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The Case for Anti-vivisection

"Vivisection" - The dissection of an animal while alive, for the purpose of making physiological investigations.

Rabbits are shackled at this cosmetics laboratory in order to have toxic solutions inserted into their eyes - photo courtesy of Brian Gunn / IAAPEA

Animal testing started in the medieval ages when the Christian church declared various edicts forbidding autopsies (they have always been prohibited in Judaism and Islam). Vivisection became more popular in the 1930's when a vaccine was successfully developed due to a blood factor shared by humans and monkeys. Despite thousands of failed and contradictory tests, vivisection continues.

Animals used for vivisection come from a wide range of species including dogs, cats, primates, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, pigs, sheep and other farm animals. It is estimated that over 20 million animals are experimented on per year in the U.S.A. alone.

These animals have no rights, there is no law governing how 'scientists' should treat them and there are no legal requirements for their care and comfort. Animals used for experimentation are subjected to toxic substances such as caustic chemicals and radiation; they are used in chemical and biological weapon experiments, and the pharmaceutical, food and beverage industries. They are electrocuted, they are burnt, they have their eye sight removed, they are deprived of food and water, they are deprived of all forms of natural behaviour, they are confined, scared and suffering. Their only relief is their death - an escape from their living hell.

Why Test on Animals?

There is no need to test on animals:

"The Fact that 68% of drug related deaths last year were as a result of legal drugs; that animal testing is less than 30% accurate (flipping a coin is 50% accurate!); that 61% of birth defects are caused by drugs passed safe in animal tests; and that 1 in every 6 patients in hospital are there because of treatment they have taken, are just some of the reasons why vivisection makes no sense." - South Africans for the Abolition of Vivisection

Some of the fatal drugs which vivisection deemed safe include Clioquinol (used for Diarrhoea) which caused blindness, paralysis and death, Thalidomide (tranquilliser) caused birth defects and fetal deaths, Paracetamol (painkiller) caused users to be hospitalised, Phenformin (diabetes treatment) caused 1,000 deaths annually, E-Ferol (vitamin E solution) killed premature babies, caused birth defects and acne, Flamamil (rheumatism treatment) caused loss of consciousness, and the list goes on.

Read this strongly referenced scientific study paper on why animals do not make good predictors of human reactionOpens in a new window to chemicals, medicines and other such substances.

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Who is Funding these Cruel Experiments?

The South African Bureau of Standards and many universities test on animals. By purchasing products from companies which test on animals, we also fund vivisection. See our list of cruelty-free products for your shopping alternatives.

Tobacco companies were able to hide the negative effects which cigarette smoking has on people by testing on dogs, mainly beagles, which are resilient to the cancer-causing effects of cigarette smoke. Beagles are still subjected to smoking tests which involve hours of cigarette smoke being pumped into their lungs daily.

Chimps are still subjected to HIV tests even though more knowledge has been acquired from human patients. Drugs are re-tested on animals which have already been tested before. And why? Because animal testing is big business. Governments, animal breeders, pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies and many more stake holders make big bucks from animal testing, This is why, despite the many alternatives listed below, vivisection still exists.

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What's the Alternative?

This rabbit is tethered to a table, its worst nightmare about to begin - photo courtesy of Brian Gunn / IAAPEA

Anti-vivisectionists advocate the following:

In vitro (test tube) research and safety tests - Cell and tissue cultures are used to determine product irritancy.

Computer modelling - Computer programmes, imaging techniques and simulators designed to predict the toxicity of chemicals based on the molecular structure, can also detect if the drug has the potential to cause cancer or birth defects.

Clinical research - Studies of human patients using sophisticated scanning technologies for diseases, dietary studies and autopsies.

Epidemiological studies - Studies of human populations and the connection of lifestyle and disease.

See the Animal Liberation's 33 reasons why animal testing is pointlessOpens in a new window.

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Together We Can Stop Vivisection

Vivisection is cruel and barbaric but still practiced around the world today. Animals used for vivisection are imprisoned and have no welfare rights, they receive no anaesthetics or medical care during operations or experiments. For these reasons, vegans support anti-vivisection. Many other people that are aware of what happens to these animals also make a point of not supporting such atrocities.

You can make a real difference too. Do not allow your money to be used to support animal cruelty. It is imperative to purchase only products that have not been tested on animals, using guides such as our cruelty-free products section. Letters can also be written to companies which test on animals, urging them to discontinue. Let's consign vivisection to the dark ages, where it belongs.

Written by Lesleigh Harnwell, Johannesburg

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