This text, taken from the Cambridge Declaration on conscience on July 7th 2012, redacted and signed by leading researchers, attest that animals are sensitive and aware living beings. Despite this finding, animal experiments continue. On September 21st 2016, the European Justice Court rejected the argument of the European Federation of cosmetic ingredients. The EFCI was asking that products containing ingredients tested on animals outside of the European Union could be marketed.
“This EFCI attempt show one more time the importance of staying alert […] The animals pain is of little importance to some industrials, whatever progress science makes”. Muriel Arnal, One Voice president.
Millions of animals are used each year for various experiments and are sacrificed while evidences of the uselessness of these tests are numerous and alternatives exist.
What is vivisection?
Vivisection is an experimentation mode which consists of performing operations on living animals (anesthetized or not) in fields such as medical, pharmaceutical, toxicological, cosmetic and food research.
Any animal can be chosen for these tests according to researched characteristics and some animals are privileged by researchers for particular tests. Dogs are particularly used for toxicological studies, rabbits for the Draize* test, mice for botulinum toxin tests, and monkeys for neurological research.
Most of the tests are performed in the pharmacological field, the medical research follows, then the cosmetic tests, research on psychic diseases, military research and finally education. In each of these fields, toxicity tests are realized which represent 75% of experiments on animals. These tests help to evaluate the toxicity of products we daily use (medicines, household products, cosmetics…).
Examples of animal experiments
During these tests, animals suffer multiple tortures:
Mutilated, enervated, amputated, burned, drugged, contaminated… and without anesthesia most of the time. Here are a few examples of experiments conducted on animals in laboratories :
The Draize test
The Draize test is an eye irritation test to evaluate the irritating effect of a product capable of going in the eyes such as cosmetics or household products. The rabbit is used a lot for this test as he doesn’t produce a lot of tears and thus prevent the irritating product to be expelled. During the test, rabbits are immobilized, eyes maintained open, without anesthesia, and studied for a few days. The tests can result with burns, cornea irritation or an eye perforation.
The Lethal 50 dose test (DL50)
The DL50 is a substance quantity that, administrated at once, causes the death of 50% of the animal group test. This test is used for every substance or mix in a product to which the marketing is considered. It is usually conducted on forty to fifty mice and rats and in several sessions to find by trial and error the dosage which kills 10 to 90% of the animals. The test is realized without anesthesia and causes multiple disorders to the animal before his death : tremors, seizures, hypersensitivity, diminished reflexes, depression, vision disorders, paralysis of respiratory muscles. This method is used to test the botulinic toxin (substance used for facial wrinkles) and causes the death of 500 mice for each lot of injection tested, according to the Brigitte Bardot foundation.
Tobacco is systematically tested on animals for the quasi majority of brands. Cats, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, sheep and monkeys suffer these tests while none of these animals ever developed a lung tumor. The law doesn’t require these tests because alternative methods exist. There are cigarette brands non tested on animals : American spirit, Pueblo, El Che, Benson Dorées… Yet, subcontractor laboratories and the majority of the tobacco companies carry on experimentations to evaluate new substances and new papers.
Thus, animals are forced to smoke between six and ten hours a day, five to seven days a week depending on laboratories, while being blocked by the neck with masks which constantly send them cigarette smoke in the bronchial tubes.
Fans and masks are used so the animal doesn’t inhale the smoke naturally. Animal destiny make the state of barbaric experiments on monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center :
«Tens of pregnant rhésus monkeys had tubes surgically implanted in order to submit them to a nicotine continuous flow for the last four months of the pregnancy. A few days before the delivery, the researchers cut the fetus from the mothers, then killed and dissected the premature babies to determine the effects of the nicotine exposure on the body.»
Pharmacology is the first animal experiments field. Indeed to realize clinical trials and market a medicine, laboratories have to lead studies for a decade, on thousands of animals of two different species (rodents and non rodents). However, many medicines have been withdrawn from the market because of their harmfulness and side effects while they had been tested on animals before.
Dogs and cats are particularly used to study toxicological products and insecticides. Thus, after an investigation in American laboratories, the PETA organization revealed the conditions these experiments are conducted. During these tests, researchers make the animals ingest toxicological substances. Locked in cages, the animals can be used several times for many years and in cruel conditions. Due to the ingestion of toxicological products, they are infected by worms, develop infections on their whole body, and do not receive any veterinary exams.
Researches for the animal and human health
In order to study cardiac disorders, the Ohio University make dogs run on treadmills until they fall from a heart attack. After their death, heart tissues are studies by researchers.
Around 10 000 monkeys are used in Europe and more than 105 000 in the United States to conduct experiments for the medical research on the brain, particularly on Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases. In some American universities, researchers puncture the monkey’s skull to introduce metallic devices and electrodes to evaluate the reactions. These animals have a part of their brain destroyed which generate paralysis or deteriorate their cognitive functions.
Monkeys are also used to test vaccines after being previously contaminated. While these tests haven’t allowed to develop efficient vaccines since decades, monkeys are still used in these experiments and researchers continue to inject them diseases which generate useless pain to the animal : weight loss, failure of major organs, breathing and neurological disorders before the death.
PETA recently denounced the funding of animal experiments by the telethon, which collects every year funds to fight genetic and neuromuscular diseases. This investigating video occurs at the veterinary school of Alford and shows cruel experimentations led on dogs.
To put an end to these experiments, PETA makes available at the end of its article a sample letter to send to AFM Telethon organization so it can fund a more ethical and modern research.
Psychology et addictions
Less known, psychological experiments are conducted on animals. The Harry Harlow experimentations in the fifties and sixties about the deprivation of motherly love are widely known. The test consist of separating new born monkeys from their mothers and isolate them, or place them with a “replacement mother” made of iron or tissue. The goal is to show the importance of the maternal contact and to determine traumas resulting this separation. These tests are conducted to study the psychopathology, immune and hormonal functions, mainly in the United States.
Animals are also used to study drugs and alcohol to understand the addictive and self destructive phenomenon. However, these tests haven’t brought any knowledge on the subject.
To finish, here is an infography, made by Pro Anima, summarizing simply and perfectly the problem about animal experiments.
Alternatives? Yes !