Animal testing

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Animal testing refers to the use of non-human animals in scientific experimentation. It is estimated that 50 to 100 million vertebrate animals worldwide — from zebrafish to non-human primates — are used annually. Although much larger numbers of invertebrates are used and the use of flies and worms as model organisms is very important, experiments on invertebrates are largely unregulated and not included in statistics. Most animals are euthanized after being used in an experiment.


Why should I be aware of this?

The practice has incurred widespread opposition. It's necessity, they argue, is questionable, and animals have an intrinsic right not to be used for experimentation. Other criticisms of animal testing are as follows --

  • It is cruel
  • It is poor scientific practice, since it does not reliably predict human metabolic and physiological specifics
  • It is poorly regulated
  • The costs outweigh the alleged benefits
  • It is taking away animal rights

Many of the testings done today have been developed years ago to predict human hazards to chemicals. However, none has been validated by multiple tests in different laboratories. They also take years to complete and cost millions of dollars.

All about animal testing

It is estimated that in the US laboratories alone millions of animals are tortured and killed. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of the animals, or 2 to 4 million, are used for safety testing of cosmetics or chemical products. They remaining comprising 16 to 18 million animals, are killed and tested for basic and applied research, education, and other arenas.

Safety Testings

Many of the testings done today have been developed years ago to predict human hazards to chemicals. However, none has been validated by multiple tests in different laboratories. It is also not known if the chemicals have the same effects on these lab animals as they would on humans.

They also take years to complete and cost millions of dollars.

Initial safety testings were carried out to standardize new batches of powerful drugs like digitalis and insulin. These were later extended to vaccines against infectious diseases.

In 1962 it became compulsory for companies to test new drugs prior to marketing, not only to check the safty but also their efficacy.

Safety testings are carried out to make sure that a chemical does not cause birth defects, cancer, organ failure, or some other problem.

Though testings are carried out on a wide range of products including drugs, vaccines, cosmetics, household cleaners, pesticides, industrial chemicals, foodstuffs, and packing materials, drugs and products that will be used in or on foodstuffs receive the most thorough testing.

Alternative approaches to animal testing

Europe has made reasonable development in non-animal methods of testing, but the real driving force is coming from the US which had so far been following trends in Europe.

Toxity tests are being shifted from decades old animal tests to cell-based methods that model the early stages of toxicity in the human body.

90 degrees

Arguments for animal testing

Those in favor of animal testing argue that it is justified as such testings have helped develop vaccines against diseases like rabies, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and TB. Antibiotics, HIV drugs, insulin and cancer treatments rely on animal tests. Organ transplant and open heart surgery was also developed following operations on animals.

Such killings are, therefore, justified as human life has greater intrinsic value than animal life. They claim that killing for science is a worthier cause than killing for food.


  • Did you know that pet food, household products or tobacco are tested on animals too? [1]
  • Over three million animals are used for experiments in the UK every year. As a result an animal dies in a laboratory somewhere in the UK every 12 seconds.[2]
  • The Mascara we use can cause blindness to the animals during the process of testing.
  • Most lab tests are done on animals without anesthetic? That animals are often tortured and abused for years, spending their entire lives in isolated cages or tanks?[3]
  • Despite all efforts in Europe, about 10.7 million animals are used per year (2002 figures).
  • More than 50% of the animals are used in research and development for human medicine, dentistry and in fundamental biology studies, about 16% in production and quality control of products and devices in human medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry, and about 10% for toxicological and other safety evaluation.
  • From this 10%, about 2,600 animals were used for toxicological or other safety evaluations of products/substances used or intended to be used mainly as cosmetics or toiletries.[4]

Online resources and further reading

  • PETA's animal testing video
  • The horror in science labs
  • Some popular products that test on animals
  • List of Companies that test on animals
  • History of animal testing


  • The New biochip could replace animal testing
  • One of the largest research labs in the USA , Convance Inc. has been investigated for their use of unneccesary suffering for lab primates. They were secretly photographed by an undercover investigator, slapping, cursing and abusing the primates that were the subjects of these tests. Large bore tubes were brutally shoved into their nostrils and down into their stomachs. These tubes were then used to convey all sorts of substances into the monkeys to see how their stomachs reacted. Is it really necessary to inject oven cleaner, nail polish and other toxic materials into these animals to see how they react?


  • Animals in Research
  • PeTA
  • An Overview of Animal Testing Issues
  • Scientific Alternatives to Animal Testing: A Progress Report


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]

See Also