Reasons to End Animal Experimentation
World Week for Animals in Laboratories is a special time when we commemorate the lives of the millions of animals who are experimented on in laboratories across the globe each year. From mice and rats to dogs, cats and nonhuman primates, animals of all kinds are exploited in the name of science and subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering.
Although we at NAVS work hard every day to end the suffering of laboratory animals, we view World Week for Animals in Laboratories as an important opportunity to revisit why we continue to advocate for the use of human-relevant alternatives in lieu of animal models in science and to renew our commitment to this cause.
1. Experiments in animals produce misleading results. Approximately 60% of drugs that show promise in preclinical animal models fail in human clinical trials because of lack of efficacy. An additional 30% of drugs fail because they are toxic in people. Drugs that were found to be ineffective in preclinical animal models may actually have been successful if tested in humans. The research community needs to invest in the development and use of human-relevant models to overcome this issue.
2. Animal experiments are expensive and time consuming. It takes a lot of money and a lot of time to conduct research with animal models—models that are inherently flawed as predictors of what happens in people. Research dollars can pay much higher dividends if they are used to support the development and use of human-relevant, non-animal models that produce results faster and cheaper—and help end the unnecessary suffering of laboratory animals.
3. Too many sentient creatures are harmed each year. Animal researchers argue that too few animals, like nonhuman primates, are available for research, yet tens of thousands of primates are experimented on in the U.S. each year. Researchers have even gone so far as to suggest that stockpiles of animals such as nonhuman primates be available on reserve. Let’s not forgot how stockpiles of rodents were treated at the beginning of the pandemic, when labs across the globe killed off these animals in large numbers. Too many animals are being experimented on—not too few.
4. The ethical implications of animal experimentation cannot be ignored. Animals are capable of feeling pain and distress during experimentation, and most are killed after the experiment ends or may die from the experimental procedure itself. Is it ethical to harm animals? Is it ethical to harm humans by continuing to use animals as models for human conditions when they are ineffective?
5. Investments in animal-free alternatives are paying huge dividends. More and more studies are showing that computer models and cell-based approaches, like organoid and organ-on-a-chip models, are better at predicting human responses than animal models and may help reduce or replace animal use in many areas of research. During this year’s World Week for Animals in Laboratories, let’s focus on one very important point as we reflect on the animal lives lost: the time is right to leave invasive animal studies in the past. We cannot afford to do otherwise.