Use of Animals for Scientific Research and their Commercial Exploitation: Relevant Laws and Suggestions

Article for Blog Post Writing Competition 2011 | by Vasuprabhat Shukla

May 6th, 20117:28 pm

The use of animals for scientific research and commercial purposes has been a topic for debate over a prolonged period. Although, the research projects have given huge benefits to the human kind but contrary to that, they’ve resulted in pain and stress to the innocent animals made subject to these experiments. The animals being part of the living world cannot be exploited as they also have the fundamental rights, just like the humans- to live, to freedom, to be free from pain and sufferings etc. There is a difference between scientific experiments done ethically and abusing these animals. In many case it was found that these animals were made subject to small experiments such as testing mascara which left many of them blind. There has been a large scale exploitation of these animals on commercial lines. Even their use for scientific researches has not always been clean. In many of the cases it has been found that the conditions that these were exposed to were not only unethical but inhumane also. Some of the facts which present that alternatives have to taken to avoid scientific research on animals have been discussed below.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) tested 12 anti-cancer drugs (on mice) that are currently being used successfully in humans. The scientists studied mice that were growing 48 different kinds of human cancers and treated them with the 12 drugs. They found that 30/48 times, the drugs were ineffective in the mice. In other words, 63 percent of the time, the mouse models with human tumors inaccurately predicted human response. (Data source- National anti-vivisection society)

A similar study examined six drugs, the side effects of which were already known in humans. The study found that animals correctly predicted 22 side effects, but incorrectly identified 48 side effects that did not occur in humans, while missing 20 side effects that did occur in humans. This means that the animal models were incorrect 68/90 times, or 76 percent of the time. ((Data source- National anti-vivisection society)

These facts show that animal testing has not been successful all the times and has been a reason behind exploitation of innocent animals.

There are groups that work for animal welfare and they work on three lines and are :

1)      animal rights advocates

2)      anti-vivisectionists

3)      animal welfare proponents

The need of the hour are The Animal Welfare Proponents who do not completely oppose the use of animals in scientific research but fight against unnecessary use of animals during research and the inhumane conditions that they are exposed to. The animal welfare proponents rose in the 19th century which led to enactments against animal cruelty in many of the nations. Some of them were:

1)      The legislation in court of Massachusetts in 1641 which said “No man shall exercise any cruelty against any brute creature that is kept for man’s use.”

2)      In England Martin’s act was enacted in 1822 to provide protection for farm animals.

3)      Cruelty to animals act in England (1876)- this act did not abolish all experiments on animals but required experimenters to take license from government for experiments which cause d suffering to vertebrates.

Some of the legal provisions for animals in India have been given below:

1)      Prevention of cruelty to animals act, 1950

2)      Animal Welfare Board constituted under PCA in 1960

3)      Penalty of Rs.100 and jail up to 3 months or both in case of causing pain and suffering to any animal

4)      Sec. 428 and 429 of IPC.

When we are studying human diseases and ailments on such minute lines, we must take into account that even members of the same species may respond differently to same stimuli that is in the form of drugs. Thus there must be alternatives to animal research, such as:

1)      Relying on recently developed techniques which rely on human responses.

2)      Testing of human cells and tissues.

3)      Computer modeling of human drug metabolism etc.

In case the purpose is only solved through animal research, following legal guidelines should be followed:

1)      Before any such experiment is done, a license should be required by the experimenter, which should be given after examining the following things:

a)      there should be proper and humane handling and housing of the animals subject to these researches

b)      There is no lack of surgical knowledge on part of experimenter

c)      There should be adequate knowledge about the requirement of the species

d)     Proposed experiment should satisfy the objective

2)      There should be a limit for carrying of experiments on animals in case of commercial cases such as experiments done for cosmetic products, so that animals are not exploited immaculately.

In conclusion, it is appropriate to say that Indian laws have failed in providing any adequate and meaningful initiative to improve the conditions for animals in India.

The above mentioned measures could be considered for making relevant laws. It’s the duty of the government now to enact certain laws which abolish these practices which lead to inhumane condition for animals and curb their exploitation commercially in the country

Article by-

Vasuprabath Shukla

Student, Ram Monohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow

[Submitted as an entry for the Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]

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