Around the world, thousands of animals are used to test products for prospective use in humans. Others are used in laboratory experiments to determine the effects of certain chemicals or drugs. This has brought protests by animal rights activists and others who are concerned about the suffering, injury and death sometimes inflicted on laboratory animals and want definite laws against animal testing.
There are no federal laws that ban the use of small animals for laboratory testing. However, if laboratory animals are abused or are an endangered species, they can be protected under federal animal cruelty, wildlife protection or endangered species laws.
Animal Welfare Act
The Animal Welfare Act is the only U.S. federal law that governs the treatment of animals in research. Such treatment, in accordance with Section 13 of the statute, requires adequate safety, comfort, veterinary treatment and exercise as well as minimal pain and distress of laboratory animals during research. The law, however, notes that methods of non-animal testing are being developed that are faster, more accurate and less expensive.
Food and Drug Administration
In accordance with the Animal Welfare Act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advocates the use of methods other than animal testing. In 1997, it joined with 13 other federal agencies to create a committee that declares, within its mission statement, that it will focus on ways to reduce or replace animal use in testing. Presently it requires that, if an animal is used for testing cosmetic products, the most humane methods be used.
There are three states that have laws limiting the use of animals in product testing. California, New Jersey and New York passed these laws in 2000, 2007 and 2008 respectively. Other states are considering such legislation. According to these state laws, the use of animals in chemical testing or product research is prohibited if there is a logical alternative method that can be used.
England banned animal testing for cosmetic products in 1998. Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have also passed similar bans. In 2004, the European Union set deadlines to ban the sale of cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals. In 2007, Israel also banned the use of animals in the testing of both cosmetic and cleaning products.
As more people protest the use of animals in laboratory or product testing, the scientific world is searching for non-animal testing methods. These will not only save thousands of animals but will also allow for the development of more modern and technologically sound testing methods.