Today, 24th April 2019, is World Day for Laboratory Animals. Instituted in 1979, it helps to push the agenda to end the suffering of laboratory animals around the world. The day recognises the suffering of millions of animals all over the world. It suggests the replacement with non-animal advanced scientific techniques.
Using animals for laboratory tests started in the United States in 1920. This was shortly after World War II. At first, scientists used them to test drugs and vaccines. Later it developed to household and cosmetic products. There are about 50 to 100 million animals used annually for laboratory tests in the United States alone.
Each year, an estimate of millions of animals suffer and die when used for experiments. This is despite other scientific methods that replace animal research. The law, which is now outdated, permitted the use of animals to test a product before putting it on the market for human consumption.
However, the process of using animals for laboratory tests is flawed. People discovered that different animal species respond differently to different tests, proving them unreliable.
They also proved the tests unreliable because of variations in conditions. Human diseases injected into laboratory animals artificially creates the environment. This, in turn, affects the outcome of the results. Variations in laboratory environments can also affect the outcome of the experiments.
A good example is an experimental drug, TGN1412. It caused life-threatening reactions to humans. However, it had no side effect in monkeys, even in very high quantities. Experts believe the implementation of advanced technologies could have been a more viable testing option.
A lot of medicines have more adverse effects on animals. Most animals also have very different characteristics from human beings. Monkeys are frequently used in brain experiments. However, they are distinct in the structure of their nervous systems, sense organs and how they function.
Aspirin, used by pregnant women, can cause a birth defect in monkeys. Parkinson’s disease also would not show symptoms in animals.