Inhumane Science: The Truth Behind Animal Testing

The flawed nature of chemical testing on animals

Kyla Nelson, Junior Business Manager

Approximately 110 million animals are killed each year in the United States due to a process known as animal testing, from mice, frogs and rabbits, to monkeys, fish, birds and mini pigs (“PETA, 11 Animal Testing Facts”). None of these animals have the exact DNA as humans, and yet they are being exploited by many leading cosmetics companies to test the impacts of chemicals in their products. According to The Temple News, 95% of passing tests made on animals don’t work for humans, due to them being ineffective or deadly.  However, it also goes the other way around. Drugs like penicillin and aspirins have failed animal tests but have saved human lives. 

There is not an animal species that is exactly like a human. The closest known animal to humans are chimpanzees, and even they are only 98.8% like humans. From just 1.2 percent of DNA – the amount that makes chimps and humans different – there are over 35 million gene differences (BMC Genomics).  So the closest animal to humans that scientists use during animal testing has over 35 million different genes, but are still used to verify the safety of products for humans. 

While using these close relatives for animal testing, things have still gone wrong due to the clear genetic differences. Chimps were often tested to help find treatments for AIDS. Starting in 1984, scientists would transmit HIV into their bloodstream and work from there. However, in 2009, it was discovered that chimps couldn’t die from aids. It took 25 years to find out that there was no possible way for them to solve the entirely human problem using non-human animals.

Similarly, rats are used to help learn about cancer, but it is ineffective due to their life spans being too short. “Equivalent tests of cancer prevention in humans require decades of intake of the agents, while the rodents’ short life spans cannot give us information of the long-term safety,” said Yukui Ma in the National Library of Medicine. Rats live 1 to 2 years depending on the species. 

Scientists have a very limited amount of time to observe and research before the rat dies and they have to start all over with a new one. It is an incautious and hurried way to find answers that should be parallel to the lifetime of a human. Scientists have invested billions of dollars into trying to cure cancer in mice and are still continuing, which only provides us with inaccurate results.

In 1945, a scientist named Alexander Fleming injected bacteria in rabbits and tried to use penicillin to prevent them from synthesizing peptidoglycan, a substance that forms the cell walls of many bacteria (https://www.livescience.com/). This was ineffective, as rabbits naturally have penicillin in their urine that already cures the bacteria. Since rabbits have penicillin naturally and humans don’t, there was no way to prove that it would work for humans. 

As proven time and time again, animal testing produces inaccurate results that ultimately put humans at risk.