Lab Animals

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Cell Line Tests to Reduce The Number of Animals in Research

CELL LINE TESTS COULD REDUCE ANIMAL TESTING


WASHINGTON, DC, October 4, 2001 (ENS) - U.S. scientists are reducing the number of rodents in chemical safety testing, but the use of human or animal cell lines could reduce the number of animals even further - as much as 30 percent more.

The old LD50 test (which stands for lethal dose 50 percent) rated the toxicity of chemicals by finding the dose that killed half the test animals. About 50 to 200 animals were used in each chemical test. As now being modified by three more humane alternatives, only eight to 12 rodents are needed to estimate the lethal dose. The tests at issue determine if a chemical or product will cause illness or death in animals after ingestion of a single dose.

Restrictions, warning labels and special packaging, such as child proof containers, are based on the results.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has released two new federal interagency reports on alternative testing methods which could slash the number of animals killed even further.

The reports suggest that cell lines may one day replace much animal testing, but that even today cells grown in cultures can be used to screen chemicals for their relative toxicity, reducing the need for animals by almost a third.

The reports say effective testing - including some requiring animals - remains necessary to reduce the risks of death, disfigurement and injury facing adults and children from chemicals in the workplace and in the home. Some 2.2 million human poisonings were reported to U.S. poison control centers in 1999 alone, with 873 deaths and 13,500 cases involving life threatening symptoms or long term disability or disfigurement.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international trade group that includes several European countries, Japan and the U.S., is removing the old LD50 test from its guidelines. Within a year of final OECD approval, the older animal intensive LD50 method can be replaced by the regulatory agencies of the member governments with tests using fewer animals.

This official, international switch to the new tests is expected in the latter months of 2002.

Is it Necessary to Use Animals For Medical Research? (AGAINST)


AGAINST:

If your child was dying, would you sacrifice the life of your family pet in order to find a cure?

This single misleading question inflicts unimaginable cruelty upon people and animals, and yet it is the cornerstone of the public relations strategy that has been adopted by the multi-million-dollar research industry.

For people suffering from an incurable disease, this false promise holds out unrealistic hopes for them and their families and, each year in Canada, condemns more than 2 million animals to death in research laboratories.

This issue is not about putting animal rights before human rights. Instead it is a matter of restricting human rights to do as we please - only an animal will suffer.

Perhaps, just as importantly, it is about researchers who accept public tax dollars, but will not accept the public scrutiny that goes along with it.

Ontario Humane Society Inspectors have police powers to investigate reports of cruelty toward animals. However, under the Animals for Research Act, Humane Society Inspectors are forbidden form exercising their authority over a registered research facility.

In Canada, a person convicted of cruelty to animals faces fines, a term of imprisonment and even orders prohibiting ownership or custody of animals. The law is intended to protect both wild and domestic animals. Historically, no one has been above the law, not even researchers.

However, the Law Reform Commission of Canada is currently reviewing the laws to protect animals from cruelty. From documents obtained under the Access to Information Act it is clear the research industry is pressuring for weaker laws, which will allow it special privileges and exemptions.

No protection:

If this takes place, then there would be virtually no legal protection for animals used in laboratories. The only other mechanism that exists is a voluntary system of review by fellow scientists, which is administered by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC).

This is an agency funded by two other government sources: the Medical Research Council of Canada and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

The CCAC sets up assessment panels to visit research laboratories, but it has no legal right to inspect any facility. They do allow one humane society representative to accompany them - provided that the individual promises never to reveal what they have observed.

Several research institutions have rejected the humane society representative.

While there can be no doubt that the CCAC and individual researchers have taken positive steps to benefit both people and animals, each step of the way has been met with opposition.

If the research industry succeeds in eliminating the laws to protect lab animals, then a voluntary system cloaked in secrecy will be all that remains. That leaves the public with the choice of accepting either the word of a governmental representative or a researcher that lab animals are not being mistreated. That simply isn't good enough.

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Taken from Shelters:

Homeless pets are also taken from animal shelters for experiments, although many shelters are refusing to surrender their animals. Instead of working to solve the pet overpopulation problem, the research industry merely says the animal is going to die anyway.

Hoping the public will sanction the infliction of pain and suffering upon rodents, the industry also tells us that many mice and rats are used in experiments. That plan backfires when the researchers are forced to explain how the results obtained form working with rats and mice can be scientifically compared with human beings.

The use of animals in cosmetics and product testing, psychological experiments, warfare and other studies is not only expensive and wasteful, but the scientific results are questionable at best. While no one will argue that biomedical research has provided some benefits to people, a great deal more reliable information has been obtained through the direct study of human beings. Human clinical studies have provided a tremendous amount of scientific information simply because the research focuses on people - not laboratory animals.

Chimpanzees, a critically endangered species, are being used for AIDS studies. Chimpanzees have been found to be infected with a several viruses that closely resemble but are not identical to the human HIV, including a newly discovered simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the possible precursor for all HIV strains, that originated in another primate species, the spot-nose monkey.

However, due to physiological differences, these viruses don't prove fatal to the chimps as they are to humans. This negates their usefulness as models upon which to draw conclusions as to how the disease affects humans. With willing co-operation from AIDS-patients more critical information is being learned about the disease condition as it relates specifically to humans.

Drugs tested as safe on animals are not always safe for use by human beings. One of the most tragic mistakes in recent memory is the use by pregnant women of the drug thalidomide, which caused serious birth defects in their children.

Historically, researchers claim medical research is responsible for eradicating diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria and tuberculosis. In fact, these diseases were already in decline before the specific therapies were developed, and owed much to improvements in hygiene and sanitation, living and working conditions, and nutrition.

Preventive Medicine:

While the average person understands that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, somehow this logic escapes the research industry. Surely a person benefits far more from a healthy diet and regular exercise than from open-heart surgery.

Serious human social problems are behind drug and alcohol abuse - problems which will be resolved through human intervention, not by force-feeding drugs and alcohol to laboratory mice.

Environmental pollution of our air, soil, water and food threatens the very fabric of life on Earth. The World Health Organization states that 90 per cent of all cancers are triggered by environmental pollutants - yet we continue to treat diseases, such as cancer, after they happen.

Computer models, physical and chemical techniques, and tissue cultures have been used in the fight against AIDS and cancer. An analysis of the Nobel Prizes awarded for medicine and physiology revealed that alternative methods made a major contribution to the research in two-thirds of the cases including research into cancer, malaria, AIDS, penicillin, RNA, DNA and typhus.

The most basic premise of the scientific inquiry is having an open mind on any subject. Regrettably, most researchers are not trained in the use of alternatives so they continue to reject the meaningful funding and support of these scientific techniques.

Researchers, instead, cling to scientifically unreliable methods such as the Draize test (chemicals applied to the eyes of an animal) and the Lethal Dose 50 test (animals exposed of force-fed chemicals until half of the group dies).

Lasso is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. In a Canadian hearing to determine whether it was linked to cancer, researchers argued laboratory rats could not be used to predict how the chemical would affect people. In England, a member of the government advisory committee on the use of animals in research states the results of up to 90 per cent of animal tests are not even important enough to publish in scientific journals.

Pain and suffering are cruel facts of life. We can never truly eliminate them from our own lives or from the lives of animals.

But cruelty we deliberately inflict is a different matter entirely. We can control that and prevent it from ever taking place.

Is it Necessary to Use Animals in Medical Research? (PRO)


PRO:

Our forbears suffered and died prematurely from a host of diseases, the names of which are scarcely known today by Canadian children.

These advances came about because of biomedical experimental research using animals.

But despite the advances, we still do not know what causes such diseases as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, osteoporosis, Lou Gehrig's disease and schizophrenia.

Experiments test ideas, which in turn must be tested and confirmed. About 3,000 research projects led up to heart operations. Vaccines, drugs, antibiotics, new surgical skills or nutritional knowledge come only from biomedical research - and biomedical research must use animals.

Scientists constantly invent and adapt many ways to do research, such as analytical equipment and methods, diagnostic tools, cell, tissue and organ cultures and computer modeling.

These methods have led to a 40% reduction in the numbers of animals used in research in the last 30 years but they cannot eliminate animal research entirely.

While components of a study can be carried out in isolated ways, nothing can stimulate the complex cascade of integrated events that go on in the living animal body. All the systems - blood, nerves, muscles, hormones, enzymes - must work together. Slight flaws created disease. One cannot study high blood pressure or diarrhea in a test tube.

Dismal Record:

Historically, animal extremists have a dismal record in their opposition to the use of animals in biomedical research. They opposed the work of Lord Lister, the father of antiseptic surgery. They maligned Koch and Pasteur, the founders of microbiology and immunology. They campaigned against the rabies, anthrax and dog distemper vaccines. They harassed Banting for using dogs in his diabetes research and protested his Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin.

Now animal extremists run campaigns against using animals and oppose the use of animals in AIDS and vision research. Vision research has given sight to millions of people who have glaucoma, cataracts, and detached retinas.

It is biomedical research that protects people and animals from the cruelty and ravages of disease.

Animals and humans share about 300 known diseases. Veterinary and human medicine are branches of one science and they use the same research methods. There are more vaccines available for animal diseases than human diseases.

More than 91% of animals used in medical research at the University of Western Ontario in 1989 were mice and rats, specially bred, in many varieties. Of the rest 1.3% were rabbits and 4.6% were guinea pigs; 1.3% were pigs (used mainly in surgical research, including transplantation) and frogs, less then 1%.

Dogs and cats together compromised 0.7%. They were abandoned animals acquired from pounds and used mainly in non-recovery experiments, which means the animals die under anesthesia, as they would in the pound.

The Ontario Animals for Research Act requires that pounds make dogs and cats, which would otherwise be killed at the pound, available to registered research institutions.

Ten to 20 million abandoned dogs and cats are killed every year in pounds and shelters in North America. Research requires fewer than two per cent of these animals that would die otherwise, die uselessly, in the pound.

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Animals not used:

About half of all medical research at UWO does not involve the use of animals.

Three international declarations and codes decree that no research can be done on human beings until other tests, including animal studies, provide reasonable presumptions of safety and efficacy.

All research using animals has to pass the scrutiny of the director of veterinary sciences (a fully trained vet) and an hierarchy of many animal-care committees, with lay representatives on them, involving in all, more than 50 people.

Many members of Parliament, provincial legislators, service clubs, teachers and other members of the public tour the animal-care facilities at Western on a regular basis.

There is no other use of animals that is so regulated, carefully conducted and inspected. Veterinarians and trained lab animal workers look after the animals. Anesthetics and analgesics are mandatory.

But these high and evolving standards of care do not meet with the approval of animal extremists and never will because they do not want any use of animals. They would have you believe that medical research involves "sadism" "cruelty" and "torture".

There is a vast difference between animal rights supporters who are opposed to all use of animals and everyone else who believes in the wise use of animals. In effect, the extremists deny or downgrade the unique value of human life and ignore the contribution to the control of animal diseases.

The constant pressure for more regulation and legislation is their tactic for research strangulation en route to their ultimate goal to end all use of animals.

In the last decade, in Britain and the United States especially, and in Canada, there have been increasing violent attacks on biomedical research - involving arson, vandalism, break-ins, thefts, death threats, and targeted harassment of individual scientists - thus seriously impeding the progress of research.

Universities, hospitals and research institutions have spent millions of dollars on security systems, money from general funds directed away form lecture rooms and libraries and patients needs. The clandestine Animal Liberation Front (ALF) has been declared a terrorist body in Britain, the US and Canada.

Philion Miracle: Every modern medical and surgical procedure, drug and vaccine has involved the use of animals to some degree. The miracle of Joey Philion's recovery form dreadful burns, which, a few short years ago, would have killed him, is the result of work on pigs to learn how to treat burns.

The arguments against animal use in medical research have changed little in 120 years.

  • What would have happened had those arguments been accepted then?
  • Which of the remarkable advances in control and cure of disease would we have been willing to forgo?
  • What ignorance about nutrition would we have wanted to maintain?

Every time we seek help from a vet, doctor, hospital, pharmacist or nutritionist, we are the beneficiaries of knowledge accumulated through a great many experiments using animals.

Medical research is the only hope for millions of Canadians (and their animals) afflicted with debilitating, devastating, painful and fatal illnesses.

It is a sad reflection on our time that it is easier for the animal rights movement, through their pirating of emotions, to raise money to attack medical research than it is for the scientists to obtain money to do that life-giving research.

Protect and support medical research - it could save your life and that of your pet.