FAQ: GENERAL

What is vivisection?

Who experiments on animals?

Who funds animal research?

How many animals are used in research?

Why should I be opposed to animal experimentation?

Haven’t animals always been used to learn about life processes?

Do anti-vivisectionists propose testing on humans instead of animals?

When did people start experimenting on animals?

What does the term “animal-modeled research” mean?

Why is animal-modeled research an invalid way to learn about human disease?

Aren’t all animals—human and nonhuman—more similar than different?

Are the animals used in research treated humanely?

Aren’t there laws that protect animals used in research?

What species is used the most as a “laboratory” animal, and why?

How are animals used in agricultural research?

Are there any scientists who oppose animal experimentation?

Why do most scientists defend animal research?

Who else profits from animal research besides scientists?

Why haven’t anti-vivisectionists been more successful in convincing scientists to stop experimenting on animals?

What are the ethical issues involved in using nonhuman animals as laboratory subjects?

Weren’t animals put on this earth for humans to use as they please?

Why do some anti-vivisectionists object to the term “alternatives” when speaking of non-animal research modalities?

Are there any non-animal methods that have been around a long time?

What does prevention have to do with animal experimentation?

What is animal testing?

What is pound seizure?

What is your organization's Federal Tax ID number?

 

What is vivisection?

Vivisection is the practice of cutting into or using invasive techniques on live animals. The term is derived from the Latin word vivus, which means alive. Vivisection is commonly called animal experimentation and includes the use of animals for research, product testing and in education.
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Who experiments on animals?

Animal experimentation is conducted in a wide range of environments, including universities and other institutions, hospitals, research institutes, and independent laboratories that conduct research for corporations, military bases and agricultural facilities.
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Who funds animal research?

The vast majority of animal research is funded by taxpayers, in the form of publicly funded grants given to hospitals, universities, and research institutions by the National Institutes for Health (NIH), a federal agency. About half of all NIH grants involve animal research, and the money to fund these grants is collected through tax revenues. In addition, the Department of Defense has a multi-million dollar budget to support military laboratories that use animals to test artillery and biological weapons. Privately funded research is supported by grants from charitable foundations, not-for-profit organizations, pharmaceutical companies and other corporations.
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How many animals are used in research?

It's impossible to say exactly how many, but the number is estimated at tens of millions of animals on an annual basis. The vast majority of the animals used—about 90 percent—are rats and mice specifically bred for the purpose of laboratory research.
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Why should I be opposed to animal experimentation?

For two main reasons. First, experimenting on animals is an unethical practice that exploits one species for the supposed benefit of another. Animal experimentation is also a scientifically invalid practice because data from animal studies cannot be reliably extrapolated to humans. Because animals are different from humans in a number of significant ways, they make inaccurate models for studying human disease, thereby sidetracking medical progress and wasting time, talent and resources.
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Haven't animals always been used to learn about life processes?

Since ancient times, people have examined animals to learn more about the nature and function of the human body. In the distance past, when people knew so little about life processes, studying animals may have contributed something to the overall body of scientific knowledge. That occurred during times when people were able to observe the obvious similarities between humans and animals. For example, both humans and animals have a heart, a liver, lungs, and kidneys, and biological functions that are similar across many species. In modern times, however, when the vast majority of research is being conducted on a cellular and subcellular level, even the smallest difference between animals and humans at that level is enough to render any data comparison between the two species completely irrelevant. Equally important, it must be remembered that while animal experimentation led to certain developments, they were not necessary. For example, animals can be used to grow viruses, but so can petri dishes and human tissue cultures.
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Do anti-vivisectionists propose testing on humans instead of animals?

No. Anti-vivisectionists find such incidents as the human experimentation in the Nazi death camps, the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis conducted on African-American men between 1932 and 1972, and the feeding of irradiated food to developmentally disabled teenagers by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1940s to be morally unacceptable. Substituting humans for animals in research has never been, nor ever will be, the goal of the anti-vivisection movement. At the same time, it must be noted that a form of “human experimentation” takes place in hospitals and research centers all over the country, and it is perfectly legal and controlled by strict guidelines. These are called “clinical trials,” where human volunteers who have given their informed consent receive experimental drugs and procedures. From an ethical standpoint, there is a very significant difference between animal experiments and clinical trials. With informed consent, humans may choose whether or not to participate in a clinical trial. Individuals who are considering entering a clinical trial receive informed consent documents that outline why the research is being done, what the researchers hope to accomplish, what will be done during the trial, how long the trial will last, the risks and potential benefits, and what other treatments are available. All participants have the right to leave a clinical trial at any time.
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When did people start experimenting on animals?

The history of animal experimentation does not begin with the earliest efforts to conduct medical research. In fact, as early as the fourth century BC, Hippocrates, now known as the father of medicine, recognized the value of observing the course of a disease in humans to learn about its likely effect and who is most vulnerable to developing it. However, in second century Rome, the Roman Catholic Church issued a decree prohibiting human autopsy. As a result of this prohibition, Galen, who was physician to the gladiators and to the household of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, abandoned his own investigations of the human model in favor of cutting into goats, pigs and monkeys brought from the Barbary Coast. Today, Galen, who became one of the most famous and influential physicians in the history of medicine, is considered the “father” of vivisection.
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What does the term "animal-modeled research" mean?

When scientists say that animals are “models” for humans, they mean that animals are used as a device for conceptualizing unfamiliar phenomena by analogy to qualitatively different but familiar phenomena. Put more simply, animal researchers presume that what occurs in a mouse will also occur in a human because there is a one-to-one correspondence between these two living systems. Early animal experimenters assumed that if one type of tissue in two different species performs the same function—say, respiration—then the causal mechanism is the same. This concept has led researchers to maintain that animals are acceptable causal analogic models (CAMs), and therefore they can be used to study human disease. In the laboratory, animals are used as CAMs for human disease, test subjects (e.g., drug testing, carcinogen testing), as a way to explore new theories, and for dissection in education. In addition, animal tissue is used to study basic physiological principles.
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Why is animal-modeled research an invalid way to learn about human disease?

Because imposing disease symptoms in an animal during an experiment cannot adequately predict or duplicate human disease. In order for a model to be scientifically acceptable—that is, to have predictive value—it must exhibit the same symptoms, the same assumed origin of disease, the same neurobiological mechanism and the same treatment response. Although certain animals may have some of these characteristics in some instances, no animal consistently fulfills all four criteria. That’s because animals and humans are different in many ways—anatomically, physiologically and metabolically.
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Aren't all animals—human and nonhuman—more similar than different?

On a gross anatomical level, human and nonhuman animals are similar. All life on earth has characteristics in common because all living things evolved from a single form of life that inhabited the earth 3.5 million years ago. Through a branching process known as speciation, this basic life form evolved into the ten million plant and animal species that exist today. These evolutionary changes occurred on a microscopic level through changes in the organism’s DNA sequence. So, while all plant and animal species share the same genetic material because they are formed from the same DNA units, it is the composition, or arrangement of this genetic material that makes all the difference. Idiosyncrasies at this subcellular level distinguish the way the cells of different species react to food, the environment and medications. And these very small differences can lead to dramatic differences in the organism as a whole.
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Are the animals used in research treated humanely?

It can be argued that no animal used in research is treated humanely, simply because they are forced to live in an artificial environment. These “laboratory” animals have been forever denied their ability to live their lives as nature intended, whether in the wild, as in the case of monkeys and chimpanzees, or in a home, as in the case of cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs. Even those few “laboratory” animals who are used in less invasive procedures suffer the distress of fear, isolation, depression and anxiety, and that kind of pain is as real as physical pain. Furthermore, there is compelling evidence that animals feel even more pain than humans. Animals are much more attuned to their environment than humans, and their “flight or fight” responses are much more intense. In fact, the pain they may feel may be more severe because they have no way of knowing when the experiment—and the hurting—will end.
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Aren't there laws that protect animals used in research?

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires animals in the laboratory to be provided with adequate food, living space and veterinary attention in buildings that are clean and properly lighted, ventilated and temperature controlled. The AWA also requires facilities engaging in animal research to register with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). APHIS (Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service) is the body within the USDA that conducts periodic inspections of these facilities to ensure compliance with the AWA. According to the USDA’s annual Animal Welfare Report of 2010, the number of animals used in experiments involving pain or distress with no pain relief are as follows: Dogs: 697; Cats: 153; Non-Human Primates: 1,395; Guinea pigs: 33,652; Hamsters: 48,015; Rabbits: 5,996; Sheep: 65; Pigs: 770; Other farm animals: 187; All ther covered species: 6,193; Total: 97,123. Because current provisions of the Animal Welfare Act do not cover mice and rats (which represent 90% of the total number of animals used in research) as well as birds, the total number of animals who receive no pain relief in experiments is likely much higher.
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What species is used the most as a "laboratory" animal, and why?

Rodents (mice and rats) are the most commonly used animals in the laboratory. Millions of mice and rats suffer and die each year, but exact numbers are unknown. Because rodents are not protected under current provisions of the Animal Welfare Act, specific accounting of the numbers that are used are not required by law. As a result, there is no way to know conclusively just how many millions suffer and die each year in publicly and privately funded research. Long ago, rodents became favored “laboratory” animals, not because there were compelling scientific reasons to do so, but rather for reasons of space, economy and convenience. Rodents are small animals, and more of them can be housed in a laboratory than larger animals, such as cats, dogs or monkeys. They also breed faster, and are less expensive to purchase and maintain.
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How are animals used in agricultural research?

Intensive “factory” farming, where animals are crowded into large, indoor production facilities and stacked several stories high, has created a need for a new category of animal research. In the overcrowded, unsanitary and unhealthy conditions of the factory farm environment, animals are more prone to developing infections and other diseases. To control disease and reduce the mortality rate of the animals—and to protect factory farm profits—new antibiotic drugs must be developed. Agricultural scientists and other researchers use animals to develop these new drugs, and to test their safety and effectiveness. Animal research in the agricultural industry is also directed toward finding new ways to produce more, and bigger, animals for profit. For example, researchers have altered the genes of chickens and turkeys to produce bigger animals that provide more meat.
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Are there any scientists who oppose animal experimentation?

Many scientists have spoken out and written extensively about the failure of the animal model to provide information about human disease, including Ray Greek, MD and Jean Swingle Greek, DVM, authors of Sacred Cows and Golden Geese: The Human Cost of Animal Experiments. Others have expressed serious doubts about the value of animal experiments, including: Dr. Arnold D. Welch, Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine; G. Timothy Johnson, MD, medical editor for ABC News and WCVB-TV news in Boston; Dr. Albert Sabin, developer of the polio vaccine; Irwin Bross, Ph.D., former director of Biostatistics at the Roswell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research; Dr. Mark Feinbert, AIDS researcher; Professor George Teeling-Smith; Jane Goodall, Ph.D.; Dr. Gerhard Zbinden, toxicologist, University of Zurich’s Institute of Technology; Dr. Andrew Rowan, Senior V.P. of Education, Research and International Issues for the Humane Society of the United States; John Buchanan, former U.S. Air Force officer specializing in nuclear physics; Sam Cohen, former Pentagon advisor and nuclear weapons expert; Dr. Werner Hartinger, MD, German surgeon; Dr. James C. Gallagher, Director of Medical Research, Lederle Laboratories; Dr. Tony Chu, Hammersmith Hospital, London; and Dr. Tyler Jacks, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Many other scientists who experiment on animals know that it is a waste of time, talent and resources; however, in the interest of protecting their standing in the scientific community, not to mention their jobs, they remain silent.
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Why do most scientists defend animal research?

Although many scientists privately question the value of animal research, most stick to the “party line” for a variety of reasons. Mostly, it is because their financial security and career advancement are at stake. A scientist’s job security and prestige rest largely upon the number of scientific articles he or she can get published. This is called the “publish or perish” syndrome. Animal experiments produce faster results with less effort than studies involving humans, because an animal’s generation time is much shorter than a human’s. An animal researcher, therefore, can conduct more studies and publish more papers than a researcher who studies humans. The easiest path of all is taking a concept that’s already been established, then altering it a bit by injecting a variable (such as a different animal species or dosage) to justify an additional study.
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Who else profits from animal research besides scientists?

Animal research is a multi-billion dollar business, and many different groups profit from it. Greed is the primary motivating factor. Academic institutions profit from receiving grants for animal research from the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and other federal agencies. Animal breeders profit handsomely from animal research. In 1999, for example, mouse sales topped $200 million. Suppliers of cages and equipment related to animal-model research have also built themselves a lucrative business. Pharmaceutical companies also fuel the animal research "machine" by conducting animal studies as a quick stepping stone to clinical trials (human-based studies) while protecting themselves from lawsuits in the event of an adverse drug reaction. These corporate giants use animal studies as a legal safety net by telling juries that they did what the law requires—prove the safety of a drug in animals—and therefore are not liable when a drug harms a human. Even the media profits from animal research by using the results of animal tests to announce "medical miracles," which help them sell more newspapers and increase TV ratings. Professional journals thrive on articles based on animal research.
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Why haven't anti-vivisectionists been more successful in convincing scientists to stop experimenting on animals?

Anti-vivisectionists are often presented in the media either as crazy old ladies in tennis shoes or as domestic terrorists. As a result, the general public views anti-vivisectionists as anti-science and not representing mainstream America. This is a distorted perspective, because anti-vivisectionists come from all walks of life. They are doctors, teachers, plumbers, medical students, mothers and executives—a wide range of people, occupations and lifestyles connected by the shared vision of a society that does not harm one species for the supposed benefit of another. Presenting anti-vivisectionists as calm, rational and informed individuals who want to help both people and animals does not provide the sensationalist fodder upon which the media thrives. So it is often only the people at the extreme fringe of the animal rights movement who get all the attention. Moreover, the media—newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations—depend on advertisers as the source of their revenue. They are loath to offend deep-pocket sponsors—like pharmaceutical companies and health care providers that are part of the animal research industry—with stories challenging the value of animal research. For largely the same reasons, it is almost impossible for anti-vivisectionists to get articles published in the scientific journals, no matter how impressive their credentials. Editors of scientific journals depend on scientists to provide them articles to publish, and they are greatly concerned about how the scientific community views their journal. They are extremely hesitant to present articles for publication that may challenge those who adhere fiercely to the myth of animal experimentation. They certainly don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them! What’s more, any article presented for publication to a scientific journal is reviewed by a committee made up of scientists who, in the interest of protecting themselves and their animal research “gold mine,” continually rejects articles that question animal research. Without access to publication, it is difficult for anti-vivisectionists to gain credibility within the scientific community.
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What are the ethical issues involved in using nonhuman animals as laboratory subjects?

Anti-vivisectionists who oppose animal experimentation on ethical grounds believe that it is morally wrong to harm one species for the supposed benefit of another. They support the concept of extending the circle of compassion to all living creatures—human and nonhuman alike. In a humanely inspired society, all creatures should be able to live under the conditions suited to their nature and biological needs, free from acts of cruelty and exploitation. Those who oppose animal experimentation on ethical grounds are also concerned with the effect on society when animals are sacrificed for human interests. Killing animals in a research laboratory desensitizes us to the pain and suffering of another, and it erodes the feelings of empathy we have for those around us, whether human or nonhuman. Furthermore, it deteriorates the character and nobility of the person participating in the act.
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Weren't animals put on this earth for humans to use as they please?

According to many people, yes. Whether that use is for food, clothing, transportation or as a research tool, animals are considered by these people as a resource to make our lives more convenient and comfortable. It is a matter of putting greater value on the life of a human than the life of an animal…that if an animal must be sacrificed to benefit humans, then that is a “necessary evil.” Anti-vivisectionists view animals through a wider ethical prism—not as resources and products, but as fellow living creatures deserving of moral consideration and their rightful place in the vast and complex web of life.

Why do some anti-vivisectionists object to the term "alternatives" when speaking of non-animal research modalities?

The term “alternatives” to animal research has been used for many years, both by anti-vivisectionists and within the mainstream scientific community. However, some see the term as a misnomer, because the word “alternative” implies a secondary, and therefore not the ideal, choice. In other words, you may take an alternative route home from work tonight, because your main route has been closed due to road repairs. However, you prefer your main route because it gets you back and forth faster—that, of course, is why it is the main route to begin with. The same logic applies to the term when it is applied to animal research. By suggesting alternatives, there is the inference that animal research works best, but there are other methods available if animal research is not an option. However, anti-vivisectionists believe (and abundant scientific evidence supports) that animal research is not a viable option to begin with, so there really are no alternatives.
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Are there any non-animal methods that have been around a long time?

Research methods that do not use animals have been advancing medical knowledge since ancient times, and are still in use today. These include autopsy studies and clinical research, which involves the observation of human patients. Epidemiology, which is the study of the incidence of disease within a population group, has been around since the 1600s. The development of sophisticated technology in recent years has enabled epidemiologists to maintain large databases of information and analyze the data quickly, with pinpoint accuracy.
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What does prevention have to do with animal experimentation?

Hardly a day goes by that the media isn’t touting another “successful” animal study touting some dramatic breakthrough against a dread disease. All this focus on promising new cures and treatments based on animal research perpetuates a false sense of security, with people believing that the “magic bullet” against cancer, heart disease, AIDS, diabetes and other diseases is just around the corner. It is unlikely that there will be a magic bullet anytime soon, especially if scientists continue to rely on animal research to advance medical knowledge. Meanwhile, all the focus on animal research overshadows the importance of preventive health care and making lifestyle changes as one of the most effective ways to reduce the incidence of disease. The fact is, about two-thirds of all diseases can be prevented. Eating a healthy, low-fat diet, engaging in moderate exercise and quitting the cigarette habit have been shown to have a dramatic effect on disease prevention and longer lives. For example, researchers estimate that diets filled with fruits and vegetables instead of fats, in combination with an exercise and weight control program, could eventually reduce the overall cancer rate by 30 to 40 percent. If some of the funds currently allocated to animal research were instead dedicated to preventive education programs, there could be a dramatic reduction in preventable disease. If those diseases that are preventable were given the right attention through educational programs, were prevented from occurring, there would be no need for further research into those diseases. There would then be more funds available for research into diseases that are not preventable, and our chances of finding cures and treatments from those diseases would be greatly improved.
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What is animal testing?

Animal testing is the process in which animals are used to test the safety of cosmetics, personal care and household products. In this form of testing, animals are forced to ingest harmful substances, or have those substances placed on their exposed skin or in their eyes. Animal testing is conducted by companies (and by laboratories hired by those companies) on both ingredients and final products.
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What is pound seizure?

It is a practice that compromises shelter integrity, threatens the wellbeing of shelter animals and gives research institutions license to take animals without having to justify the cost. Pound seizure puts tens of thousands of animals in harms way—while offering a strong disincentive to adoption efforts.

Pound seizure is the ability of a research or educational institution to take animals from municipal or county pounds and shelters to use for experimentation, vivisection or dissection. The decision to take these animals is at the discretion of the researchers, although they are obligated to wait until any mandatory waiting period is over before taking any individual animal from the shelter.

In some states the decision to sell unclaimed animals for research is optional, leaving it to the discretion of the animal care facility. When animal care facilities do sell their animals for research, it undermines any effort to aggressively encourage adoption since there is already a market for the unclaimed pets. In fact many times a researcher will request a certain breed or size of animal; giving the animal care facility even less incentive to place those animals back with their own families or with a new one.

Many states—and individual counties and cities—have abandoned this practice altogether, specifically forbidding the sale or gift of unclaimed animals to any research institution or school. In the U.S., there is no federal law regarding pound seizure, but Washington D.C., and 17 states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusettes, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia—have enacted legistration to ban the practice.

Statewide, there are a variety of laws regarding pound seizure. There are prohibitions as well as laws requiring pounds to release their animals to licensed research facilities. To find the text of a particular law, go to Animallaw.com. Select laws at the top of the page and enter your state and the key words “pound seizure.” You may also go to the Animallaw.com selection for "Model Laws" for an example of a law prohibiting pound seizure that you would like to see passed in your state.
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What is your organization's Federal Tax ID number?

Our tax ID number is 36-2229588.
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© 2013 National Anti-Vivisection Society is a
501(c)3 non-profit organization
53 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 1552
Chicago, IL 60604
(800) 888-NAVS or (312) 427-6065
Fax: (312) 427-6524
navs@navs.org
© 2013 National Anti-Vivisection Society is a
501(c)3 non-profit organization