Is animal testing ever justified?

Every year millions of animals are subjected to cruel experiments in the name of cosmetics, medicine and even transportation. They are poisoned, burned, gassed, shocked, overdosed, crushed, blinded, operated on, and deprived any semblance of a quality life. Not only is this cruel, it’s unnecessary. It’s outdated, it’s wasteful, and it’s downright dangerous to humans.

bunnyIf animals are so different from us (different enough for us to justify experimenting on them), it also means they’re too different to gather relevant, conclusive evidence that would apply to us. If they’re similar enough that the experiments would actually be useful and relevant, then they’re just like us and it’s unethical to test on them.

The cost of experimenting on animals is high and the benefits are minimal. Non-animal testing is usually cheaper and more accurate than animal tests, which can be unreliable. Animal tests are misleading because they’re not good at showing how humans will respond.

With animal testing, illness is induced, and then a cure is sought. That’s an unrealistic and unnatural environment and doesn’t translate well to humans. According to the AAVS, nine out of ten drugs that appear promising in animal studies go on to fail in human clinical trials.

For example, the polio vaccine was delayed by decades because of animal testing. Monkeys respond differently to the virus. Penicillin almost didn’t see the light of day because it was ineffective on rabbits (and killed guinea pigs). It wasn’t until Alexander Fleming gave it to a dying patient (as a last-ditch effort) and she recovered that it was proven acceptable for human use.

Thalidomide, a drug used in the 1950s to treat morning sickness, was proven harmless in dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, and rats, and was cleared for human use. It wasn’t until over 10,000 children were born with severe birth defects that it was pulled from the market. Animal tests didn’t warn us.

More recently, Vioxx, a painkiller for people with arthritis, was taken off the market after it caused up to 320,000 heart attacks and strokes. The drug was tested on animals but those tests never revealed the danger to people.

So if people have felt animal testing is unethical, why has it continued? Animal testing is big business and gets a lot of grant money. Careers depend on it. It’s also based on old laws and older science–both of which are outdated. You can learn more about this “bad science” by watching a video featuring animal testing opponent Dr. Andre Menache.

Just because some progress seems to have been made via animal testing doesn’t mean that the results wouldn’t have been found out without animals. If I take a flight from New York to Los Angeles with a stopover in San Francisco, it doesn’t mean you can’t get there with a stopover in Atlanta. Or maybe just fly non-stop. There are many ways to reach the same result.

We have the technology to use alternatives to animal tests–and there are many! We have mathematic and computer models, genomic tests, human cell cultures, medical imaging, and crash test dummies. Working on human cadavers to train for surgery is more beneficial than practicing on live animals.

We don’t need animal testing. So vote with your dollars: Don’t support companies that test on animals. Here’s a downloadable list of companies that test and don’t test from, as well as a searchable online list from PETA. Before you support a charity, make sure they don’t test by checking out this list from GEARI.



10 thoughts on “Is animal testing ever justified?

  1. Excellent article, well-researched and well-written! Wish everyone knew this. I just heard that cancer drugs don’t work the same on everyone and it really is a guessing game. There are ways to test if a certain drug is compatible for an individual, but too costly so they don’t check it out–just trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Humans are the proverbial guinea pigs and that’s how it should be because, after all, it is the sick person that has to be the one to try the drug to see if it works for them. A better solution–go vegan and you’ll prevent chances of getting diseases. Just as quitting smoking decreases your risk of lung cancer, cut out the meat and lessen the chance of heart disease.

    We don’t need animal testing.

    • You raise a good point. So many diseases are preventable through diet. People who don’t eat animals don’t get sick as often and don’t need medicine that’s been tested on animals. Everyone wins! Even in non diet-related diseases, animal testing isn’t the way. Like the doctor in the video I linked to says, “it’s bad science.” And then there’s all the testing on frivolous things like cosmetics. I like makeup, but not at the expense of someone else! Thanks for your comment!

    • Hi Greg. Thanks for commenting. I haven’t visited that site. I’ll go there now and add them to my Resources page. Thanks for the info! I always appreciate great sites like that. I know in my heart that testing is wrong and it’s good to have people with scientific backgrounds to back up a personal moral quandary with proof that it’s bad science too.

  2. Thanks for the readable, learned response to the question….I’m out for the evening (7:35 pm here), plan to watch the video later.

    • Anytime Bob! You know it was your FB question that prompted me to think about how to articulate my opinion against animal testing. The video is excellent. Not long or graphic. I’ll embed it in the article so it’s easier to find.

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