a long-standing question that has remained for years — why test on animals to begin with? The answer to that is simple. To humans, our lives are worth more and if something could potentially kill someone, why test it on a person? But what does that mean for the animals that die during the process?

People like to compare animal testing to poaching, hunting and feeder animals. There are valid connections between each argument and some people become vegans or vegetarians over such debacles. There are differences in each circumstance, many other animal-centered activities are regulated by the government and have laws, rules and regulations in place to ensure people are not abusing animals.

Hunting is almost always seasonal, and most hunters are helping with overpopulation of animals like deer in certain areas. While many farms have the same set of rules they must follow to humanely treat the animals, even if they are raised for meat.

Animal testing has its own set of problems if the animals being tested are kept in repugnant conditions. To avoid this, scholars are working to come up with alternatives to animal testing.

According to niehs.nih.gov, “computer programs with advanced systems based on large chemical databases can predict a chemical’s toxicity, reducing the need for animal testing in some situations. The concept of replacing, reducing or refining animal use in research and testing was first described more than 60 years ago.”

Replacing is a test method that substitutes traditional animal models with non-animal systems such as computer models or biochemical systems. Reducing is the method that minimizes the number of animals needed for testing. Refining eliminates pain or distress in animals, or enhances animal well-being — providing proper housing is an example.

It is a long way down the road, but we are making steps in the right direction. We have to sustain the animals that can not help themselves so they can remain happy and healthy on this planet.

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