Tag Archives: vivisection

NIH Spends Our Money to Torture Animals for No Good Reason

Originally published on Care2

Tens of millions of animals are prisoners in research labs where scientists conduct experiments on them. Some experiments are lethal; the subjects of others live to see another day — and another experiment. Much of this research is not only cruel, it is useless and even silly.

The federal National Institutes of Health likely spends well over a billion dollars on vivisection every year. It is supposed to fund research that will help extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability (for humans). But a significant portion of its grant money goes towards research that doesn’t serve NIH’s mission at all.

Many people resign themselves to or even champion animal research as an indispensable tool for saving human lives, but alternatives exist, and there would be more of them if the federal administration did what Congress told it to do.

NIH has turned its back on a Congressional mandate that it reduce the number of animals labs use and fund the development of experimental methods that don’t involve animals. Instead it continues to fund the confinement, torture, and killing of animals for no good reason, uses taxpayer dollars to do it, and ignores its own mission.

You be the judge: here is In Defense of Animals’ list of last year’s most ludicrous experiments.

Top 10 Most Ridiculous Research on Animals for 2011

10. DRUG-INDUCED ARTHRITIS IN RATS MAKES EXERCISE HARDER

9. RATS WHO RUN AROUND MORE APPEAR TO BE MORE ANXIOUS

8. PRAIRIE VOLES STUDY SUGGESTS SINGLE MOMS RAISE LESS LOVING CHILDREN

7. DIETING HAMSTERS CHOOSE FOOD OVER SEX

6. RAT BITTER-TASTE NERVES APPEAR TO WORK

5. CONTAGIOUS YAWNING IN CHIMPANZEES IS EMPATHETIC

4. ALLIGATORS’ SOUNDS AND ANATOMY DIFFER FROM HUMANS’

3. LEMON-FRESH SCENT CAN INDUCE ERECTIONS IN MONKEYS

2. RATS FIND MILES DAVIS IS BETTER WITH COCAINE

1. LABS ARE STRESSFUL PLACES FOR MONKEYS

Wow — arthritis makes exercise harder. Who knew? Well, at last count, pretty much everyone. And how about that groundbreaking insight that alligators are different from humans!

This list made it even harder than usual to write that check to the IRS this year.

Photo credit: howzey

 

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New Technology is More Reliable and Ethical Than Animal Experiments

Originally published on Care2.

If you want to know how to cure diseases in humans, you want to test experimental treatments on whatever else is most similar. For years scientists have tested their hypotheses on non-human animals, like mice and rats. But extrapolating the results of medical and other scientific research from non-human animals to humans is a dubious undertaking at best. Other animals’ biologies are not the same as ours. They have similarities, often more than we like to admit, but not enough to draw reliable conclusions about the safety of medical interventions in human beings.

As reported by the American Anti-Vivisection Society, “Acetaminophen, for example, is poisonous to cats but is a therapeutic in humans; penicillin is toxic in guinea pigs but has been an invaluable tool in human medicine; morphine causes hyper-excitement in cats but has a calming effect in human patients; and oral contraceptives prolong blood-clotting times in dogs but increase a human’s risk of developing blood clots. Many more such examples exist.”

Not only are the results of animal experiments of limited use (if not downright dangerous), they are also cruel, painful and kill most of their subjects. 95% of the over 100 million animals who suffer and die in laboratories — this includes not just medical tests but food, cosmetic, chemical, and purely academic experiments — have no protection from cruelty. The federal Animal Welfare Act, which ostensibly protects animals in laboratories, doesn’t cover mice, rats, birds, and cold-blooded animals. As long as a lab-affiliated committee approves an experiment, the experimenter can do whatever he or she wants to these living, feeling creatures.

Happily, some scientists have turned their attention towards creating more effective and ethical alternatives to vivisection, like computer models and tissue cultures that have more in common with human physiology than any animal does. The Harvard Crimson reports that researchers recently developed a device that “simulates the microenvironment of the human intestine by creating a miniaturized three-dimensional scaffold that supports growth and development of a patient’s own cells—even including microbes essential for digestion and normal physiology.”

The lead researcher, Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Director Donald E. Ingber, said that one motive for his work is “the problem that animal testing really doesn’t accurately predict what happens in humans.” According to The Crimson, Ingber believes the new technology may allow scientists “to pursue a more comprehensive understanding of cellular pathways and medical prognoses.” It could be especially valuable for research into Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Harvard’s Assistant Director for Undergraduate Studies in Biomedical Engineering, Sujata Bhatia, said that the new device “does such a nice job of mimicking the actual environment of the intestine, it could be an amazing tool for both biomedical students and biomedical engineers.”

Ingber anticipates more devices that will improve upon and replace animal research, including technologies replicating human lungs and hearts and even the interactions among multiple organs. This is good news for animals and humans alike.

 

 

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