For a long time, we have used animals especially, guinea pigs, cats, mice, rabbits, monkeys, dogs, etc., for the purpose of testing drugs and cosmetic formulations. Today, animal testing is on the rise because pharmaceuticals and cosmetic companies along with domestic product manufacturers are spending billions of dollars on making their products safe for the humans. They are using animals to test their chemical preparations in order to detect and study the effectiveness or the adverse effects of such drugs, before they are marketed.
Animal testing is a multifaceted issue. There are those people who lend their support and naturally, some are against it. Individuals, who don't know anything about animal testing or choose to ignore what it implies are also part of the scene through their consumption of the products tested on the animals.
The issue is now being weighed in numbers of animals used. The following are some of the facts based on the data available, especially, in the United States:
- Each year 56 to 100 million cats and 54 million dogs are born in the United States.
- Annually, the number of dogs and cats that are put to death is between 10.1 and 16.7 million.
- The supporters of animal testing claim that these animals would otherwise be euthanized. The number comes to approximately 1.1% of dogs and cats euthanized in shelters. According to them, at the most, one dog or cat is used in research for the 50 that are destroyed in animal shelters.
- The approximate number of animals used in research, each year, is 17-22 million which is much smaller as compared to the 5 billions animals that are killed and consumed for food, each year.
- Most of the research is conducted on rodents such as rats or mice. Rodents constitute 85-90% of the research animals.
- Statistics reveals that out of the total, only 0.5% of research animals are non-human primates.
- It is said that 61% of the animals used in research suffer no pain, as against 6% that experience pain.
- 31% of the animals are relieved of pain through an euthanasia.
- The statistic points to the fact that 50% of animals used in cosmetic testing die within 2-3 weeks after the experiments.
- The facts also show that at least 12 million experiments were conducted in Europe during 2005.
- In 2005, 2.3 million animals were used in France, whereas Germany made use of 1.8 million animals.
- Finland and Ireland managed to lower number. On the other hand, statistics make it clear that countries like Sweden, Spain and Greece almost doubled their use of animals for testing.
- In Europe, there is a lot of public support for ban on animal testing. On the contrary, statistics show that there is a 2.3% increase in the number of animals used for testing.
- The United Kingdom has banned cosmetic testing since 1990.
- France, which is one of the most influential nations in Europe is against the ban.
- Animal testing helps them in making safe products, before they are launched in the market for human consumption.
- The decrease in human deaths due to cardiovascular diseases is because of the knowledge gained out of animal testing and research.
- The animals are used in research only when they are indispensable.
- It helps preserve the environment.
- During research the animals are treated humanely.
- The opponents proclaim that the main reason is to earn profit at the expense of animals, and avoiding lawsuits from unsatisfied consumers.
- Most of the time, these are used in the research of the diseases that are not found in them naturally, such as different type of cancers to which humans falls prey or HIV.
- Animal rights activists believe that animals have as an equal rights to life as that of human beings, and they are especially against testing in cosmetic industries.
- They also propose that alternatives such as chemical assay tests, tissues, cell and organ culture systems, cloned human skin cells and patches, computer and mathematical models be employed, which they think, will produce the same results as that of animal testing.
The issue is muddled because the highlighted facts by both the sides varies depending on who presents them. However, it appears that the decrease in the number of animals used for the testing, in one place, is compensated by the increase in the number of the same, in other parts of the world.