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What is animal experimentation (or vivisection)
Animal experimentation is a method of biomedical research based on the study of live animals and therefore represents a fundamental methodological error. The error consists in considering animals and their tissues as reliable models for humans. In reality every species is different from any other species (in anatomy, physiology, immunology, gene expression ... etc… even in its basic cellular structure) and each animal species can only be its own model. Substances that are extremely poisonous for humans are perfectly harmless for various laboratory animal species (see strychnine, hemlock, arsenic, mushroom "Amanita phalloides", etc.) and vice versa: the similarities between two species can be verified only "a posteriori", after the experiment has been repeated on the second species, namely the human. Never "a priori". This makes animal testing useless for humans and exposes us to serious risks with regard to our future well-being.
Animal experimentation is causing harm to humans in three ways:
1) it allows new substances, that have not undergone any preventive screening, to be tested on humans. This is due to the fact that animal tests do not give any results that are predictive for humans; each species responds in a different way (as an example, even rats and mice , closely related species, may have up to 60% different response rates from one another)
2) with animal tests we always risk discarding substances very useful for humans, simply because of the fact that they were found to be toxic for some animal species
3) The great amount of time and money wasted in animal experiments could be invested in using and further developing already existing species-specific tests. These tests are far more reliable and useful to humans. By getting rid of animal tests we would rid ourselves of a great obstacle to scientific progress and to the treatment of many serious and increasingly serious human health problems.
Why does animal experimentation still exist ?
Animal experimentation still exists because it is recognized at national and international regulatory level. It therefore is pursued and maintained despite the fact that it has never been subjected to the tests of validity that are now required for new testing methods and despite the fact – equally incredible but true – that it is used as the "gold standard" for these tests of validity.
This happens on one hand because of the mental inertia that has always delayed every form of cultural renewal and on the other hand because of the economic and professional interests related to it, that go well beyond the trade of animals. Here is a summary of the latter:
1) to expand curricula and to increase publications (repeat experiments already done with slight variations or just changing the animal strain or species)
2) to have an alibi for subsequent experimentation on humans without appropriate safeguards (man is the real guinea pig for every product placed on the market)
3) to easily predetermine (or choose) the desired answer to any test (just changing the species or sometimes just the strain of the animal used)
4) to have the advantage of “uncertainty”, which allows manufacturers to state, before conducting clinical trials in humans, that “there is no danger, animal tests have been done”, and, after a pharmacological disaster has occurred, stating that “we all know that animals are not always predictive ". This makes it possible for companies to escape liability and the payment of damages.
"The fact that the same substance can be defined 'harmless' or 'carcinogen' depending on the species of animal used, makes animal experimentation the ideal tool to market any type of product, although dangerous, and to silence victims who would dare to sue the producer "
Claude Reiss, president of" Antidote Europe ", director emeritus of the CNRS, Paris
• It’s estimated that every year approximately 500 million animals around the world are sacrificed in experimental laboratories, but it is difficult to obtain precise data. It also is very difficult to obtain videos or pictures, because animal testing is carried out in closed laboratories, in an atmosphere of extreme secrecy, protected by law and with access denied to ordinary citizens.
• Approximately 60% of lab animals are used for pharmacology, a smaller percentage for medical research (study of diseases), another for the testing of cosmetics, a part of psychology tests and then military tests and teaching purposes ... experiments of toxicity are common to all these categories (will take place in each of them) and represent approximately 75% of all experiments on animals.
• Animals are devocalized, poisoned, burned, blinded, starved, mutilated, made crazy, frozen, brain damaged, subjected to electric shocks, infected with viruses that do not normally affect animals. 65% without anesthesia and 22% with only partial anesthesia.
Even those who agree, from the ethical point of view, with animal experiments, would make their approval conditional on the premise that animal experiments have scientific value and reliability.
Animal experiments have allowed the marketing, as safe, of substances that have proved to be very harmful to humans (to mention only three in the past: Vioxx, Lipobay, and TGN1412); conversely, it has often happened that substances very useful to humans have been discarded for a long time because they had proved to be harmful or ineffective for some laboratory animals (example: Penicillin).
Statistics of the U.S. and Germany indicate that iatrogenic diseases (caused by medical treatment) are the 4th leading cause of death. It should also be borne in mind that 92% of candidate pharmaceutical drugs that are tested in animals are discarded in subsequent tests on humans because they are either too toxic or ineffective (data from Pubmed).
Europe is in a very paradoxical situation:
Scientific criticism to animal experimentation has increased significantly, which is documented in at least 4 events:
1) The National Research Council (NRC) of the United States, organ of the National Academy of Sciences, published in 2007 a document commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), entitled “Toxicity testing in the 21st century: a vision and a strategy”, announcing an epochal change in toxicology, meaning a gradual substitution of animal testing, considered unreliable, with a selection of in-vitro toxicity assessment methods preferably on human cells, using modern methods, which are far more reliable, faster, and cheaper;
2) the U.S. government adopts and finances large research programs based on cellular toxicology and other cutting-edge methods that do not use animals, in order to implement the guidelines of the National Research Council;
3) the most accredited scientific journals, have published several articles disputing the scientific value of animal experimentation;
4) the final document of the "VII World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Testing" (Rome, August 2009) announced the imminent end of animal testing, praising the new technologies, which
"are able to collect an unprecedented amount of information on the possible adverse effects caused by a substance to biological systems; are able to generate an amount of knowledge fargreater than that to date we have been able to identify and understand. In the very near future we will consider the use of animals for experimental purposes very obsolete"
Herman Koeter, co-chairman of the VII World Congress, former director of EFSA
While all this happens at the global level, the European Union approves (8/09/2010) a new directive (the 2010/63, revision of Directive 86/609) that not only in no way questions the method of animal testing - always cited, on the contrary, as a basic method in biomedical research - but refrains from providing incentives specific to the development and use of new cutting edge technologies.
Europe, therefore, insensitive to the "epochal changes" announced from overseas, is actually condemned to stagnation and recession on three fronts:
- The front of protection of human health and of the environment, now under severe threat;
- The front of scientific progress;
- The front of civil rights (both human and animal).
In the fall of 2010, the approval of the new EU directive caused outrage across Europe and gave rise to many spontaneous demonstrations of protest (15,000 in the streets in Rome on 25.9.10, coinciding with similar events in many European cities). The grass-roots protest is now welded with the stringent criticism of the most advanced part of the international world of science.
The objective of STOP VIVISECTION to abandon animal testing methods in the fields of human health and the environment, as unnecessary and dangerous, to follow the path (already chosen by the U.S.) of more advanced methods, now available with the recent great advances in science, is absolutely necessary and indeed unstoppable.