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The Argument Against Laboratory Testing on Animals

Posted by at 5:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (23)


animal-testingPeople for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently helped rescue a mutt named Sheena from a laboratory at the University of Utah where she was slated to be used in experiments. Sheena’s guardian, who had surrendered the dog to a local animal shelter because she could no longer care for her, trusted that the shelter would try to find Sheena a new home. Instead, the shelter sold Sheena to a laboratory where other homeless dogs have had holes cut into their chests and necks and pacemakers implanted onto their hearts in order to induce irregular heartbeats. The dogs were then killed and dissected.

When Sheena’s former guardian learned that her dog had been sold—and sold out—by the animal shelter, she called PETA and a few days later the dog was safe in a foster home. Sheena’s life was given back to her. Most animals in laboratories are not as lucky. Each year in the United States, more than 100 million animals suffer and die in chemical, drug, food and cosmetics tests; for biology lessons; in medical training exercises; and in curiosity-driven experiments. Exact numbers aren’t available because mice, rats, birds, and coldblooded animals – who make up more than 95 percent of animals used in experiments – are not covered by even the minimal protections of the federal Animal Welfare Act and are not counted.

The law allows rabbits, cats, dogs, pigs, monkeys and others to be burned, shocked, poisoned, isolated, starved, paralyzed, cut open, addicted to drugs and have their brains damaged. What happens to animals in laboratories would be considered criminal cruelty to animals if it occurred elsewhere. No experiment—no matter how painful or trivial—is prohibited, and painkillers are not required. Even when viable alternatives to animals are available, the law does not require that these alternatives be used and, very often, they aren’t.

Gallup polls have shown that over the past 10 years, the public’s opposition on moral grounds to the practice has risen. A 2009 Pew Research poll found that 58 percent of adults age 30 and younger object to animal testing. Fewer people are buying into the animal experimentation industry’s fear-mongering, ad hominem attacks, distortions of the efficacy of animal tests, whitewashing of the systematic violence against animals in laboratories and attempts to hide behind a Mickey Mouse oversight system. This was apparent in our discussions with conference attendees and passers-by during our recent protest outside the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting at the San Diego Convention Center.

This trend will continue as the public gains increased access to information about the misery that animals are forced to endure in laboratories, the rapid development of humane and superior non-animal research methods, the overwhelming failure of relating the results of expensive and cruel animal experiments to humans, and the mounting evidence of the cognitive and emotional similarity between humans and other animals.

It is this last discussion that fuels the fundamental ethical argument against animal experimentation. Evolutionary theory and empirical evidence tell us that animals—from mice to monkeys—possess all the same biological and cognitive characteristics that make it repugnant to experiment on nonconsenting humans. Animals that are locked in laboratories and the dogs and cats with which we share our homes have their own lives and preferences and experience pain, suffering and pleasure.

Animals aren’t chosen to be used in experiments because they are inferior to humans in some morally relevant way. It’s because they are weaker and look different and because some people have unfairly decided that our pain is more important than theirs.

Those who support animal experimentation are quick to acknowledge the similarities between species in order to justify the use of animals as proxies for humans, but they are even quicker to minimize and disregard the obvious moral implications. Research, by nature, often leads us to conclusions that are uncomfortable and inconvenient, but science and society will never progress if people only choose to assimilate ideas that reinforce their personal biases. Such an approach to science lacks academic and personal integrity.

Opposing animal experimentation, and supporting animal rights in general, is about social justice; justice for Sheena and the millions of other thinking, feeling beings confined to miserable laboratories and which—like humans and our beloved animal companions—deserve to be treated with care, dignity and respect, and not enslaved, tormented and tossed away like disposable laboratory equipment.

Justin Goodman is associate director of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department.

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23 Comments

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    Kaiser says...

    January 23rd, 2011, 1:31 am

    Thank you!

    Phyllis says...

    January 26th, 2011, 3:14 pm

    Animal research IS NOT medical progress.

    4mula1 says...

    January 27th, 2011, 2:38 pm

    Visit humaneseal.org, over 200 charities NO LONGER FUND animal research. animal research has NEVER been validated.

    “Animal studies are done for LEGAL REASONS and not for scientific reasons. the predictive value of such studies for man is MEANINGLESS” 1964 James Gallagher, Medical Directior of Lederle Laboratories (UK).
    “Animal research doesn’t benefit humans any more than lawn-mower studies benefit car (or racing) engines” – 4mula1

    Bonnie Engelman says...

    January 27th, 2011, 8:40 pm

    Isn’t there an innate irony…actually glaring hypocrisy…in the logic defending the use of animals in research? Barbaric experiemnts are performed routinely on creatures who, while not human, share enough of our biological makeup to render outcomes transferable to human populations? Yet, despite the DNA code sharing, these same animals are considered appropriate subjects for use in unrestricted, and often capricious studies, precisely because they are NOT human (which connotes inferior in human-ese). The use of animals in research for the sake of improving the quality of life for people is not any kind of justification, to me and to many others. But to the majority who still cling to the historically entrenched, spiritually sanctioned, and economically advanced notion that we represent the highest level of evolution, (and are morally entitled to our sovereign stewardship), there’s a big problem. How can they accept – and profit from – our shared connection with other species, yet assume superiority over them? I guess Orwell said it best, that “some animals are more equal than others”.

    But didn’t everyone hate the pigs and love the horse in that one?

    4mula1 says...

    January 28th, 2011, 3:15 pm

    MRMCMED.ORG

    Tucker says...

    January 28th, 2011, 6:22 pm

    THIS HAS GOT TO END AND BE A LAW EVERYWHERE! I CAN’T EVEN COMMENT ANYMORE, IT REALLY UPSETS ME!
    HOW THE HELL PEOPLE CAN DO THIS AND THEN GO ON WITH THERE LIFE, I WILL NEVER KNOW!

    debi says...

    January 28th, 2011, 8:13 pm

    This is totally unnecessary. I think these people love to be cruel to animails and passs themselves off as scientists thinking there doing the world a favor but I don’t think that is the case. Maybe their credentials need to be reevalueated and do things truly important to medicine. I don’t know how these people live with themselves, but I hope they go to hell.

    Ruth says...

    January 28th, 2011, 10:25 pm

    If we do not stand up for those who can not speak for themselves we can not call ourselves Human, because in order to call yourself Human you have to be Humane to ALL Species.

    I am sure that you Professors and Students have the understanding that the Animal DNA is not the same as Human DNA.

    I believe you know that?

    By Injecting deadly bacteria and cutting up animals will not cure anyone.

    Judith Basye says...

    January 28th, 2011, 11:11 pm

    At the World Congress in 2009 it was agreed that all animal testing would be phased out.The only people still using animals are those that have a vested interest in animal research.The NIH is restructuring and may stop funding some animal research.I hope they do since 90% of animal experiments cannot be applied to humans,and the data ends up in trash baskets.

    Michael says...

    January 29th, 2011, 2:59 am

    To Debi:

    I just totally love your last sentence! I so agree! I have zero interest in trying to understand and show forgiveness to these monsters. No offense to monsters.

    The truth about the lack of usefulness from animal testing really needs more advertising. People feel scared and confused as soon as scientific rhetoric comes up. I personally felt so much better the day I realized that it no longer mattered to me – I couldn’t care less what proof the scientists could have about the benefits of animal testing because no matter what, it is not our right to ruin the lives of these beautiful creatures for our own benefit. Even if it means that one day they will find a cure for a disease I myself could one day have.

    Thank you PETA so much – I love you!

    Emanuel says...

    January 29th, 2011, 5:31 am

    “What happens to animals in laboratories would be considered criminal cruelty to animals if it occurred elsewhere.”

    that is so true and so weird the government allows this!

    Open your eyes people!!!

    Michele says...

    January 29th, 2011, 9:05 am

    There’s no reason in the world these animals should have to suffer and die because of these sick labs who want to probe these anaimsl for their so called tests. Why not use themselves or somone else they know to do that. I know that sounds odd to say but these animals are not put here for everybody to hurt and kill. No that’s murder in my book.
    I don’t use any modern medications because of it too. I like my herbs which is natural and not have harmful side effects. It’s no wonder why half these medications harm you more than help you in the long run..

    carol says...

    January 29th, 2011, 12:07 pm

    In this age of high tech methods, the only reason I can think of for using animals has to evolve around money, maybe large amounts of grant funds. As for shelters selling animals to testing facilities, that’s the lowest of the lowest. What a betrayel of trust!!

    Julie says...

    January 29th, 2011, 11:16 pm

    How about remembering the “Golden Rule”?
    “Do onto others as you would like them to do onto you.”
    In this instance those “others” are our Earth companions all the creatures in the animal kingdom. What if they could retaliate against us in the same manner? This is a true betrayal, since we are supposed to be their voice.

    Nat says...

    January 30th, 2011, 6:57 am

    University of Utah has been popping up everywhere for it’s animal cruelty lately. They just need to shut down their entire science department, IMO.

    Tonya says...

    February 1st, 2011, 7:46 am

    These places need shut down,there is no justification for this cruelty!

    Norman says...

    March 3rd, 2011, 9:42 pm

    Why not set a date and time for people from everywhere to go to each of the universities, where they do animal experimentation, and protest. We can call the press and they are always ready for a story.
    This torture of animals is always done as secretly as possible because they know people will be outraged if they knew what these sadists are doing.
    A list of all the schools can be made and dates set in advance.
    We should try to get names of the teachers and others involved.

    Peter says...

    March 3rd, 2011, 11:24 pm

    All the “Humans” that are doing these atrocities will come back as lab animals in the next life!

    4mula1 says...

    March 4th, 2011, 3:13 pm

    BILLIONS of dollars (every year) have cured NOTHING, yet charities still dont question this. why are these people (robots?) still so GULLIBLE!… animal research is a good example of what can happen when you let other people think for you. before funding ANY charity. please visit, MRMCMED.ORG (reform march of dimes.org) & humaneseal.org also, animal research has NEVER been validated (pcrm.org). animal DNA is not the same as human DNA. “there is a laundry list of problems with mouse models of cancer research” dr.bob weinburg, medical director of the ludwig center for cancer research at m.i.t. “animal studies are done for LEGAL REASONS and not for scientific reasons. the predictive value of such studies for man is MEANINGLESS” 1964 james gallagher, medical director of lederle laboratories (uk).

    BP1 says...

    March 4th, 2011, 7:20 pm

    Shut down all funding of these labs with immediate effect. Those that have to hide behind closed doors should be ashamed of themselves – they don’t deserve their lives whilst bringing intense misery to another species – if you want to experiment for the greater good there are alternatives to animals or dare to use yourselves – you’ll have no respect from the general population whilst you choose to abuse animals. You are weak individuals.

    Laura says...

    April 22nd, 2011, 6:01 am

    Enough talk, more action. We need to make animal testing illegal word wide. It’s disgusting, cruel and unnecessary! I think if tests need to be done, why not turn to rapists & murderers? Just a thought…

    Joe Bugesis says...

    October 20th, 2011, 5:49 pm

    I think that animal testing is unfair and cruel to animals. We should be bold and stand up for them.

    Alexa says...

    March 21st, 2012, 2:36 pm

    This is a very helpful site because me and my partners are doing a debate on against animal testing. Thank you PETA Prime!

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