The Joke’s on Us: New Research Suggests Animal Testing a Danger to Humans

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The Joke’s on Us: New Research Suggests Animal Testing a Danger to Humans

Animal testing illustration

Apparently we’ve been burning thousands of mice for nothing.

A new study, being called the most comprehensive of its kind, concluded that mice make exceptionally poor models of human inflammation.

The results of this study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calls our  current process of safety testing new chemicals, food additives, paint, cosmetics and medications on animals into serious question.

These researchers were not asking whether it were ethical to use animals to make sure new drugs or chemicals were safe for people, but, rather, they questioned whether it were ethical to give unsuspecting people drugs that had only been tested in useless experiments.

Researchers investigating treatments for inflammatory diseases – which includes diabetes, celiac disease, asthma and arthritis – as well as for severe trauma, burns and sepsis, found that “drugs developed using mice have to date had a 100% failure rate in almost 150 clinical trials on humans,” according to The Experiment is on Us: Science of Animal Testing Thrown into Doubt.

So they decided to look deeper into the issue of mouse and human “concordance.” If mice and humans are concordant, then mice genes should react in the same manner as human genes after being given a certain treatment, in this case, for inflammation.

Through exhaustive research and experimentation, the researchers concluded that no matter how many times we successfully treat mice we burnt or bred to develop human diseases, the only true beneficiaries are burnt or diabetic mice.

While the reality of the billions of tax dollars funneled into animal research every year being a complete waste should be motivation enough for us to demand an end to vivisection, the fact that animal trials are useless to predict how humans will respond to the myriad of industrial chemicals and food additives saturating the market should put a scare into us all.

Think that strange-sounding ingredient in the Ding Dongs you gave your kids was perfectly safe because the thousands of rats we fed it to were fine before they were killed and cut apart? This research proves that we know as much about the safety of that ingredient after feeding it to the rats as we would have had we left the rats out of our Ding Dong issues.

The article, The Experiment is on US, which goes into great detail describing the research, also surmises why, after so much evidence confirming that the estimated 100 million mice sacrificed each year in the name of human divinity do so to no benefit to us (even causing more harm in the form of misguided confidence in drugs and chemicals), we continue to support such practices with our money, time, effort and trust.

A different kind of answer is that animal research is now big business. One genetically engineered mouse can cost $100,000 while a mouse treadmill can set taxpayers back $9,600 (Greek and Swingle Greek, 2003). For medical researchers, animal research offers a steady income and a successful career pathway regardless of whether, as in the field of inflammation, experiments deliver practical benefits to patients. These are just some of the entrenched interests maintaining the animal testing system. Other prominent beneficiaries include the food and chemical industries which profit from the public perception of safety derived from animal testing. (The Experiment is on Us)

The article closes by advising that the best way to protect yourself and your family from untested chemicals is by avoiding processed foods and sticking to goods made of traditional materials. Put me down for that, but what about protecting all the innocent animals who can’t make that choice?

The fact that animal testing is useless should be enough for pragmatic humanists to insist that all that money be put into research into new models of product and drug testing that will really benefit humans.

The article said that the experiment’s on us. I think it’s more like the joke’s on us.

We confine, slaughter and consume 10 billion land animals. Our food choices are polluting our bodies and our planet, making us sick and causing a wide range of diseases, not to mention the drug-resistant pathogens we’re breeding in the intense confinement system livestock are kept in before slaughter.

As a result, we need more chemicals to treat the mess 10 billion land animals make, and more drugs to treat the problems we’ve created for ourselves by eating all those animals and exposing ourselves to zoonotic diseases.

Then, in the name of curing the symptoms of our disease, we torture and kill millions more animals in laboratories, and end up with drugs that could – and do sometimes – kill us.

The joke is that it looks like all the harm we do to animals is actually coming back to bite us in the ass. The sad part is we have to drag all these animals in to our divine comedy.


Illustration by Meaghan C. Kehoe

Tina is a journalist and mother of three who's lived all her life in the South Bay of Los Angeles except for a two-year stint in the heart of Spain. She believes humans have the capacity to make this a beautiful world for all species to live, and mothers have a special charge to raise their children to enjoy, love and respect all creatures. Visit her blog at www.bluewaterspecial.com for a dose of sarcasm, humor and news.

  • Tia Carolyn

    I love your last paragraph. I have always wondered whether we could actually use the results of some “Mouse” research as beneficial therapy for humans. It is sad that we have killed and tortured so many sentient beings for such a long time for nothing!

  • http://twitter.com/CornwallsVoice MaryAlice Pollard

    Research – over and over again, same experiments, same results, animals bought, used, killed and more bred and brought in for the next lot of testings – keeping the science community with money in their pockets ! I have never trusted the word of a scientist or doctor who supports or does animal testing of any kind. GREAT article.

  • http://twitter.com/tomholder Tom Holder

    Reality is that the PNAS article finds shortcomings in the mouse model but doesn’t suggest getting rid of it, but rather improving it. http://speakingofresearch.com/2013/02/15/why-mice-may-succeed-in-research-when-a-single-mouse-falls-short/

  • Popeye

    Good god, get a grip!!!!! Ever heard of rat poison ar mouse traps!!!!! At least these rodents contributed something! Now let’s be honest, if you are going to stand up and oppose animal experiments, then do you also reject all the benefits? Do you refuse medical aid in an emergency, I mean come on, how advanced would we be without the research, no pain meds, no vaccines, terrible outcomes for premie babies and the list goes on. I agree that you certainly cannot torture an animal, BUT you must look at the picture in its entirety before going off half cocked and lumping legitimate research in with fur harvesters. But wait, let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good whinge!!!