Animal testing is the process of forcefully subjecting animals to scientific experiments and laboratory tests that cause them pain, harm, distress and in some cases, death too. Animal testing inflicts pain and discomfort to the animals in the following ways:
Forceful toxic gas inhalation.
Forcing them to consume harmful substances.
Injecting harmful material into their bodies.
Subjecting them to radiation.
Deliberately removing parts of their bodies like certain bones, muscles, tissues etc.
Creating situations of extreme distress, anxiety etc. to observe their behaviour and thus inflicting them with mental torture.
The animals used for these experiments mainly consist of
vertebrates like rodents, monkeys, apes, dogs and fish. Animals like
chimpanzees (which show 99% similarity with the human DNA) and monkeys
(which show 96% similarity with the human DNA) are most likely to be
subjected to these experiments.
Animal testing is primarily used in the pharmaceutical and medicine industry.
Here, new and under-progress drugs are tested on animals. The animals are first
made to acquire the disease by injecting the particular bacteria or virus into their
bodies, and then given different doses to test the efficacy of the drug.
At times, certain internal organs of a perfectly healthy animal are surgically removed in
order to observe how the animal survives without it. This often leads to the
death of the animal.
Animals are also tested in cosmetic industries. Various products may be tested on them to test thereactions of these products on the skin/fur of the animals.
Another industry that practices animal testing is the Cleaning products industry. Soaps, detergents,shampoos etc. are tested on animals before bringing them into markets for human use.
Personal hygiene products are also tested on animals to ensure that there are no adverse effects on the human body due to their application.
Vaccines and antibodies are tested on animals before their human trials are conducted.
Contrary to common belief, after testing, animals cannot be taken and left in the wild. This is because animals that are used in laboratories are solely bred for this purpose. They lack the ability to cope in the wild and external environment and may end up losing their lives. Animals that are injected with diseases for medicine and vaccine testing cannot be set free after the experimentation due to the fear of spreading these diseases, and that is only if they survive the ordeal.
Another myth associated with animal testing is its reliability. The role and contribution of animal testing in medical advancements is questionable. Several studies have shown that due to significant biological differences between animals and humans, the accuracy of animal experimentation can be very low. An important example of this is the HIV/AIDS vaccine. This was tested on monkeys who were earlier inflicted with the diseases. The vaccine upon being tested showed very positive results as the monkeys were showing a progressed health. However, when it was given to humans, it did not help to curb the disease or its symptoms.
94% of the drugs that pass the animal trial phase fail in the actual human clinical trials.
With the improvement in technology, several alternatives have emerged. The possibility of mapping the human genome on computer systems has made it possible to test many drugs and vaccines. Experiments can now be done on human tissues and cells in petri dishes in laboratories. This is called in vitro testing and it does not inflict pain orharm on any species.
As an alternative to using animals for cosmetic and personal care products testing, artificial skin has been developed. Companies like EpiDerm and ThinCert specialise in the production and manufacturing of sheets that resemble human skin that can be used for the purpose of testing variousproducts.
At present, there are over 2300 registered animal testing units in India. The regulations regarding animal testing are covered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, (PCA Act) 1960 and the Rules under the amended Act of 1998 and 2001. This is done by a committee called the "Committee for the Purpose of Control and Control of Animal Experiments (CPCSEA)".
All the advancements in technology must be incorporated so that this gruesome practise of animal testing is immediately wiped out.