melbourne vegan

Jaclyn McCosker

Blogger, social entrepreneur & freelance copywriter

Australia

Animal Testing 101

Animal Testing 101

If you donate to medical research, take medicine or buy cosmetics and cleaning products, you’re probably contributing to the multi-billion dollar industry that is animal experimentation. Around the world scientists poison, torture and murder millions of animals and defend it by arguing its for human “safety”. This is all despite the fact that it’s very well accepted that animal testing is unnecessary and is no longer the most accurate method of testing because of non-human animals’ responses being incompatible with humans.

This is why Israel, India, New Zealand and the entire EU have banned the sale of animal tested cosmetics. A vast majority of the experiments and tests on animals are irrelevant to human safety. An estimated 6.5 million animals are experimented on in Australia every year, and it simply doesn’t need to happen. (Note: Australia does not do the cosmetic testing, only scientific research. We do however largely only sell animal tested cosmetic products).

How do we use animals?

  • Testing the effects of medication
  • Testing cosmetics
  • Studying disease and toxins
  • Skin and eye irritancy tests
  • Studying brain damage, burns and other deliberately inflicted ailments
  • Psychological experiments
  • Experimental surgeries
  • Genetic-mutilation experiments

Who do we test on?

  • Rats
  • Guinea pigs
  • Rabbits
  • Ferrets
  • Pigs
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Primates

New England Anti-Vivisection Society says it best: “Imagine spending your entire life as a hospital patient or prisoner – this will only begin to approximate the life of an animal in a laboratory. Animals in labs live stressful, unnatural lives of daily confinement and deprivation. They spend their life in barren cages, unable to exert their will, make choices, or express their natural behaviors and needs. Most never experience fresh air or sunshine, only bars and concrete. The only changes in their lives come from invasive experiments, which range from uncomfortable to agonizing. And they are helpless to defend themselves.”

This isn’t just something that happens overseas. There are three monkey breeding groups in Australia that just provide the animals to be tested on then killed. We also commonly use animals imported from overseas, including the endangered macaque. Several hundred primates are killed every year by Australian scientists. In only 2013 (that’s right 2000, not 1800) Melbourne researchers drilled into the brains of macaques to insert electrodes to measure their attention span. Something so insignificant and not at all relevant to human health. You probably thought that kind of brutal behaviour was outlawed, but it’s not.

There are two scientific reasons we should stop abusing animals.
1. There are vast biological differences between animals and humans
2. Animals are inflicted with the disease or injury which doesn’t mirror the natural prevalence of the ailments

In the countries that have banned animal testing, there has been no compromise in science. Many of the advanced methods have been found to be more accurate than animal testing because of the greater application to humans themselves. By using cell cultures, computer programs or voluntary humans, researchers can achieve the same goals. Instead of burning the eye of a rabbit, scientists can burn tissue produced from human cells. Human skin cultures can be developed for skin irritation testing. There are a multitude of nonviolent ways to test these types of reactions. As such, ethical researchers have the benefit of testing on the correct species which means their results are evidence-based instead of just speculation.

“One international study that examined the results of rat and mouse LD50 (Lethal Dose 50%) tests for 50 chemicals found that these tests were able to predict toxicity in humans with only 65% accuracy.” (Choose Cruelty Free)

Animal studies produce more data, but all that data is less relevant than a study on human tissue. The only reason we use animals for all of this research is a lack of scientific funding and a reluctance to make change. Two of Australia’s most pronounced attributes!

There is no legal requirement to test cosmetics on animals. And the laws that require medical testing on animals are easily changed once 21st technology is explained to the politicians. If you want to study human disease, study humans.

You can help push the switch to nonviolent measures by supporting ethical brands and research groups. When purchasing cosmetic or cleaning products (anything that could be harmful if swallowed), look for the Choose Cruelty Free label. Put your money where your mouth is and do your research before giving your money to a company. If you’re participating in a health fundraiser, make sure that company doesn’t torture animals by checking Humane Charities. If you feel guilty about not donating to that particular fund, choose another instead and give the same amount but just spend your money more wisely.

Googling and label reading is a small price to pay when we’re talking about such extreme violence and suffering. Animal testing is no small problem, it is a humiliating exploration of humanity’s darkest depths. How much lower can we possibly get? As logical, rational humans, we’re better off quickly moving past this stage of humanity’s history and leaning back into the light. Animals are not our possessions to experiment on.

Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals and the answer is: ‘Because animals are like us.‘ Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are not like us.‘ Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.

Prof. Charles R. Magel

Choose Cruelty Free accredited brands: http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/cruelty-free-list/

Cruelty free company search: http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx

Find ethical Australian charities: http://www.humanecharities.org.au/

Read more on alternative methods here: http://www.humaneresearch.org.au/replacing-animals

For the science-minded, sciencey things here: http://www.humaneresearch.org.au/research-papers/

Resources from my vegan journey

Resources from my vegan journey

7 Environmental Benefits of Vegetarianism

7 Environmental Benefits of Vegetarianism