testing on animals is a generic term for the use in the research, testing substances and products in education and training purposes as well as in the diagnosis of diseases and production of biological products. The definition of animal testing varies between countries.
The species of animal that is used primarily in medical testing on animals are mice, rats, fish and wildfowl. Even rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, dogs, cats, cows and monkeys may occur in testing on animals. One uses laboratory animals when there is no in vitro system corresponding to the human metabolism. Tests with laboratory animals have been severely criticized, especially from so-called animal rights activists.
University and college students who are about to write their research papers on medical testing on animals have to understand that EU law definition of animal testing is much more limited than the American and includes, for example, only animals subjected to intervention, at least in the form of a needle, for example, by injection. Animals that are killed without prior intervention is not included in the definition or in animal experiments of the EU statistics.
EU Commission compiles animal testing statistics every three years. The most recent is from 2013. According to these statistics 12.1 million animals were used in animal testing in the EU in 20013. Most of the animals were mice – 53%.
Since 2004, it is prohibited to carry out animal testing on cosmetic and hygiene products in the EU. The safety assessment is mandatory for manufacturers and importers under the cosmetics directive based on toxicological information on the constituent ingredients.
The U.S. welfare legislation does not define the rats, mice, birds and fish that are most commonly used in medical testing on animals, as animals. They are therefore not protected by law and they are counted usually not included in the statistics on the number of animals used in the experiments.
Interest in alternatives to animal testing has increased, not least as a result of the EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics. Although the new EU legislation for the registration and control of chemicals, REACH, has meant that interest to develop new test methods that can replace animal tests have increased substantially. Through its Research Framework Programs EU spends money on projects to replace animal tests in particular, the chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
The most common alternatives to animal testing in research and testing are different cell models, but also computer models are common, especially in education and the development of pharmaceuticals. Other options include chemical analysis, dummies and models in various materials and techniques that make it possible to perform risk-free research on human volunteers.
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