Animal Experimentation

By: Anthony C.

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Should animals be used to test new foods and medication for the safety of humans?

Whether or not animals are needed in research is out of the question. We need to test new products in a way that will prove to us that the product is safe for humans. However, when it comes down to how the research is being conducted and how it is regulated, different countries have different standards, and the U.S. should change theirs.

The Animal Welfare Act and the United States' Standards for Animal Testing.

In the United States, animal testing is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which as of now only protects certain species of mammals. The animals protected are dogs, cats, primates, rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs. However, the protected species are only given limited protection, as they can still be used in labs, as long as certain standards are met. For example, scientists must ask a vet before doing a test that may cause pain to a protected species, and the protected animals must be cared for. All institutions testing on a protected specie(s) must be monitored by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The IACUC must approve of procedures done to protected animals, and the IACUC must inspect facilities conducting such experiments at least once every 6 months. But since only the animals listed above are protected, scientists can conduct unreasonable tests without being monitored on any other species, and around 90% of animals experimented on are mice, rats, and fish, all of which are unprotected by the AWA. Therefore, the U.S. should expand the AWA's umbrella of protection to monitor more experiments on other species of animals.

The Three R's of Animal Experimentation

The three R's of animal experimentation is a system that many countries such as Brazil and the U.K. follow that tries to lighten the issue of animal experimentation. The first R stands for replacement, which suggests that scientists use completely different methods than animal testing to prove the safety of an object when possible. The second R stands for reduction, which suggests that scientists use the smallest amount of animals possible in order to achieve their goals, therefore reducing the animals tested on. The last R stands for refinement, or to minimize the amount of pain the animals receive and maximize their welfare in any possible way. The three R's are a guideline for scientists to do just what they have to in order to ensure the safety of humans while doing as little harm as possible to animals. However, the U.S. doesn't really follow this guideline, or at least not as much as other countries, so the government should enforce the three R's.

Other Countries' Standards and Laws for Animals in Research.

As mentioned earlier, this is a worldwide issue, and other countries have other ways of dealing with it. For example, in Japan, causing distress to an animal without good reason is strictly prohibited by law. Scientists must reduce pain in animals tested on as much as possible, therefore Japan follows the three R's. Another example is Canada. Canada uses non-animal models when possible and will sometimes skip testing if certain ingredients in the product have been previously tested. Canada tries to avoid animal testing and suffering as much as possible, but their main priority is the safety of Canadian citizens. The last example is the U.K. In the U.K., any scientists conducting experiments on animals must have licenses to do so and must detail what type of and how many animals are being used. They also must tell what the experiment is and what its purpose is. Finally, the laboratory conducting the testing must have sufficient staff and facilities according to the standards of the animals Act of 1986. The U.S. should increase its standards to that of the U.K.'s, as the U.K. and the other countries mentioned seem to be more prioritized to protecting any and all animals possible, while the U.S. only protects a select few.


The U.S. does a poor job of prioritizing this widespread issue as they only protect a few species from animal experimentation. They don't protect the three species of animals that account for 90% of all animal experimentation in the U.S. (mice, rats, and fish). While we cannot end animal experimentation without risking our own safety, the U.S. can tighten its regulations for animal experimentation. They can protect a wider variety of species, enforce the three R's of animal experimentation, or they can mimic regulations in other countries in order to provide the testing we need while keeping the animals as safe as possible.
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Works cited section


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  4. ProQuest Staff. "At Issue: Animal Experimentation." ProQuest LLC. 2015: n.pag. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 11 Jun. 2015.
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