The morality of animal testing has been a controversial subject since its popularity rise in the 19th century, when the first organization against animal cruelty was formed. Since then, the desire to ban animal testing has progressed to the point that hundreds of organizations opposing animal experimentation now exist and are actively working to prove animal testing is not ethically correct. The development of alternative testing methods has boosted this movement and made animal testing less desirable to a large portion of the United States. History proves tests conducted on animals in the past have resulted in incredible medical breakthroughs concerning information and cures for human diseases and ailments. However, animal testing must be eliminated in the United States due to the detriment it has on the federal budget, the unreliability of animal experimentation results on products made for human consumption, and the moral issue associated with using animals as test subjects.
The United States government is constantly working to find methods to reduce excessive spending that contributes to the national debt; however, the detriment animal testing causes to the country’s budget is often overlooked. The United States allows a yearly budget to organizations participating in animal experimentation, and this amount is excessive and cost-intensive. In 2018, in accordance to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the National Institute for Health (NIH) was budgeted 36 billion dollars for research and testing. (United States Congress). Of this budgeted amount, approximately 47% was used for animal testing (International Animal Research Regulations). This calculation amounts to approximately 17 billion dollars and does not include the money spent by other organizations that receive funding for animal testing, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Considering the national debt faced by the United States, this sum of money should not be spent on experimentation on animals. Cost is an issue when it comes to animal testing, not just morality.
Furthermore, the development of alternative, non-animal testing methods has proven that non-animal tests are far more cost-effective than traditional animal tests. When looking at research comparing the cost of performing animal tests versus non-animal tests, it is evident the United States can liberate a portion of the detriment it suffers when budgeting animal testing for certain organizations. In an article written by The Humane Society, the organization discusses the cost of In Vitro testing, which is the process of using cells and microorganisms to study diseases and treatments, rather than using live animals.
In the article, The Humane Society includes a chart comparing the prices of specific animal tests and their alternative counterparts. For instance, when testing embryotoxicity, using a rat developmental toxicity test to complete the experiment costs 50,000 dollars (Humane Society International). In contrast, when completing the process with a rat limb bud test, which is a form of In Vitro testing, a testing facility will only spend 15,000 dollars (Humane Society International). This is a drastic difference in cost, and only one of ten different experiments the Humane Society incorporates in their article. Switching to alternative testing methods will unquestionably save the United States government money, due to the contrast in price the Humane Society emphasizes.
While it is important to be informed of the money the United States can save by requiring testing facilities to switch to non-animal testing methods, it is also important to become aware of other, more important areas in which the money can be spent. The lack of funding for animal shelters all over the United States leads to thousands of animals being treated poorly, with a majority being euthanized every year. In 2012, for example, in Kentucky alone, approximately 285,000 dogs and cats entered the shelter system, but only 15% were retrieved by owners or adopted to a new home (Sinski and Gagne).
Those 42,750 dogs and cats that were not adopted, ended up euthanized. Without proper funding, animal shelters are not allowed to offer low adoption fees, let alone provide cats and dogs proper resources. If money from animal testing is used towards bettering the conditions in animal shelters, or even towards building more animal shelters so certain buildings are not overcrowded with scarce resources, animals can await adoption in cleaner and more renovated facilities.
Since animal testing has led to several helpful medical breakthroughs in the past, many individuals are unaware of the verifiable unreliability of animal testing. Studies have led scientists to believe that testing drugs, chemicals, foods, etc. on animals will give health organizations insight into what products are safe for human consumption. This method of understanding human physiology is faulty due to many factors, including the fact that certain conditions can affect lab results during animal experiments. For instance, using animals as test subjects is deceptive due to varying effects that testing in certain environments can have on test results.
In one study, in which genetically altered mice were used to test aortic defects, it was found that mice placed in larger cages completely lost any alterations they were given and, therefore, provided no helpful information (Akhtar). Aysha Akhtar also states in his article that Crabbe et. al, a testing company, did several trial runs testing mice in neurobehavioral experiments and found that the results were different in every laboratory location they used (Akhtar). With this information, we can determine that some experiments conducted on animals in the past must have had unreliable results due to inconsistency caused by varying environments. Lab conditions and other variables impact the results of studies conducted on animals and, in result, lead to distribution of ineffective drugs.
In addition to lab environments effecting test results from animal experiments, there are differences between actual human diseases and the diseases that scientists attempt to duplicate in animals. This factor proves that animal testing is unreliable by showing there is a clear boundary that prevents animals from accurately providing information about human diseases. A test was conducted in which scientists attempted to replicate human strokes in animals, in order to gain more knowledge regarding human strokes and, furthermore, ways to treat them (Akhtar).
Despite scientists believing these studies would help generate medication to combat human strokes, the medication failed to succeed past clinical trials, proving that animals react to medication differently than humans will (Akhtar). The difference in species between animals and humans makes the two respective groups react differently to drugs and diseases. Using animals to formulate medication for humans is hazardous due to how they each react differently to stimuli.
The contrast between human diseases and the replicated versions used in animal experiments demonstrates the unreliability of animal testing, but so does the distinction between animal and human physiology and genetics.