IT A CHOICE BETWEEN KIDS AND RATS?
Kills Kids to Save Rats." That was the banner held up outside
the PETA Millennium Gala by a handful of protesters. It is misleading:
ANIMAL TESTING IS NOT ALL ABOUT SAVING LIVES
Most animals killed in laboratories are not dying in tests for drugs to combat life threatening
illnesses. Millions, for example, suffer and die for
cosmetic company profits every year.
The primates currently confined at the Yerkes Institute for research
on their sharing behavior
are not saving lives.
Dogs are still killed in tests on tobacco. And in case anybody
still thinks it is a good idea to smoke during pregnancy, monkeys at the federally funded Oregon
Regional Primate Research Center are confined in small, barren metal
cages, while their fetuses are exposed to nicotine. The baby monkeys,
once born, will be killed and examined.
Then there are the endless maternal deprivation studies. There
is a sad joke amongst animal rights advocates:
"How many baby monkeys do we need to take away from their
mothers in order to prove that maternal deprivation is detrimental
"As many as NIH (National Institutes of Health) will
The millions of animals killed in attempts to find a cure for obesity
related ailments is one of the saddest ironies. Hundreds
of human studies have shown the lower incidence of diabetes, high
blood-pressure, and heart disease amongst vegetarians. One rarely
meets a fat vegan. Yet the government grants millions of tax payers
dollars each year to animal research on obesity and obesity-linked
diseases. At the same time that government subsidizes the meat and dairy
industries. It's as if having found out that smoking causes cancer,
instead of urging people to quit, they sought treatments to
alleviate the effects of smoking while increasingly subsidizing the
Further, every year drug companies bring out new drugs that need not work any better, or even as well, as current
drugs on the market. They are introduced only because the patent
has run out on older drugs, which are therefore no longer lucrative for the drug companies. The new
drugs might be almost
identical to those already on the market -- working perhaps for 12 hours instead of eight hours. Every time one of the
copycat drugs is released, thousands of animals die in laboratories
to fulfill the testing requirements.
WE CAN, AND SHOULD, OVERHAUL THE SYSTEM WITHOUT ENDANGERING A
One can fight against animal testing
without calling for a universal ban on it today, with no
alternatives in place. There are points on which any reasonable compassionate
person, animal advocate or not, would agree. We could call for an
immediate end to animal testing for trivial and ethically questionable
purposes, a ban that would save the majority of laboratory animals,
many millions per year. We could insist that a sizable chunk of the
budgets of those companies that do medical testing on animals be
used to continue to develop and refine in vitro and other methods
of testing. We could ensure that in vitro methods now available are
possible and that more are developed. Meanwhile all results of tests should be made public
immediately, so that the same test is never done over and
over by competing companies unwilling to share information. Sadly,
the Chemical Manufacturers Union is currently opposing a petition
that would compel chemical manufacturers to disclose existing
toxicity and exposure data on HPV chemicals.
In an ethical world, profits cannot justify unnecessary suffering.
HUMAN HEALTH CONCERNS ABOUT ANIMAL TESTING
There are human safety concerns about testing on animals.
Results are unreliable. Though we have much in common with
other animals, our systems are not identical. According to the United
States General Accounting Office, 52% of the new drugs marketed
between 1976 and 1985 caused adverse reactions that were not predicted
by animal studies (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99 - "Animal
Testing"). Time magazine, February 23, 1962, stated that Thalidomide
was released "after three years of animal tests." There
was no indication of the severe birth defects it would cause in
humans. The discovery of penicillin, however, was made without the
use of animals. We should be thankful that the animal tests the
researchers were later required to perform on this drug, before
its release, didn't include tests on guinea pigs - Penicillin kills
An article in the 6/24/02 issue of Insight Magazine tells us: "Of
11,000 anticancer chemicals developed in mice, none help humans.
While 5 milligrams of botulinum kills man, 10 grams has no effect
on dogs or cats.
The differences can be both unknown and very great, researchers
say. Some animal tests indeed have led to erroneous conclusions:
that smoking is noncarcinogenic and that benzene is safe, for instance."
Between 1998-2000, ten drugs were recalled in the United States
because of side effects that occurred almost exclusively in women.
Dr Ray Greek explains, "This means that tests on men cannot predict
what a drug will do for women so how can a monkey/dog/rat etc predict
For more information on the Scientific arguments against using
animals in biomedical research, take a look at "Sacred Cows
and Golden Geese" in the Recommended
Reading Section. And check out www.CureDisease.com
The details of some common animal tests would be shocking to most
decent people. Let us work to make sure they know the details of the Draize Eye
Irritancy Test: Rabbits are used because they have no tear ducts,
which would shed tears to wash out or dilute the chemicals (and
ease the pain.) The rabbits heads are immobilized in stocks so that
they cannot rub their eyes. Their eyes are held open by the use
of metal clips. Concentrated solutions
of expected irritants are dripped into their eyes. The tests can
last for weeks. After the tests, the rabbits are killed. Such
tests bring us new improved cosmetics and household cleaners.
Recently a bill was considered that would ban the Draize test,
replacing it with approved non-animal testing methods; Companies
such as Proctor and Gamble lobbied successfully to defeat it.
The Farm Bill that passed in 2002 included an amendment that would
permanently deny rats, mice and birds, who are 95% of research subjects,
any form of protection under the animal welfare act. Legislators
were assured by those lobbying the bill that adequate protection
was already in place. However the April 19, 2002 Washington Post
reported on an undercover video shot by People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals at the University of North Carolina:
"The video seeks to undercut that assurance. In one scene,
a researcher cuts open the skulls of squirming baby rats to remove
their brains without first numbing the animals in a bucket of ice
-- a shortcut that the researcher concedes on tape is a violation
of the experimental protocol. 'I don't put them to sleep,' he tells
the undercover technician. 'Maybe it's illegal, but it's easier.'
The public must learn that animals are largely unprotected in our
laboratories, most of them suffering in tests that are not curing
cancer or saving kids. We must do what we can to spread the word about
the state of the biomedical testing industry and the good news about the non-animal tests becoming
For those who argue that lives have been saved by testing on animals,
I think Jane Goodall has the most poignant response. She was confronted
by a woman who said that her daughter was only alive thanks to experimental
work on dogs. Goodall told the woman that her own mother was alive thanks
to a pig's valve in her heart. She said that she felt incredibly
grateful to that pig, and she asked the woman, "Don't you feel
grateful to the dogs who saved your daughter? Wouldn't you like to
support efforts to find alternatives so that no more dogs, or pigs,
need be used in the future?"