What Are The Alternatives to Animal Testing?

Animal testing has been used for centuries. It is used to study the effects of various new drugs and chemicals for safe human use. However, animal testing is highly ineffective and extremely cruel.

So, what are the alternatives to animal testing? Cell culture allows scientists to recreate human or animal body parts which can then be tested on. Human tissues can also be tested on when donated by those in surgery or once someone has passed away.

The world of animal testing is long, dark and uncomfortable to learn about. This extensive article aims to help you understand this industry better, inform the public, and talk about the alternatives to animal testing now available.

Animal Testing Facts

Below is an extensive list of animal testing facts backed with evidence.
  • Over 100m animals are caged, exploited, abused, and tortured inside US labs each and every year. (1)
  • There are over 3.52m procedures carried out on animals in the UK (2)
  • Of the 1.8 million experiments completed in UK labs in 2018, 94,000 were assessed as “severe”. This includes “long-term disease processes” (3)
  • 92% of drugs tested on animals with successful results fail in human trials (4)
  • The top 10 animal testing countries in the world are China, Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany and France (5)
  • Of the 85 HIV/AIDS vaccines that have shown positive results in nonhuman primate studies, not one was successful in human trials (10)
  • The average time needed to move from target discovery to an approved drug is 14 years. The failure rate during this time is 95% (11)
  • Research has found that universities often exaggerate their findings from animal experiments. More often than not, the studies had very little to do with improving human health (12)
  • The general public is unknowingly the biggest funders of animal testing through their tax money. 47% of NIH-funded research is on nonhuman animals (13)
  • Institutions that conduct animal testing fight vigorously to withhold their results and information from the public (14)
  • Of the 1.8 million experiments conducted on animals in the UK, 56% are simply for the curiosity of university students (15)
  • Most animals used by labs are not protected by laws. This means mice, rats, and birds are often a test lab’s preferred choice. In the US, over 800 labs are not subject to federal law for this reason (16)
  • Just 13% of all experiments conducted were required by regulators (17)
  • Toxicological test such as rubbing chemicals in the eyes of animals are still conducted, despite there being cruelty-free alternatives (18)

What Are The Alternatives to Animal Testing? 

Alternatives to animal testing have been around for a very long time. Yet, they are still overlooked despite often being cheaper, quicker, and more effective.

The biggest misconception about alternatives to animal testing is that human lives will now be at risk. This is not true. Nor does it mean hindering medical progress and preventing helping people fight against disease or illness.

In fact, the alternatives have consistently been found to be more useful than animal testing. Alternative methods of testing are growing exponentially, which is some excellent news.

The biggest issue with replacing animal testing is more political than it is logical. Conservatism within the science community is holding alternative methods back.

Sticking to what a scientist knows is much easier than attempting to change to something new. Unfortunately, we see this issue in for most forms of progression. Whether it be medical, environmental, health, or social justice.

Scientists like the fact they can compare new animal tests to old animals tests. This gives them confidence in their findings. Regulators are then happy to tick the box and carry on. Ignoring what the world actually needs or answering the ethical questions issues.

There is also the issue of bureaucracy. Regulators are not quick to adopt new methods of attentive testing. Thankfully, organizations like Cruelty-Free International are helping to convince regulators to change.

Cell Cultures

Flickr

With the latest technology being used by scientists, it’s now possible to grow any type of animal cell in a laboratory. This has led scientists to be able to create a 3D structure of both human and animal anatomy.

This can be an effective way of testing new chemicals and ingredients. By exposing lab-grown anatomical parts to the chemicals, no animal or human has to suffer the possible side effects.

We have even created “organs-on-chips” using human cells. These innovative creations can be used to effectively trial ingredients, chemicals, and also study drug metabolism.

There have already been cases where scientists were able to recreate a human lung or heart using this technology. Scientists can create parts of the body they wish to study new drugs and chemicals to get their research.

Cell cultures have already played an integral role in the development of treatment for various cancers and diseases. We could start redirecting research funding into this technology to assist an eventually replace animal testing.

Human Tissues

Before we die, many of us volunteer our bodies to science. This includes both healthy and diseased skin tissues which could be used for testing new drugs and chemicals.

Studying the effects on actual human tissue would be much more reliable than studies conducted on animals. 

There are companies such as Episkin, Mattek and CellSystems GmbH who already recreate human body parts with donated tissues. This means they can recreate human eyes and skin types for testing.

Donations don’t have to come just from those that have passed on. People going for surgery can also opt to donate their skin and organs.

What better way to test chemicals and drugs for humans than with actual human body parts?

Computer Modeling

Still very much in the early stages. But, with the speed at which technology evolves, it shouldn’t be long until we can accurately test the effects of new drugs and chemicals using a computer model.

Some computer models of the human body already exist, including the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and skin. Virtual experiments can previously be conducted but are not enough to deem a drug or chemical safe for human use.

One day, labs may be able to 3D print human organs specifically for lab testing.

Volunteers

Modern technology allows us to scan human reaction to new drugs by scanning brain activity. By microdosing human volunteers with potential new medicines, scientists can better predict the full effects on the human body.

Considering the low success rates of animal drug testing, using human volunteers in a safe and controlled manner would make much more sense. It would likely produce better and more accurate results.

For testing that is less harmful within the realm of nutrition, supplements or drug addiction, human volunteers would be a much better option.

What is Animal Testing?

An animal test is any experiment conducted where a live animal is forced to undergo practices that will harm them. They usually result in excruciating pain, distress and psychological trauma.

Laboratories all around the world buy animals from breeders to be experimented on. Once they have the animal, scientists usually conduct a series of experiments on the animals. This is a bid to test various things like new chemicals, ingredients, or radiation.

But, animal tests are not limited to forcing animals to be exposed to or consume various materials. Psychologists have also been testing on animals for behavioural science for centuries.

The most common animal testing includes:

  • Forcing the animal to consume something or injecting the animal. 
  • Exposing animals to harmful radiation.
  • Performing surgery on the animal to remove its organs, tissues or just to cause serious harm to the animal’s body.
  • Forcing animals to inhale toxic chemicals.
  • Creating frightening and confusing situations to cause animals psychological distress.

Most Common Animals Used for Animal Testing

Wikimedia Commons

Some of these will probably not surprise you, but others surely will. Here is a full list fo the most common animals used for animal testing right now.

  • Mice
  • Fish
  • Rats
  • Rabbits
  • Guinea pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Cows
  • Pigs
  • Chickens
  • Sheep
  • Birds
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Mini-pigs
  • Monkeys
  • Chimpanzees

Mice and rats are the most tested on animals on the planet. Due to their intelligence and lack of welfare protections, they are an easy target for laboratories.

Some of the lesser common animals probably shocked you. Cats and dogs are also tested on, and this isn’t just in China. This happens right here in the UK.

In the USA, rats, mice, fish, amphibians and birds are not even deemed as “animals” under lab testing laws. This means they have no welfare protections allowing scientists to take out any tests they wish.

Monkeys are also heavily tested all around the world. Their likeness to human anatomy and behaviour makes them a favourite for biological and psychological testing.

Animals Living in Laboratories 

The quality of animal testing facilities differs around the world. But the fact remains that labs are no place for animals. They are sterile and hostile environments. Animals are usually caged and unable to take out their natural instincts.

Animals can be caged alone from a few days to years, depending on the test. Most animals live a life of miserable suffering that we could never possibly understand.

The science behind animal sentience is strong. We know that all of these animals feel and experience pain and fear much as humans do. Scientists are well aware of this fact, and it is the reason why they use animals in the first place.

Many of the tests took out on animal require the animal to die as part of the test. These animals are bred specifically for testing and slaughter. This is inhumane and incredibly cruel.

If we consider the well-known failure rates of animal testing, then these laboratories are nothing short of abhorrent in their practices.

Why Do Companies Still Test on Animals?

Despite the failure rates of animal testing, companies continue to do it. Why? Mostly to protect themselves from being sued by their customers.

If they test on animals, they can provide data which says the product was safe and certified. Even though the FDA has failed to prove that the results from animal testing can be extrapolated to humans.

Therefore, we have a highly unreliable animal testing industry backed by governments that allows them to release new drugs with very little evidence of safety for human use.

Some countries, like China for example, still require companies to test on animals to market their goods. This means even companies that claim to be cruelty-free in other parts of the world test their products for the Chinese market.

There is some news that China is currently amending its animal testing laws. If passed, the country would allow imported non-special cosmetics to hit the market without animal testing. We will cross our fingers in the hope this is the start of for more strict laws in China.

In Europe and the USA, animal testing is on the decrease but is still a big issue. The vast majority of animal testing is for university research.

Cosmetic and household brands are under immense pressure to move away from animal testing. We are hopeful that these industries will end animal testing over the next decade.

What Cosmetic Brands Still Test on Animals?

Below is a list of the most popular cosmetic brands in the UK that test on animals. You can get a full list of UK brands that test on animals here.

  • Benefit 
  • Bobbi Brown
  • Boscia
  • Calvin Klein
  • Chloe
  • Clarins
  • Clinique
  • Dior
  • DKNY Fragrances
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Dove
  • Elizabeth Arden
  • Estee Lauder
  • Garnier
  • Giorgio Armani
  • Glam Glow
  • Gucci Fragrances
  • Guerlain
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Hermes
  • Issey Miyake
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Kiehl’s
  • Lacoste Fragrances
  • La Mer
  • Lancome
  • L’Occtaine
  • L’Oreal
  • Makeup Forever
  • Marc Jacobs
  • Mary Kay
  • Max Factor
  • Maybelline New York
  • Mont Blanc
  • NARS
  • Neutrogena
  • Nivea
  • Old Spice
  • OPI
  • Origins
  • Pantene
  • Phyto
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Revlon
  • Rimmel London
  • Roberto Cavalli
  • Sc Johnson
  • Tom Ford
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Tresemme
  • Unilever
  • Vaseline
  • Vera Wang
  • Versace
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Wella
  • Yves Saint Laurent

Popular Vegan Brands Owned by Non-Vegan Parent Companies

Just because the product is cruelty-free and vegan, doesn’t mean the parent company is. This is a hot debate between vegans on whether it’s ok to buy from these brands. We wrote an entire article about it in May. We’ll leave the decision up to you.

Here is a full list of the vegan brands independent of non-vegan parent companies.

  • Aveda – Owned By Estee Lauder
  • Awake Beauty – Owned By Kose
  • Becca – Owned By Estee Lauder
  • Bite Beauty – Owned By Kendo, Lvmh
  • Buxom – Owned By Shiseido
  • Covergirl – Owned By Coty
  • Dermablend – Owned By L’oreal
  • Dermalogica – Owned By Unilever
  • Drunk Elephant – Owned By Shiseido
  • Elemis – Owned By L’occitane
  • Erborian – Owned By L’occitane
  • First Aid Beauty – Owned By P&G
  • Hello Products – Owned By Colgate
  • Hourglass – Owned By Unilever
  • Kate Somerville – Owned By Unilever
  • Kvd Vegan Beauty – Owned By Kendo, Lvmh
  • Kylie Cosmetics – Owned By Coty
  • Mrs Meyers Clean Day – Owned By Sc Johnson
  • Murad – Owned By Unilever
  • Nyx Cosmetics – Owned By L’oreal
  • Ole Henriksen – Owned By Kendo, Lvmh
  • Oribe – Owned By Kao
  • Ureology – Owned By L’oreal
  • Ren – Owned By Unilever
  • Schmidt’s – Owned By Unilever
  • Seventh Generation – Owned By Unilever
  • Sleek Makeup – Owned By Walgreens
  • Smashbox – Owned By Estee Lauder
  • St. Ives – Owned By Unilever
  • Tarte – Owned By Kose
  • Tatcha – Owned By Unilever
  • Tom’s Of Maine – Owned By Colgate
  • Too Faced – Owned By Estee Lauder
  • Urban Decay – Owned By L’oreal

Final Thoughts

Modern technology and adequate funding are the keys to eliminating the need for animal testing. While conservatism science is reluctant to try alternatives soon, they won’t find much reason to keep testing animals.

Alternative methods are more accurate, cost-effective and beneficial for testing new drugs and chemicals. If we continue to pressure our governments and companies to ditch animals testing, we will likely end animal testing sooner than we may think. 

Dolma is 100% against animal testing and actively against the use of animals in any shape or form. Our commitment stand strong and we remain an independently owned vegan brand.

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