Final statement: Animal testing should not be considered as negative! – Véronique Vos

      Nowadays, animal testing is a subject that often occurs. Some people think it is needed in research, meanwhile others think it is not allowed to sacrifice animals for sciences because they are treated badly during their lifetime. Although some opponents do not consider the fact that animals are also used in food industry. Basically, laboratory animals are breed for sciences and will guarantee improvements in this field, so everyone would benefit from it. In particular, pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic industries and household companies can improve their products by testing them on animals, leading to a better life quality and more satisfied costumers.

      However, beside the benefits of it there are also some disadvantages (Stubblefield, 2009; Murnaghan, 2010c). Costs of housing animals, the reproducibility in human and the necessity of the product are aspects which they often need to consider more before using laboratory animals. Therefore alternative tests are needed to reduce the use of animals. In vitro techniques are considered as important alternatives but they lack the complexity of the human body (Murnaghan, 2010a). The use of lower organisms, such as bacteria, fungi and insects, can complement these shortcomings because they can produce substances which animals also can create (Murnaghan, 2010a). Other possibilities are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) , positron emission tomography (PET) scans, computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans and telemetry. These are methods to follow the physiological processes in animals without treating them, so these are also good alternatives that can be used. Synthetic membranes, statistics and computer models can also avoid the use of animals. Synthetic membranes can be used to determine the effect of chemicals and treatments on skin tissue. Statistical procedures can allow researchers to use comprehensive data sets to better gauge how a disease can spread. Using data that was previously obtained from animal testing also reduces the number of animals. Computer models are an effective tool to simulate the response to specific research question or experiments (Murnaghan, 2010b). These techniques do not replace an entire organism, but they have proved to be useful as a substitute for animals in some cases.

      There should also be a distinction made between what is really improving humanity and what makes it just aesthetically. Improvements in cosmetics aren’t promotional for humanity so animal testing should be limited. Some companies, like the Body Shop (“The Body Shop,” 2010), already banned animal testing because they are against it, but also because you can not always be sure your product has the same effect in humans as in animals. Where some companies manipulate the animals, others search for human volunteers to test their products on, assuming their product is safe, which is in my opinion a good alternative to test the product.

      According to the European guidelines – The Council Directive 86/609/EEC (Environment, 2010), investigators should also take into account that experiments are not carried out unnecessarily. Therefore, Member States must accept to mutually recognize their scientific results.

      In my opinion, animals are needed to improve life quality. It is just the rule of nature. I don’t say they are always treated well, but for research sometimes it is needed to put them in a non-friendly environment.

      However, animals may not suffer according to the law. When the animal gets adverse events from the experiment, researchers are required to give them painkillers. At worst, if the animal reaches the human endpoints, like no eating or drinking, loss of body weight, extreme tumor growth, serious respiratory problems and aberrant behavior and movements, a scoring list will be evaluated. When a score above 4 is reached the animal will be euthanized (Holsbeeks, 2011). This indicates that the welfare of the animal is definitely taken into account.

      Nevertheless, there are some organizations against animal testing, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)which is worldwide the biggest organization against the treatment of animals. They try to convince people by proclaiming that animals can not be used for experiments, clothes, food industry and entertainment (“People for Ethical Treatment of Animals,” 2011). Animal Liberation Front (ALF)c is another organization but these act directly illegal for animal liberation (Berlin, 2011). InBelgium, there are also foundations like the Anti-Animal Coalition(AAC), which are focusing on the animals that are used for animal testing.

      Beside these organizations, Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA)is an international peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles on the latest research relating to the development, validation, introduction and use of alternatives to laboratory animals (“Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments,” 2006). This allows researchers to keep abreast of possible alternatives, which they can possibly perform in the future.

      In conclusion, I think animal testing can not be avoided. It actually provides reliable and reproducible results and decreases the discomfort of animals. It is needed when you want to improve life quality of human beings or other species because most alternative techniques do not show how the entire human system will respond. Therefore, animals are being considered as the most similar model to represent the human body. But I think when good alternatives are available and useful for a specific research tool, investigators need to choose for such techniques, so the use of animals will reduce.

      During this discussion my opinion on laboratory animals isn’t changed. I am even more convinced that animal testing is needed, while taking into account the rights of the animals. I think people should be open to animal testing because they often don’t know how the whole procedures are taking place. The investigators definitely be aware of the risks and will treat the animals as good as possible during their experiments. If we want improvements in our community, animal testing is indispensible.


Berlin, A. (2011). Animal Liberation Front, from

The Body Shop. (2010), from

Environment, E. C. (2010, 26 October 2010). Laboratory Animals, from

Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments. (2006), from

Holsbeeks, I. (2011). Laboratory animals. Trends and Innovations in the Biochemical Sector, Group T – Leuven Engineering College

Murnaghan, I. (2010a, 20 August 2010). About Animal Testing, from

Murnaghan, I. (2010b, 31 August 2010 ). New Technologies as Alternatives to Animal Testing, from

Murnaghan, I. (2010c, 9 December 2010). Using Animals for Testing: Pros vs cons, from

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. (2011), from

Stubblefield, H. (2009, 24 August 2009). The Pros and Cons of Animal Testing. Medical Science, from

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Final Statement Gerty Vanhaute

Als onderdeel van het vak ‘Master thesis’ was het de bedoeling om met 3 medestudenten een blog op te starten. Het onderwerp werd zo gekozen, daar waar de vier masterproeven elkaar kruisten. Hierdoor hadden we als stelling gekozen voor: ‘Animal testing should always be allowed!’.
Omwille van onze opleiding tot Industrieel Ingenieur Biochemie zijn we al vaak in contact gekomen met dit onderwerp, bijvoorbeeld in wetenschappelijke artikels en hoorcolleges. Maar ook via de televisie merken we dat er vaak protestacties worden uitgevoerd en dat er gediscussieerd wordt over in hoeverre dierenproeven ethisch verantwoord zijn.

Het gebruik
Voornamelijk universiteiten en farmaceutische bedrijven maken gebruik van dierenproeven. De dieren worden gekweekt om hun gedrag te onderzoeken bij bepaalde situaties of voor bv. dissecties die je tegenkomt in je middelbare opleiding. Dit terwijl andere dierenproeven worden uitgevoerd ten behoeve van de mens. Hierbij horen chirurgische procedures, het uittesten van geneesmiddelen, medische apparatuur, maar ook cosmetica en andere huishoudelijke producten. De cosmetica bedrijven hebben maar 1 doel: geld verdienen. Telkens brengen ze nieuwe producten op de markt en voor elk nieuw product zullen hiervoor dieren moeten lijden. Ik vind dat deze testen voor cosmetica niet genoodzaakt zijn om hiervoor dieren op te offeren.

Enkele voor en nadelen
• Het verbeteren van de gezondheid van mens en dier door het zoeken naar nieuwe geneesmiddelen en technieken. Door het gebruik van dierenproeven zijn er al enkele medische doorbraken ontdenk, zoals open hart operaties, orgaan transplantaties, insuline productie, vaccins,…
• De effecten van stoffen op het lichaam ontdekken en de veiligheid van geneesmiddelen of andere stoffen verzekeren.
• Door het gebruik van dierenproeven zijn er al veel mensenlevens gered kunnen worden.
• Vele medicaties en procedures zouden op de dag van vandaag anders niet bestaan.
• Met gebruik van in vitro celculturen kan je enkel bijwerkingen nagaan op moleculair niveau, maar kunnen de bijwerkingen van het falen van organen, huiduitslag, tumors of hartstilstand niet worden nagaan. Dit kan wel via dierenproeven.
• De hoge kosten die erbij komen om de dieren te verzorgen, voeden, behandelen en hun omgeving onder controle te houden.
• De dieren zijn ook heel duur omdat ze uit specifieke kweekprogramma’s komen.
• Dieren hebben het recht om hun eigen leven te leiden, wij zouden hier geen inspraak over mogen hebben. Wij zouden geen dieren mogen doden om de gezondheid van de mens te verbeteren.
• Meestal worden na onderzoek de dieren gedood wanneer anderen verwond blijven en verder leven in gevangenschap.
• Dieren zullen in stress situaties of wanneer ze pijn lijden foute resultaten opleveren. Maar ze kunnen ook anders op een geneesmiddel reageren dan dat het menselijk lichaam hierop reageert. Is het dan wel nuttig om dierenproeven uit te voeren?

Technieken ter vervanging van dierenproeven
Om zoveel mogelijk het gebruik van dieren te vermijden, gaat men rekening moeten houden met de 3 R’en:
• Reduce: verminderen van het aantal dieren
Bv. Door het delen van proefdieren voor verschillende proeven.
• Refine: verfijnen – verminderen van pijn en stress
Bv. Wanneer men gebruik maakt van een MRI/PET-scan/CAT-scan, kan men zo zien wat er in het dier gebeurd, zonder het te moeten open snijden.
• Replace: vervangen – vermijden van het gebruik van levende dieren
– Vroeger werd een konijn gedood in een laboratoriumtest om na te gaan of je zwanger was, nu kan dit gewoon met gebruik van een zwangerschapstest.
– Om na te gaan of een substantie corrosief is of brandwonden kan veroorzaken, kan men gebruik maken van een synthetische huid genaamd ‘Corrositex’.
– Computerprogramma’s waarbij men in de middelbare school dissecties op kan oefenen kunnen worden gebruikt ter vervanging van levende kikkers.

Meerdere voorbeelden van alternatieven kunnen zijn:
• In vitro studies
• Stamcelonderzoek
• Het gebruik van Crash Test Dummies
• Autopsies
• Het gebruik van vrijwilligers die blootgesteld worden aan een zeer lage dosis van een stof: micro doseren
• Klinisch onderzoek
• Het voorkomen van verspreiding van ziekten onder de bevolking, door onmiddellijk de bron te zoeken.
• Het gebruik van lagere organismen zoals bacteriën en schimmels of genetisch gemanipuleerde organismen.

Voor een bedrijf overgaat op het gebruik van proefdieren, is het bedrijf dus wettelijk verplicht om eerst zorgvuldig na te gaan of er geen andere mogelijkheid is dat niet gepaard gaat met het gebruik van dieren. Dieren zouden dus een soort laatste redmiddel zijn, wanneer andere technieken onvoldoende zijn.

De meest gebruikte dieren
Meer dan 5 miljard dieren worden jaarlijks geconsumeerd vergeleken met 17-22 miljoen dieren die jaarlijks gebruikt worden in onderzoek. Maar deze miljoenen ratten, honden, katten, apen, konijnen, muizen en andere dieren zitten op dit moment wel vast in koude kooien in laboratoria. In plaats van vrij rond te lopen, zitten ze eenzaam te wachten op de volgende pijnlijke procedure die hun te wachten staat. De stress en verveling zorgen ervoor dat de dieren neurotische trekjes krijgen zoals ronddraaien in hun kooi, heen en weer bewegen of zelfs hun haren uit trekken. Telkens wanneer iemand voorbij hun kooi loopt, gaat hun hartslag tekeer en trillen ze van de schrik. Na dit leven van schrik en pijn, wordt het grootste deel van deze dieren afgemaakt.

Organisaties tegen dierenproeven
Er zijn verschillende organisaties in de wereld die dierenproeven proberen tegen te gaan.

De best gekende organisatie is PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), het is de grootste dierenrechtorganisatie ter wereld met meer dan 2 miljoen leden. PETA richt haar aandacht op de vier gebieden waar het grootst aantal dieren al voor een lange tijd moeten lijden: de bio-industrie, de kleding industrie, in laboratoria en in de entertainment industrie. PETA opereert onder het eenvoudige principe dat dieren niet de onze zijn om te eten, dragen, experimenteren, of te gebruiken voor entertainment.

Een andere organisatie is het ALF (Animal Liberation Front), dit is een groep dat directe (illegale) actie onderneemt met als doel dieren te bevrijden. Deze activisten halen dieren weg van boerderijen, bedrijven en laboratoria. Ze vernietigen deze faciliteiten en zorgen vervolgens voor een veilig onderdak voor de dieren en regelen veterinaire zorg.

In België heb je de ADC (Anti Dierenproeven Coalitie) dat zich enkel richt op het gebruik van dieren voor dierenproeven.

Om snel de mening van anderen na te gaan, hadden we een poll op onze blog gepost waarin we vroegen of dierenproeven juist of fout zijn.

Van de 155 stemmen was er 43,87% dat voor dierenproeven is; 23,87% neutraal; 21,29% tegen en 10,97% hebben een andere mening waarbij het bv afhing voor wat van dierenproef. We zouden kunnen besluiten dat de meerderheid voor is.

Voor ik aan de blog begon was ik van mening dat ik tegen dierenproeven ben, als echte dierenvriend is dit dus nog steeds niet veranderd. We merken dat de meerderheid wel voor dierenproeven is, maar vaak beseffen ze niet dat er mogelijke alternatieven kunnen zijn. Meerdere mensenlevens zouden al gered kunnen worden door mensen bewust te maken van de gevolgen van vet en cholesterol, alcohol en druggebruik zijn. Dat we meer moeten sporten en dat we de lucht en het milieu properen moeten houden heeft ook veel effect op de gezondheid van ons leven!

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Many people abominate animal testing. But there are several techniques which can replace the use of animals in research.

  • Synthetic membranes: Many biomedical tests can avoid the use of animals by growing cells via artificial means. These synthetic membranes can be substituted for animals and they are used to demonstrate the effects of chemicals or treatments on skin. This is a good alternative for the traditional tests where an animal’s fur would be shaved, and then a corrosive chemical would be applied to its back to observe the effects.
  • Statistics instead of animal testing: Statistical procedures can allow researchers to use comprehensive data sets to better gauge how a disease can spread. They also make use of data which was previously obtained from animal testing. This reduces the number of animals used in testing.
  • Newer scanning techniques: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the techniques that lately are used so researchers can investigate the disease through human scans rather than performing animal testing. Another alternative is the use of an autopsy. This can’t replace animals completely, but it reduces the numbers.
  • Computer models: Also this doesn’t replace an entire organism, but they have proved to be useful as a substitute for animals in some cases. Computer models are an effective tool to simulate the response to specific research question or experiment.
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Animals used for experimentation

Right now, millions of mice, rats, rabbits, primates, cats, dogs, and other animals are locked inside cold, barren cages in laboratories across the country. They languish in pain, ache with loneliness and long to roam free and use their minds.

Instead, all they can do is sit and wait in fear of the next terrifying and painful procedure that will be performed on them. The stress, sterility and boredom causes some animals to develop neurotic behaviors such incessantly spinning in circles, rocking back and forth and even pulling out their own hair and biting their own skin. They shake and cower in fear whenever someone walks past their cages and their blood pressure spikes drastically. After enduring lives of pain, loneliness and terror, almost all of them will be killed.

More than 100 million animals every year suffer and die in cruel chemical, drug, food and cosmetic tests, biology lessons, medical training exercises, and curiosity-driven medical experiments. Exact numbers aren’t available because mice, rats, birds and cold-blooded animals—who make up more than 95 percent of animals used in experiments—are not covered by even the minimal protections of the Animal Welfare Act and therefore go uncounted. To test cosmetics, household cleaners, and other consumer products, hundreds of thousands of animals are poisoned, blinded, and killed every year by cruel corporations. Mice and rats are forced to inhale toxic fumes, dogs are force-fed pesticides, and rabbits have corrosive chemicals rubbed onto their skin and eyes. Many of these tests are not even required by law, and they often produce inaccurate or misleading results.


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Organizations against animal testing

There are many organizations around the globe that try to stop animal testing.

The organization that is best-known is PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). It is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 2 million members and supporters. PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry. They also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds, and other “pests” as well as cruelty to domesticated animals.
PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.

Another organization is ALF (Animal Liberation Front), but this is a resistance that takes direct (illegal) action with the aim of animal liberation. These activists remove animals from laboratories and farms, destroy facilities, and arrange safe houses and veterinary care. The organization has no leader and consists of small groups ore sometimes just one person, so the group is difficult to stop.

In Belgium you have the ADC (Anti Dierenproeven Coalitie) or AAC (Anti-Animal Coalition). They only focus on the animals used for animal testing. For example they stopped the tobacco laboratory of Philip Morris in Haasrode. Here the animals had to inhale cigarette smoke for 6 hours a day, 90 days long and were killed afterwards to examine the longs and other intestines.


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Animals between biology and philosophy

One has to Google the terms “animal consciousness” or “animal ethics” or any similar term to find countless links to websites and articles written about those topics. And that is quite normal. It is after all a very juicy topic to talk about. Are animals conscious?…

Lets say that we expose a rabbit or a mouse to pain during some research. It is of no doubt that this animal feels pain. But does it REALIZE what is going on to it?… after reading some articles from rather respected websites such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I realized that the answer to this question is not just a simple (Yes or No). Philosophers have been digging in this topic since the days of Descartes and his famous “incognito” philosophy and even before that!

Something  else to think about; Imagine for a second the life of a pet of a pop culture celebrity. Compare that then with the life of an animal that’s been living since the day it’s been born on a research facility. And the whole few months that he gets to live take place in a little gray cage where he gets food, water and an identification number.

If we think that when a rich person would give their personal pet a nice big house, top quality feed, provide it with some entertainment time and probably some servants, that the owner is just being too decadent or over the top. Because the animal doesn’t need all that. It probably doesn’t even see the difference between his feed being given on a plate or it found it somewhere in the neighbors trash. Then why do we think that using an animal for testing is bad ? is this just the other side of the coin? its not like a rabbit is usually born with a life goal of having a nice house and a family to care for.. or is it?

The obvious question here is, is this fair? well, I don’t know, nor do I think so. But, who did ever say that it should be fair? why would it be? it’s just all just a coincidence probably.

From a biological point of view its much more simple. The survival of the fittest. The rule of the strongest.

Not only is this point of view simpler, it’s also much more realistic. We are human beings, our instincts are so that we have to conquers all what we can. And we’re doing a pretty good job at it too. or some of us at least… We feel the need to test on animals in order to gain information about something, or to prevent hurt of other human beings, or for whichever other reason… should we stop? why would we stop?

Its easy for someone to reject on animal testing to give themselves the feeling that they stand for something, and to feel better about it. But I think that once that person is seriously sick, he’d be the first to run and purchase a healing product despite it being tested on animals or even Martians. Because that’s how nature works. or as philosophy calls it, instinct.

Maybe we should just look at it as “improving human life quality” instead of “testing on animals”.

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some facts…

– anesthesia is used today to numb the body during operations because it was successfully tested on animals

– AIDs research relies heavily on animal testing; other testing techniques aren’t optimized yet

– organizations that use animal research are legally required to have carefully analyzed every other possible way of testing that doesn’t involve the use of animals – animal testing is therefore used as a sort of “last resort” that should only be applied when other techniques are fallible and yield unusable results

– approximately 5 billion animals are consumed as food annually – compared to that, only 17-22 million animals are used for in research annually

– some statistics (according to the USDA):

=> 61 % of animals used suffer no pain

=> 31 % of animals have pain relieved with anesthesia

=> 6 % of animals do however experience pain, but this has to do with the research itself – the alleviation of pain would compromise the results

– here’s a handy booklet put together by Oxford (UK) -based group Pro-Test that campaigns in favor of animal testing MAAR Medical Analysis and Animal Research

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