Each year, more than 110 million animals are killed in U.S. laboratories? - PETA*
Before we discuss whether animal testing is ethical, let us first see what is animal testing. As the name suggests, it is simply the process of testing products on animals. This in turn causes severe psychological and physical distress to the animals. A lot of these procedures are inhumane causing extreme suffering. The products range from medicine, cosmetics, vaccines, or any other industrial product. But to determine whether it is safe for humans, is first trying them on animals justified? Let's find out.
The procedures used in animal experimentation have evolved over the decades. In fact, one can find its instances throughout the history of biomedical studies. One of the oldest instances of animal experimentation dates back to 300 B.C. by ancient Greeks.
An exact number has yet to be discovered. But, it is estimated that each year around 200 million experiments on animals take place worldwide. So, you can imagine how many innocent creatures are harmed by animal research. Unfortunately, even after awareness, penalties, and its grave evils, companies still find excuses to use it for as long as they can. Ever wondered why? No matter how much animal testing companies try to sugar-coat it, the truth finds its way.
Let's address it once & for all:
Can Animal Testing Be Justified?
Some percentage believe that animal testing can be scientifically justified. They say it saves humans from being negatively harmed by poorly-tested products. They argue that this will always outweigh the harm caused to animals. For others, animal testing is cruel and can never be justified on ethical grounds. This ongoing debate has made it a controversial topic, and the debate seems to never end.
When Animal Testing Started
One of the earliest mentions of animal testing was in the scriptures of the ancient Greeks. It dates back to the 3rd & 4th centuries BCE. Another instance of animal testing was from the 2nd century. It says Galen, a physician from Rome, dissected goats and pigs. In the 12th century, animal testing was introduced by Avenzor. An Arab physician used it as a method to test surgical procedures before using them on humans.
But, you may ask, what about today?
Where Is Animal Testing Used Even Today?
Unfortunately, the list of areas where animal testing is used is long. From biomedical research to animal testing on makeup, the list goes long. There are various industries where the cruel procedures of animal testing are used.
Animal experimentation is used in biomedical research. To understand everything about a specific disease like its genetics, progression, and risks. It is also used to test the efficacy of a treatment on humans for a particular disease. In addition to testing various surgical strategies. Another central area is the cosmetic industry. Animal testing is used to test cosmetic products on animals before they are on the market for human use.
While all this may begin to sound more like my personal opinion. Here are some:
Animal Testing Facts
Around 92% of the drugs tested on animals and passed, failed in human clinical trials. They were found to be ineffective or dangerous.
Animal testing is done for potential carcinogens. It involves giving animals the substance every day for two years. There are some tests which need experiments on fetuses by killing pregnant animals.
For animal testing, diseases are artificially induced in animals in laboratories. These diseases are never identical to those that naturally occur in humans. This makes animal testing questionable.
Most animal testing experiments do not contribute to enhancing human health.
What does Animal Testing Look Like?
The animals used range from rabbits, monkeys, and dogs, to even birds, cats, and frogs. The process ranges from suffocating them in tubes to injecting them with deadly diseases. To even killing their fetuses heartlessly. Some common animal testing practices include genetic manipulation. Others include forced exposure to deadly and highly painful chemicals. Exposure to drugs at levels that cause lifelong illness and excruciating pain. Deliberate rendering of wounds to study healing, surgical procedures, and several others. And with all of this, i haven’t even scratched the surface of this cruel industry yet.
Animal Testing On Dogs
According to speculated data, the population of pet dogs in India at the end of 2023 will be around 31 million. Yet, despite being so loved, even dogs are not spared from the cruelty of animal testing. Yes, the animal known to be a 'man's best friend' is also locked in cages. Forcefully fed on animal testing products. And undergoes cruel experiments in the name of animal testing.
Even after a majority of facts that animal testing is unethical, it is happening so openly. So, isn't there any law for animal rights that bans these cruel procedures?
Is Animal Testing Illegal?
In South Asia, India is the first country to ban animal testing for cosmetic testing. It is under the Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act 1960. It falls under the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA). It ensures that animal testing is not used for testing cosmetics products under this act.
CPCSEA also ensures that no unnecessary suffering, harm, or pain is caused to the animals during, before, or after experiments for drug tests.
Animal Testing Cons: Why Animal Testing Should Be Banned?
There are many reasons to justify that the world should ban animal testing. That too, right away. My top five reasons are
It is unethical to torture innocent creatures and intentionally hurt them.
It is unreliable and wastes time and money. Most products, drugs, and surgical practices that pass on animals fail in human trials.
Using animal testing alternatives is a much better option. As they are faster, more accurate, and cheaper.
What Can You Do To Stop It?
Several organizations, like PETA, run campaigns against animal testing. But you must understand that changes start from within. So, you can take some simple but effective steps to stop animal testing.
Buy only cruelty-free products.
Speak up against classroom dissection and encourage more humane and superior alternatives.
Spreading awareness about the cruelty done against animals during experiments. And how one can stop it.
Many awareness campaigns and protests by organizations fight against animal cruelty and testing. Yet, India has banned animal testing only for cosmetic products. It continues to be used to test the efficacy of drugs. So, the battle has not ended yet. And animals are still suffering due to animal experimentation.
With the advancement in technology, we've done a lot of progress. The field of science now offers various alternatives to animal testing. But, the cruel procedure is still being openly used as it is not yet fully banned. Thus, until a law is passed that bans animal testing, you and I need to be more aware. And let's together spread awareness about how to stop animal experimentation. Let's encourage the use of its alternatives. Prevent cruelty against animals- stand up against animal testing!
The Author :
Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.