Animal testing

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Animal testing refers to the use of animals in experiments. It is estimated that over 150 million vertebrate animals, including mice, rats, birds, fish, rabbits, guinea pigs, farm animals, dogs, cats and non-human primates, are used annually worldwide. All vertebrates are sentient as are some invertebrates.[1] See also statistics compiled by country. [2] Animals are either killed during experiments or subsequently euthanized. The majority of laboratory animals are "purpose bred". A smaller number are wild caught or supplied by class B dealers, who obtain them from auctions, news paper ads and some animal shelters (pound seizure). [3] Animal testing is conducted by universities, government agencies, the military, corporations and contract research organizations (CRO)s, which contract test for industry.



All mammals have similar sensory experiences.[4]

Medicine, drugs, vaccines & animal testing

A landmark article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on April 15, 1998 entitled, "Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions in Hospitalized Patients", evaluated serious and fatal adverse drug reactions (ADR)s in U.S. hospitals. The study revealed that in 1994, ADRs accounted for 2,216,000 serious events and 106,000 hospital deaths. [5] According to a 2003 comprehensive study of medical peer-review journals and government health statistics, there are an additional 199,000 fatal ADR outpatient deaths in the U.S. annually. [6], [7] According to the study, there are approximately 783,936 iatrogenic (medically induced) deaths every year in the U.S. Furthermore, the actual figure is estimated to be much higher, as only a fraction (between 5% and 20%) of iatrogenic acts are ever reported.[8]

Researchers from Harvard and Boston Universities concluded that medical measures (drugs and vaccines) accounted for between 1 and 3.5% of the total decline in mortality rate since 1900. Scores of animals were killed in the quest to find cures for tuberculosis, scarlet fever, small pox and diphtheria. Dr. Edward Kass of Harvard Medical School asserts that the primary credit for the virtual eradication of these diseases must go to improvements in public health, sanitation and general standard of living. [9] Additionally, 88% of doctors queried agreed that animal experiments can be misleading because of anatomical and physiological differences between animals and humans. [10]

In 2003, a senior executive for GlaxoSmithKline announced that "the vast majority of drugs, more than 90%; only work in 30 to 50% of the people." [11] 30 to 70% is considered to be placebo effect.[12]

See also pharmaceutical industry.

Early history of "animal model" & physiology

Surgery and post surgical recovery was hindered for hundreds of years after the Greek Galen (Second Century AD) showed through animal experimentation that the principle laid down by Hippocrates (Fifth century BC) was incorrect; that hygiene and a good diet (as well as the simple fact that nature heals) were essential to good health and medicine. Galen maintained this standpoint due to the fact animals did not readily succumb to infections following childbirth and surgical procedures. Galen’s animal experiments caused a rejection of Hippocratic values and a reduction in surgical asepsis. This destructive attitude was supported by the Catholic Church as well. Not until the 1800's was this dangerous practice substantially reversed (following the discovery of the germs and how cleanliness and sterilization prevented bacterial infection.)[13]

False test results & delays in therapies

Substances and their dissimilar effects on humans and other species include: strychnine, a deadly poison to humans that is harmless to monkeys, chickens and guinea pigs; belladonna, harmless to rabbits and goats in a dose that would be lethal to humans; arsenic, which can be consumed by sheep in large amounts (but is fatal to humans in very small amounts); poisonous mushrooms (Amanita Phalloides), commonly eaten by rabbits; hemlock (a human poison) may be safely consumed by mice, sheep, goats and horses and PCP (angel dust), which is a horse tranquilizer. According to Gianni Tamino, medical researcher at the University of Padua and Member of the Italian Parliament:

"There is a natural law connected with metabolism (the aggregate of all physical and chemical processes constantly taking place in living organisms), according to which a biomedical reaction that has been established for one species is valid only for that particular species and for no other. Often times two closely related species such as rat and mouse may react in entirely differing ways." [14]

Digitalis, the oldest and most useful remedy for heart failure, was first extracted from the foxglove plant by Dr. William Withering in 1775. Its use was delayed because it raised the blood pressure of dogs to dangerous levels. The anesthetic chloroform was first discovered in 1828 but widespread use was delayed for years due to misinformation from animal testing. For example, chloroform is highly toxic to dogs. The caged-ball valve, which replaces damaged heart valves in humans, was almost discarded because it killed so many dogs. [15] Animal testing failed to indicate a link between high cholesterol and heart disease and gave false test results regarding tobacco and asbestos. [16]

For a listing of a few of the thousands of drugs with side effects passed as safe for human consumption by animal testing, see also false animal test results & damages caused.

Statistics, animal welfare & efficacy

Animal research statistics: United States

In the fiscal year ending in 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported a total of 1,177,566 primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and other species used research. (A 7% increase in one year.) The breakdown by species was: 66,610 dogs, 57,531 primates, 58,598 pigs, 245,786 rabbits, 22,921 cats, 176,988 hamsters, 32,260 sheep, 64,146 other farm animals, 221,286 guinea pigs and 231,440 other animals. However, this total is likely far from accurate since at no time have all U.S. laboratories reported in their total animals. The total of non-reporting facilities has varied from 22 to 128 (out of approximately 1100). This does not include animals who are not covered by the AWA, which are not even counted. So, the total ignores the majority of animals used in research in the U.S., which is well over 20 million. Additionally, these statistics do not cover animals which are being held in laboratories for conditioning or breeding. For example, while the USDA reports over 57,000 primates in labs, the actual total is closer to 120,000. The AWA places no real restrictions on animal testing. Animals are routinely subjected to addictive drugs, electric shock, food & water deprivation, isolation, severe confinement, caustic chemicals, burning, blinding, chemical and biological weapons, radiation, etc. A researcher has only to declare that a procedure is necessary for it to be allowed. [17] Even minimal requirements under the AWA are rarely enforced. [18]

See also USDA.

Animal research statistics: Great Britain

BUAV investigation of Cambridge University. - 2000 - 2001

In 2016 the number of procedures assessed "severe: the characteristics of severe procedures are that they cause a major departure from the animal’s usual state of health and well-being. It would usually include longterm disease processes where assistance with normal activities such as feeding and drinking are required or where significant deficits in behaviours/activities persist. It includes animals found dead unless an informed decision can be made that the animal did not suffer severely prior to death." was 114,000. [19]

Animal research statistics: Northern Ireland

Statistics are published annually but the 2016 statistics are not yet available. [20]

Complete statistics & inefficacy of animal models

In view of complete statistics, what is the success/failure ratio? Is it one to a hundred, a thousand or a million procedures? Is the ratio in thousands, millions or billions of dollars and what do these numbers convey about the efficacy of animal testing? In view of complete statistics, the legacy of occasional, purported "discoveries" within a general context of failure, delays, misinformation, suffering and waste is obvious. Over 30 years of animal testing has failed to find cures for cancer and AIDS. The Alzhheimer Association estimated that about 4 million people in America had Alzheimers disease at the start of the 21st century and predicted 14 million by 2050.[21]

The European Union (EU) has long considered a ban on the use of wild-caught primates and great apes. It has been widely accepted that the chimpanzee model for HIV was a failure as infected chimpanzees do not develop AIDS. [22] As scientists began steering away from the chimpanzee model, they turned their attention to monkeys. However, after years of pursuit and tens of millions of dollars, the failures of the monkey models are increasingly evident as well; with AIDS patient advocacy groups calling for an end to funding this type of research. Over 85 vaccines have failed human clinical trials, with some actually increasing the likely hood of HIV infection. [23], [24] On September 8, 2010, the EU voted in favor of a ban on the use of great apes, as part of drastically tightened rules to scale back the number of animals used in scientific research. [25]

See also AIDS industry.

More is spent on cancer than any other medical problem. Millions of laboratory animals, including rats, mice, monkeys, guinea pigs, cats and dogs have been injected with cancerous material or implanted with malignancies. [26], [27] According to leading cancer researcher, Robert Weinberg:

"The preclinical (animal) models of human cancer, in large part, stink… Hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted every year by drug companies using these models." [28]

See also War on Cancer.

Product (toxicity) testing

The LD 50 (Lethal Dose 50%) test, is the standard toxicity test for establishing the amount of chemical toxin is required to kill half of a number of animals. These animals are specifically bred to be exactly identical genetically and physically they are the same size and weight. Yet, the equivalent dose of a toxin in quantity and strength succeeds in killing only half of the animal group while leaving the rest to suffering varying degrees of disablement. Such results are subsequently and haphazardly translated to give a figure for safe and fatal levels for humans. There are 12 different methods which determine statistically the safety of chemicals for humans from animal testing and they may disagree up to a factor of four. It is accepted that animal tests can successfully identify carcinogenic agents on 37% of the time. So, in effect the test results are statistically inferior to a coin toss. According to Hans Ruesch's The Naked Empress or the Great Medical Fraud:

"Two grams of scopolamine kill a human being, but dogs and cats can stand hundred times higher dosages. A single Aminata phalloides mushroom can wipe out a whole human family, but is health food for the rabbit, one of the favorite laboratory animals. A porcupine can eat one lump without discomfort as much opium as a human addict smokes in two weeks, and wash it down with as much prussic acid to poison a regiment of soldiers. The sheep can swallow enormous quantities of arsenic, once the murderer's favorite poison. Morphine, which calms and anesthetizes man, causes maniacal excitement in cats and mice. On the other hand our sweet almond can kill foxes, our common parsley is poisonous to parrots, and our revered penicillin strikes another favourite laboratory animal dead - the guinea pig." [29], [30]

U.S. government testing requirements

Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require massive amounts of animal testing for the marketing of industrial chemicals, vaccines and drugs. For example, companies marketing fluoride products swab the teeth of 200 rats with the test substance for two weeks. The animals are subsequently killed and their heads baked in an oven for an hour. [31] The FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety, effectiveness, and quality of pharmaceuticals, biologicals, and medical devices intended for human use. Also the safety, efficacy and quality of pharmaceuticals for animals, food, cosmetics and radiation emitting products. Thousands of rats, mice, rabbits, dogs, and primates are killed in "pre-clinical" tests for new drugs (including all ingredients and even minor differences in formulas). Following an extensive battery of animal testing, drugs generally undergo three phases of clinical trials. The fact that months or years of human studies are also required suggests health authorities do not trust the results. [32] In 2004, the FDA reported that 92 out of every 100 drugs that successfully pass animal trials, subsequently fail human trials. [33], [34]

Force feeding animals increasing doses of chemicals (until they die) was invented around World War I and is still the most common animal test used today. The EPA requires pesticides be tested on dogs, who are shoved into "inhalation chambers" while deadly poisons that are pumped in. [35] The EPA requires more chemical toxicity animal testing than any other federal agency. In spite of hundreds of thousands of animals killed and calls to limit exposures to humans and the environment, the EPA has not banned a toxic chemical in 10 years (using it's authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976.) [36] The chemical industry approves a near exclusive reliance on animal testing, since results are non-conclusive and easily manipulated. [37]

Other U.S. agencies that require and/or conduct animal testing include the USDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Department of Transportation (DOT). [38] DOT conducts skin-corrosivity tests on rabbits, in spite of an accurate, federally approved test using synthetic skin (Corrositex). Rabbits backs are shaved and corrosive chemicals applied to raw skin (and left for up to two weeks) without pain relief. [39]

Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act

The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) [40] does not specifically require the use of animals in testing cosmetics for safety, nor subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval. [41]

Regularity of violations by drug & testing companies

PETA investigation of Covance Laboratories, Vienna, VA. - April 2004 - March 2005

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) is a national research watchdog organization. In 2001 SAEN filed the largest official complaint in history with the USDA, uncovering laboratory abuses at dozens of well known universities and research facilities. [42] SAEN has concluded pharmaceutical companies Merck and Boehringer Ingelheim and CROs Covance Laboratories, SNBL and Charles River, to be among the worst violators of U.S. laws. According to Executive Director, Micheal Budkie:

"Drug and testing companies are violating federal law on a regular basis and endangering the health of the American People as a result. It should surprise no one that drugs like Vioxx came out of the Merck Corporation, where federal law is broken almost every month." [43]

At SNBL, 20 marmoset monkeys died of emaciation during a three week period in 2005. (Primates at SNBL have died from toxic side-effects of so-called "painless" drug testing.) The 5 page report (which lists 8 different violations) describes the last days of a primate who was administered toxins, even after a 32% body weight loss. The animal was killed less than a month later after an additional 9% body weight loss. [44] Merck amassed 8 violations in a 9 month monitoring period and an additional 10 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) violations in 3 months following this period. One infraction involved an allegedly "illegal surgery", where holes were drilled into an animals skull and penetrated the brain. Charles River amassed 22 violations in one monitoring period, including an incident which left dozens of dogs with bleeding paws. Boehringer Ingelheim amassed 19 violations in a nine month period, including incidents where primates died in cage washers. Covance Laboratories amassed a combined 42 violations between their Pennsylvania and Virginia laboratories, including the starving of dogs and failure to provide veterinary care for broken bones. According to government reporting, drug testing labs violate the Animal Welfare Act a collective average of three times a week. (Government reports and ranking statistics available upon request.) [45]

See also pharmaceutical industry, section 9 on contract research organizations.

European Union

Animal testing is regulated under Directive 2010/63/EU

United Kingdom

The 2018 Animal Welfare Act may recognize animal sentience.[46]

U.S. government funded animal testing

Agencies funding animal testing include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Disease Control (CDC), Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) and Office of Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH). The U.S. government pays for the same experiments to be done over and over. In the fiscal year ending in 2005, these seven government agencies funded over 28,937 projects for experiments on 27 species, including monkeys, dogs, cats and rodents. These included 1200 separate projects (at up to $495,600,000) examining drug addiction. 778 projects studying "neural information processing" in 11 species racked up approximately $321,314,000. The majority of animals used in experimentation receive absolutely no protection under current laws. Government funded animal testing costs U.S. taxpayers over $12 billion annually. [47]

DoD animal testing programs

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) animal testing programs subject animals to irradiation, burnings, bombings, wounds and decompression sickness. [48] Every year, at least 320,000 primates, dogs, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, cats, and other animals are hurt and killed by the DoD. These experiments are considered to be the most painful and invasive conducted in the country. Also, since these figures do not take into account contractual research done at non-government facilities, the number of animals used is actually much higher. Armed forces facilities all over the U.S. test all manner of weaponry on animals; from Soviet AK-47 rifles to biological and chemical warfare agents to nuclear blasts. These experiments can be acutely painful, repetitive, costly and unreliable. Particularly so, because their effects can be or have been observed on humans and/or because results cannot be extrapolated to humans. The estimated cost for U.S. Military experiments on animals is over 100 million annually. [49]

See also U.S. Government's War on Animals, section 5.

Tobacco studies

The American Cancer Society (ACS) was an early promulgator of the link between smoking and cancer in the landmark epidemiological studies of 1952 and 1959. However, the tobacco industry was able to delay widespread acceptance of this link largely because animals in studies did not develop cancer. [50] Animal testing was used by politicians to avoid taking action against tobacco companies. Decades of vague and inconclusive results enabled them to perpetuate confusion and prevent doctors from giving authoritative warnings. Researchers spent decades forcing beagles to smoke cigarettes and painting tar on the backs of mice (although there were already clear links between tobacco and human cancer). Physicians were encouraged to keep quiet while researchers spent years performing animal tests. [51], [52]

Tobacco inhalation

See also smoking beagles.

Second hand smoke

In the 1990s, Covance performed studies sponsored by the tobacco industry claiming that even extreme exposure to secondhand smoke was safe for humans. According to the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, secondhand smoke substantially increases the risks of lung cancer and heart disease. Covance internal documents from 2002 discuss a "Philip Morris/Covance Project Team" for studies. At a November 2005 tobacco trade-group conference in Manila, Philippines, Covance's presentation was entitled: How Can Covance Support Research and Development Needs of the Tobacco Industry? [53]

Pregnant & infant animals

Human studies have clearly demonstrated the negative effects of tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse on pregnancy. However, the March of Dimes and the National Institutes of Health continue to provide provide millions in annual funding for addiction and other "studies" that test these substances on animals. See also Eliot Spindel.

See also animal testing external links on unpublished tobacco studies.

See also NIH.

Other information

Facility information, progress reports & USDA-APHIS reports

For links to copies of a facility's USDA-Animal Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) reports, other information and links, see also Stop Animal Experimentation NOW!: Facility Reports and Information. This site contains listings for all 50 states, links to biomedical research facilities in that state and PDF copies of government documents where facilities must report their animal usage.

USDA AWA reports

As of May 26, 2009, the USDA began posting all inspection reports for animal breeders, dealers, exhibitors, handlers, research facilities and animal carriers by state. See also USDA Animal Welfare Inspection Reports.

Charities funding animal tests & companies that don't animal test

Charities which fund animal testing include the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. [54] For U.S., Canadian and international companies which do not animal test, visit the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. [55]

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles

External articles, resources & books

See also animal testing external links

For how long can we treat the suffering of animals as an inconvenient truth?


  1. Animal Sentience, Animal Sentience, 2014
  2. Animal Use Statistics, Humane Society International, August 2009
  3. Frequently Asked Questions About Animals in Research, Humane Society of the United States, April 2009
  4. The man who reads dog minds and personalities in a brain scanner, New Scientist, August 2017
  5. Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies, Journal of the American Medical Association, April 15, 1998
  6. Starfield B. Is US health really the best in the world?, JAMA, July 2000, 284(4):483-5. Starfield B. Deficiencies in US medical care, JAMA, November 2000, 284(17):2184-5.
  7. Weingart SN, McL Wilson R, Gibberd RW, Harrison B. Epidemiology of medical error, Western Journal of Medicine, June 2000, 172(6):390-3.
  8. Gary Null, PhD, Carolyn Dean, MD, Martin Feldman, MD, Debora Rasio, MD, Dorothy Smith, PhD Death by Medicine, 2003
  9. Frequently Asked Questions: What about all the breakthroughs we've gained through animal research?, In Defense of Animals, accessed November 18, 2008
  10. Tony Page Vivisection Unveiled: An Expose of the Medical Futility of Animal Experimentation, pg. 106, John Carpenter Books, April 1997
  11. Steve Connor GlaxoSmithKline Chief: Our Drugs Do Not Work On Most Patients, The Independent Science, December 2003
  12. Darrel Crain, DC Placebos: Accept no substitutes, Planet, May 2006
  13. Ivan Fraser, Mark Beeston Vivisection: far more than an animal rights issue!, The Pharmaceutical Racket, accessed April 2010
  14. Al Frazza Animal Testing, Animal Experimentation and Human Medicine, Chapter 1, January 1995
  15. Al Frazza Vivisection and the Delay of Valuable Therapies, Animal Experimentation and Human Medicine, Chapter 2, January 1995
  16. Jack B. Suconik Damning Evidence: A Cruel Game of Chance, section 6, April 2003
  17. Animal Experimentation in the United States, Stop Animal Exploitation Now! April 2005
  18. Project R&R: Animal Welfare Act, New England Anti-Vivisection Society, 2009
  19. UK Home Office,"Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain 2016," July 13, 2017.
  20. NI Dept of Health,"Statistics of scientific procedures on living animals in Northern Ireland," 2017.
  21. Jack B. Suconik Damning Evidence: A Cruel Game of Chance, sections 3, 4, 5 & 6, April 2003
  22. (Bailey, 2008; Nath, Schumann and Boyer, 2000, and others)
  23. Dr. Jarrod Bailey An assessment of the role of chimpanzees in AIDS vaccine research. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 36(4):, 2008
  24. An Introduction to Primate Issues: The Value of Primate Research is Challenged, HSUS, accessed November 2009
  25. Great apes protected as EU restricts animal testing, Agence France-Presse, September 8, 2010
  26. Cancer, Information for Transformation, accessed February 2009
  27. Patricia Haight, Ph.D., Shaynie Aero The Failed Research of Micheal Berens, Liberation Magazine, accessed February 2009
  28. A Critical Look at Animal Experimentation: A. Selected Diseases: 1. Cancer, Medical Research Modernization Committee, 2006
  29. Hans Ruesch,The Naked Empress or the Great Medical Fraud, June 1982, ISBN 0686402332
  30. Ivan Fraser, Mark Beeston Vivisection: far more than an animal rights issue!, The Pharmaceutical Racket, accessed April 2010
  31. U.S. Government Testing Programs, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accessed February 2009
  32. U.S. Food and Drug Administration,, accessed February 2009
  33. Harding, A. More compounds failing phase I. FDA chief warns that high drug attrition rate is pushing up the cost of drug development. The Scientist, August 6th 2004
  34. NHP Study: Evidence from Europeans for Medical Progress and Antidote-Europe, Safer Medicines Campaign, pg 1, accessed February 2009
  35. U.S. Government Testing Programs,, accessed February 2009
  36. Summary of the Toxic Substances Control Act, Environmental Protection Agency, January 2009
  37. Environmental Protection Agency,, accessed January 2008
  38. U.S. Government Testing Programs,, accessed February 2009
  39. Stop Cruel Department of Transportation Animals Tests,, accessed February 2009
  40. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Food and Drug Administration , December 2004
  41. Cosmetics Q&A: Animal Testing,, June 2009
  42. Stop Animal Exploitation Now SAEN, Wiserearth, accessed November 2008
  43. Micheal Budkie, Pharmaceutical/Testing Companies Among Nation’s Leaders for Federal Violations, Says Watchdog Group, SAEN, February 2007
  44. Micheal Budkie SNBL Violating Federal Law & Murdering Primates Through Negligence, Charges Watchdog Group, SAEN, September 2006
  45. Micheal Budkie Pharmaceutical/Testing Companies Among Nation’s Leaders for Federal Violations, Says Watchdog Group, SAEN, February 2007
  46. Defra move to recognize animal sentience welcomed, Grocer, Dec 2017
  47. Animal Experimentation in the United States, SAEN, 2007
  48. Mark Hawthorn, Spoiler Alert: 10 Things Animal Exploiters Do Not Want You to Know, Oped News, page 2, February 2008
  49. The Military's War on Animals,, accessed February 2009
  50. Altria Stock Holder Proposals: Proposal 1 – Eliminate Animal Testing for Tobacco Products, pdf, pg, 44, 45, 2005
  51. Wasted Tobacco Settlement Money, White Coat Welfare, accessed September 2009
  52. Anne Landman, Donald G. Cooley Smoke Without Fear (1954): The Mouse-skin Experiments, pg 13,, accessed December 2009
  53. John J. Pippin, M.D. Covance Gets an "F" in Social Responsibility Test, Chandler Republic', August 2006
  54. Animal Rights Uncompromised: Life-Taking Charities,, accessed February 2009
  55. Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics,, 2009