Where do you go to get the latest data on animal research? If you do a Google search on “animal research” you are given a variety of choices ranging from those who support animal testing to those that oppose it. Most people have already made up their mind one way or the other, and you will find plenty of information on the super-highway to bolster your view.
If you are against animal testing, you can go to sites run by organizations like PeTA or the Humane Society of the United States and read all about the horrors of animal testing; including quotes from those opposed to it, stories of atrocious abuse and examples of research and methods that they know would upset most people: more people equals more donations.
I am always highly suspicious about anything PeTA or HSUS reports because they have proven themselves unworthy when it comes to shelter reform and the No Kill movement; something I fully support. I still question their motivations and will always detest their fundraising practices. It is because I do not trust them that I always looked for other sources, and this time I found many.
If you are for animal testing, you will also find sites run by organizations that advocate for animal testing like Animal Research.info or Understanding Animal Research and read all the latest developments in the highly profitable animal research industry. They tout the latest discoveries and “breakthroughs” in animal research while ignoring the nefarious side of cruelty and abuse. The “promising breakthroughs” you learn as you read further into to the article will take an average of 5 more years of animal testing (Keep a lookout and you will soon discover that every breakthrough will take 5 more years of animal testing). They are the propaganda arm in the animal research industry of which vivisection is one of the most lucrative.
For me, it becomes an issue of morality and ethics. The more I study the issue from both sides, reading hundreds of articles for and against animal research; I start to notice a stark difference between the two sides. The pro-animal testing organizations seem to be cheerleading for the status quo and repeating their same old arguments– I can’t help but wonder if they still dictate their statements into a Dictaphone for the secretary to pick up– They take credit for every major medical “breakthrough” saying it was animal testing that brought about this miracle cure or treatment, whether true or not, yet they completely ignore the “breakthroughs” that later caused extensive harm to humans.
What a minute! Why is all of this so familiar to me? As I sit and ponder I hear whispering in my ear; Follow the money.
Animal research is a multi-billion dollar business with many different groups profiting from it so there is a big incentive to keep the status quo. 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. 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.
Greed, not healthcare concerns or ethics, is always the primary motivating factor behind the animal research industry. Academic institutions profit from receiving grants for animal research from the NIH and other federal agencies. This money is supposed to be used for the research only, but with ever shrinking revenues many universities and other academic institutes rely on the money to cover overhead cost, fund new building, and sometimes just general maintenance and upkeep.
Vivisection alone consumes approximately 100 million animals a year in the United States. The majority of these animals are purchased from animal breeders. Obviously, the profits to be made by breeding 100 million animals a year are enormous. Suppliers of cages and equipment related to animal-model research, restraining devices, surgical equipment and more 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. In many instances, animal testing was used simply to provide an “alibi” to the company releasing the drugs.1
Vivisectors receive billions of dollars in U.S. government grants every year. The vivisectors themselves decide which grant proposals will receive funding. Through the system of peer review, vivisectors submit grant proposals and sit on the same committees that approve such grants. In any other area this conflict of interest would not be allowed. In the self-monitored world of vivisection, it is simply business as usual. In addition to taxpayer-sponsored government grants, vivisectors also receive money from private charities. This money is donated by well-meaning people in the good faith that it will be spent on valid research to cure certain diseases. Every year we are told that the cures to certain diseases could be “just around the corner” if only we would donate more money for “research”. Yet will they ever round this “corner”? Of course, to do so, if they could, would put an end to their funding.
1 In 1957, the West German chemical company, Chemie Grunenthal, released the drug Thalidomide (known in Germany as Contergan and in England as Distaval), a tranquilizer for pregnant women and nursing mothers. It had first been tested on animals for three years, and no adverse effects had been detected. [Time, 1960] On the basis of these animal tests, Chemie Grunenthal was permitted to claim that Thalidomide was harmless for pregnant women and nursing mothers. In October 1961, after further animal tests, Thalidomide was released in the United Kingdom with the assurance that it could be “given with complete safety to pregnant women and nursing mothers without adverse effects on mother or child.” In reality, Thalidomide was anything but “completely safe”. Thalidomide caused more than 10,000 birth defects in the children of women who had taken it – some born with fin-like hands growing directly from their shoulders, some born with missing or stunted arms or legs, others born with ingrown genitals, deformed eyes or ears.