Almost all of us love some kind of animal, and most of us either have a pet or know someone who has domesticated an animal of their choice.
This love is often affected by instances wherein we hear about animals being subjected to cruelty or being killed or used for medical and scientific testing.
But what are the effects of such testing and what are its impacts on the environment?
In this article, we would, first of all, address what exactly is animal testing and then study its impacts on our environment.
We would also look at some alternatives that may be used in place of it.
We all are familiar that animal testing would indeed lead to an insurmountable amount of environmental and bio waste, so how exactly is it disposed of? We would also find this out in this article.
What is Animal Testing?
Animal testing is the process of using animals for medical or scientific research and study. It is estimated that about 100-200 million animals are used for these testing each year.
Most scientists and experts view animal testing as a necessary condition for testing the impact of drugs or medicines on humans.
And since humans can most often not be subjected to the preliminary tests of a hazardous drug, the animals by default become the preferred choice.
Once the drugs and medicines prove safe results on the animals, it is then that clinical testing is brought to the next phase and humans are made the subjects of such tests.
There is indeed a multi-billion-dollar market for animal testing in the world.
Some of you may be surprised to know that the business of animal testing has arisen to such an extent that there are certain labs and centers where animals are either bred or purchased only for experimentation.
This helps them genetically modify them to be ineligible for utilization for common use.
Most of these facilities are owned by large pharma companies or biotech industries backed by the government.
Earlier, many such animals were also exported from the environmentally flourishing areas to the other ones.
For instance, the Pacific countries and African countries are home to some of the greatest numbers of animals in the world.
They were the center of transport and business hub in dealing with animals for animal testing by the method of export and import.
It must be noted that the use of animals for testing is not a new practice. It is being done for a hundred years. It is so because most of the vaccines and medicines were made possible using animals.
Most of the animals that are used for medical testing and research include guinea pigs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, and mice.
Not just medicines and drugs, in many cases these are also used to run tests relating to the cosmetic industry.
Impacts of Animal Testing on the Environment
The biggest impact of animal testing on the environment is the waste and harm to our biodiversity.
It is obvious that the experts and researchers who perform animal testing, would not always have the best mechanism to dispose of the biowaste generated after medical testing, especially in cases where it leads to the deaths of several animals.
Along with these, several chemicals and supplies are also generated as waste, which cannot be dumped like normal waste and hence contribute to creating a disbalance in the biodiversity of our world.
The animals disposed of can be a direct threat due to the chemical reactions and possible radioactive effects they can showcase.
This can lead to the spread of diseases and disorders in humans as well, often leading to biohazards or epidemics.
Some lesser-known impacts of animal testing on the environment are the use of technology and infrastructure to construct robust labs and ensure ventilation, which can also cause the spread of air pollutants apart from the risk of escape from other toxic chemicals.
In such cases, the role of environmental bodies becomes important. They are entrusted with the task of monitoring animal testing. This practice cannot be eliminated; thus, this is the best alternative to it.
The choice and number of animals taken for testing must be decided after a closely guarded and monitored system wherein the researchers and experts can take into account each animal, they are bringing in.
This would make it easier to ensure that the environmental impact due to the loss of animals and their lives can be compensated, regulated, and controlled.
Another important point is to have stringent and effective wildlife and animal protection laws in the country.
It is obvious that with several UN Conventions and discussions, many countries are under the obligation to protect their indigenous species and animals. Thus, this can help to penalize the use of a few endangered animals for animal testing.
Another idea is to eliminate the practice of animal testing, by looking at other more advanced methods of animal testing, like a cell research method, wherein a small portion of cells is utilized instead of an alive animal to test the impact of a drug or medicine.
In case these methods are taken into place, the number of animals used for testing would be decreased significantly.
Also, it seems that proper veterinary training is crucial in ensuring that handling and managing the animals is not a difficult task for these labs.
Thus, there should be advancements in how experts can ensure the least amount of waste through these animal testing mechanisms.
The harsh reality of animal testing going around various scientific and research facilities cannot be denied. It is perhaps the biggest threat to biodiversity and endangered species.
With more animal welfare and environment protection agencies coming up, it can be expected that the battle to curb the widespread practice of animal testing, however, until the government of various countries come together to plan enforcement mechanisms against it, might not be effectively implemented.
Therefore, we must become conscious about how and where the medicines and drugs come from and whether we unintentionally promote the cruel practice of animal testing.