Practical Issues > Things To Do > Activism

Animal Activism
VeganAngel_RI
August, 2005

Numerous questions are raised by animal research, such as physical compatibility, ethics, and necessity, thus making viable alternatives attractive to many. Many people question if animal bodies are similar enough to humans to make accurate test subjects. Another similar question to this is do humans have the right to use living, breathing creatures as tools. Are all animal tests necessary or can scientists reduce their usage?

Human bodies differ from animal bodies in many ways, making it difficult to decipher the research and difficult to gear human reaction. (PETA, n.d., Caring Consumer, paragraph 2). Many items in homes can be toxic to pets, such as onions or raisins (ASPCA, 2004, Top Ten Pet Poison Prevention Tips, paragraph 1). The ASPCA also said "Ibuprofen may help you relieve your headache, but painkillers and other common medications can be deadly to your animal companions." (ASPCA, 2004, Top Ten Pet Poison Prevention Tips, paragraph 2). Assuming these facts are accurate, it easy to see how animal testing can cause problems when testing safety of medications.

Numerous medications that tested safely and were on the market get pulled from the market regularly. Bextra was "removed from the US and European markets on April 7, 2005 due to safety concerns." (Embi, 2005, Net Wellness Consumer Health Information, paragraph 1). Recently in the news there has also been debate about if other drugs should be pulled such as most painkillers. Both of these medications made it through animal testing. Vioxx is another drug that was recalled on September 30, 2004. (Merck, 2004, Press Release, paragraph 1).

Many alternatives do exist for animal testing, particularly in the cosmetic field and some even in the medical field. There are several benefits that can go along with switching from animal testing to modern non-animal tests. A larger client base could be achieved as many consumers boycott companies that do animal testing. Lists of companies that conduct animal testing are readily available on the Internet for those who wish to boycott them, and non-profits such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) encourage this. Several of these tests are not only more accurate but less expensive. Speaking from an economic standpoint, switching to non animal tests would long term save companies money and reduce consumer costs. (PETA, n.d., Caring Consumer, paragraph 3)

Pyrogenicity "A rabbit pyrogen test has been in use since the 1940s. In this test, rabbits are locked in full-body restraints and a test substance is injected into their bloodstream while their body temperature is monitored." (PETA, n.d., Give the Animals Five Pyrogenicity, paragraph 1). There is a non animal test. In Vitro Pyrogen which uses "human blood donated by healthy volunteers" (PETA, n.d., Give the Animals Five Pyrogenicity, paragraph 3). This test has higher accuracy and speed (PETA, n.d., Give the Animals Five Pyrogenicity, pargraph 3).

"Phototoxicity, or phototirritation, is an inflammatory skin reaction caused by exposure to a chemical and subsequent exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet radiation." (PETA, n.d., Give the Animals Five Phototoxicity, paragraph 1).A non animal test exists for this test. The non animal test is called 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake. This test exposes a chemical mixed in a solution then exposed to light to see how much neutral dye is absorbed. This test has also been reviewed by various groups. This test carries approval by the Organization form Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM). (PETA, n.d., Give the Animals Five Photoxicity, paragraph 3 and 4).

Skin Corrosion tests involve putting chemicals on the skin that cause permanent damage to skin. Usually animals are completely restrained for this and then a portion of their flesh is shaved, then they apply the chemical and observe results after timed intervals. This test has never been properly validated for accuracy, unlike Epiderm™ or Episkin™.

These tests both carry ECVAM and OCED approval and are completely animal free. (PETA, n.d., Give the Animals Five Skin Corrosion, paragraphs 1-7). "Skin absorption studies are carried out to determine the rate at which a chemical is able to penetrate the skin" (PETA, n.d., Give the Animals Five Skin Corrosion, paragraph 1) After 24-hour contact to the skin with a particular chemical, the test subject is then cleaned and killed for careful analysis. (PETA, n.d., Give the Animals Five Skin Corrosion, paragraph 2) "Various tissue culture methods have been rigorously evaluated and accepted in Europe as total replacements for animal-based skin absorption studies." (PETA, n.d, Give the Animals Five Skin Corrosion, paragraph 4). The alternatives also carry OECD approval (PETA, n.d, Give the Animals Five Skin Corrosion, paragraph 4)

In many of these and other tests "No painkillers are provided" (PETA, n.d. Give the Animals Five Skin Corrosion, paragraph 2). Many pet owners will say attest to the fact that there dog yelps if they accidentally step on his or her paw or tail. "Rats and mice feel pain every bit as much as cats or dogs – and as much as you or I" (PETA, n.d. Frequently asked questions, paragraph 2). Most of the animals used in these tests do not even receive the slightest in medical care (PETA, n.d. Frequently asked questions, paragraph 3), With these facts in mind many people ask is animal testing moral and ethical. Certainly no one would agree to the torture of a mentally handicapped person because she or he would not understand, so we cannot justify it on basis that they do not understand. Also, if that point were to be argued it could be said that many animals exhibit emotions such as guilt, fear, happiness, and loneliness (Masson, McCarthy, 1995, p. 142-143 and 190-191).Animals can be severely mentally damaged if isolated for a period a bit longer than a month (Masson, McCarthy, 1995, p. 102-103).

In the writing, "They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy", Vasu Murti says: "Although man was made in God’s image and given dominion over all creation (Genesis 1:26-28), these verses do not justify humans killing animals and then devouring them, because God immediately proclaims He created the plants for human consumption. (Genesis 1:29) Dr. Michael Fox of the Humane Society has argued that the word ‘dominion’ is derived from the original Hebrew word ‘rahe’ which refers to compassionate stewardship, instead of power and control. Parents have dominion over their children; they do not have license to kill, torment or abuse them"(Marti, 1999, They Shall Not Hurt Or Destroy, paragraph 4).

We can see from this passage that the oldest argument for animal rights dates back to biblical times, although it may not have been called animal rights at the time. #9;There are some animal tests required by law, however even the House Of Lords which supports animal testing says "There is scope for scientific community to give a greater priority to the development of non-animal methods" (Dobson, 2000, Lords Supprots Animal Testing but Calls for Non-Animal Methods, paragraph 3). Admittedly this problem cannot be solved overnight but the two sides must converge in mutual research to come up with alternatives and a solution that will please all including the animals.

References

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (2004) Top ten pet poison prevention tips.
 Retrieved August 2, 2005 http://www.aspca.org/site/DocServer/Top_10_Poison_Prevention_Tips.pdf?docID=1682 

Dobson, Roger (September 2002) Lords support animal testing but call for alternatives. Student BMJ. (p.307(1))
 Retrieved June 17, 2005 http://web3.infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/249/991/ 96041148w3/purl=rc1_ITOF_0_A92544274&dyn=5!xrn_2_0_A92544274?sw_aep=uphoenix

Embi, Peter J. MD. MS. (April 8, 2005) Pharmacy and medications.
 Retrieved August 5, 2005 http://www.netwellness.org/healthtopics/pharmacy/bextra.cfm 

Merck (September 30, 2004) Merck announces voluntary worldwide withdrawal of VIOXX®
 Retrieved August 5, 2005 http://www.vioxx.com/rofecoxib/vioxx/consumer/index.jsp 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (n.d.) Alternatives: Testing without torture.
 Retrieved August 5, 2005 http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=87

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (n.d.) Caring consumer 101.
 Retrieved August 5 2005 http://www.caringconsumer.com/101.asp

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (none) Companies that don’t test on animals.
 Retrieved August 5, 2005 http://www.caringconsumer.com/page/CompaniesDoDont.doc 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (n.d.) March of crimes frequently asked questions.
 Retrieved August 5, 2005 http://www.marchofcrimes.com/faq.html

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (n.d.) Introduction.
 Retrieved August 5, #9;2005 http://www.stopanimaltests.com/feat/gta/body.html

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (n.d.) Phototoxicity.
 Retrieved August 5, 2005 http://www.stopanimaltests.com/feat/gta/body4.html

People for the Ethical Treatments of Animals (n.d.) Pyrogenicity.
 Retrieved August 5, 2005 http://www.stopanimaltests.com/feat/gta/body5.html

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (n.d.) Skin Absorption.
 Retrieved August 5, #9;2005 http://www.stopanimaltests.com/feat/gta/body2.html

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (n.d.) Skin corrosion.
 Retrieved August 5, 2005, http://www.stopanimaltests.com/feat/gta/body1.html