Animal Rights and Experimentation

Medicines, cosmetic products, and essentially everything involved in the life of an average person has to undergo a form of testing before they can be legally stocked on shelves for the public consumers due to the strict enforcements by the FDA. However, with strict ethical laws and religious beliefs surrounding human researching and experimenting, scientists are limited on what they can use to mimic the functions of a human body. This is where animal testing was introduced into the medical and cosmetic field. Animal testing is the use of non-human animals in experiments that seek control over variables that affect the body system that is observed. The controversy behind animal testing has generated an animal rights movement between scientists and animal advocates as they fight for the legalization of animal testing and whether animals should have basic rights. Despite the controversy behind animal testing on whether human lives are more important than animal lives, taking the fate of animals into our hands in the name of medical and cosmetic research should be illegal as animals should not have to undergo immense pain only to test out the toxicity of a product when there are alternative ways of testing.

Often times, experimenters seem to fail to acknowledge or even perceive an animal’s pain and suffering. This is because the general public may perceive this acknowledgement as weakness and this could potentially destroy any of a researcher’s future projects. Many animal experiments are conducted on rodents due to their biological and behaviour similarities to humans and because of these similarities rodents replace humans when it comes to more toxic and potentially fatal experiments. Despite their importance towards researching, these animals are often carelessly killed in acute toxicity tests, have cancer induced in them to observe the traits of that specific cancer, and subject these living beings into major surgery without anesthesia. Rather than stopping an experiment at the first sign of pain or providing a life of comfort after distress, researchers seem to merely note the animal’s distress, because they have likely been conditioned to ignore the animal’s fear. By admitting concern to an animal’s distress and pain, it could potentially raise controversy on whether it is ethical to conduct animal experiments. Rather than destroy their future projects, they keep quiet about the abuse the animals go through to seemly protect their reputation.

However, critics argue that without animal testing, the process of testing new products meant for humans would change drastically. Many researchers test new medications and cosmetic products on animals such as rats and chimpanzees, which have a similar DNA profile to humans, to see whether the formula of the new product would potentially be toxic. However, if an animal were to die because of the unforeseen consequences of a drug or product, critics believed it would be justified because the human life is superior to the life of animals. The government requires that a drug or product has proof through testing that it is safe for human consumption and usage. Therefore, many people fail to realize that animal experimentation is not as necessary as believed to be because the government does not prohibit the usage of alternative methods.

Despite what critics say on how product testing would drastically change if animal testing were to be eradicated, animal experimentation is not as significant as one were to believe so. Many test results are actually the product of alternative testing methods, such as computer simulation and testing on the actual human body that has been donated to science. By using animals as a test subject is absurd because animals are not the same as humans despite the genetic similarity. This claim would be supported by scientific results found by the experiment regarding cigarettes and animal reactions. Smoking cigarettes and other uses of tobacco leads to lung cancer in humans. However, in the animal counterpart, cancer did not occur in animal test subjects. If researchers only base their results on animals, there would be a lack of validity on whether lung cancer was caused by tobacco products and thus this prevented measures to be taken to prevent deaths caused by lung cancer. As previously stated animal experimentation has not only made an impact on medical and cosmetic advances, but it also has generated an animal rights movement, in which groups have developed to fight against the misinformation that can cost animals their lives.

The government passed a law called the Animal Welfare Act that set minimal standards for researchers to follow when conducting animal tests, but those standards cover all animals except for mice and rats. In addition, this act only encouraged, but not enforced, using alternatives to animal testing. Although this act was a step towards animal rights, it did not appease activists because they wanted all of animal experimentation to be eradicated. This created groups, such as the Animal Liberation Front and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as they fought for the end of animal mistreatment and loopholes set by the Animal Welfare Act. With the growing support of these animal activist groups, it shows that there is a growing awareness in the general public towards animal experimentation.

Due to the growing discomfort of using animals for testing, there has been a diminishing support for animal testing in the cosmetic field. Numerous cosmetic companies, including name brands such as Anastasia Beverly Hills and Urban Decay, pledge that all their products are cruelty free. With the growing number of people that stopped supporting animal experimentation, cosmetic companies have developed alternative ways to test out their products without using living animals. Alternative techniques that could be used range from animal or human eye corneas from eye banks, human skin cell cultures grown in laboratories, and computer simulations that can predict the possibility of a reaction to humans. Possible other alternative techniques could be found with more research; however, it would only support the claim that there are other techniques besides animal experimentation that researchers are able to use.

Animal experimentation is one of the most controversial techniques used in both the medical and cosmetic field. Experimenters have possibly been conditioned to ignore animal cries of pain during an experiment because their distress and reaction to a toxicity test are data used to help determine whether the product should be given to humans for further testing. Animals could also undergo a severe surgery but without proper treatment afterwards, often leading to the death of the living being. Animal activist groups have been created due to the mistreatment that animals have received from animal experimentation, and these groups have a common goal to eradicate animal experimentation and setting animals free with basic rights. With the possible growing trend of people opposing the idea of animal experimentation in their everyday products, many cosmetic companies are redefining how they are testing their products without using live animals. Despite the new methods that would reduce, refine, and replace animal experimentation, researchers could still violate the standards set by the Animal Welfare Act and continue animal experimentation. Although in the past, animal lives were taken in the name of medical and cosmetic research, however with the use of alternative methods and a growing awareness towards animal experimentation, they could help eradicate animal testing, thus ending the suffering of animal test subjects.   

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