SAEN updated its registry of the most painful vivisection labs last week, now including data up through 2009, which is the most recent year for which information is available.
The report criticizes both animal testing itself and the ways in which data about animal testing are collected.
SAEN bases its “most painful labs” report on data describing how often animals used in experimentation are subjected to what is called “unrelieved pain,” that is, experimentation where animals are subjected to painful tests without relief, tranquilizers, anesthesia, analgesia or euthanasia.
Federal guidelines dictate that animals can only endure unrelieved pain when scientifically necessary for the purposes of research, and it should come as no great surprise that it is very frequently scientifically necessary to subject animals to unrelieved pain.
SAEN says that the accuracy of data for unrelieved pain can suffer from simple clerical errors, as well as different interpretations of what unrelieved pain can mean. For example, some labs list animals that have been deprived of food or water in the category of unrelieved pain, while others do not.
Utah and Georgia both have two facilities, each in the top ten of the list, with Utah’s two biggest public universities — Utah State University and University of Utah — ranking 2nd and 6th respectively. The most painful lab in the country is the Aberdeen Proving Ground, a facility controlled by the US Army in Maryland.
A spokesman for the University of Utah makes the baffling claim that experimenting on animals without pain relief doesn’t necessarily mean the animals are in pain.
The simple fact that a list like this one exists is proof of the horrifying nature of animal testing. The concept of unrelieved pain and intentionally depriving animals of food and water is something that can be recorded and registered on a chart like any other data. We have institutionalized animal suffering to such an extent that the idea of an animal being tortured or starved becomes a data point on a spreadsheet, instead of what it actually is: a tragedy.
Vivisection works because people are unaware of what happens in labs and even when they find out what happens, they are assured that the end justifies the means; that animal testing is important to solving human ills. The disturbing fact is that not only is the treatment of animals in labs horrifying beyond all human comprehension, but that the suffering is often entirely in vain. Studies show that a majority of doctors have misgivings about applying animal-tested medicines to humans.
Vivisection is not only horrifying and ethically abhorrent, but scientifically unreliable. Furthering alternative research methods will not only produce more reliable data, but will forego the need to torture animals entirely.