Campaigns: Animal Testing
The following speech was given by Amina Abaza at the first ever conference on animal testing to be held in Egypt, in 2004.
I am honored to be with you today to speak about this subject that is considered a taboo nowadays, due to the enormous progress and awareness of the concept of animal welfare in the whole world.
Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because animals are like us."
Ask the experimenters why is it morally correct to experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because animals are not like us."
Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction, according to Proffessor Charles R. Magel: "Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless. And knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful."
Animals are not objects: we donít have the right to damage their eyes, brains, bones, to infect them with incurable deceases.
Life in laboratory is deprivation, isolation, misery, trauma and suffering. How can we betray God's creatures to this extent? How can we disrespect a creature that has been created by God, exactly like we were? How can we inflict this suffering on animals who are sentient beings? They feel, they know, they love, they give birth, they fear pain and death like us... they are happy, sad, scared, terrified, anxious, surprised, traumatized... They have a soul, a heart, feelings, skin, eyes, babies, homes, best friends, like to have fun, to play, interact with their offspring, family and fellow animals.
It is said in the Koran: "They are communities like you."
Why is it morally acceptable to use animals for experiment?
Is it because they don't speak? So in this case, why donít you experiment on people who canít speak? Is it because they can't fend for themselves? So in this case why donít you experiment on children? Or handicapped people?
Why is it natural - or considered natural - to use test on animals? How can we treat any sentient being this way?
Iíd like to share some quotes from graduates from Veterinary Faculty in Cairo:
"We inject horses with Formalin to euthanize them.Ē Dr Shalaby
"At the vet faculty, 50 students collectively draw blood from a donkeys neck.Ē Dr Nabawi
"We don't use any anesthetic to operate on dogs and cats." Dr Nashaat
"We electrocute dogs to kill them and then experiment on them. The dogs are usually electrocuted after the 5th attempt." Dr. Awad (May he rest in peace)
Are these the values we are teaching to our future vets? Will these vets have any respect for their patients, when their professors never taught them any ethics or respect for the animal? They learned in their faculty how to torture animals. Nobody taught them that every life deserves respect.
We don't have accurate statistics in Egypt about the numbers of animals used for experimentations, but you can only imagine what goes on here in Egypt by way of comparison to what happens in First World countries:
* Only in the US 115 million animals are experimented on and killed every year in laboratories.
* Many of the experimentation including pumping chemicals into rats stomachs, hacking muscle tissue from dogs thighs, and putting baby monkeys in isolation chambers far from their mothers.
*Animal experimentation is a multi-million dollar industry. This industry profits because animal who cannot defend themselves against abuse, are legally imprisoned and exploited.
* Million of people all over the world are encouraging manufacturers to produce, and consumers to purchase, household and cosmetic products that have not been tested on animals.
* 60% of a sample of 1000 American adults opposed the use of animals in cosmetic testing compared to 43 per cent and 20 per cent opposing animal testing of over-the-counter medicines and prescription drugs respectively (Ward 1990).
*About 90% of the sample said they would purchase cosmetics that has not been tested on animals.
It will take time until values, morality, compassion and integrity will overcome dollars and business, but I know that one day, animal experimentation will be abolished and will be a thing of the past, exactly like slavery.
Companies and Animal Testing
* Several years ago Avon and Revlon (amongst others) announced that they would no longer conduct animal testing.
* L'Oreal stated that it would not test finished cosmetic products on animals.
* Gillette has not conducted animal testing on its consumer products during the past several years.
* Recently, Colgate Palmolive announced a moratorium on animal testing of adult personal care products and Procter and Gamble announced an end on animal testing, only in a few cases do they judge it necessary to conduct some animal tests.
* Avon and L'Oreal are actively developing alternative test techniques in their laboratories and have developed a range of "In Vitro" systems to help them assess the safety of both products and ingredients.
In addition, both companies have extensive historical databases on their ingredients and on their products lines which allow them to predict , with a high degree of confidence how new formulations might react when applied to human hair or skin.
* The Body Shop, which sells personal care products in its retail stores, advertises and labels its product "Against Animal Testing".
Alternatives to testing products on live animals
These alternatives have proven to be with promising results.
* A case in point is the use of bovine eyes from slaughterhouse material, and has shown to be promising. If a test agent produces a positive reaction in the Bovine Corneal Opacity and permeability (BCOP) assay, then it can be labeled as an eye irritant without further animal testing.
* Several companies have developed artificial skin systems that can be used to assess the irritancy potential of test agents, these systems are bio-engineered by seeding an artificial basement membrane with skin fibroblasts and sometimes keratinocytes (the major skin cell type) to produce a product that simulates some aspects of human skin.
When humans really want to be compassionate, when they decide to respect every living creature, they are able to find a humane alternative to animal experimentation.
I hope that very soon no animal on earth will be ever abused in anyway for science.
In conclusion, let us inspire ourselves with words that were said 4000 years ago by our ancestors.
A passage from "The book of the Dead"
The judgment of the deceased:
*Did you harm and animal or inflict on him unnecessary suffering? "
* Have you been beholden to everyone who accompanied you during your life's trip be it a human, or an animal that carried, or a tree that gave you shade and freshness?
* Have you treated your cattle and animals and whoever is lower in rank than you as you wished he who is higher in rank to treat youÖ with wisdom, compassion and mercy?
* Can you state with all sincerity that: "I have never forced a man or an animal to work more than its capacity, and that I know that all creatures on earth are my brothers during my life's trip and that I held my hand to them to help them during their life's trip."
I hope that the whole world will be inspired by these profound thoughts.
Some of the professors and doctors who attended this conference:
Dr. Mohey El Din Professor in the Medicine Faculty of Ein Shams University
Dr. Henk van Wilgenburg PhD. Emeritus Professor Pharmacology, University of Amsterdam and President Rain forest Medical Foundation
Professor Diaa Abd El Hamid Professor of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine Ain Shams University
Dr Hany Mohamed Sleem M.B.B.CH., M.S., D.S Andrologist & Dermatologist - Research Ethical Committee (Chairman)
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