Animal Experimentation: Is It Really Neccessary?
Last week I was reading the most recent issue of “The National Humane Review” and in the section relating to public policy I read about a bill in Michigan to ban pound seizure of animals for laboratory testing. I have heard about dogs and cats being taken from animal shelters to be used for experimentation, so I decided to do a little research on this subject.
What I discovered so far, is that I have become ill after reading the numbers of animals that have been used for experimentation. The Department of Agriculture publishes statistics each year on how many animals are used in research laboratories in the United States. The most recent numbers are for 2006? I either could not find more recent numbers or the Department is really lagging in their reporting. In 2006, the report stated that 1,012,473 animals were used. The types of animals used were dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, rabbits, nonhuman primates, guinea pigs, and hamsters. After doing some reading on various other websites I have found that rats, mice and birds are not counted in the statistics compiled by the Department of Agriculture. These animals are also not subject to the Animal Welfare Act which covers experimentation conduct and protects animals from gross abuses in the research field.
The majority of animals come from what are referred to as Class A dealers who breed animals for the sole purpose of being used in experimentation. Some animals come from Class B dealers who get their animals from shelters and sell them to laboratories for research. Organizations such as the American Humane Society continuously monitor legislation in states to help pass laws making it illegal to take animals from a shelter and sell them for research.
Animals are used for genetic testing, biomedical research, behavioral studies, toxicology testing, and cosmetic and household product testing, and most of them are euthanized after the experiments are over if they have not been killed by the experiment itself. Two of the largest funders for animal-related experimentation are The National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. I can understand the NIH funding billions of dollars for this type of research, but the Department of Defense? I don’t have a hard time conjuring up images of what animals are used for in DOD experiments, but I really think we citizens need to demand more information on this research.
Vivisection, which is the act of experimenting on animals, actually came about because of religious objection to experimenting on human corpses. Today, the practice is hotly debated in the scientific community with animal rights groups adamantly opposed. Many scientists argue for animal experimentation in that the practice has cured the worst diseases and sicknesses know to humans. Dr Charles Mayo, who founded the Mayo clinic, was apparently not one of them. He never felt that experimentation on animals was useful and thought it was a terrible act that should be abolished entirely.
Many groups today argue that with our technology as advanced as it is, that we no longer need to be doing experiments on animals; we should be using computer simulations to lead us into the future of curing diseases.
There is also validity to the argument that our improved living conditions and sanitation have helped to cure many sicknesses, not the act of experimenting on animals.
I don’t know which side is wrong or right, but I do know that I am opposed to using animals for experimentation and I am adamantly opposed to private companies or the government for that matter, using animals to test out household chemicals and cosmetics.
According to PETA, many cosmetic companies routinely use animals to test their latest concoctions of wrinkle cream, sun block, hair dye, etc. A couple of years ago, after reading PETA’s list of cosmetic companies that still do test on animals, I have refused to buy any of their products. I cannot really stomach my need to be ultra beautiful with the fact that some poor animal had the product rubbed in its eyes to make sure it was safe for me.
For more information, go to www.americanhumane.org, www.PETA.org, www.worldanimalfoundation.homestead.com, or do an internet search on animal experimentation issues. Do some reading and make up your own mind about this issue.