A test mouse. (Illustration by Stephen Sedam / Los Angeles Times)

Opinion

Opinion: Animal testing should be banned

Editor’s note: This article contains graphic descriptions of how animals are treated during testing. The skulls of living cats are drilled with holes to screw metal strainer posts into their heads, then steel coils are implanted into their eyes and finally, the cats are deafened in “sound localization” animal experiments. The People for the Ethical…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/averyywang/" target="_self">Avery Wang</a>

Avery Wang

May 6, 2021

Editor’s note: This article contains graphic descriptions of how animals are treated during testing.

The skulls of living cats are drilled with holes to screw metal strainer posts into their heads, then steel coils are implanted into their eyes and finally, the cats are deafened in “sound localization” animal experiments. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals describes the horrific details of this inhumane experiment conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and adds that the lead experimenter did not expect to produce a clinical treatment or cure from their tests on animals. 

Thankfully, the PETA campaign has stopped this specific experiment conducted on these innocent cats. However, they report on similar cruel animal testing experiments on cats that are still carried out at other laboratories.

Cruel and torturous animal testing runs rampant in our world today. Animal testing refers to any scientific experiment or procedure performed on living animals for the purposes of research and observation. These experiments are usually for studying basic biology components and diseases, testing new medical products for humans, and researching environmental safety for consumers. 

The Humane Society International estimates more than 115 million animals are used in laboratories for experiments worldwide every year. PETA published statistics showing that, just in the United States, there are over 100 million animals that suffer through testing and even die every year. 

Such tests are used in medical teaching universities, pharmaceutical labs for new drugs, labs testing for chemicals in cosmetic and cleaning products, and USDA labs. Sentient Media states that animals that are often used in testing, listed in order of frequency, include cats, primates, dogs, farm animals, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, rats, and mice. 

Many are unaware of what really happens to the animals subject to animal testing when their experiments are finished. According to the Humane Society of the United States, a large majority of the animals used in experiments and testing are euthanized, or killed during or after the experiment. The remaining animals left alive often die from the extensive torture caused during the experiment. The animals who are left alive after studies are rarely adopted out to families or placed into sanctuaries for proper care, leaving them to fend for themselves. 

Although animal testing is more often than not for the benefit of people, it has proven to produce inaccurate results because the human body and human systems differ from animals. Experimental animals are forced to go through pain and suffering, violating animal rights, often without benefits for people. 

According to PETA, the inflammation-blocking agents tested on animals through 150 trials worked for the animals, yet not a single one worked for human patients because the genetic responses between mice and humans were different.  

According to Project R&R, an organization whose mission is to free chimpanzees from animal testing in the United States, a 2008 study in the journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals reported that more than 80 HIV/AIDS vaccines successful in nonhuman primates failed in human trials.

Project R&R has criticized how so much money, time, resources, and, most importantly, chimpanzee suffering went into producing no benefits at all. This example of inaccurate animal trials producing no benefits for anyone is illustrative of the many failed studies conducted on suffering animals. 

Today, we have many alternatives to animal testing. With modern progress, this century now provides new technologies and testing methods to replace animal testing. In this new century of new and more advanced technology, there are numerous more effective, efficient, and cheaper alternatives to animal testing. 

Methods of experimentation shown by Cruelty Free International are the use of cell cultures, human tissues, computer models, and volunteer studies. Nearly every type of human and animal cell can be developed in a laboratory. Thus, cells can be grown into 3D structures, like miniature human organs, which can provide a more realistic way to test new therapies. 

Further, computers are able to model and replicate aspects of the human body as technology continues to improve. Models of human organs, such as a heart or lungs, can be utilized in virtual experiments that are based on preexisting information and data. Many new and developing technological machines are also available for experiments with volunteers who participate of their own will.

Moreover, healthy and diseased tissues can be donated by human volunteers which allows scientists to study the disease and human biology more effectively than through animal testing since the sample observed is from a human. These human tissues are not taken from humans in a harmful way; they are often donated from surgery biopsies, cosmetic surgery, transplants, or from an individual who has already died. The use of human tissues shows that there are alternatives to studying and harming animals by using more humane, safe, and effective methods. 

Other voluntary studies include employing brain scanning machines to help “see” the insides of the brain, microdosing which gives volunteers small doses of potential new drugs to the human body, and other less technologically complicated research can be done on consenting people who volunteer to try new treatments. 

These many alternatives to animal testing are not harmful to humans or animals and are often more effective in producing results. 

The torture and harm put on these innocent animals can easily be prevented by using alternative testing methods that have been proven to be more effective and efficient. By banning the use of animal testing while using our modern technological alternatives, we can ensure that we can continue improving people’s lives while helpless animals are protected.