Instead of Torture.

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animal experimentation

A few students shuffle nervously into the biology lab. It’s the first time they’re going to be slicing live creatures. Anyone with a weak stomach will be marked and taunted so everyone puts on a brave face. The teacher soaks a ball of cotton in formaldehyde and gently puts it into the jar where the cockroaches are crawling about and closes the lid tightly. Suddenly there’s a violent reaction inside the jar, a fight for life before everything becomes still. Everyone is instructed to take a cockroach, pull one of it’s legs out, cut it delicately, open the exoskeleton with great care and then extract the thigh muscles. The students who manage to get it right the first time hastily toss their cockroach away and start smearing the thigh muscles on a wet slide and teasing it with a needle. The ones who don’t, get a little tensed and proceed to tear all the legs off. Soon enough there are a few dozen limbless, mutilated cockroaches lying on the table who are very much alive. Soon enough their senses are going to come back and they are going to wake up to the reality. Imagine waking up and figuring out that you have no arms and no legs, and there’s nothing to soothe that pain. The students don’t even care enough to kill them and end their pain. They live on, helpless.

This won’t bother many people. Cockroaches feel pain too. They are not robots designed for us to experiment upon. I lived through such a biology class though I had refrained myself from picking up a cockroach or any of the equipments. While my classmates were joking about it and waving the cockroaches in each other’s faces, I saw them transform into monsters and I could never look at them the same way again. People often blame me for sharing those awful pictures from PETA on my Facebook wall- a skinless rabbit, a cat with an electrode protruding from its head, a monkey screaming its lungs out, trying to get away. These people don’t want to see what happens in the laboratories but they are quick to say- “Well then what are the scientists supposed to experiment upon? It’s for the greater good.” I want to ask these people, have you even tried to find out the alternatives? Believe me, there are a lot of them.

The alternatives to animal testing are cheaper, easier, more accurate since they are not plagued by species differences which make extrapolation next to impossible. Plus, it helps us work with a clear conscience. Pharmagene Laboratories, based in Royston, England, was the first company to explore the non-animal methods. They use human tissues and sophisticated computer technology for the process of drug development and testing. Though some companies insist on following their archaic animal experimentation programmes, Pharmagene scientists believe that the discovery process is much more efficient with human tissues. “If you have information on human genes, what’s the point of going back to animals?” says Pharmagene co-founder Gordon Baxter.

There’s a very obvious difference between animal testing and the practices carried out by clinical investigators. The scientists who conduct animal testing know that their test subjects are disposable. They induce illnesses and then attempt to cure them. The knowledge that the waste of a particular animal’s life is not going to bother anyone and that the formed product will still require huge changes in order to cater to human needs, makes these scientists more reckless. The clinical investigators on the other hand try to cure people who already have the disease through natural causes or they experiment upon the bodies of those who have died because of it. This process makes more sense because the clinical investigators have to be more careful with their subjects unlike the animal experimentalists, who know that the subjects can be killed whenever convenient. Also, animals can never fully replicate the human conditions, working on a human body is much more directly relevant to people. In laboratories, the use of human skin leftover from surgical procedures or donated cadavers can be used to measure the rate at which a chemical is able to penetrate the skin.

Did you know how the cigarette companies had avoided scrutiny till 1994 for causing cancer? They relied on misleading animal based studies to prove that there was no link between smoking and cancer, this link was only discovered after conducting epidemiological studies.

Even in standard biology labs or dissection classes of medical and veterinary schools, animal cadavers are not necessary. Non-animal teaching tools such as computer simulations, multimedia CD-ROMs, and models are more effective and cheaper. The collection of animals and their disposal after the dissection, is an expensive process. The computer simulations are reusable replacements of the traditional animal specimens and these can save the schools thousands of rupees. Studies have proven that non-animal teaching methods are just as effective as the cruel alternative. The veterinary schools can take cadaver donations. This prevents the killing of a lot of animals. People can donate the body of their pets who have died of natural causes, ensuring that the animal cadavers are “ethically sourced.”

There ARE alternatives and these are better than the processes that are used now. We simply do not know about them because a notion of ‘greater good’ has been drilled into our heads. If the process of animal experimentation stops, nothing bad will really come of it. We’ll still have the products that we use now. Here’s a list of companies that sell cruelty-free cosmetics:

http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/PDF/companiesdonttest.pdf

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The cosmetics that we put on our faces are drowned in blood and tears. I did not flood this article with extremely graphic torture methods and bloody images, but think about it- you choose to ignore something that you can’t even look at, these animals live through this nightmare every single day of their lives. We’re standing in a sea of cadavers and it’s not a pretty sight. Supporting pain and turning away from the million souls, that beg, scream and bleed, without trying to find a solution does not make you beautiful. It turns you into a monster.