Health

Should animal testing be banned?

As society becomes more concerned about the well-being of animals, a debate has emerged about whether animal testing should be replaced by other alternatives

Rise of the Issue

Animal testing emerged as a way to make sure that new products and substances to be put on the market were safe for humans to use. It has been an important aspect of scientific discovery which allowed for many breakthroughs, as well as a process that has prevented people from being harmed by the toxicity and side-effects of new treatments. But while proponents believe that testing on animals is a life-saving way of checking a substance’s effect on a living organism, many have raised the question of whether this practice is ethical for animals, and whether other alternatives that are less harmful to other living creatures could replace it. 

The first legislation ever passed to protect animals from testing is the Animal Welfare Act, in 1966, which established minimum standards of treatment for animals used in any commercial or teaching setting. Since then, it has been amended multiple times to expand the protection of animals further to different situations. At the state level, many states, such as California and Hawaii, have come to pass laws limiting the use of animals in testing specific products, such as cosmetics for example.

Issue Timeline

1966

The Laboratory Animal Welfare Act is Passed

It is the first federal law in the U.S. that has been made to help protect the rights of laboratory animals and regulate their living conditions.

1970

The Laboratory Animal Welfare is Amended

The Act is amended and becomes the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which expands its application to a broader range of animals and to a larger number of institutions using animals.

1985

The AWA is Amended to Provide Better Animal Care

With the passage of the Food Security Act, the Animal Welfare Act is further amended to ensure that laboratory animals are being treated according to certain standards of care.

2002

The Definition of the Animals Protected by the AWA Changes

This amendment to the Animal Welfare Act excludes birds, mice, and rats bred for the sole purpose of research from its definition, although it continues to protect these animals in other contexts than scientific research.

2008

The Fine for Violating of the AWA Increases

Another amendment increases the fine for any violation of the Animal Welfare Act from $2500 to $10000.

2020

The California Cruelty Free Act is Passed

On January 1, 2020 Senate Bill No. 1249, also known as the “California Cruelty Free Act” went into effect banning any manufacturer from using animal testing when another alternative is available.

Micro Issues

A.

Animal Cruelty

While both sides tend to agree that animal testing is hurtful to animals, some believe that it should be banned altogether, while others think that more measures should be taken to improve the tested animals’ living conditions.

B.

Scientific Research

While those in favor of the ban believe that there are or should be alternatives to animal testing, others think that there is no other way to conduct some types of research on living beings.

C.

Saving Lives

The two sides have diverging views on whether the human lives spared by animal testing in scientific research justify the mistreatment of other living species.

Pro Arguments

1.

Animal testing is one of the biggest forms of animal cruelty.

Banning animal testing will eliminate one of the most important legitimate forms of mistreatments of other living beings.

2.

Some forms of animal testing could easily be avoided.

Animal testing in certain contexts, such as the testing of cosmetics’ products, could easily be replaced by other methods that do not harm other living creatures.

3.

A ban on animal testing would promote research for other testing methods.

Scientific progress is stimulated by constraints and limitations, and a a ban on animal testing would ultimately force researchers to find more alternatives that are not currently being investigated.

4.

Banning animal testing would save lives.

Animals are sentient living creatures and their lives should be protected in the same way that human lives are.

5.

Animal testing is not a guarantee of product’s safety.

There are instances where the human body does not react in the same way as another species’ would, thereby making animal testing unreliable.

Con Arguments

1.

Banning animal testing would remove life-saving treatments.

Many treatments and products that are now available were only made possible through animal testing. Banning these altogether will impact high-risk research that cannot yet safely be tested on humans.

2.

A ban might not be the best solution.

There is a difference between removing all excess use of animal testing, and removing it altogether. There are other ways than a ban to make sure that animals are being treated fairly and animal testing is only used when no other option is possible.

3.

Animal testing has had positive impacts on animals too.

Although much animal testing hasn’t been done for the sake of other species’ well-being, other living beings have also benefitted from the discoveries made during these tests, thereby improving the treatments we give not just to humans, but to animals as well.

4.

A ban might put human beings at risk.

If products and treatments cannot be tested on other living beings first, humans will need to go through the testing phase themselves, potentially putting them at risk.

5.

Removing animal testing will slow down scientific research.

Since animals have shorter life-cycles, testing can be done on full life-cycles by introducing variables early in an animal’s life and observing what happens until that animal perishes. Such testing is therefore much more difficult and slower to conduct on human beings since humans live much longer.