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Babette - Animal testing – Essay.docx


									                                                                 Babette Vanlancker

                                Animal Testing

       Modern animal testing has been a controversial topic ever since it began
150 years ago. While some people believe that animal testing is crucial because it
is the key to medicinal development and human health, others question whether
animals should be sacrificed in order for humans to ameliorate their standard of
living. Today, researchers have the option of using alternative methods for
testing, however, animal testing is still widely used, as it is believed to be to most
reliable form of experimentation.
       Animal testing are “tests performed on animals that help to advance
scientific research and medical development1 .” 33% percent of all animals tested
are used in ‘basic (or fundamental)’ research. This is research that aims to
increase knowledge about animals and human behaviour, development, and
biological functions. 30% of the animals are used in ‘targeted (or applied)
research’. In this kind of research, scientists aim to understand diseases and
develop treatments for them. Furthermore, 8% of the animals are used in
‘toxicological evaluation’. This tests the safety of products used in order to
minimize harm done to animals, humans, and the environment. The remaining
28% are used for a variety of different purposes. The three main reasons animals
are used in research are: to advance scientific understanding, develop solutions
to medical problems, and protect the safety of people, animals, and the
       Many people refuse to believe that animal testing is beneficial. This is
shown in some statistics. For example, in the US, those in favor of animal testing
has dropped from 64 percent in 2004 to 50 percent in 2010. Regardless, it has
shaped the people and the world we live in today. For example, animal testing
allows us to ensure the safety of drugs and medicines we consume in our daily
lives. Antibiotics, insulin, organ transplantation, HIV treatment, and heart-bypass
surgery are all products that owe their existence or development to animal

experimentation. Furthermore, animal testing guarantees the safety of everyday
products such as cleaning products, lotions, and makeup
       Most importantly, products that treat or prevent life-threatening diseases,
such as cancer, have been developed thanks to animal testing. 25 years ago,
cancer would inevitably have led to death within a few years, whereas when
someone is diagnosed with cancer today, treatments is provided that could
possibly save the patient’s life. Such treatments include treatments for bowel,
breast, and lung cancer. Vaccines for cervical cancer are available as well.
Overall, the most important aspect of animal testing is that it is the most reliable
way to test new products. Mice and rats, for example, are used in testing because
their bodies react to diseases and treatment almost the same way the human
body does. In short, experimentation on animals allows us to use everyday
products with certainty.
       Nonetheless, there are many negative aspects of animal testing. Testing
leads to the deaths of countless animals, and some of these animals die in vain, as
many drugs that are tested will never receive approval anyway. In addition,
animal testing is very expensive. Researchers need to ensure that the animals
are kept properly maintained and that they are given shelter and enough food.
And lastly, contradictory to what was said before, even though it is the most
reliable form of testing, it is not always one hundred percent reliable since
animals do not have exactly the same organs as humans and do not always
respond to product the way humans would.
       Researchers, however, try to minimize the testing on animals. There are
several ways to do this. First and foremost, researchers refrain from testing
products if similar products caused problems in the animal. This is a process
called ‘read-across’ (i.e. the toxic characteristics of a chemical are deduced by
observing the test data of a similar and toxic product). Another way to minimize
tests is to plan a test. Using this method, researchers have to stick to a certain
method so as not to cause animals to de in vain. First, researchers do what is
called ‘acute testing’. These tests test for the most critical aspect first. This means
that if the animal develops problems right away, researchers won’t test that
product for any other aspects. If the animal did not show any problems, it
undergoes what is called ‘chronic exposure’. This is when the animal is exposed
to a product over a period of time in order to see if it develops problems over
time. If the animal does not respond negatively to this test either, the animal
undergoes what is called ‘multigenerational testing’. In this kind of testing, the
animal’s offspring is observed to see whether they have problems. Another way
to minimize tests on a large mass of animals is to do ‘target testing’. This means
that instead of, for example, gassing a large number of animals, only one animal
is tested. This one particular animal receives a mask and is then gassed
individually. Other alternatives include genomics, which is the testing of cell
tissues, and selective animal tests, which are tests that test the species of animals
whose organ most closely resembles the organ in the human body at which the
test is targeted. Furthermore, companies may share data with other companies,
against a payment. All in all, researchers try to abide by the three R’s. They are:
Reduction, which aims at reducing the amount of animals that have to undergo
experimentation, replacement, which aims at using non-animal alternatives
whenever possible, and refinement, which means that animals are looked after
       There are some companies and industries in the world that do not test
their products on animals. Or so they claim. One such company is The Body Shop.
This store promotes their products by advertising that they are ‘animal-friendly’.
This, however, could not be farther from the truth. The Body Shop may not test
their products on animals themselves, but they do use products that were tested
on animals by other industries. This shows how hypocritical some companies are
in order to sell their products. If The Body Shop did indeed not test their
products on animals, then there would be no proof that their products would be
safe for humans or the environment. This is true for every company.
       Even though measures are being taken to minimize experimentation on
animals as much as possible, many people still don’t agree with the concept. This
is because they believe that animals have a moral status, just like humans. These
people may feel strongly about the fact that animals should be protected from
being used by humans. Laws have been established in many countries, such as
England, France, Germany, and the US, which protect animals against abuse.
These anticruelty laws against animals do not apply when animals are used for
medical purposes or scientific research, however. It needs to be realized that
animals in the lab are well protected and that here are laws ensuring that an
animal suffering from severe pain is put down immediately.
       Even though animal experimentation may seem like an extremely cruel
act, it is necessary for the development of our world and for the welfare of the
world’s population. Without animal research, life-saving medicines, such as
Avastin and Herceptin (which treat different kinds of cancer) would not exist and
the chances of someone with cancer surviving would almost be inexistent.
Nevertheless, innumerable animals die painful deaths in the name of science and
are sacrificed for humans. Animal experimentation will not cease to be a
controversial subject.

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