According to Humane Research Australia, over 6.7 million animals are used in research in Australia each year. Animal experimentation uses animals such as cats, dogs, horses, chickens, monkeys, cows, sheep, mice, pigs, rats, native wild animals, and fish, and involves subjecting the animals to lengthy painful, and usually fatal, procedures. Most laboratory animals do not come out of the lab alive.
Only a very small proportion of tests on animals is for medical research. Most animal research uses animals to test or develop anything from household products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, agrochemicals, agricultural practices, pet foods, and medical devices. These experiments are carried out across Australia in universities, government institutions, and private corporations. In the ACT, animal experimentation is carried out by institutions such as the Australian National University and the University of Canberra, as well as by the ACT Government.
Why we are ethically opposed to animal experimentation
Animal Liberation ACT believes that we must stop using animals in ways in which we do not use humans. In Australia, if scientists wish to use humans in experiments they must first obtain their consent (National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, 2007). This principle even applies to humans who cannot speak for themselves, such as infants or the mentally impaired. Their consent is obtained from a guardian, or from a person or organisation authorised by law. In its latest report (2010), the National Health and Medical Research Council stated that almost 4,000 research proposals involving children and mentally impaired adults were approved in Australia, demonstrating that this 'third party consent' model must be robust enough to protect the rights and interests of these participants who cannot themselves consent. The consent principle does not, however, apply to animals, even though we know that animals feel pain and suffer in ways similar to humans (and this fact is the basis of much animal experimentation carried out today). It is therefore unethical to carry out experiments on animals without obtaining consent, if we would not do the same to those humans who (like animals) cannot speak for themselves. This is simply an unjustifiable form of discrimination on the basis of species, which is known as 'speciesism'. Peter Singer famously described speciesism as 'an attitude of bias toward the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.' (Animal Liberation, 2001, p6).
In general, it is difficult to find out about the types of experiments carried out on animals in Australia, and which products have been tested on animals. While you might think that animal experimentation has nothing to do with the products you buy, more often than not it does. Please be mindful of what you buy and avoid purchasing products tested on animals. For a list of products not tested on animals click here: www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/list.html
For more information on animal experimentation please see www.animalsaustralia.org/issues/animal_experimentation.php#toc1 and www.humaneresearch.org.au/