Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Animal Testing Controversy Continues
via TheRepublic.com - Every year, tens of millions of animals are used for biomedical research, chemical testing and training.
Federal reports show that nearly one million regulated animals, including dogs, cats, monkeys, apes, hamsters and rabbits were used in experiments in fiscal year ending September 2009. But at least 80 to 100 million unregulated animals - mostly rats and mice - are also used each year.
"I don't think many people have any idea of the vastness of the animal research field in this country," said Sue Leary, president of the American Anti-Vivisection Society.
Most, though not all, animals die during or soon after experiments either because that's the only way scientists can study the disease or injury, or because it's deemed inhumane to keep them alive.
Animal protectionists generally denounce the experiments as cruel and unjustified by the results.
"Acceptance of animal suffering is ingrained in how animals are thought of in the research field," said Kathleen Conlee, director of animal research issues for the Humane Society of the United States.
Proponents counter that animals have aided in almost every major advance in biology and medicine in the past century, and for the forseeable future.
"If you've ever had a vaccine, antibiotics, chemotherapy, joint replacement or bypass surgery, among many other therapies, you've been the beneficiary of animal research, " said Liz Hodge, communications director for the Foundation for Biomedical Research.
The one area of agreement between researchers and animal protectionists is that research and investment into alternatives to animal studies is accelerating. But most scientists insist the need to use some animals in research will remain for many years.
By Lee Bowman, science correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service