Animals in Laboratories
Testing of drugs and vaccines on animals began in the 1920s in the United States. Shortly after World War II, additional animal testing began to be used in the development of household and cosmetic products. Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require animal testing of most cosmetics; yet, many of these products are continuing to be routinely tested on animals.
- An estimated 50 to 100 million vertebrates are used annually, including over 20 million mice and rats, in laboratory experiments in the United States.
- Other animals used in laboratory experiments include primates, dogs, pigs, cats, sheep, and rabbits.
- Many of these animals are supplied by Class A Dealers, that is, business that breed dogs and other animals specifically for experimentation; others are acquired from Class B dealers, that is, brokers who sell animals to laboratories after acquiring them from animal shelters and other sources.
- Because of their compact size and docile temperament, beagles are the most common breed of dog used in laboratory research.
How Animal Testing Is Performed
- Draize test: Liquid chemicals are placed directly in the eye to estimate the ability of a test substance to irritate or damage the eye. Rabbits are most often used in this test. The animals are given no pain relievers and their heads are normally held in a stock.
- Skin irritant: Chemicals are placed on raw or shaved skin without the use of anesthetic. Substances may be corrosive and leave open wounds.
- Oral toxicity: Animals are force-fed chemicals often to the point of death in order to ascertain lethal doses.
- LD50 (lethal dose 50 percent): The purpose of this test is to estimate the dose of a substance needed to kill half a group of test animals.
Alternatives to Animal Testing
- Instead of using animals, some scientists use human tissue generated in a lab.
- Eliminating redundancy would reduce the number of animals needed for testing. Too many tests are replications of tests already conducted and offer no new information.
- Many companies use of product ingredients that are already know to be safe for human use.
Ways You Can Help Laboratory Animals
- Support legislation to require stricter regulation and enforcement of animal testing, including protecting all animals subject to consumer product and medical testing.
- Only buy personal care and household products that did not employee new animal testing. Visit www.leapingbunny.org to find companies that do and do not test their products on animals.
- Contact companies that test their products on animals and let them know you will no longer buy their products.
- Order the free NHES brochure “Animal Experimentation and Dissection” to distribute in your community.