Cruelty of Animal Testing


Rabbits immobilized in wooden stocks with ulcers in their 
eyes; baby seals being clubbed over the head, and the infamous shock 
treatment. Broach the subject with an individual and odds are that 
they have witnessed footage of one or all of the aforementioned 
practices and are appalled by the cruelty. Appalled yes, willing to 
stand up and voice their thoughts... not often. There is one 
significant reason for this unwillingness by some to stand up for the 
rights of our fellow inhabitants of this planet, personal convenience. 
We are systematically cutting down the last forest that provides their 
shelter to farm cattle; we dump toxic chemicals and sewage into the 
waters in which they live; we wear the tusks of the last few of their 
species on our arms, and we pour cosmetic products into their eyes, 
rectums or vaginas to determine the harmful effects they might cause 
on humans, even though the physiological differentiation between 
humans and the animals they use is durastic. On a daily basis most 
people do not see their own degree of unintentional support towards 
this global dilemma, but when compiled on paper one must question how 
mankind can, with conscience, commit these acts which shame us as 
human beings. Animals possess the same kinds of feelings and emotions 
as human beings, and without anesthesia, they are subjected to the 
pain as well. Mankind often fails to give animals the respect and 
rights they deserve, they are treated as lifeless, unfeeling 
scientific specimens and items that we may manipulate at our own 
convenience and for vanity's sake.

 Laboratory research involving animals is cruel and merciless 
treatment of helpless creatures. No law requires that cosmetics and 
household products be tested on animals. Nevertheless, by six o'clock 
this evening, hundreds of animals will have had their eyes, skin or 
gastrointestinal systems unnecessarily burned or destroyed (Sequoia, 
27). Two of the most famous animal tests are the Draize, or eye 
irritancy test and the LD50, Lethal Dose 50. The Draize test is 
performed almost exclusively on albino rabbits, such as the Florida 
White, because they are cheap, docile, and are not "equipped" with 
tear ducts to wash away the chemicals. During the test the rabbits are 
immobilized in a stock with only their head protruding and a solid or 
liquid is placed in the lower lid of one eye of the rabbit; substances 
vary from mascara to aftershave and even oven cleaner. The rabbits 
eyes are clipped open and observed at intervals of 1, 24, 48, 72 and 
168 hours. It is important to note that, during this test, anesthesia 
is rarely used. Reactions include inflammation, ulceration, rupture of 
the eyeball, corrosion and bleeding. Some of these studies continue 
for weeks, and all the while no measures are made to reduce suffering 
or treat the rabbits.

 Survival, however, will only lead to an entirely new set of 
tests, such as the skin irritancy or the LD50. Lethal Dose 50 refers 
to the lethal dose that is required to kill 50% of all animals in a 
test group of 40-200. Animals are force fed substances through a
stomach tube, forced to inhale a substance, or have the substance 
applied to their rectum or vagina. These tests continue until half of 
the test animals die. During these tests animals will often endure 
excruciating pain, convulsions, loss of motor function, seizures, 
vomiting, paralysis and bleeding from every open orifice in the body. 
Any animals who somehow manage to survive these particular tests are 
subsequently destroyed (Sequoia, 29). There is also a Lethal Dose 100 
test that determines the amount of a test substance required to kill 
100% of the test animals. Ironically, results of these tests are 
rarely, if ever, used in situation of actual human poisoning.

 The skin irritancy test, similar to the eye irritancy test, is 
where an animal, most commonly a rodent, has a highly concentrated
solution of a chemical in question applied to their skin. Their skin 
is then observed for signs of irritancy, such as redness and 
blistering. In some cases, the irritation can be so bad that the 
product actually burns through the skin.

 Not only are these tests cruel, but the results are unreliable 
and unnecessary as scientific evidence. As with the aforementioned
Draize test; rabbits eyes are not the same as human eyes - there are 
profound differences, mainly the absence of tear ducts. In addition, 
different species react differently to various substances; substances 
that fail to damage a rabbits eyes may be toxic to a human. For 
example, nicotine is lethal to humans at 0.9mg/kg, but lethal dose 
value of nicotine in dogs are a staggering 9.2mg/kg, in pigeons 
75mg/kg, and in rats, 53mg/kg (PETA Factsheet). Another example, 
results from experiences 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 packs were delayed for 
years and cigarette manufacturers still use animal data to question 
the harmful effects of their products. 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 experimentation had predicted them all to be safe. One 
of the few studies that examined the differences in species reactions, 
found only that 5-25% correlation between harmful effects in people 
and the results of animal experiments (Heywood, R.). The question of 
why such tests continue must be raised. The truth of the matter is 
easy, traditional and readily funded. Whatever the reason may be, 
animal research has accorded a certain level of prestige; this has 
important economic implications, and funding agencies often favour 
these projects (Sequoia, 85). In essence, it can all be traced back to 
the notion of convenience raised earlier in our research - mankind has 
a tendency to seek out the fastest and easiest way to formulate an 
answer, for the cheapest cost. Sadly, it seems animals may not be 
entirely saved from this tendency just yet.

 While animals still continue to be violated in laboratories, a 
consciousness about our responsibility toward our relationship with
animals has begun and continued to rise. As a result of pressures from 
animal advocacy groups such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment 
of Animals) and AAVS (American Anti-Vivisection Society), a number of 
large corporations have ceased all animal testing in recent years. 
These corporations include Avon, Amway, Benetton, Revlon and even 
General Motors, who used to subject animals to crash/impact tests. In 
addition, the general public has begun to lean toward and seek out 
those products which are not tested on animals, in the cosmetics 
industry, cruelty-free products are one of the fastest growing market
segments (Sequoia, 27). Consumers have at long-last begun to realize 
that with the vast number of cosmetics and personal care products on 
the market today, it is impossible for a company to rationalize animal 
testing in the name of another shampoo or nail polish. In particular, 
consumers have begun to cry out for more frequent employment of the 
available alternatives to animal testing; some of which include cell 
cultures; tissue cultures; corneas from eye banks; and sophisticated 
computer and mathematical models (PETA factsheet). 

 The non-animal test results have in fact proved themselves 
more accurate and less expensive than those involving animal cruelty
(PETA factsheet). Of note, the Avon cosmetic company has personally 
endorsed EYTEX SYSTEM, an alternative to the painful Draize test 
(Rollin, B.E.). All of this bespeaks some progress, but it is still 
too slow and infrequent given the obvious moral and scientific fault 
in the practice of animal testing. Financial benefits to the 
experimenters and their suppliers, and habit are significant factors 
in the continuation of animal research activity. Legal prohibition of 
the Draize and LD50 tests would accelerate the alternative approaches, 
to the benefit of science, animals and consumers (Rollin, B.E., 149).

 Alternatives to animal tests are efficient and reliable, both 
for cosmetics and household product tests and for "medical research." 
In most cases, non-animal methods take less time to complete, cost 
only a fraction of what the animal experiments they replace costs, and 
are not plagued with species differences that make extrapolation 
difficult or impossible. Eytex, developed by InVitro International, 
assesses irritancy with a protein alteration system. A vegetable 
protein from the jack bean mimics the cornea's reaction when exposed 
to foreign matter. The greater the irritation, the more opaque the 
solution becomes. The Skintex formula, developed by the same 
corporation, is made from the yellowish meat of the pumpkin rind; it 
mimics the reaction of human skin to foreign substances. Both these 
can be used to determine the toxicity of more than 5,000 different
materials. Tissue and cell cultures can be grown in laboratory from 
single cells from human or animal tissues. NeoDerm, made by 
Marrow-Tech, begins with the injection of skin cells into a sterile 
plastic bag containing a biodegradable mesh. The cells attach to the 
mesh and grow around it, like a vine in a garden. After the segment of 
skin is sewn onto the patient, the mesh gradually dissolves.

 Mathematical and computer models, based on physical and 
chemical structures and properties of a substance, can be used to make 
predictions about the toxicity of a substance. TOPKAT, a software 
package distributed by Health Designs Inc., predicts oral toxicity and 
skin and eye irritation. It is "intended to be used as a personal tool 
by toxicologists, pharmacologists, synthetic and medicinal chemists, 
regulators, and industrial hygienists," according to HDI (PETA 
Factsheet). The Ames test involves mixing the text chemical with a 
bacterial culture of Salmonelle typhimurium and adding activating 
enzymes to the mixture. It was able to detect 156 of 174 (90%) animal 
carcinogens and 96 out of 108 (88%) non-carcinogens (PETA Factsheet).

 Non-animal tests are generally faster and less expensive than 
the animal tests they replace and improve upon. Eytex testing kits
can test three concentrations of a chemical for $99.50 (American); a 
Draize test of comparable range would cost more than $1000, American 
(PETA Factsheet).

 There are a lot of steps the consumer can do to help and 
prevent the destruction of our animals. Buy cosmetics, personal care,
and household products that have not been tested on animals, this 
involves taking on the responsibility of becoming an educated and 
compassionate consumer; encourage your friends and co-workers to buy 
cruelty-free products. If you need backup to encourage the people you 
speak with, inform them of the sickening situations involving lab 
animals. Instead of buying all of your personal care products, why not 
make some yourself? It's simple and inexpensive, kind to animals, and 
ecologically sound. Boycott companies which test their products on 
animals, and feel free to write them letting the company know why you 
are boycotting them. Lists of companies who carry out these senseless 
tests, and their addresses are available from organizations such as 
AAVS and PETA. Contact your elected representatives and federal 
agencies and demand that the validation of non-animal methods become a 

 Proven, that mankind often disregards the rights of other 
living beings, times are changing for the better due to the increasing
pressure of the consumer. Society has begun to take notice of this 
pressing global concern because intelligent life should not be
subjected to this form of torture. It has been estimated that animal 
experimentation world-wide has decreased by 30-50% in the last 15-20 
years, due to the reduction and replacement techniques (AAVS 
Factsheet). From the theory of evolution and the immergence of man, 
humans have to understand that this planet is not only ours, but the 
animals as well. Albert Einstein once said, "Our task must be to free 
ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all 
living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." In essence, 
the means of living a healthy and fulfilled life is to embrace and 
respect all life present on this planet. There are a number of things 
that mankind can do to prevent this cruelty from continuing, it is 
simply a matter of taking the initiative to inform and involved 
yourself and others. Every individual effort is a step towards the 
annihilation of animal cruelty.


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