The use of laboratory animals is important to three main areas: biomedical research, product safety testing, and education. Biomedical researchers use animals to extend their understanding of the workings of the body and the processes of disease and health, and to develop new vaccines and treatments for various diseases. The research these people do isnt only for human benefit; it is also helping to develop veterinary techniques.
The industry uses animals to test the effectiveness and safety of many consumer products, such as cosmetics, household cleaning products, pesticides, chemicals, and drugs. Educators, from elementary school all the way up to college, use animals as parts of the teaching process, including dissecting worms, and frogs in science classes to medical students using animals to learn surgical techniques.
Scientists study animals to learn more about certain species: its history, its psychological and social behaviors, and its skills. If the animals are kept in captivity, they can be caused pain that isnt natural part of its environment. A number of organizations wish to replace and reduce the number of animals being used or, at the very least, lessen the pain.
Rats and mice make up 85-90% of animals used in research, education, and testing. Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, dogs, cats, and non-human primates are studied as well. Dogs and Cats make up about 1% of research animals.
The certain animal depends on what is being studied. The majority of rats and mice are bred specifically for research. Half of the dogs and cats that are used are bred for that purpose too. Animal dealers are the primary source for the rest. Animal dealers must be licensed by the USDA, or the United States Department of Agriculture and have to obey the standards of care set up by the Animal Welfare Act.
Alternative methods fall into three main categories, also known as the three Rs: Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement.
Replacement is when animals are replaced, either by absolute replacement, which is when an animal is completely replaced, or by relative replacement, just cells and tissues are used, instead of the whole animal.
Replacement isnt always an option although, for those animals that do undergo testing, scientists try to lessen the pain and make the animals more comfortable. Replacement isnt considered an option anymore-it has become daily. A few years ago, when a woman wanted to find out whether or not she was pregnant, she had to stop at a laboratory and get a test that involved killing a rabbit. Nowadays, she can buy and over-the-counter kit that tests her for certain chemicals. Computers are a new high-tech method of replacement.
For example, dissection on a computer model instead of real, live frogs, which I would prefer! People are becoming increasingly popular when it comes time for the needs for volunteers for new facial and skin products.
Reduction is the second method involves sharing research animals. For one example, if one scientist doing a study on the lungs of a sheep, when it comes time to kill the sheep he will allow the others to use his kidneys, liver or heart.
Refinement being the third choice means to reduce any pain and suffering that the animal is going through. Techniques that are less hostile to the animal can also be considered refinement. Researchers can use ultrasound or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to see what is going on inside the animal instead of cutting into it.
The cosmetics industry, which 20 years ago tested all its products on animals has come so close to stopping using animals. Many companies have reduced the use of whole-animal testing by 80 V 90%. Some have eliminated it completely. Since the 80s many companies have put serious amounts of money and effort into a search for alternatives for animal testing. Plus, most ingredients that are being used today have already been tested on an animal and have shown to be safe.
h What kinds of tests are being done?
The chronic-toxicity tests assess the effects of long-term exposure, often at low levels, to certain subjects.
Acute-toxicity tests evaluate the risk of short-term exposure, accidental contact with eyes, skin and indigestion. There have two different outcries of this test. The most .