STOP ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION - TODAY
FIVE REASONS FOR YOU TO HELP STOP ANIMAL TESTING:
"I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific
discovery that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil."
Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic
WHAT IS VIVISECTION?
The word vivisection literally means cutting apart living animals. At the turn of the century, the meaning of the term was widely known. Over time, the definition of vivisection has commonly come to mean any animal experimentation or animal research. Now, vivisection can refer to any experimentation on animals including non-invasive psychology research, product testing, or dissection.
Between 25 and 50 million animals are killed in American laboratories each year. While it is true that the most commonly use animals are mice and rats, millions of animals from other species including guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, cats, dogs, monkeys, and chimpanzees are widely used in research labs. These animals can be subjected to a myriad of painful procedures. They are burned, starved, irradiated, shocked, mutilated, kept in isolation, poisoned, drugged, electrocuted, and the list goes on and on. Researchers do these things to animals because they say it will make our lives better. However, the scientific benefits of animal experimentation are highly questionable. Over 95% of the increase of human life expectancy is due to sanitation and lifestyle improvements as well as medical discoveries made through non-animal techniques such as human clinical research in vitro (test tube) technologies. In addition, animal experiments have had some tragic consequences for people. This site will explain how animal experiments not only harm animals but have also harmed people. You will find out why animal research is a flawed research method and how non-animal alternatives hold great promise for advancing human health through relevant and ethical science.
A MUTILATED TEST DOG AT HUNTINGDON LIFE SCIENCES IN EAST MILLSTONE, NJ
THE MORAL ISSUE
People who base their argument against animal experiments on moral grounds are generally referred to as animal rights activists. Many people are confused by the term and think that these people want equal rights for animals and humans. This is not the case. Obviously, animals have different attributes and capabilities than humans, but every sentient (having the ability to suffer) creature has inherent value and the right a life free of being subjected to suffering. So, while animal rights activists feel that animals should not be subjected to painful experiments they do not feel that they should have the right to vote or be able to drive a car.
The moral argument for using animals in research generally hinges on the concept that animals are not as valuable as people because they are not as intelligent or that they do not have the capability to reason. This argument is flawed because if we were to follow it to its logical conclusion, we would be able to justify experimentation on mentally disabled people or even children. We do not grant rights to people based on their level of intelligence. We grant people rights based on our empathetic knowledge that to not do so could potentially cause them great harm and suffering.
A MONKEY FEARS NEXT TEST AT HUNTINGDON LIFE SCIENCES IN EAST MILLSTONE, NJ
As people spend more time exploring our relationship to animals, and the fact that we don't grant them basic rights, they find that they cannot justify animal experimentation or other forms of animal exploitation. Just as we would not intentionally harm a person who lacks certain qualities, we should not limit our circle of compassion by not including animals who may lack some of those same qualities. While animals may not be able to communicate in ways, or do things, like humans can, they do have emotions and can feel pleasure and pain. As the well known philosopher Jeremy Bentham stated, "The question ... is not can they reason? nor can they talk? but can they suffer?" Morally we have an obligation to recognize the possible harm we cause to animals and we should do our best to end their suffering.
A TECHNICIAN AT HUNTINGDON LIFE SCIENCES TESTS ON RABBITS
The Scientific Issue
For over a century medical science has been relying on the use of animal experiments in its search for cures and treatments for disease. For just as long, portions of the scientific community have been criticizing animal research as a misleading or fraudulent methodology. Over the years, the numbers of scientists who question the applicability of animal experimentation has grown steadily.
These scientists are questioning the ability to take data gained from experimenting with an animal and applying those results to human beings (cross-species extrapolation). While humans have some of the same characteristics as many of the animals used in laboratories, our differences are striking and significant. Even when the species being used in an experiment is very similar to us the results can be very different. For example, chimpanzees have up to 99% of the same genetic material that we do, yet they are not susceptible to many of the diseases that afflict humans (including AIDS), nor do they have the same reaction to drugs and procedures as we do.
This difficulty in relating data gained from animal experiments to human beings has caused enormous suffering over the years. Through false assumptions based on the incorrect results of animal studies, people have been killed or their diseases have gone untreated. For instance, results from experiments which exposed a variety of animal species to cigarette smoke led researchers to believe that smoking did not cause cancer. Because of this, warning labels on cigarette packs were delayed for years, and cigarette manufacturers still use animal data to refute the overwhelming evidence of the harmful effects of their products.
There have been other dramatic examples of animal data causing great harm to people. The drugs Oraflex, Selacryn, Zomax, Suprol, and Meritol produced such adverse side effects in humans (including death) that they were removed from the market, though animal experiments had predicted all of them to be safe. In fact, the General Accounting Office (the investigative arm of Congress) did a post-market study of drugs marketed between 1976 - 1985 and found that 52% were found to be more dangerous than pre-market animal studies had indicated, with adverse side effects including permanent disability and death. Recently, the hepatitis drug Fialuradine and the diet drug combination Phen-Phen cause serious injuries and deaths in humans because animal tests failed to show the potential for danger. And for the past thirty years since the announcement of the war on cancer, our reliance on animal models has led to no advance in the life expectancy of cancer patients in all but 2% of cases. In the last decade, the National Cancer Institute abandoned their animal-based drug screening program and replaced it with non-animal alternatives because the animal methods had been such a failure.
There is no ethical objection to experiments designed to help the animal or animals involved, such as untried veterinary techniques used to save the life of the animal in question. Studies which observe the behavior of animals in their natural habitat, such as Dr. Jane Goodall's revolutionary work with chimpanzees, are equally acceptable. All other types of experimentation and testing simply cannot be ethically justified. While this ethical position stands on its own, there are serious scientific and health issues involved as well. Vivisection has led us down countless scientific dead ends, while detracting attention and funds from more applicable scientific techniques. The practice of animal experimentation and testing continues, not because it has been shown to be an accurate and reliable means of research (which it has not), but rather, because of tradition, peer pressure, and enormous promotion from those with strong vested interests.
Isn't it true that every major medical advance in the last century was a result of animal experimentation?
No. Since the inception of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1901, two thirds of the prizes have been awarded to scientists using various "alternative" technologies, not animal experiments. In fact, results derived from animal experiments have had a very minimal effect on the dramatic rise in life expectancy in the 20th century. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the rise in life expectancy can be attributed mainly to changes in lifestyle, environmental factors, and improvements in sanitation.
It is true that mortality rates have dropped considerably during this century. However, 92% of this decline occurred prior to the introduction of vaccines and treatments derived through vivisection. Medical historians, McKinley and McKinley of Boston University, report that vaccines and drugs introduced to fight infectious diseases account for only 3.5% of the dramatic decline in mortality rates between 1900 and 1973.
While vivisection has received more attention and funding, clinical and epidemiological (studying the natural course of disease within human populations) studies have had a much more profound impact on human health. For example, the connection between cholesterol and heart disease was first established through epidemiology. Analyses of human populations have proven to be much better indicators of the factors contributing to cancer than have animal experiments. In fact, clinical and epidemiological evidence linking smoking to lung cancer was established long before warnings of the dangers of smoking were released to the general public. Because animal experimentation failed to reach the same conclusion, warning labels on cigarettes were delayed for years! During that time hundreds of thousands of people died from lung cancer because the results of animal experimentation were considered more valid than studies of human patients.
Are there any real alternatives to the use of whole animals in research and testing?
Animal-based research is the science of the past. There are a number of alternatives available to modern researchers which are less expensive, more reliable and ethically sound. Studies performed in the test-tube (in vitro) have many advantages over animal experiments. They provide results rapidly; experimental parameters are easily controlled; and their focus on the cellular and molecular levels of the life process provides more useful information about how chemicals and drugs work or cause damage.
Clinical and epidemiological studies are a vast source of data. They have provided us with more useful information about the nature of disease in our world than any other source. Modern computer technology has vastly improved our ability to analyze the huge volume of incredibly complex data available to us by studying the course of disease throughout the world.
Cell and tissue cultures, CAT, PET, and MRI scans, quantitative structure-activity relationship analysis in drug design, and chemical toxicity assays are some of the modern approaches to research available to scientists today. We must ask ourselves why we rely on the science of yesterday.
Would you rather see your child die than support experiments on animals?
Fortunately, no one will ever have to make this decision. Since vivisection often offers such misleading predictions, the real choice is not between animals and children, but between good and bad science. Vivisection has undoubtedly cost many children their lives. It produces inaccurate and dangerous results and wastes enormous amounts of precious time and resources on an archaic methodology while promising new techniques are ignored.
Consider the enormous wastefulness of maternal deprivation studies, in which monkeys are taken from their mothers and systematically abused in a number of ways. The conclusion from these studies, that abuse and neglect lead to psychological damage and social maladjustment, is hardly an earth-shattering revelation. It certainly doesn't justify the suffering of countless animals or the millions of dollars which have been spent to come to this foregone conclusion. Meanwhile, programs to help abused and neglected children are deprived of the funding which could make a very significant impact on these children's lives.
If we are to truly help our children, we must take a broad look at the factors contributing to their suffering and the means we may employ to prevent it. We must not be influenced by those with financial interests in animal research and allow them to convince us that their outdated, inaccurate methods will save the lives of our children.
Would you rather scientists test new drugs on people?
They already do. When a newly released drug hits the market, regardless of how many animal tests have been done, those individuals who first use it are "human guinea pigs." Animal tests are not a good indicator of what will occur in humans. The General Accounting Office reviewed the drugs marketed between 1976 and 1985. Of these, 52% were found to be more dangerous than pre-market animal studies had indicated, with adverse side effects including permanent disability and death.
The undeniable fact of the matter is that different animals vary in their response to drugs. The drug Fialuridine, designed to treat hepatitis, was shown to be safe in tests with dogs, woodchucks, monkeys and other animals, but a number of fatalities resulted from pre-market clinical screening with humans. Penicillin, the archetypal "miracle drug," is fatal to guinea pigs, but has saved countless human lives. The drugs Oraflex, Selacryn, Zomax, Suprol, and Meritol produced such adverse side effects in humans that they were removed from the market, though animal experiments had predicted all of them to be safe. The list goes on and on.
The pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, sought to determine the accuracy of lifetime rodent tests (exposing rodents to low levels of potentially hazardous substances over the course of years) for carcinogenicity. Using animals to test various chemicals already known to cause cancer in humans, they obtained the correct result in less than half of the cases. They would have been better off tossing a coin!
Ironically, many patients have been denied access to experimental drugs because they have not yet been tested on animals. Numerous AIDS patients have had to sue the government to try new drugs. Famous physician Henry Heimlich had to go to China to conduct human clinical trials for a potential therapy for AIDS. People with AIDS don't have the luxury to wait for approval through the enormously time consuming animal-testing procedures required by the FDA.
We must seek a greater understanding of the nature of the mechanisms of drugs on a cellular and molecular level if we are to have insights into the probable results. Through the increased use of modern methodologies such as in vitro assays, tissue cultures, computer modeling, and extensive molecular biological analysis, we can come to a better understanding of what effect various drugs will have on humans. Then we can all cease to be "guinea pigs."
Aren't animals in laboratories protected by laws?
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was passed in 1966 and subsequently amended in 1970, 1976 and 1985. It sets standards for the housing, handling, feeding and transportation of experimental animals, but places no limitations whatsoever on the actual experimental conditions and procedures which may be utilized. The following provision allows vivisectors to do as they please: "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."
In 1985, Congress passed an amendment which required dogs to be exercised and primates provided with an environment conducive to their psychological well-being. Pressure from vivisectors forced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue ineffective regulations which did not fulfill the intent of the law. Compliance is now at the discretion of the institution conducting the research.
The USDA, which is charged with enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, has excluded mice, rats, birds, and farm animals (who comprise 85-90% of all animals in research and testing) from even minimal protection. Although a federal judge found this exclusion to be illegal, there is still no clear indication when new USDA regulations will be enacted.
The Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), under the direction of the USDA, is supposed to inspect animal dealers and research facilities, and enforce the AWA. In 1992 and 1995, APHIS was itself inspected by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which issued scathing reports documenting APHIS' inability to accomplish this task. Two particularly relevent passages include: "...APHIS cannot ensure humane care and treatment at all facilities covered by the Animal Welfare Act," and "APHIS does not have the authority, under current legislation, to effectively enforce the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act."
Since research grants are so scarce, isn't the research that is funded worthwhile?
Animal research has become the established scientific standard. It captures headlines and receives big grants, unlike preventive medicine. It is easy for animal researchers to design experiments which will produce large amounts of data. The fact that this data has no real relevance is not an issue.
Walter Stewart, a principal investigator from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), stated that over 25% of all published research projects are "outright fraud." The scientific industry often has more to do with politics and economics than it does with science.
Here are some examples of recent findings from research being done with our tax-money:
* Paralyzed, decerebrated cats can be induced to vomit through neural stimulation or emetic drugs. The relationship to natural human nausea is unestablished. (Rockefeller University, NY Cost: $1,654,748)
* Old rhesus monkeys do not learn as quickly or remember as well as young monkeys. (Boston University & Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, TX Cost: $1,225,000)
* Crack cocaine is addictive and can impair complex behavior. (New York University Medical Center, NY Cost: $2,500,000)
This is a clear indication that scientific merit is not a prerequisite for funding.
If animal experiments are so unscientific and are such a waste of money, why do they continue?
Vivisection has become firmly entrenched in the mindset of the scientific community in the western world. It is not difficult for vivisectors to produce results, since the system is so well established. Variables are easily changed to produce volumes of data. In the publish-or-perish world of science, vivisection offers limitless opportunities for publication. As the industry of science today is quantitative, not qualitative, the production of large amounts of data is often more important than its relevance.
There is always resistance to new ideas which challenge the existing mindset of any community, and this is especially true in science. Consider the reluctance to accept the theories of Copernicus that the Earth circled around the sun, or Galileo's demonstration that objects do not fall to the Earth at speeds proportionate to their masses. We accept these things today as common knowledge, even common sense, but they were rejected as the rantings of fools when first proposed. Vivisection continues because tradition and peer pressure within the scientific community will not allow its carefully constructed intellectual walls to be torn down.
Powerful special interest groups also work to maintain the status quo of vivisection. Consider the so-called "education foundation," Americans for Medical Progress. This organization actively attacks anti-vivisection arguments and distributes pro-vivisection propaganda. This group has been publicly exposed by consumer "watch-dog" organizations as a front group for the animal experimentation industry.
BEAGLES AWAIT TESTING AT HUNTINGDON LIFE SCIENCES, EAST MILLSTONE, NJ
Don't cosmetics, household products, and other chemicals have to be tested on animals so humans don't suffer the consequences?
Thousands of new drugs, chemicals, and other household products are introduced on the market each year. Most of these, from shampoos to weed killers, are tested on animals. Many of these tests are conducted without anesthesia, to minimize variable factors, but seem to ignore an even more significant variable, species differences. Consider the following results of LD-50 tests (which determine the dosage required to kill 50% of the test animals) of dioxin on various animals:
* Female rat - 45 microgram/kilogram
* Male rat - 22 microgram/kilogram
* Guinea pig - 1 microgram/kilogram
* Hamster - 5000 microgram/kilogram
This vast difference in toxicity among such closely related animals clearly shows how preposterous it is to extrapolate this sort of data to human beings.
The infamous Draize Eye Irritancy Test is used to test cosmetics and household products. The test substance is placed in one eye of an albino rabbit and the other is left unexposed for comparison. The test proceeds for several days and is often extremely painful. Rabbits are used because they are inexpensive, easy to handle, and have large eyes for evaluating results. The rabbit eye is, however, a poor model for the human eye because of major differences including the thickness, tissue structure, tearing mechanisms, and biochemistry of the rabbit cornea.
The Draize test has been widely criticized on scientific grounds because it produces unreliable results that often bear little relation to human responses. However, many corporations still use this test, because it has traditionally absolved them of liability in lawsuits against them.
Only when animal organizations began to focus public attention on toxicity and irritancy tests did several of the major cosmetic and household product companies begin the serious search for non-animal methods to fulfill their scientific and corporate objectives. The dramatic change in public attitudes about the use of animals in product testing has brought momentum to the discipline of non-animal based research and this has demonstrated the value of consumer pressure for ending the exploitation of animals.
Weren't animals necessary for the organ transplants of today's modern medicine, and don't we need to use animals to meet the shortage of human organs?
The human immune system will violently reject implanted animal organs. Since the tissue comes from an entirely different species, the rejection is much more severe than any human organ transplant would evoke. Scientists are now trying to produce animals with human DNA, to reduce this immune reaction. The amount of money already spent to overcome these problems is enormous, and yet there has been virtually no investment in any public education campaigns to encourage people to take care of their health in the first place, or to encourage human organ donation.
This methodology is being pursued with great vigor, despite the fact that many scientists have warned of the dangers of epidemic disease which could result from this "xenotransplantation." Viruses present in animal tissue, which may be harmless in that species, could turn out to be contagious and deadly to human beings. This enormous risk is absolutely unwarranted. Thus far, of several dozen human recipients of animal organs, not one has lived over one year.
The ethical, scientific, and public policy issues surrounding organ transplantation are often widely misunderstood. The research community and the general public often regard organ transplantation as a medical milestone, but the overall impact on human life expectancy as a result of organ transplants is virtually nil. Only a very small percentage of people in the world stand to benefit from an organ transplant. On the other hand, the majority of heart, liver, and kidney disease (the organs most often transplanted) can be prevented through lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, the investment of money into public education to reinforce and encourage these lifestyle choices is a minute fraction of the amount spent on animal research.
Preventive medicine and lifestyle choices are undoubtedly the most sensible and effective strategies for addressing the diseases and disorders which are treated by organ transplants. However, when transplantation is a viable option, it is clear that human organs are far superior to animal organs. Scientists are now attempting to overcome enormous scientific problems in order to transplant animal organs into humans.
Isn't it necessary to use animals in the training of medical students?
As a matter of fact, many medical schools in the U.S. do not use animals in the training of medical students. They include:
* New York University, New York, NY
* Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
* University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
* University of Washington, Seattle, WA
* SUNY-Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY
* Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA
* Howard University, Washington, DC
* University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD and many more.
Actually, most of the medical schools which do use animals allow students the option of foregoing the animal labs. This is because they clearly acknowledge that such labs are not necessary for the training of doctors. The sole exception is the military's Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. Dogs are the most commonly used animals at medical schools which haven't implemented alternatives. The internal organs of a dog differ in shape from those of humans. The tissues, skin, internal organs and other parts of a dog differ in texture and elasticity from those of humans. While basic surgical skills could be learned from animals, it is certainly not necessary. What is necessary, for teaching anything but basic, rudimentary techniques, is that the students have experience observing and assisting with human surgery. For example, first-year students at Harvard Medical School observed the effects of cardioactive and anesthetic drugs during heart surgery in the hospital operating room. This method proved to be a valuable teaching and learning experience. As an alternative option, if medical schools insist on training their students with animals, we suggest that they have the students assist veterinarians with necessary surgery.
Scientific facts can be taught to medical students by use of films, models, diagrams, cadavers and other demonstrative techniques. Medical schools which allow their students to "practice" on live, healthy animals may be teaching future physicians to be callous and devoid of compassion. Doctors are considered to be humanitarian individuals, but vivisection during the training process can desensitize them to the pain they cause and teach them to put ethics aside.
A survey conducted at The University of Colorado Medical School, the last civilian medical school to finally forego a requirement for live animal labs, revealed that 78% of the medical students surveyed (which represented 81% of the class) felt that students should have the right not to participate in these unnecessary labs. The survey was conducted shortly before the University finally reversed its policy and allowed students the choice to not participate in these labs.
By what methods should future surgeons be trained?
Students should first learn about anatomy by practicing with cadavers, and then work directly with accomplished surgeons, observing and assisting with operations. Finally, after they have assisted with many types of surgical procedures, they will be amply prepared to perform surgery themselves. This is the surgical training procedure in Great Britain, where practice surgery on animals is illegal. It is unquestioned that British surgeons are among the world's finest.
There is no reason for medical schools to use animals for the purpose of experimentation or demonstration. Acceptable alternatives are available and should be implemented.
Animals that have been procured from pounds and shelters are going to die anyway. Why not put them to use in laboratories?
Animals in shelters are often euthanized if suitable homes cannot be found. The process of euthanasia is supposed to be painless. If these animals become tools for research, they are often subjected to excruciatingly painful experiments. A quick and painless death is certainly more humane than a lifetime of torture in a laboratory. Even when the animals are destined for a one-time experiment from which they will not awake, the trauma of transport, caging, and a laboratory setting is the last thing these neglected and abused animals deserve.
Consider also that there are two basic groups of animals in shelters: (1) Those who are old, sick, injured, aggressive, etc... who are not likely to be adopted, and are destined for euthanization, and (2) healthy and friendly animals who have a chance of being adopted.
Animal researchers want the animals from the second group, thus they are taking animals who may be adopted and are directly interfering with the humane function of the shelters.
Animal experimenters are able to obtain large numbers of animals at low cost from pounds and shelters. If this practice is discontinued, it will certainly decrease the number of redundant, unnecessary animal experiments which are performed.
Rather than attempting to rationalize the suffering and torture of animals in laboratories with the statement that "they are going to die anyway," we should address the problem of companion animal over-population. Low-cost spay/neuter programs would greatly reduce the number of animals in shelters in the first place.
What's Wrong with Product Testing Using Animals?
The cosmetics, personal care and household product manufacturing industries have become aware of growing public concern about the cruelty of animal testing. In a recent survey, 81% of respondents said they feel the use of animals to test cosmetic products is wrong, and 52% feel that it should be illegal. The use of animals to test products has steadily declined, and more and more people are choosing to buy "cruelty-free" products. The companies who have not changed have lost sales, as people choose to buy from manufacturers that make their products without harming animals.
The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) and other organizations - animal protection groups, product manufacturers and biotech firms - are working on a validation of non-animal methods. Significant progress has been made. Unfortunately, the money required to produce the data needed to validate a method is often unavailable - that is why federal funds should be directed toward validation of these materials.
Animal tests themselves have never been subjected to serious scientific testing to assess their ability to predict the safety to humans of cosmetic products, yet animal tests are accepted without validation. This brochure answers the most common questions about cosmetics and other product testing on animals. Please join the growing movement, which is speaking out and taking action against this indefensible cruelty.
What Tests are Used?
A few tests are commonly used to assess the safety of cosmetics, personal care, and household products. These are the Draize skin and eye irritancy tests and the lethal dose 50 (LD50) and the lethal dose 100 (LD100) tests.
Albino rabbits are typically used in the Draize eye irritancy tests. Rabbits are not chosen because they are good predictors of how humans will react to products, but for unrelated reasons. First, rabbits are inexpensive and easy to obtain. Second, rabbits are docile and unlikely to bite technicians who perform the tests, even if the rabbits are experiencing severe pain. Third, rabbits do not possess good systems for flushing irritants out of their eyes. Therefore, substances put into their eyes will remain to do damage. Rabbits also have large eyes, so burning, corrosion and ulceration are easily observed. The validity of these observations is highly questionable, however, because rabbits' eyes differ greatly from humans' eyes.
The Draize skin irritancy tests is similar to the Draize eye irritancy test. Rats and mice are most commonly used. Their skin is shaved and exposed to highly concentrated solutions of products and then checked for signs of irritation, such as redness or blistering. In some cases, the product actually burns all the way through to the skin.
Acute toxicity, or lethal dose tests, are used to determine how much of a test substance it takes to kill a certain percentage of animals. The lethal dose 50 (LD50) and lethal dose 100 (LD100) tests continue until one half of all, respectively, of the test animals die. During these tests, animals will often endure excruciating pain, convulsions, and loss of motor function and uncontrollable seizures. The LD50 and LD100 figures for a given chemical often vary enormously between supposedly similar species like guinea pigs and hamsters. Obviously, they are unreliable for predicting human responses.
Animal tests are often horrifying. Laboratory workers place products in the eyes of restrained rabbits who are unable to rub their eyes or otherwise give themselves any relief. Rabbits have a poor system for flushing irritants from their eyes, which allows products to remain and do damage. Highly concentrated products are also applied to the bare skin of shaved rodents. This often results in severe burning or ulceration of the skin. Workers also force feed animals enormous quantities of products until half of all the animals die.
If a Cosmetic, Household, or Personal Care Product is Tested on Animals, Does that Mean it is Safe for Me?
No, it does not. It is well known that substances which are harmless to one species can be toxic to even closely related species. Even when animal tests do show that products are dangerous, this does not keep the product off the market. The harmful products simply bear warning labels telling people to call a doctor if they swallow the product or if contact is made with the skin or eyes. However, poison-control centers rarely, if ever, turn to data from animal tests to treat patients injured by household products.
Are Companies Legally Required to Test Their Cosmetics and Personal Care Products on Animals?
The Food and Drug Administration requires that certain products be tested on animals, including pharmaceuticals and eye-care products, but not cosmetics and personal care products such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. The FDA requires that ingredients be shown safe - which does not require animal tests - or carry a label stating that safety has not been determined. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which regulates household goods, does not require animal tests.
Since They are not Required by Law, Why Do Some Cosmetics and Personal Care Product Manufacturers Test Their Products on Animals?
The answer has to do with money. Cosmetic manufacturers want to protect themselves against lawsuits. If one of their products injures a customer, the fact that the company conducted animal tests can be used to suggest that the company did "all it could" to protect the customer.
Why are Animal Tests Still Used when so Many Alternative Methods are Available?
The main reason non-animal methods are not being used more is industries' failure to validate them. Validation is a thorough examination and testing of methods leading to official acceptance by the scientific community and government agencies. If non-animal methods were validated, manufacturers who use them would be protected in lawsuits, as the validated non-animal tests would provide proof that manufacturers had reasonable assurance of product safety.
What are Alternatives?
Several methods can be used to test the safety of consumer goods without the use of animals. Instead of using painful tests on animals, manufacturers can:
1) Expose a product to a complex mixture of chemicals. Based on chemical reactions caused by the product, scientists are able to predict whether or not it would be irritating or dangerous to human beings. EYETEX, SKINTEX and CORROSITEX are some of the better known tests of this type
2) Grow human cells in culture and test products on them. This type of testing has shown great promise and many scientists feel that these tests will eventually phase out the Draize. Cells from yeast and bacteria are frequently used. The Agarose Diffusion Method has been shown to be very accurate in predicting human responses. Cosmetics giant Noxell, makers of Noxema, Cover Girl and other well-known products, has adopted this method as an alternative to the Draize.
3) Analyze the structures of chemicals and chemical mechanisms of tissue damage. Increased understanding of these phenomena enables scientists to predict dangers of entire classes of chemicals before they harm animals or humans. As knowledge of the mechanisms by which certain chemicals can harm us increases, we will be able to determine which products are likely to cause harm in human beings based solely upon their chemical structures. This is known as quantitative structure activity relationship analysis (QSAR). Computer technology has expanded the ability to predict the toxicity of chemicals using structural analysis. TOPKAT, a computer program with vast data on chemical activity, is able to predict the probable activity of new compounds based upon their structures.
Many other alternatives to animal testing are being developed. This is a major area of research, with the primary incentive coming from consumer demand for cruelty free products.
What Can I Do to Stop Animal Testing?
Only purchase from companies that do not test their products on animals. Write to companies to let them know why you are not buying their products. Contact your elected representatives (address can be obtained by calling 800-688-9889), The US Food and Drug Administration, 5600 Fishers Ln., Rockville MD 20857 and The US Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington DC 20201. Also The US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of the Secretary, Washington DC 20207. Demand that they make the validation of non-animal product testing methods a high priority.
Inform others about the senseless cruelty of product testing using animals. Letters to the editor, classroom projects, tabling and demonstrations and even simple conversations with others will help to spread the word that animal testing is cruel and unnecessary.
The above information courtesy of the American Anti-Vivisection Society. Please visit them at www.aavsonline.org
A TRIBUTE TO LAB ANIMALS, by Roberta Wright
"Unseen they suffer, unheard they cry, in agony they linger, in loneliness they die." Have you ever been in a laboratory where animals are warehoused before being subjected to experimentation? There's nothing quite like the sights, smells, and sounds of such an environment. The animals seem to gaze out from behind their metal bars, pleading to be touched, or at least talked to. My emotions have always behaved predictably when I've toured a laboratory. Putting myself in the animal's place, I visualize myself behind those bars, uncomprehending as to why I'm there. I, too, would look expectantly to anyone who came in and looked as though he or she were going to give me some attention. If I got none, I'd wonder why, and my feeling of grateful anticipation would turn to despair when the door once again closed behind the visitor. Until the next time. When I'd go through the same thing all over again. Of course I couldn't know that there were worse things about to happen to me than merely being ignored.
In fact, that's the good news. The bad news is the research protocol with my number on it eventually surfaces and I am led away to new sights and new sounds. I'm excited about this walk I'm now taking. After all, I seem to be the center of attention and isn't that what I've been wanting ever since I was uprooted and brought to this cold, sterile place? Hands lift me onto a metal table. It's icy to the touch. I expect kind, caring people and soothing words, but there is only silence and the air smells of medicine. Rough hands begin to tie me down as I struggle to gain my footing and freedom. Did I do something wrong? Am I being punished? This is not the kind of attention I had in mind when I was removed from my cage. Who are these people? What are they doing? I'm feeling frantic now and the struggle to free myself increases. Suddenly I feel a sharp slap against my body and the human's tone of voice changes. Anger. The air is alive with tension. My heart begins to race. I'm very frightened and feeling awfully alone and unsafe. Now they're putting a rubber vice around my leg, cutting off the blood supply. I feel a needle prick and shortly thereafter, everything goes black. I wake up in severe pain. There's blood coming through the bandages. What have they done to me? Consciousness comes and goes. The pain stays...and stays--for long hours throughout the night. No one is around to hear my cries. In the morning, a lab technician comes to my cage, turns me over, and checks the bandages. When he sees blood, he curses and leaves the room. There are no words of reassurance for me. I soon realize I'm only a laboratory tool, and I'm going to be recycled over and over and over again, if I survive.
I won't give up. Not yet. I keep hoping one of these humans will see my pain and take pity on me. Late that night, something very different happens. Amid the cries and moans in the lab, someone enters the room. This time, the soothing voice and caring hands I had always expected envelop me. When I look up, I see what appears to be a human, except that a black mask covers his face. My heart begins to race again as fear returns. But it is short-lived as I'm lifted out of my pool of blood with great tenderness and then rocked in human arms. The hands are gloved, but they're very gentle to my bruised and bleeding body. The voice is filled with sadness, and what anger I hear is directed not at me, but at someone else. Someone who is not here.
I and many like me are whisked quickly from the room. I recognize cool night air when it hits me. I am going home! I am going to a place of safety! I lie quietly, not wanting to disturb what is happening for fear my rescuers will change their minds and put me back into that awful prison. There's talk of "being caught." The people who have liberated me from this agony and gloom are breaking the law! Law? What law? What law condones and protects the people who torture and maim those who can't object? If human beings could change places with us for only one hour, would they be so ambivalent, so indifferent? Surely if they looked into my pleading eyes, they would be capable of seeing and feeling my pain and suffering. Then they wouldn't continue to ignore my plight.
Deep in the bowels of the institution where you now stand are more than 7,000 animals that the people who work here call "inventory." We are every imaginable animal, amphibian, and even cattle. They do every imaginable thing to us and call it "science" and "research." When the researchers leave at night, they hang up their bloody lab coats and brag about their "discoveries" with no thought of our suffering. We are powerless to do anything about our imprisonment. We have only you to speak for us. We beg of you. Please speak loudly, persistently, and GET US OUT OF HERE. All we have to look forward to day after day are cold bars and painful procedures. Liberation is a faint dream that seems will come only with death. Our suffering and confinement are indescribable.
When you leave here tonight, think about us. We will be lying terrified in stainless steel cages, it will be cold, and we will hear only the hum of the refrigeration unit. And tomorrow will bring more anxiety, terror and pain. Think about us. Or at the very least, please do not forget that we are here!
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