FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here is a common list of animal testing FAQs.
Do the animals suffer?
Being kept in a cage or in captivity is extremely stressful for most animals and studies show that being restrained in a laboratory cage drives animals to insanity and causes severe abnormalities in their brains and behaviour.
Even the most simple procedures, such as taking a blood sample, can be extremely distressing for animals and more so when done by an inexperienced technician or a laboratory worker who doesn’t care for the animals - it isn’t always easy to find the vein, especially in small, frightened animals who will do everything they can to resist.
However, most experiments involve MUCH more suffering than this. For example in safety tests, a long tube is forced all the way down the throat of an animal so that the test chemical can be put directly into the stomach to enable the laboratory workers to measure any vomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions, bloody tears, skin lesions, ulcers, breathing difficulty or damage to the eyes or organs – these animals are alive whilst these tests are administered.
Many animals are deliberately injured by tests, surgery, chemicals or genetic manipulation during medical research experiments – they are purposefully infected viruses like Ebola and AIDs and made to suffer painful conditions such as arthritis and heart attacks so symptoms can be studied.
How many animals are used in research?
2.97 million animals were used for the first time in procedures completed in 2021 and a total number of 3.05 million ‘procedures’ were completed. Due to the way the data is gathered it is not possible to determine how many animals were re-used and suffered in multiple procedures or trials.
Of these 3.05 million ‘procedures’, 877,411 were carried out for ‘basic research’ (which aims to ‘expand our knowledge’), 469,485 were carried out to try to prevent disease and find treatments, and 361,546 were carried out for regulatory purposes (which typically means toxicology).
The species of animals used included, but were not limited to mice, rats, guinea-pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, pigs, sheep, birds, fish, amphibians and monkeys.
Do safety tests on animals protect humans?
Often the tests do the exact opposite of helping humans which is diabolical. Using animals as ‘models’ to predict human reactions to any drugs or chemicals is worth nothing and have a prediction rate (for harmful side effects) of only 5-25%– we are not the same as a rat, a dog, a bird, a rabbit or any of the other animals that are routinely used in laboratories across the world.
Millions of people suffer adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to their prescription medicines for this reason, despite having been ‘safety’ tested on animals.
Manufacturers use animal test results to claim their products are safe when more accurate scientific methods may show otherwise. People believed smoking was safe for decades because lung cancer is difficult to induce in animals and millions of people have died as a result to this failed science.
Additionally, French scientific organisation Pro Anima estimate that one million EU citizens die prematurely every year because of toxins in their food or environment – all of which have been passed as safe by animal tests.
Do animal experiments help us find cures for human diseases?
The answer, plain and simply, is NO – some people suggest that animal experiments are a ‘necessary evil’ in finding cures that kill people we care for and love but this is not the case and in fact, the opposite is true. Animals as ‘models’ in science and human disease has misled findings and delayed medical progress for years. The symptoms that are artificially induced in animals are never exactly the same as the real human version and most importantly, the cause isn’t the same either – therefore any potential cure wouldn’t be the same either, meaning years of wasted research and unnecessary pain to the thousands of animals.
According to one expert: ‘The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse… We have cured mice of cancer for decades and it simply didn’t work in humans.‘ – Dr Richard Klausner, National Cancer Institute
Everything we know to be true about HIV and AIDS has been learned from studying people with the disease, and yes, this has not prevented millions of pounds and animals’ lives from being wasted in a fruitless search for an animal ‘model’.
“What good does it do you to test something [a vaccine] in a monkey? You find five years from now that it works in the monkey, and then you test it in humans and you realise that humans behave totally differently from monkeys, so you’ve wasted five years” – Dr Mark Feinberg, leading AIDS researcher
Equally, our understanding of important diseases, such as polio – and how it is transmitted – was hampered through a reliance on animal experiments.
‘Work on [the polio vaccine] was long delayed by the erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease, based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys.’ – Dr Albert Sabin, inventor of the polio vaccine
The truth is, by using animals as surrogate humans we’re not only hurting animals, we’re hurting ourselves. ‘Animal model systems not only kill animals, they also kill humans.’ – Dr Irwin Bross, former Director of Sloan-Kettering the largest cancer research institute in the world.
Why does animal testing still continue?
Most scientists never question the practice of animal testing because it is the way they are taught, and the way that those teaching them were taught and so on – they are lead to believe over years, that this is the best and only way. The use of animals has become an ingrained habit that years of education and training and work is based on and is considered too inconvenient to break. However, more shockingly, one of the main reasons that animals are still used so widely is money – animal experiments is BIG business and thousands upon thousands of people and businesses profit from the pain and suffering.
The pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable industry in the world and its interests are strongly protected by governments. Testing on animals allow these businesses to get their products onto the market more quickly, making as much money as quickly as possible, and most importantly, they provide a legal defence for the company when people are injured or killed by ADRs. They will argue that they are not to blame as they tested their products and believed they were safe, so no blame can be put on them.
‘Animal studies are done for legal reasons and not for scientific reasons. The predictive value of such studies for man is often meaningless.’ – Dr James Gallagher, Director of Medical Research Lederle Laboratories
How will we find cures without using animals?
Non-animal research techniques have offered us the best contributions to modern medicine; clinical observation (monitoring patients), epidemiology (linking lifestyle factors with disease), human tissue research, organ and tissue culture, computer modelling and advanced technologies such as MRI scanners and ultrasound.
The public are increasingly turning towards wanting non-allopathic therapies, based on holistic models of health and disease with the focus on strengthening and nourishing the body’s immune defences rather than waging a ‘self-destructive’ high tech war on pathogens, tumours and the like. All of these medical tools and techniques and many more have improved our ability to treat patients – and they owe absolutely nothing to animal experimentation.
We have to stop investing valuable time, money and resource into archaic animal experiments that don’t work, when we now have proven human-based research methods readily available to us which provide accurate results. Every living creature would benefit if animal experiments were stopped tomorrow – we would have safer drugs and greater focus and investment in productive research techniques. In addition, more investment into health education would offer huge benefits as we know prevention is ultimately the best medicine and the premature onset of most illnesses, including cancer and heart disease, is largely (at least 80%) preventable. As far as diseases such as AIDS are concerned, prevention is not just better than cure; it is, right now, the only cure.
Don't we need to test new drugs and medicines in a whole body?
The question is that whilst we know that experiments in human tissues, etc. cannot always predict what will happen when a drug, for example, is given to a living person, but do animal tests do better? The answer is that a carefully designed array of tests in a variety of human tissues, combined with sophisticated computer simulations will give much more accurate and reliable predictions for human responses than animal experiments ever could or ever will. Animals do indeed give results about the whole body – but it is the wrong body!
One of the most important things to note, is that any new drug is only truly assessed when it has been trialled in human volunteers and patients in clinical trials. This is not the same thing as experimenting on people, but ethically conducted clinical trials with participants full informed consent. These trials are a major contribution to finding and improving treatments for the diseases which affect our lives and take our loved ones. Unfortunately, clinical trials are not completely free from risk – this is largely due to the previous animal tests giving a false sense of security through misleading indications of safety. If the animal testing stages were replaced, participants risks would be significantly reduced – shockingly, more than 90% of drugs fail in clinical trials after they have passed all the animal tests successfully.
What percentage of animal tests fail?
Studies published in prestigious medical journals have repeatedly shown that animal experimentation wastes precious resources and lives.
More than 90% of basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to treatments for humans. And more than 95% of new drugs that test safe and effective in animals go on to fail in human clinical trials. Yet around the world, millions of animals continue to be used in experiments and then killed.
Do universities carry out animal research?
UK universities are among the best in the world and are widely regarded as leaders in teaching and research. Yet many people, including prospective students, would be horrified to learn that these prestigious institutions, often deeply rooted in history, have failed to move with modern scientific advances and continue to carry out experiments on animals on a massive scale. Through extensive research and many freedom of information requests, PETA has compiled shocking statistics on the number of procedures carried out on animals at 35 of the top universities in the country.
Would you rather let your child die than support animal experiments?
Such artificial moral dilemmas are often quoted to blackmail people emotionally into accepting animal experiments. In fact, the real choice is not between dogs and babies – it is between good and bad science. Animal experiments are bad science because they only tell us about animals and not about people.
"Oh, you don't support animal testing, aren't you a hypocrite for taking drugs and medication then?"
Not at all. Those opposed to animal experiments would rather choose drugs which have not been tested on animals, just as they choose to buy non-animal-tested cosmetics. But because all pharmaceutical products are tested on animals, we have no choice if we wish to use them. However, the volume of drugs being consumed in ‘developed’ countries is now a major cause of death and injury.
Where animal tested medicines work safely and effectively, it is despite animal tests, not because of them.
Do those opposed to animal experimentation care more about animals than humans?
The majority of people who are against animal experiments are against them because of a strong and compassionate desire to end suffering of all living creatures and these people very often support and celebrate a wide range of charities and good causes aimed at helping disadvantaged people as well as animals. However, it makes logical sense to be against animal experiments from a human health perspective even if you don’t care about animals at all.
Is there any opposition to the use of NAMs in scientific research?
Laboratory animal breeders (like MBR Acres) are opposed to the rise of the NAMs because they will lose business to them. The same can be said about the "Wet Lab" technicians and scientists who only know how to work with animals and would simply be out of a job if animals were replaced with human based technologies.
The government made a commitment in 2010 to reduce animals used in scientific research, but 13 years after this declaration of intent, the UK remains one of the highest lab animal users in Europe. In those same years, non-animal technologies that can produce faster, cheaper and more human-relevant results, have advanced enormously but are not being implemented correctly.
What are the different areas of research?
Basic research - studies into the immune system, the functioning and disease of the nervous system and cancer, including its development and control mechanisms. This is nothing more than curiosity driven experiments and rarely translates to human relevance.
Applied research - human cancer, infectious disorders, and nervous and mental disorders have consistently been within the top five most common areas of applied research.
Regulatory - procedures are carried out to satisfy the outdated and archaic legal requirements we have in the UK. The includes the gavage of beagle puppies, which involves passing a tube directly into the stomach of these poor animals up to three times a day for up to 90 days with no anaesthetic or analgesic (pain killer).
Why does the pharmaceutical industry not push to use more accurate methods of testing new drugs?
The pharmaceutical industry wants to get as many new drugs to clinical trials as possible, so as to increase the number of drugs that they can put on the market.
Using NAMs such as human organs on a chip would severely reduce the number of drugs entering clinical trials because of early detection of human adverse drug reactions. This is NOT good for business.
Where the pharmaceutical industry thinks it has found a blockbuster drug (i.e. a new drug that promises to make lots of profits because it can be prescribed to a large proportion of the population), then it most certainly does NOT want to test it via human based research technologies, in case the drug is shown to cause TOXICITY in humans.
Bringing a new drug to market costs billions of pounds and can take over a decade to develop. These high monetary and time investments are both strong contributors to today’s skyrocketing health care costs and significant obstacles to delivering new therapies to patients. One big reason behind these barriers is the animal "models" researchers use to develop drugs in the first place.
The adverse drug reactions cost is picked up by the NHS and 7% of the daily hospital admissions is because of ADRs. The pharmaceutical companies do not contribute anything to resolve this, it falls on the taxpayer (*source NICE ).
Do charities fund animal testing here in the UK?
Many health charities like Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and Alzheimer's Society ask for donations to help people with diseases and disabilities yet spend the money funding horrific experiments on animals.
Even if they are conducting valuable work in other fields, it is usually not possible to specify how your donation will be used. In those circumstances, it is best to support a charity that doesn’t use animals at all.
Before giving money to a health-research charity, we recommend that you investigate its current policy on animal testing. Some organisations have their policies on their websites, but others may not, and you will have to contact them directly.
If the charity does test on animals, please let its representatives know that you will instead donate your money to one that invests all its resources in effective, humane, non-animal research.