Will we ever Stop Testing on Animals?

There have been animal rights campaigners openly demanding an end to animal testing for at least 40 years but some would argue that they are no nearer achieving their goals. This leads us to the question of whether we will we ever stop testing on animals all together?

Animal rights group – In Defence of Animals launched a campaign against Proctor and Gamble in 1989 yet 22 years later the latter are still promoting animal testing both by selling products that are tested on animals and by financially supporting the companies that carry out the tests.

Animal testing, also known as Vivisection, has always been a highly debated and emotive issue. There are those strongly opposed to it, those who can see the benefits, those entirely for it and those who are ignorant of the sheer scale of it.

Every medicine is still tested on animals, and for many years every new substance for cosmetics and household products would have been. It’s impossible to know how many animals have suffered as a result of these tests since they began as not all have been recorded. Estimates, however, suggest that at least 10 million are still used worldwide every year!

The number of animal rights organisations continues to grow but the opposition to the cause they are all so united in seems as unyielding as ever. It is not fair to say that there haven’t been any hopeful steps forward however. Scientists have not been legally allowed to test on great apes since 2012. Cosmetic testing within the EU has been banned since 1998 but the UK still sell products that have been tested on animals in non-EU countries, which is a great number of the cosmetics we buy. There has been a long standing plan to implement a ban of the sale of any animal tested cosmetic to begin (currently in 2013) but it has been continually delayed and altered and it is still unclear whether it will happen next year.

The reasons animal rights campaigners won’t ever give up is because not only do they know that animals are suffering, they also know how unreliable the tests are. A huge 92% (approximately) of medical tests that pass the animal stage then fail the first human stages.

As science progresses further, more non-animal methods are being found and implemented which can often produce much more trustworthy and efficient results. Yet animal testing continues to be seen by some as an essential ‘safety net’ in testing. It sometimes seems like it is case of ‘stick to what you know’. It may be true that there have been great medical advancements to come from animal testing, but there have also been several disasters and setbacks. The hope must be that more advancement means less animal tests will be carried out each year and that eventually it can be minimal if not completely eradicated without being detrimental to scientific progression. Scientifically speaking we may not be ready yet to make the full transition to non-animal research but animal testing will always remain an ethically questionable practice.

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