The Government Funds Millions of Dollars on Animal Testing
Do you ever wonder how it’s proven that certain pharmaceutical drugs benefit us, or how cosmetics are developed? Because it is assumed that non-human test subjects suffer less, defenseless animals are used in biomedical research everyday. Their incapability to remember and anticipate pain makes them simple subjects in educational research, drug testing and cosmetic testing. Although animal testing has been used in the development of penicillin, organ transplants and the vaccine for polio, and while animals have similar central nervous system pathways and pain receptors to humans, the use of scientific experiments on defenseless animals cannot be justified on moral grounds.
It’s disturbing that more than 25 million vertebrate animals are used annually in research, testing and education. The most common used are rodents, birds, farm animals, dogs, cats and primates; majority of animals are killed during or after the experiment. The New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Louisiana is a secretive, federally funded educational facility that unlawfully mistreats hundreds of chimps and other primates. Their chimps in captivity engage in self-mutilation, tearing gapping wounds in their arms and legs, due to distress and lack of environmental enhancement, and are kept in frightening squeeze cages for sedation. “Altogether, the investigation reveals animals forced to endure anxiety and misery behind the razor wire of the research facility” (Undercover Investigation Reveals Cruelty to Chimps at Research Lab online). The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed a 108-page complaint on the NIRC, and is calling on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to stop the government funding to labs. The Humane Society International is one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations, and is supported by 11 million people worldwide. More than 65,000 people have pledged their support for animal protection in Europe, and I have every hope the United States will follow in their footsteps.
In the past 20 years, the number of animals used in biomedical research has been cut in half, showing there has been improvement. Only 10% of research includes animals; 0.1% of animals used are primates and 0.4% of animals used are cats and dogs. Rats, mice and birds are not covered by the Animal Welfare Act, which makes them the most common used in labs. They were used to develop radio and chemotherapy in cancer research. There is also no federal law that protects land animals while on the farm, allowing 10 billion animals to be raised and killed on U.S. factory farms every year.
Some forms of research do not benefit society, and is done to receive one’s own education or PHD. One alternative, being used in the cosmetic field, is using lab-grown cells and organs when testing in place of animals. Labs should begin to reduce the number of animals used in particular tests, and refine experiments to make them more humane. The most effective proposal for this issue would be to replace animal test subjects for some type of alternative whenever possible, but finding a sufficient replacement is challenging when the use of humans is prohibited.
Although I would not support the use of human test subjects, abusing vulnerable animals for our own benefit is immoral. Instead of funding millions of dollars to animal research labs, the government should be investing in alternative test subjects or more efficient environments for their current subjects. No living, breathing organism would enjoy confinement or having experiments preformed on them in the manner in which researchers have in the past. How would you respond to being trapped in a metal cage for the majority, or the entirety of your life? Or being exposed to possibly lethal chemicals, and watched through a glass window while a scientist takes notes? If all humans who order prescription drugs or apply any cosmetics could remember the animals that suffered for their benefit, more people would join the Humane Society Organization; maybe then, animals will be protected by mankind rather than dissected in a lab.