According to a 2005 estimate made by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and the Dr. Hadwen Trust for Humane Research, approximately 115 million animals are used annually in scientific research, primarily in the US, Japan, China, Australia, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Taiwan, and Brazil.
Although other experts dispute this statistic, it is still true that animal experimentation, which is despised by some sections of society, continues to be a significant part of global science.
Although animals are a crucial component of biomedical research, you may have some questions regarding which animals are participating, the functions they play, and the care they receive.
Table of Contents
Animal Testing Debate Questions
Here are some common queries that we address. if you are unable to resolve your query.
1. How can animal studies in biomedicine helps us learn?
Although each species in the animal kingdom is distinct, there are also similarities and contrasts among them. Animal models that are biologically similar to humans are typically studied by researchers, however, they also consider differences. “Comparative medicine” is the name given to this strategy.
Humans and pigs both have similar cardiovascular and cutaneous systems. Researchers can better understand skin disorders and cardiac issues and develop treatments by studying pigs. Genetically, organisms with widely distinct appearances may be quite similar.
Species variations can also shed light on important issues. Sharks are extremely unlikely to develop cancer, cockroaches can repair injured nerves, some amphibians can reattach amputated limbs, and zebrafish can repair damaged heart tissue.
We can apply the concepts we gain from studying these animals to human medicine by understanding how their bodies perform these amazing feats.
Genetically, organisms with widely distinct appearances may be quite similar. Researchers may use a mouse model that shares 94% of our DNA to examine genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome or Parkinson’s disease.
Even bananas and zebrafish share 50% of the DNA that makes up humans. (Since each of these estimations is predicated on specific assumptions, they may differ based on the methodology used to perform the computation.)
2. Is this research beneficial to animals?
Yes. The development of antibiotics and vaccines has enabled us to stop many deadly diseases in animals.
For instance, Dr. Julius Youngner developed the first-ever equine influenza vaccine at the University of Pittsburgh using the same methods he used as a major contributor to the production of the polio vaccine (horse flu).
Animal studies have led to the development of rabies vaccines, heartworm medications, and dog cholera therapies. The creation of a vaccine to protect against canine parvovirus is one of the greatest achievements in veterinary medicine.
The very contagious virus that significantly contributed to canine deaths and suffering was first discovered in 1978 and soon spread throughout the world. Researchers discovered that the feline panleukopenia virus, which already had a vaccination, and the parvovirus are related.
Scientists immediately developed and tested a new vaccine for dogs using their understanding of the existing vaccine. The canine parvovirus vaccine prevented the spread of this disease and has subsequently saved the lives of countless canines.
The ability to treat illnesses has also assisted in the preservation of many endangered animals by preventing their demise. Artificial insemination and embryo transfer are two methods that were developed as a result of animal research that allow us to breed animals in captivity and lessen the chance that animals in danger will perish.
3. How do experts in laboratory animal science feel about their jobs?
Professionals in laboratory animal science are aware that using animals in research results in both human and animal treatments and cures. They are extremely devoted to what they do.
They give you and your loved ones, including your pets, hope by taking care of and using animals in research. Rodents and fish are thought to make up well over 95% of all the animals utilized in research.
4. How do the animals fare?
Animals must be put to death because some scientific problems can only be solved by removing the relevant organ or tissue and studying it at the cellular and molecular level.
Euthanasia is carried out humanely thanks to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Guidelines on Euthanasia. Animals used in experiments that don’t necessitate euthanasia can be adopted through several research facilities.
5. Why are mice, rats, and fish being utilized in the research in greater quantities?
Rodents and fish are thought to make up well over 95% of all the animals utilized in research. the number of mice, rats, and zebrafish used since new genetic research techniques are constantly being developed. Using these techniques, scientists can alter an animal’s genome to simulate a variety of ailments to discover new treatments.
For instance, by inserting the human genes causing a specific kind of Alzheimer’s disease into mice, researchers were able to cause the rodents to undergo cognitive impairment and memory loss.
6. Why can’t technology such as computer take role of studying animals?
In many instances, they have, but even if computers give researchers throughout the world great resources, they do have restrictions. Computers, for instance, can only offer data or representations of known events.
Computers cannot mimic how a specific cell would interact or respond with a medical chemical or how a complicated biological system, like the circulatory system, will react to a novel medicine intended to improve organ function because research is always looking for solutions to unanswered questions.
The most complex computer program is many times simpler than a single live cell. The human body has between 50 and 100 trillion cells, all of which interact and communicate using a complex biochemical language that scientists are only now beginning to learn.
Animal-based research nearly always follows studies utilizing isolated cells or tissues, but to fully understand the efficacy of medicines and their potential advantages and risks, scientists must investigate entire biological systems.
U.S. law mandates that all novel medications, medical equipment, and procedures must first undergo efficacy and safety testing in animals before moving on to clinical (human) trials.
7. Has the use of animals in research risen over time?
According to the USDA, there has been a reduction in large animal research during the last 20 years. According to a 2016 USDA report, fewer than half as many large animals are now used for research as there were in 1994. In total, scientists in the U.S. use between 12 and 27 million animals for study, more than 90% of which are rats, mice, fish, or birds.
To put these figures into perspective, consider that we employ fewer animals for research than are consumed annually in this nation in ducks. More than 1,800 times as many pigs are consumed as are employed for research.
For every animal utilized in a research facility, we consume more than 340 hens, and for research regulated by the Animal Welfare Act, we consume about 9,000 chickens. 14 additional animals are thought to perish on our roads for every animal used in research.
8. What occurs to the research animals after the test is over?
The majority of study animals must be put to death to obtain tissue for additional analysis or for in vitro experiments. The act of causing a humane death is known as euthanasia, and The American Veterinary Medical Association has created standards for ethical euthanasia.
Animals used in studies that don’t require euthanasia can participate in more studies. Nonhuman primates, for instance, can take part in a variety of investigations.
9. Why are animals still used to verify the safety of consumer goods when alternatives (so-called “cruelty-free” products) can be used instead?
The law mandates that a live organism be used to test the safety of all new chemical substances. It’s critical to comprehend what “cruelty-free” designations imply. By definition, anyone may use labels that read “cruelty-free” if:
- Since they are the manufacturer who distributes the product, they have not directly tested it on animals. If a business sends its product to another business for testing on animals, it may nevertheless use the “cruelty-free” label.
- Some (but not all) of the product’s components have undergone animal testing. In other circumstances, other businesses may use products that have already undergone testing and been deemed safe while marketing them as “cruelty-free.” For instance, if compound A was safe for animals and compound B was likewise safe, firms could combine the two to create compound C and sell it with the labels “cruelty-free” and “not tested on animals” without further testing on animals.
10. How can we be certain that stolen or missing animals aren’t used in studies?
Although some pets may never be discovered and some do get lost, this does not necessarily mean that they end up in research labs. Stealing pets for scientific purposes is forbidden.
Over 99% of the animals used in research today are “purpose-bred,” and the Animal Welfare Act, first passed in 1966, clearly notes that it was enacted “to safeguard the owners of dogs and cats from theft of such pets” (i.e., bred specifically for research purposes).
Those not intended expressly for study are obtained through USDA-approved Class B animal dealers that are licensed and subject to regulation.
What are the Arguments in Favour of Animal Testing?
So, below is a brief list of arguments in favor of animal experimentation, which we will be expanding over time.
- Humans and other kinds of animals share many physiological systems.
- Mice and humans have more than 85% of the same DNA that codes for proteins.
- Vaccines for some of the deadliest diseases have been developed as a result of animal studies (e.g. rabies).
- Animal research was necessary for the development of medical gadgets like pacemakers and cochlear implants.
- Animal studies were used to create polio, TB, and diphtheria vaccines.
- Veterinary drugs for our pets are developed in large part thanks to studies conducted on animals.
- Animal research has been crucial to the survival of premature babies, from prenatal corticosteroids to life support systems.
- Cattle were used in the development of the HPV vaccine, the smallpox vaccination, and the therapy for river blindness.
- Studies on rabbits helped develop local anesthetics, the rabies vaccine, blood transfusions, and statins.
- The polio vaccine, antiretrovirals, and deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s patients were all developed with the help of monkeys.
- Research on dogs led to the development of pacemakers, kidney transplants, and hip replacement surgeries.
- Mice were vital in the development of antirejection drugs, the meningitis vaccination, chemotherapy, and the meningitis vaccine.
- In a survey published in Nature, 92% of scientists responded that animal research is crucial to the development of biomedical knowledge.
- Animal research has been used in 88% of the Physiology or Medicine Nobel Prize winners.
- Over 99% of the animals utilized in research are created especially for that purpose.
- Mice, rats, and fish account for roughly 95% of all animal research studies. Only when necessary do we use other species.
US Rules and Regulations
- At least once a year, the USDA performs surprise inspections to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act.
- The public can view the USDA inspection reports online.
- Institutions are required by the Public Health Service (PHS) to provide all animals used in PHS-funded research with the proper care.
- The Animal Welfare Act and PHS Policy both stipulate the need for an institutional animal care and use committee.
- IACUCs are responsible for monitoring and assessing a facility’s entire animal care and use program.
- IACUCs conduct semi-annual inspections of animal research sites to ensure compliance with rules.
- Non-scientific community members are involved in IACUCs to help review study proposal submissions.
UK Rules and Regulations
- Inspections of all facilities in the UK are conducted both formally and informally by the Animals in Science Regulation Unit.
- Dogs, cats, and monkeys are given further protection by UK legislation; if possible, other species must be utilized instead.
- Animal licenses and Home Office training are requirements for all UK researchers.
- The Animal Welfare Act of 1986’s Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act includes the 3Rs: Replace, Refine, and Reduce.
- It is only possible to conduct animal research when there are no practical non-animal alternatives.
- In biomedical research, the 3Rs (replace, reduce, refine) serve as a guide.
- Although non-animal models, such as cell and tissue culture, are employed in conjunction with animal models, they cannot entirely replace them.
- To protect the welfare of the animals, all workers involved in the handling and use of laboratory animals must get training.
- Many operations performed on animals don’t cause them any pain or distress, like seeing them behave.
- The welfare of laboratory animals is a priority for scientists, veterinarians, and animal care professionals.
These kinds of questions need to be answered to bring advancement to the industry and sustainability to our environment.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.