Most people believe that experiments on animals are necessary, but they are not. Non-human experimentation continually falls short of providing accuracy, predictability and applicability - criteria that defines real science. There are many rewarding human-based methods that provide accurate and usable information about our diseases and their cures.
In the name of science, these sentient beings are mutilated, burned, poisoned, gassed, electrocuted, all within the law. Many different species of animals are used for cosmetic, pharmaceutical, chemical, psychological, radiation, military, space and weapons research. The vast selection of animals include dogs, cats, monkeys, mice, rats and even birds. However monkeys, chimpanzees and apes are favoured for having the behaviour most closely resembling humans, therefore a large majority of my focus for this article will be on primates.
Most of the painful and bizarre experiments are conducted in the psychology field. These include experiments on the brains of living animals, involving cutting, coagulating and removing brain tissue, and stimulating the brain by electrical and chemical means. The most common experiments are designed to find out how animals react to different kinds of punishments, involving the administration of intense, inescapable shock to various parts of the body.
Researchers have been using maternal deprivation experiments in monkeys for more than thirty years to study various aspects of human behaviour. Including depression, aggression, addiction, panic disorder and the effects of stress. These studies are not only widely and severely criticised for their inhumane treatment of these highly intelligent and social creatures, but also for their scientific inadequacy.
In maternal deprivation experiments baby monkeys are taken away from their natural mothers and forced to "bond" with a cardboard and fabric surrogate. When a baby monkey searches for the gentle reassuring touch of the mother, it goes to the surrogate that is specifically wired to jolt the baby with an electric shock each time s/he clutches it. In observing this nature of suffering, the researchers claim to have created the animal model for human depression and other behaviour disorders, thus able to test anti-depressants and other drugs on this model. Even though depression is a distinctly human disorder for which no animal model exists. It can only be inferred that the screams of terror, lack of movement and social gestures, massive struggling and other behaviours observed is the same "depression" that we see in humans.
Primates, cats, dogs and others have been used in military research in the USA since World War II. Including radiation experiments, military readiness studies and weapons research - where conscious and semi-conscious animals are suspended in a sling and shot with high-powered weapons to provide battle-like injuries for military surgeons to practice on. Animals are also used in the testing of biological warfare agents eg. lethal, highly transmittable and incurable viruses.
Every year the US government spends more than $500 million addicting monkeys, cats, mice and other animals to drugs just to study their violent convulsions, vomiting, delirium and hallucinations. Examples of these drugs include: using mice from different genetic strains to determine if the anaesthetizing effects of alcohol are inherited; using mouse models to determine why pregnant women shouldn't drink alcohol - even when universally we accept this behaviour increases the risk
of congenial problems during development of the newborn. Using cats to see how excessive drinking affects the fatty acids in an alcoholic's brain; using monkeys to study menstrual cycle abnormalities observed during chronic self-administration of cocaine in women.
Most die of internal haemorrhaging or massive heart attacks. Those that survive are forced to undergo the pain and suffering of withdrawal, sometimes they are even re-addicted only to continue the process again. At the same time, clinics that treat human addicts are being closed due to budget costs.
The Cosmetic Industry:
In the cosmetic industry there are three types of tests forced onto the animals. There is the LD-50 (Lethal Dose 50%) where animals are forced to ingest, inhale or otherwise consume varying amounts of a substance while suffering in excruciating pain. Thispainincludesconvulsions,discharge,diarrhoeaandbleedingfromthe eyes and mouth. The test is successful when 50% of the animals die. The 50% that survive are killed then autopsied and analysed to determine which organs and systems were affected and why they didn't die during the test. Most of these animals die, not from the poisoning but from their intestines bursting and rupturing due to the force-feeding of the substances.
The Draize Eye test attempts to measure the harmfulness of chemicals. Concentrated solutions of the product are applied into the eyes of conscious, restrained and un-anaesthetised animals. This testing period usually lasts at least seven days while these animals suffer in extreme pain. Blindness, ulcers, bleeding, swelling, discharge and blistering all occur; along with the irreparable damage and destruction to the animals' eyes. At the end of this procedure all the animals are killed to determine the internal effects of these toxic substances.
The Draize Patch test is used for skin irritation, where an animal is immobilised while test substances are applied to shaved and abraded skin. Their skin is abraded by firmly pressing adhesive tape onto the animals' body and stripping it off, this process is repeated until several layers of skin are exposed. Such products used on the animals include oven cleaners, soaps and detergents. The animal testing only determines the level of toxicity, no amount of testing can change the fact that these products are harmful. Products such as antiperspirants and flouride toothpaste are considered drugs, therefore must comply with the drug testing requirements - animals are almost always used as test models.
These tests are less reliable and more expensive than existing non-animal alternatives. The results from non-animal testing are more consistent and better predictors for human reactions. Companies are also spared the expenses of breeding cages, feeding and disposing of laboratory animals. Many major companies are discontinuing the use of these tests, some states in Australia restrict said tests. But they are still used extensively overseas where the majority of research and development of new products takes place.
It's up to us as consumers to let these companies know that if are doing the right thing, it is appreciated. Make sure you also let companies that still continue to use the dated practice of animal testing know that you do not agree with their methods and will not buy their products. Use only products that are not tested on animals. See Choose Cruelty Free for their preferred products list or for more information.
Australian Monkey Farm:
In Australia a $5 million grant has been awarded to Monash University for our first ever National Primate Breeding and Research Facility. Hundreds of monkeys will be bred for medical research and experiments at a farm in Churchill, Victoria. They will be bred to order and sold for research including testing for the HIV vaccine and studying Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. There is hardly any protection from the law for these lab victims. They can be burned, frozen, poisoned, isolated, irradiated, traumatised, shocked and exposed to all other inhumane travesties, all in the name of science. Not only is nonhuman experimentation unethical and unnecessary, this new facility is a waste of taxpayers money.
AIDS for example, results from a viral infection that damages the immune system. Viruses are species-specific, they affect different species differently. Despite repeated failures researchers have been using chimpanzees and other primates in AIDS research since 1984. Nonhuman primates get a monkey virus called Simian immunodeficiency (SIV) but no animal models have reproduced the human immunodeficency virus type-1 (HIV-1). Large sums of money are continually allocated towards finding a non-human primate that will react to AIDS in the same way that humans do.
And how do you suppose these vivisectors induce a stroke or Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease into their victims? Well, they brain damage their victims. So far the causes are unknown and therefore there is no effective treatment. No animal can suffer from these diseases the same way that humans do. Any human(e) being can see that to brain damage a monkey to study these diseases is the wrong path to take. In Parkinson's the symptoms develop gradually and Alzheimer's is an aging, slow, chronic degenerative disease - brain damage is not.
Please join me in protesting against these misguided ideals. Email or write your concern and protest today. Stress that there are alternatives available from these barbaric methods and that you don't want your tax dollars being spent on murdering innocent animals:
Professor Stephen Harrap: Head of Dept of Physiology North Wing Medical Centre University of Melbourne
Imagine if the amount of money wasted on non-human experimentation was instead used to educate the public. Imagine how many people could have been saved, if not had a more enjoyable life. For there are alternatives and we have previously used alternatives for medical advancement in the past. Example include: in vitro/test tube research on living tissues, blood and organ cultures, epidemiology - the study of different populations to determine susceptability or immunity to diseases. Usage of bacteria, viruses and fungi; autopsy and cadavers to teach operating techniques and to clarify diseases, genetic research, clinical research, post-marketing drug surveillance, mathematical and specialization to better understand and administer to patients.
Most importantly, for the high standards we receive today, is technology. CAT scanners, X-rays, ultrasound, microscopes, lasers, operating room equipment, computer-based equipment, pacemakers, bone and joint replacements... the list goes on for these technological breakthroughs.
Drugs would also be just as safe, if not more so, if animal testing was eliminated. In the USA legal drugs kill more people per year than all illegal drugs combined. These sorts of facts are quite a shock to the system when the majority of people trustallthedrugsthattheirdoctorsprescribetothem. Thereisstillnoreliable information about what these substances will do in humans - even if effective in animal experimentation - because we are unique in our metabolism.
Results differ dramatically between species, even when designed to anticipate the effects and side effects in humans. Substance that could save many human lives are not approved for being harmful to animals eg. Asprin, Insulin, Codeine, Morphine. And on the other side of the coin, substances that are therapeutic to non-humans become approved, therefore harming and sometimes killing humans eg. Thalidomide (the morning sickness supplement).
The procedure of non-human testing creates a false sense of security instead of safeguarding humans. In the USA more than half of the newly-approved medications had to be withdrawn or relabelled by the FDA, even after extensive non-human testing. This testing works against human safety. Not only that, it diverts valuable research dollars away from solid human-based testing.
The government has created a legal safe-house for pharmaceutical companies and other industries with questionable medically safe products, by legislating that all drugs must be proven to be safe and effective in animals before release. Therefore when lawsuits occur, these big businesses can justifiably claim that they acted within the law eg. the Asbestos and Tobacco industries.
Since this practice is now ingrained, the people within the system are resistant to change. Scientists are reluctant to admit their methods are useless and dangerous when they have devoted their whole lives to animal experimentation. These vivisectors are far removed from patient care, revelling in the glory of discovering. Fuelling the scientific papers they have to write, which in turn results in promotions and more grants. Most of all, it works for them - not necessarily anyone else. And the bottom line is it is highly profitable. But track the source back and you will find that's where the profit resides. Educate yourself to where the products you buy come from and exactly what processes happened to get it into the state of consumption.
Nothing is more powerful than individuals acting out of their conscience. Animals need to be seen as more than resources, more than products to make our lives more convenient and comfortable. It's time to stop the speciesism that exists in our society, the misguided prejudice that puts other beings in an inferior status. After all is said and done, the progress of a society can be measured by the way it treats its most vulnerable.
Americans for Medical Advancement
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© Leigh-Chantelle 12/09/2002
As this was written a few years ago, the contacts may be out of date and the information dated. Please see the above links for more up-to-date information.
- Published: 12 September 2002
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