Recently, a test involving monkeys and car exhaust reignited the debate over the humanity of animal testing. Researchers once again stand firm in their belief that it is necessary, while opponents claim that technology is the way of the future.
The Scientist Side
For many researchers, a popular lab animal management software site like Studylog combined with a host of lab mice or monkeys is all part of a day’s work. It’s how they test chemicals to determine whether they can become safe medications for humans or hold unforeseen toxic properties. Without this live interaction, they claim, it would be impossible to say whether or not experimental behavioral aids would be safe enough to bring to market.
Many scientists are shifting their view, however, moving away from cruel and inhumane practices of the past. In 2010, the EU adopted an old principle into their directive for lab animal welfare. It involves replacement, refinement, and reduction. Many researches live by these principles already, though.
Animals are reused after recovering from a set of experiments, effectively reducing the need to bring more animals onboard. Other considerations include proper housing and handling techniques that allow the animals to feel comfortable instead of overly stressed.
The Global Concern
Despite some scientists’ commitment to more humane practices, there remains no global standard for their care and consideration. Countries like China, for instance, have only begun to consider different aspects of animal welfare over the past four years.
Regardless of change being made, the global attitude remains that these animals no longer need to be tested upon. The U.S., in response to major backlash, has chosen to release its laboratory monkeys into a chimp sanctuary where they can live in peace.
Even with the three Rs being implemented in countries like Brazil and India, many still see something like recovery as torture. An animal is continually tested on its entire life, spending the majority of its time recovering from the previous study.
What Are the Alternatives?
The recent car exhaust test on monkeys has both civilians and scientists looking at possible alternatives. Two possible alternatives are stem cells and cloning. Scientists remain skeptical about testing their substances on stem cells due the possibility of highly inaccurate responses to their formulas.
Cloning, on the other hand, brings another debate into the ring entirely. Can cloned animals not think and feel as well? Are we as a whole saying that clones are lesser than the living being they were created from?
While no clear answers appear visible on the horizon, one thing is for sure. Animal testing is one the rise once more in laboratories across the world. As the number of animals increase, do the efforts of the research community at large to treat them in a more humane way.