Animal testing is a subject which nobody wants to talk about in an honest and open way. The majority of the public would prefer to claim ignorance, and organizations responsible go to extreme lengths to play down the extent of their animal testing regimes.
This lack of openness is costing lives, and last year over 4.1 million animal experiments took place in the UK which is more than ever before.
A Facade of Transparency
Since 2010 over 80 businesses, charities and educational facilities have pledged to make their animal testing regimes more transparent to the public. On the surface this seems like a move in the right direction, but the facts show that the ‘Concordat on Openness on Animal Testing’ organized by Understanding Animal Research, is nothing more than a mask for organizations to hide behind.
The signees of the agreement are publicly stating that they are committed to reducing, replacing, and refining their animal testing practices which is great for public relations. However, the words of the agreement are just a target to aim towards and mean almost nothing in reality. Organizations who have signed the agreement are under no obligation to disclose the actual facts and figures related to their animal testing operations if they feel it could have a negative impact on their profits or public image.
In essence, the pledge for transparency on animal testing in the UK seems to be a PR stunt, not a concrete plan of action that is helping to prevent the animals from the unbearable suffering, torture and death which they endure.
Old Testing Methods Fade while Genetic Modification Testing Soars
Figures show that in 2013 the overall number of animal experiments in the UK rose to an all time high of 4.12 million, which is due largely to the dramatic increase in the amount of genetic modification (GM) and harmful genetic mutation (HM) tests. This relatively new area of scientific testing has gained prevalence over the past 20 years and now accounts for more than 50 percent of all the animal testing conducted in the UK.
Since 1995 GM and HM procedures have risen 573 percent to more than 2 million, and it’s continuing to increase year after year despite claims from organizations that they are cutting back. The overall level of all other animal testing has decreased slightly over the same period, but this is due to the fact that GM and HM testing has replaced many of the old methods. Some of the animals being tested on include mice, rats, fish, cattle, sheep, goats, primates, reptiles, pigs, hamsters and gerbils, all of whom are forced to undergo horrific procedures, some of which involve prolonged periods of pain and suffering with open wounds, sleep deprivation and vivisection.
When Will It End?
Companies are signing pledges saying they’re reducing the amount of animal testing while at the same time government figures show annual increases. Millions of animals are suffering in the name of medical and scientific progress and there is no real transparency to the public, who are left in the dark and unable to make informed decisions.
We have the power to support or boycott companies who are carrying out animal testing, and as consumers this is our biggest weapon in the fight against animal cruelty. Spreading the compassionate message and saying no to animal tested products is the least we can do to show the animals that we care.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk