The Animal Rights Movement has encouraged people to be fair while testing their products on animals. This has resulted in more laws for animal testing. Some scientists call for more regulations and the closing of loopholes in the present laws.
Restrictions on Animal Testing
The visualization of pouring a chemical into a rabbit’s eyes has mobilized people to protect animals during testing. Tens of millions of animals are tested annually in order to determine the safety of cosmetics, foods, drug, toys and other products we use every day.
In 1966, the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was written to establish guidelines for animals in scientific research. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces the AWA. The AWA states that scientists must “avoid or minimize discomfort, distress, and pain to the animals.” Some researchers have noted that there are many loopholes to this law.
A researcher can avoid penalties during harsh treatment of animals, if he argues that such actions are “scientifically necessary.” Under the law, the scientist must consider using alternative methods, techniques or animals during experimentation.
Protection Determined by Species
The AWA defines “animal” using the following language: “any live or dead dog, cat, monkey (nonhuman primate mammal), guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, or such other warmblooded animal, as the Secretary may determine is being used, or is intended for use, for research, testing, experimentation, or exhibition purposes, or as a pet.” Thus, basically higher-level guinea pigs, rabbits and monkeys receive the primary protection under AWA.
Unfortunately, nearly 95% of the test “animals” are rats, mice and birds; but they only receive minimal protection. In 2002, the Farm Bill called for adding protection for millions of captive birds used in animal testing. Other animals excluded from protection include “livestock used for food or fiber, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.”
Individuals, labs and businesses must be licensed or registered with the USDA and accept annual inspections. The regulating agencies can levy fines for violations of minimal standards for housing, feeding, handling and transporting.
Due to a limited budget, there are very few USDA inspectors available. Thus, self-policing and the publicizing blatant violations is used to enforce the laws for animal testing. Other governmental agencies involved in the enforcement of laws for animal testing include the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).