And let’s not forget the host of ancillary business that reaps handsome profits from the vivisection industry. These include companies that breed (or capture) and sell nonhuman animal research subjects to vivsectors, companies that perform vivisection as a form of outsourcing, cage manufacturers, scientific equipment makers, and many others.
Evolutionary biology predicts—and modern-day molecular biology confirms—that very small differences between species, on the genetic level, invalidate the historical notion that experiments on animals can lead to cures and treatments for human disease.
–Ray Greek, MD
Once we regain our moral bearings, overcome dogma and money, and banish vivisection to the dust-bin of history, how will we advance our medical knowledge and determine that new medical therapies, drugs, and consumer products are reasonably safe?
There are myriad ways, and while the US has shown tremendous resistance to shedding the vivisection paradigm (with a Congressionally-commissioned panel only approving four out of 185 potential alternatives to nonhuman animal testing), we can look to Europe, which has approved 34 alternatives and is developing 170 more.
Were we to end the heinous practice of vivisection today, medical and biological sciences would continue to advance through clinical and epidemiological studies, which linked smoking and lung cancer—after years of vivisection failed to demonstrate the cause and effect relationship; autopsies, biopsies, and post-mortem studies, which have aided researchers tremendously in identifying and understanding many diseases; post-marketing studies of drug side effects; imaging scans, which have enabled important human anatomical and physiological discoveries; in vitro cell and tissue culture tests; computer models, which can be used to test potential new drugs; and chromatography and spectroscopy.
And from the general, we move to some specific examples:
In February of 2008, the NIH and the EPA began a five year project to reduce the use of nonhuman animals in toxicity tests. Their collaborative efforts will employ robotic technology and in vitro testing techniques in lieu of vivisection.
Two biochips, called Metachip and Datachip, were developed in 2007. Each contains human enzymes or cells and can be used to predict how a human body will respond to a drug.
Within the last few months, bioengineers at Brown University successfully created “three-dimensional freestanding cellular structures from ‘building blocks’ of living cells.” Their ultimate goal is to create “tissue models” to replicate human organs.
At MIT, biological engineer Linda Griffith is working toward a different means of simulating human organs. Placing a computer chip in human liver tissue, she has given scientists a powerful way to study liver interaction with drugs and chemicals.
In December of 2008, Professor Christine Mummery of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands addressed the British Pharmacological Society and explained how researchers could cultivate human heart cells from embryonic stem cells, testing on them in place of nonhuman animals.
These are but a few of many options researchers can choose in place of nonhuman animal testing. Yet despite having numerous tools at its disposal, and despite the fact that confining and tormenting other sentient beings is a moral abomination, the scientific community, driven by dogma, money, and the animal industrial complex, clings to vivisection with a tenacious grasp.
How long will we allow the ghost of Claude Bernard to continue practicing his sadism and flawed science? How long will we continue to vivisect?
Jason Miller is a relentless anti-capitalist, vegan straight edge, animal liberationist, and press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. He is also the senior editor and founder of Thomas Paine’s Corner.
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