Tag Archives: animal experimentation

As the Netherlands phases out animal experimentation, will other countries follow?

By Paula Moore

In a groundbreaking move, the Dutch government recently announced that it is working to end all experiments on animals. The Netherlands had already passed a motion in Parliament to phase out experiments on nonhuman primates, and now its goal is to be using only human-relevant, non-animal testing methods by 2025. PETA UK scientists have met with government officials and provided a 70-page document outlining areas of experimentation that can be ended immediately and a strategy for moving forward. Now the United States and other nations should follow suit.

The Dutch government’s bold decision promises great progress not only for the millions of animals who are intentionally infected with diseases, force-fed chemicals, blinded, burned, mutilated and left to suffer without veterinary care inside laboratories every year but also for human patients desperately waiting for therapies and cures for their illnesses. We’ve long known that mice are not just tiny human beings and that experimenters who cling to the archaic animal “model” as the gold standard of research are wasting precious time, resources and lives—both human and animal.

Although animals have the same capacity to feel fear and pain that we humans have, our physiology is vastly different, and results from animal studies are rarely relevant to human health. Multiple systematic reviews have documented the overwhelming failure of experiments on animals to benefit humans in the areas of neurodegenerative disease, neuropsychiatric disorders, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, inflammatory disease and more.

Nine out of 10 experimental drugs that pass animal studies fail in humans, and the few that are approved often need to be relabeled or pulled from the market after they sicken or kill human patients. Decades of HIV/AIDS experiments have failed to produce effective vaccines for humans, even though at least 85 were successful in primate studies. And while “[w]e have cured mice of cancer for decades”—according to former National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Richard Klausner—”it simply didn’t work in humans.”

No wonder John Ioannidis, professor of medicine and of health research and policy at Stanford University School of Medicine, says it is “nearly impossible to rely on most animal data to predict whether or not an intervention will have a favorable clinical benefit-risk ratio in human subjects.”

There are better ways to conduct research than intentionally sickening and injuring animals.

For example, scientists can replicate human organs on microchips to test the impact of potential drugs. Sophisticated computer models can simulate the progression of developing diseases and accurately predict drugs’ reactions in the human body. Advanced brain-imaging techniques—which allow the human brain to be safely studied down to the level of a single neuron—can replace crude experiments in which animals are intentionally brain-damaged.

In the field of toxicity testing, non-animal methods harnessing scientific advances in molecular and cell biology, genetics, computational power and robotic testing systems can test more chemicals in a single day than have been tested in the past 20 years using animals. These methods allow scientists to test mixtures of chemicals, assess chemical effects on vulnerable populations or life stages, and detect sensitive effects that animal tests cannot.

But setting aside the fact that experimenting on animals is bad science and that there are more relevant and efficient methods, it is morally wrong to poison, infect, burn and cut up animals in a laboratory. Just as our science has advanced, so has our understanding of the other beings with whom we share the planet. Other animals, like us, are conscious beings who develop friendships, have complex social structures, use language and make tools, are capable of understanding cause-and-effect relationships, solve problems, form abstract thoughts and show empathy.

Fortunately, this is not a case of “us” vs. “them.” By embracing bold policy initiatives as the Netherlands has done and investing in exciting and progressive non-animal methods, we will have far more promising treatments and cures for humans and more effective and reliable methods for toxicity assessment, while also sparing tens of millions of animals unimaginable suffering.

Animal experiments are morally ‘unthinkable’

By Justin Goodman

Last month, Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and more than 150 other leading thinkers endorsed a comprehensive report on animal experimentation by the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics that concludes that the practice is “unthinkable” and that “[i]n terms of harm, pain, suffering, and death, this constitutes one of the major moral issues of our time.”

This report should be required reading for the entire scientific community. With a growing majority of the public now opposed to experimentation on animals, mounting evidence that the results from animal experiments rarely help humans, the existence of superior new technologies such as human-organs-on-chips and, perhaps most importantly, our undeniable awareness of other animals’ striking intelligence and emotional capacity, experimenters must stop viewing animals as mere tools for humans’ use and embrace non-animal research methods.

Even though we now know that animals from mice to monkeys experience not just pain but also fear, distress, loneliness, love and joy—in other words, the same wide range of emotions that humans do—more than 100 million animals continue to be locked alone inside barren laboratory cages, burned in painful tests, force-fed toxic chemicals, subjected to crippling surgeries, infected with viruses, traumatized in psychological experiments and deprived of nearly everything that makes life worth living..

For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continues to breed baby monkeys to suffer from mental illness, tear them away from their distraught mothers at birth, lock them inside tiny cages all alone and subject them to cruel experiments in which they’re tormented with fake snakes, blasted with loud noises and terrified by masked humans.

Extremely social and intelligent beings, the traumatized monkeys—like human victims of torture—suffer from severe anxiety, depression, hair loss and other physical and mental illnesses and engage in self-destructive behavior such as biting themselves and pulling out their own hair. Not surprisingly, Dr. Jane Goodall and countless other experts in primate behavior and human psychology have joined PETA in calling for this to end.

The Department of Defense (DOD) still stabs, shoots and blows up thousands of pigs in archaic medical training exercises, even though its own studies show that modern simulators teach lifesaving battlefield medical skills better than mutilating animals does. The DOD banned the use of dogs for these violent training drills more than 30 years ago yet continues to maim pigs even though they suffer just as much and are just as smart, friendly and playful. Cambridge University’s Dr. Donald Broom has stated that “[pigs] have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly [more so than human] three-year-olds.”

And countless rats and mice are still being burned and poisoned in unreliable and archaic chemical and personal-product tests, even though modern non-animal testing methods are more accurate, fast and economical. A big part of the problem is that the interests of these diminutive beings are unfairly written off because of their size, but—like humans—they wince when they’re hurt, giggle when they’re tickled, care deeply for their young and don’t hesitate to rescue their friends, and even strangers, when they’re in distress.

According to the Oxford Centre report, “The deliberate and routine abuse of innocent, sentient animals involving harm, pain, suffering, stressful confinement, manipulation, trade, and death should be unthinkable. Yet animal experimentation is just that: the ‘normalisation of the unthinkable.'” Indeed, treating other thinking, feeling animals like disposable laboratory equipment is unscientific, ignorant and inexcusable.

We can all help science move away from morally “unthinkable” experimentation on animals by refusing to buy cosmetics and household products that were tested on animals, boycotting health charities that fund experiments on animals and  urging our lawmakers to redirect the billions of dollars they devote to cruel and ineffective animal studies each year to ethical, cutting-edge non-animal research.

North Utah Valley Animal Shelter betrays dogs and cats

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Loves fetch and belly rubs. Sweet dog. Good for a family.”

That’s how Chance was described on his intake form at the North Utah Valley Animal Shelter (NUVAS).

But NUVAS did not place Chance with a loving family. PETA recently obtained his photo and those of 50 other dogs who were also sold by NUVAS to the University of Utah for use in deadly experiments.

We may never know what became of Chance. We do know that experimenters at the University cut holes into the chests and necks of dogs from NUVAS, implanted pacemakers into their hearts to induce irregular heartbeats, and then killed and dissected them. They also drilled holes into the skulls of cats from NUVAS and used others for training exercises in which they repeatedly forced hard plastic tubes down the cats’ delicate throats.

Descriptions of all these animals were recorded on the shelter’s intake forms. They were described as “very cute,” “cuddly,” “good with children,” “housebroken,” able to “sit and shake hands,” etc.

In other words, they have qualities that remind us of our own special companion animals.

PETA wants NUVAS to stop betraying the very animals it is charged with protecting.

It is the only shelter in Utah that still engages in the shameful practice of selling animals for experimentation. Continue reading North Utah Valley Animal Shelter betrays dogs and cats

Will President Obama allow 60-year-old space program veterans to retire?

By Ingrid Newkirk

New Mexico’s Governor Richardson met with National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials recently in a last-ditch effort to stop NIH from moving 202 “retired” chimpanzees out of Holloman Air Force base and back into invasive experiments. NIH is moving swiftly to transfer the chimpanzees into facilities so substandard that caging conditions within them violate not only everything that we have come to know about what chimpanzees require but also federal law itself. Some of the animals are 60 years old; some are left over from the space program. Gov. Richardson’s visit came on the heels of petitions and pleas by everyone from physicians, veterinarians and primatologists to actors such as Gene Hackman, all of which have been ignored.

It was only a week earlier that Time magazine’s cover story asked the question, “What’s on animals’ minds?” Fifteen years before, as Dr. Jane Goodall mulled over the complex relationships within chimpanzee families, Time had asked, “Do animals think?” Now the question is “What do animals think?” In the case of chimpanzees, who have been taught to use sign boards and even American Sign Language to communicate with their human captors, they think a lot.

The more pressing question is now “What is NIH thinking?” And the answer isn’t befitting our nation’s level of awareness about animals and its commitment to their protection.

In 2001, the U.S. Congress recognized that chimpanzees should be retired from experimentation. “Retirement” has not meant a beachfront condo or a return to the Gombe. Charities have managed to wrest away some chimpanzees, rehabilitate them from a life that, in some cases, consisted of 34 years on a concrete bench in a tiny cell or two decades in a steel cage barely any bigger than the animal’s body, and put them in group care. Continue reading Will President Obama allow 60-year-old space program veterans to retire?

Leading Alzheimer’s researcher: Animal experiments will not help humans

By Lawrence A. Hansen, M.D.

The Society for Neuroscience just held its annual conference in Chicago. I attended—not as a member, though neuroscience is my field, but to protest the organization’s stated goal of broadening support for animal research. The society, like animal experimenters everywhere, perceives “growing threats” to animal research and seeks to recruit additional allies with a “vested interest” in promoting animal experimentation.

Every vested interest is entitled to its own propaganda, but such an effort warrants a response from neuroscience researchers who instead advocate kindness to animals. Continue reading Leading Alzheimer’s researcher: Animal experiments will not help humans