New Technologies To Save Animals From Being Used In Research

Animal Testing

It has been a controversial procedure over the years: the use of animals in research and testing of products. There has been a strong push from many organizations and consumers to reduce or eliminate the need for animal testing.

Tens of millions of animals are killed or injured each year in research on the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, agricultural chemicals and consumer products.

High costs and questions about reliability have led to a shift away from animal testing. Companies said as much as 25 percent of products tested on animals failed to show side effects that proved serious later on. To prevent these oversights, products are tested on multiple species and large numbers of animals.

Since the 1970s, the number of research animals used in the United States has decreased by nearly 50 percent among the species tracked by the Department of Agriculture.

And the development of alternatives to animal testing may even further drop these numbers.

In-vitro tests using human cells have been progressing as an alternative. Companies sent $716 million last year for research in labs that specialize in alternative techniques to animal testing.

Companies like MatTek and Admet grow human tissues for testing from donor cells. The tissues take up to four weeks to grow in test kits. Up to three types of cells may be combined to produce realistic behavior.

To screen a drug, companies can charge up to $20,000 to test the drug against liver cells and other human tissues for side effects. If a drug company was to use research animals, the company would have to use a larger amount of the drug, wait a longer period of time and pay for the maintenance of the research animals.

Endosafe provides an alternative to the testing of solutions in rabbits’ eyes for contamination with fever-producing bacteria. The $5 test has replaced most rabbit testing in quality-control rooms at drug company factories.

Several big corporations are spending the money to shift away from animal testing. Procter & Gamble spent $225 million developing alternative testing methods over the past 20 years. L’Oreal has spent more than $800 million in that same time period.

European regulators are a source of motivation for European companies because they have set 2009 as a deadline for all animal testing on cosmetics. They are putting much pressure on the industry to develop alternatives to animal testing.

They are also requiring companies to provide safety data for about 30,000 chemicals over the next 11 years.

The European regulators and industries have a 10-year lead in transitioning to these alternatives compared to the United States. There are no government regulations to reduce or eliminate animal testing in the US.

Although a recent study done by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that over time, the use of animals for testing could be greatly reduced and possibly eliminated.

Source: New York Times

(Thanks Christine)

10 Responses to “New Technologies To Save Animals From Being Used In Research”

  1. Lynne says:

    Many of these lab animals are used to test household cleaning products, cosmetics, etc. Rabbits are especially useful since they don’t have tear ducts. Products such as oven cleaner are placed in the rabbits’ eyes. Rabbits locked in stocks have been known to break their own backs struggling against the pain. It is WAY past time to stop abusing animals in this manner.
    And as much as some of us hate PETA, that organization and others like them have been instrumental in bringing these abuses to light and pushing for much needed reform both in politics and in corporate behavior.

  2. shibadiva says:

    What a welcome relief it would be for companies to use alternative testing methods. Obviously, we want safe products for ourselves and our companions. On the other hand, one also has to question the need for the glut that is available in our supermarkets and stores, and the unnecessary duplication of testing to produce “new and improved” brands and their clones for consumers.

  3. nora says:

    It is ungodly and unethical to experiment on animals PERIOD. There is no REAL reason to cause injury and pain and trauma to innocent animals just so some sadistic lab tech can have a job. It should be completely outlawed. There are other ways to determine what we need and what is safe. If it requires sadistic means of testing, it is UNEEDED. ANIMALS WERE NOT CREATED FOR THIS!

  4. Lynne says:

    nora, there are a lot of doctors who agree with you.

  5. Lynne says:

    Recently I’ve seen the firemen out on their annual push for March of Dimes. Here is what the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has to say about the March of Dimes:

    The March of Dimes has funded a series of controversial experiments, including brain damaging and freezing newborn ferrets, injecting pregnant animals with cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol, tethering pregnant monkeys to cages by monitoring cables running through the mothers’ uteruses and into their fetuses’ bodies, sewing shut the eyelids of newborn kittens, subjecting pregnant sheep to severe dehydration, and deliberately injuring the lungs of newborn lambs. These are just a few of the March of Dimes’ ineffective, unethical experiments on animals that do not help mothers or babies – the most significant advances in understanding the causes of birth defects have come from human-based research.

    * Although the rates of almost all birth defects have either remained steady or increased, the number of preterm births has risen steadily since 1969, and the rate of maternal mortality has not improved since the 1980s, March of Dimes president Jennifer Howse takes in an annual salary of nearly half a million dollars. This exorbitant nonprofit salary comes at the expense of funding for programs, and contributes to the full one-quarter of MOD’s budget that goes toward fundraising and administrative costs.

    You might want to think about what you really want to donate to.

  6. catmom5 says:

    PCRM does have a list of those organizations that test and those that don’t. My contributions definitely go to those that don’t. There are so many alternatives ~ this month’s issue of Best Friends magazine had an article about this very subject.

  7. Lynn says:

    So sad that too many people unwittingly donate to organizations that harm animals.

    Lynne, regarding your first comment: Thanks. Hopefully others will not be quick to judge PETA on the basis on certain actions. See a list of PETA accomplishments by year at:

  8. Ruth says:

    IMO:Where do some of the tens of millions dead animals end up? Do they end up in rendering plants only to be recycled as pet food ingredients?

    “Procter & Gamble spent $225 million developing alternative testing methods over the past 20 years.” Considering P&G is a multi-Billion dollar corporation thats only a drop in the bucket for them to spend over the last 20 years. I don’t feel that these giant corporations are doing enough to stop inhumane animal testing.

  9. Lynn says:

    Unless consumers howl like mad and abandon products [hurt the profit margin] because a company uses animals for testing, I doubt many companies place a high priority on budgeting for developing testing alternatives.

  10. Anon says:

E-mail It