8 Reasons Why Experiments on Animals Must End
We could experiment on humans: we’d learn more useful information if we did, and it would be better science. But most of us wouldn’t accept millions of humans being bred to be subjected to dangerous, invasive, and non-consensual tests every year. So why should we allow non-human animals to be deprived of food, water, or sleep or be poisoned, burned, gassed, or electrocuted and then killed?
All sentient beings value life and liberty. That should be reason enough not to subject them to experiments. But here are eight other important reasons why ending experiments on animals would help everyone:
© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
- Our Bodies Are Different
All sentient beings share the capacity to suffer, but different species often process drugs or react very differently to one another. Penicillin kills guinea pigs. Ibuprofen causes kidney failure and stomach ulcers in cats and dogs. And morphine, a depressant for humans, has the opposite effect on goats and horses. Taking healthy beings of a completely different species, artificially inducing a condition that they would never normally develop, keeping them in an unnatural and stressful environment, and trying to apply the results to naturally occurring diseases in human beings is dubious at best.
- It’s Dangerous
Over 90 per cent of drug trials in humans fail, even though they’ve been successful in tests on animals. The main causes of failure are safety problems and a lack of effectiveness that weren’t predicted by the tests on animals. In just one appalling example, 11 human babies died after their mothers were given Viagra-like pills during a 2018 clinical trial aimed at promoting foetus growth in the womb. The drug had proved to decrease foetal mortality for rats. How can we rely on a system which can’t reliably predict and prevent these tragedies? Short answer: we can’t.
- It’s Wasteful and Expensive
Experiments on non-human animals can prolong the suffering of humans waiting for effective cures. These misleading tests squander millions of pounds, time, and resources that could have been spent on human-relevant research. As Dr Richard Klausner, former director of the US National Cancer Institute, once said, “We have cured mice of cancer for decades – and it simply didn’t work in humans.”
- It’s Unethical
Human rights aren’t dictated by intelligence, moral acuity, or being a part of a civil society. If experimenting on and killing one person with intellectual disabilities could benefit 1,000 children, would we do it? Of course not! Humans have rights because we are vulnerable and can be hurt by those wielding power. Each of the 5.53 million animals who were used for “science” in Britain in 2017 were individuals with the capacity to suffer and feel pain, but experimenters treated them like disposable equipment. Ethics dictate that the value of each life in and of itself can’t be superseded by its potential value to anyone else.
- Current Regulations Don’t Stop Cruelty to Animals
The UK government lays claim to having some of the strictest regulations for animal use in laboratories. But animals continue to suffer. A non-human primate died in 2017 when he or she “became trapped between a restraint mechanism and a cage wall”. According to the regulators, “The death of the animal was due to poor working practices at the establishment. “The only way to stop cruelty to animals in laboratories is to stop using them.
- The Public Is Calling For Positive Change
Over 100,000 people signed a petition from European PETA affiliates calling on European authorities to end the use of animals in cruel chemical tests. The vast majority of the British public (74 per cent) also want to see much more work done to implement non-animal research methods. And in line with these trends, there’s an increasing demand for vegan cosmetics. Retail research company Mintel reported a 100 per cent increase in the quantity of cosmetics marketed as vegan in 2017!
- Scientists Want Better Science
More and more scientists are calling for a shift towards better science. Members of the scientific community recognise the value in calling for a paradigm shift towards animal-free science so that they can more effectively and efficiently protect all animals, human and non-human, and the environment.
- Animal-Friendly Methods Are Growing in Number and Popularity
From fish and human tissue models to 3-dimensional printing and organs-on-chips, forward-thinking scientists are developing humane, modern, and effective methods. Promising progress has already been made, but significantly more resources must be devoted to the development of animal-free methods.
What You Can Do
Non-animal methods are often faster and more accurate. And where we’ve seen a ban on testing cosmetics on animals, we’ve seen a boom in the development of superior, non-animal tests. All it takes is for the governments to invest more in animal-friendly strategies and for the EU to halt all tests on animals whilst legislators review the law designed to protect animals used in experiments. You can call for them to do just that: