• Question: Do you think it's necessary to test on animals?

    Asked by Jaden456 to Barbara, Tristan, Sophie, Ravinder, Matt on 17 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Barbara Shih

      Barbara Shih answered on 17 Mar 2015:

      I feel cosmetic animal testing are completely unnecessary and should just be banned (I think it has been banned in UK since 2009, with cosmetic product cannot have newly tested chemical from 2013). With regards to science and potentially life-saving research, for now, I think animal testing is hard to avoid if we want to further our knowledge on how biology works. There are projects that are modelling data we get from cells using computer simulations, which I strongly feel is something science should really move towards. If these projects are successful, we can test most drugs on cells and computer simulations, which would drastically cut down the amount of animal testing.

      Similarly, I feel that computational biology (such as analysing DNA sequences from a lot of people) and predictions for protein folding are extremely important. I believe that once these areas are much more advanced, a lot less animal work will need to be used. I believe science in general will always put the potential of saving human lives over animal testing though.

    • Photo: Matthew Moore

      Matthew Moore answered on 17 Mar 2015:

      There are lots of different model organisms for testing, sometimes these are bacteria and sometimes they need to be animals. For example to test how mutagenic something is (and therefore whether it’s likely to cause cancer) before it goes into foods it can be tested on bacteria in something called the Ames test.

      However for many other things, finding out what impact a particular mutation in a virus will have or testing a new drug then animal models are absolutely necessary. This is because larger organisms such as these have complex cells, tissues and immune systems. Sometimes it’s possible to just grow these cells in the lab (itself quite difficult), but they’re lacking an immune system and organs etc.

      This means it’s absolutely unavoidable for science to progress and improve the health of humans (and animals) without the of use animal models.

      To avoid unnecessary suffering, any scientists who with to work with animals in research need to get a license from the government and have to monitor, for example infection models, closely to ensure the animal is killed if it’s suffering unnecessarily. It’s right that all animal work is closely regulate and hopefully sometime in the future they can be replaced, but even the developments required to begin to replace animals in research will require, for now, animals in research.