Animal Experimentation and Struggle to Abolish It


The testing on animals is conducted for research purposes in pharmaceutical companies, medical colleges, and universities in areas such as behavioral sciences, biology, genetics, drug testing, and biomedical research. Researchers that support the practice argue that almost every achievement in medical science has been the result of using animal testing (Steinberg and Rosner 260). But it is not necessary that animals should be subjected to torture and immense suffering in the name of finding medical and cosmetic solutions for humans. Annihilating the life of an animal just for the sake of testing shampoos and lipsticks can hardly be ethical. Medical and scientific opinion cannot conclusively support the view that the study of human physiology can be done only by using animal experimentation this is why the debates on whether people have the right to make experiments on animals still remain open (Monamy 12). The fight against animal testing has been lasting for several decades with this trend being quite powerful these days; most of the world countries are currently adopting laws aimed at stopping experiments on animals with this trend becoming global and extremely significant for the entire world.

History of the trend

Until around 1945, experimentation on animals (also commonly referred to as “vivisection”) had been widely conducted and accepted in medical research (Garner, pp.122). Animals involved in the experimentations were imprisoned, maimed, poisoned, injected with diseases, and murdered (Uncaged). These details, and even more horrifying specifics involved in each test or experiment, were not made accessible to the general public. Instead, the public based their acceptance of vivisection on what was published by medical professionals. Later, however, all the horrors of vivisection were disclosed to the public, which raised the public interest in the lives of innocent animals.

It took several decades for the fight for the animals’ rights to begin with most of the animal protection groups starting to be formed only in the 1970s. The animal rights movement originated in England and America “out of organized efforts to abolish cruelty to animals” (Medici, Prusan-Goldstein, James, and Caparino para. 3). A bill preventing cruel treatment of cattle was passed in England, which was followed by similar laws passed in New York. In 1966 the US Congress passed an act (Animal Welfare Act) that restricted the use of animals in scientific laboratories. In several years, the first publications on animal rights protections started emerging with Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation being released in 1975 (Singer 100). The work depicted how cruelly the animals were treated in farms and how bad the conditions in which they had been raised were. In 1979 a group (Attorneys for Animal Rights) dealing with the issues concerning animal rights was formed (Medici para. 36). This further entailed numerous boycotts in support of the animals’ rights and people’s reporting about these rights’ violations.

Currently, the animal rights movement became a global trend that seeks to eliminate the legal distinction between people and animals. The trend is quite powerful and efficient in ending animal testing with the use of animals for research being prohibited in a number of countries.

Size and characteristics of the trend

Most of the world countries strive to legally protect animals from being used for testing and experiments. In the USA, for instance, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of 1966, as amended from time to time, sets some minimum conditions for humanely treating animals while using them for experiments in laboratory settings. However, this Act is not effective enough since it does not provide for the protection of mice, rats, birds, and farm animals that comprise almost 95% of the animals used in such experiments. All institutions engaged in vivisection are required by the AWA to have in place animal care facilities and committees that supervise and ascertain if it is essential to use the animals for the proposed experiments. Such committees also examine if non-animal options can be considered. The AWA does not provide for the prevention of invasive procedures and the poisoning of animals after the completion of the experiment processes. It is strongly felt that the AWA is more like addressing unrealistic issues such as the size of cages and anesthesia.

In the UK laboratory testing on animals and vertebrates are controlled by the Home Office under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act of 1986. The problem of animal testing became especially disturbing in 2008 when the Home Office discovered that “nearly 3.7m experiments were performed on animals last year, a rise of 454,000 or 14% on the previous year” (Tatchell para. 2). Numerous organizations are formed in the country in order to fight animal testing. These organizations appeal to the government to demand the following:

  • End the use of all non-human primates in experiments;
  • End all experiments causing substantial suffering to any animal – a position favoured by 77 percent of the British population, according to a PETA-commissioned poll;
  • Bring genuine transparency to the system by making available all non-confidential information on the licensing of every experiment;
  • Strengthen measures to promote the development and use of methods replacing animal experiments. (“Fight Against Animal Experiments: Be a Voice for the Voiceless” para. 8)

Apart from this, the UK has adopted numerous acts aimed at protecting animal rights. Among them are Animal Protection Act, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the Animal Research Act, Animal Welfare Act, etc. (“Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes” para. 1).

In Japan, the Law 105 of 1973 as revised in 2000 provides for the humane treatment and management of animals and takes care of the control and protection of animals. The law provides for experiments to be conducted on animals only for specific research purposes and to be used by methods that cause the minimum pain to animals.

In Australia, there are several animal welfares acts, such as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Animal Research Act, and Animal Protection Act. Experiments on animals are governed by a specific code of conduct whereby it is required that pain and distress to animals have to be minimal. Law in Australia provides that if pain cannot be avoided, animals must be administered anesthesia, or alternatively, the experiments must be ended at the earliest. All institutions that use animals for experimentation should have an ethics committee for animal experimentation that works towards adopting ethical practices towards animals. The Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching is a combined agency for both countries in promoting humane patterns of animal research and care, while at the same time encouraging the adoption of ethical practices towards animals.

In addition, the whole of Europe has united with the purpose of reducing animal testing. In 2005 European Partnership on Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing offered an action program pursuing the aim to reduce the use of animals for laboratory purposes (Laroche, Lalis, and Brekelmans 769). Moreover, it has initiated labeling of the cosmetic products with “non-tested on animals” label being put on those products the manufacturers of which opted to use alternative ways of research. Apart from this Partnership, there also exist international organizations which cooperate in order to achieve better results. For instance, there are the International Animal Fighting Campaign and Humane Society International of which the latter organizes campaigns and calls the world’s welfare groups to support The Humane Society of the United States in its demanding from the government to strengthen the existing laws protecting animal rights.

There are a number of organizations in the developed world that are constantly working towards curbing the practice of vivisection. The American Anti-Vivisection Society works towards building awareness against the practice and advocates putting an end to the use of animals for education, testing and research. The society’s mission is to spread awareness, to influence legislators to introduce laws that protect animals and to provide alternatives to scientists. The Society has a Science Bank which provides dissection options that do away with torture to animals. It also gives grants to scientists who take initiatives in working on alternatives that do not involve the killing of animals. The Society has assisted in freeing a large number of chimpanzees from testing sites and funded initiatives in saving millions of animals in the USA. It has established stronger standards for labeling to curb cruelty to animals and in the process liberated a large number of animals from pain and suffering. Similarly, the National Anti-Vivisection Society is a non-profit organization that is engaged in promoting justice, respect, and compassion for animals by using educational agendas that are framed on ethical and scientific theories and backed by documented evidence in regard to cruelty and wasteful results of vivisection.

Conflicting perspectives on the trend

There exist three main approaches to ending animal testing. First of all, there exist welfarists who, though they do not demand stopping experimentations on animals, still seek to reduce the sufferings they the animals were subjected to in the course of experiments. Pragmatism is another approach to the problem under consideration. Pragmatists are regarded as a more radical group demanding the protection of animals’ rights; they believe that experiments on animals can be justified in those cases when they are beneficial for society. Pragmatists aim at reducing the experimentations on animals by organizing numerous negotiations and political protests. Finally, fundamentalism seems to be the most effective approach in fighting against animal testing. The emergence of fundamentalists brought the most drastic changes in ending the vivisection with this group refusing to accept any use of animals, irrespective of the benefits it could bring. Animal Liberation Front was formed as a result of this trend with most of its members not only being vegetarians but even opposing having pets.

The main conflict with respect to these three approaches lies in each of their supporters considering a particular approach the only acceptable one. This often results in their rejecting and resisting the legislation of each other (Perlo 53). The most persistent at this are pragmatists who believe that the solution which they offer to the problem of animal testing is the most balanced. Despite this, all three approaches are aimed at protecting animals’ rights and a great contribution to animal protection will be made if at least some of the objectives the supporters of each of these approaches have set are fulfilled.

Works Cited

Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes. Frame. 2006. Web. 1

Fight against Animal Experiments: Be a Voice for the Voiceless. Peta. 2008. Web.

Laroche, Charles, Lalis, Georgette, and Brekelmans, Cornelis. The European partnership for alternative approaches to animal testing. 6th World Congress on Alternatives & Animal Use in the Life Sciences. 2007. Web.

Medici, April, Prusan-Goldstein, Jody, James, Susane, and Caparino, Melanie The Animal Rights Movement. Hunter College, 2003. Web.

Monamy, Vaughan. Animal Experimentation: a Guide to the Issues. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Perlo, Katherine. “Fundamentalism or Pragmatism?” Journal for Critical Animal Studies 6.1(2008): 53-60. Print.

Singer, Peter. In Defense of Animals: the Second Wave. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006.

Steinberg, Avraham and Rosner, Fred. Encyclopedia of Jewish medical ethics: a compilation of Jewish medical law on all topics of medical interest. Jerusalem: Feldheim Publishers, 2003.

Tatchell, Peter. The Long Fight against Animal Testing. Guardian.co.uk, 2009. Web.