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Originally published June 22 2014

What 'alternative animal testing' really means

by Lindsey Alexander

(NaturalNews) In recent decades, researchers have begun investigating alternative methods of scientific testing. This month, Democrat Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia proposed a bill that would ban the use of animals in cosmetic testing facilities. This bill has been sponsored by at least 50 other congressmen. The proposed law made its way to the House following the release of a study on a 3D laboratory method for allergy and asthma research.

The terminology "alternative to animal testing" might actually be misleading. According to The Humane Society of the United States, alternative testing must only meet one (or more) of three criteria: 1) Replace a procedure with one that does not use animals, 2) Reduce the number of animals used in a procedure or 3) Refine a procedure to alleviate or minimize the pain that the animal used endures. Due to this definition, some animal rights activists have pushed for all-or-nothing laws that would completely ban or criminalize animal testing within the United States and abroad. It is important to note that animal testing within the cosmetic industry has already been banned by the European Union and the Netherlands.

The 3D testing study, published in Molecular Pharmaceutics, reported that scientists have developed a simple 3D procedure to test asthma and allergy medications. This method mimics the presentation of what occurs within the human body and could lead to the reduction of animal testing in labs. The study was funded by the Biotechnical and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Kirkstall Ltd.

What makes this a 3D model instead of a 2D model is simply the presence of an additional human cell found in the respiratory tract. This extra cell has provided researchers with a reliable model to show exactly how the human body would react to the tested medications.

Cold Hard Numbers

Although a complete ban on animal testing may be preferred, a reduction in the number of animals used would still be a moderate win. reports that as many as 100 million animals (vertebrates) may be used globally in laboratory settings. Although this number may be greatly underestimated due to the killing of unexpected or unwanted offspring, the published number means that nearly 274,000 animals are used every day or three every second.

According to the Home Office statistic, over 7,000 mice, 1,500 fish, over 700 rats, 500 birds, 100 sheep and 42 rabbits are used every day. Those numbers are in addition to the 44 amphibians, 32 guinea pigs, 14 cattle, 12 dogs, 12 pigs, seven primates and five hamsters used every day.

One of the strongest arguments against animal testing is that, according to the British Medical Journal, over 10,000 humans die annually from medical drugs, probably due to the differences between the anatomies of the animals that the drugs are tested on and humans.

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About the author:
Lindsey Alexander, contributor of health news and information

Lindsey Alexander, contributor of health news and information

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