Animal Testing: A Violation of Animal Rights?

The world is full of glamour and in want of more. But the only question that arises is – at what cost? It is nothing new that every day thousands and lakhs of animals all over the world are used for testing of various products – be it medical or be it cosmetic. The question that is put before us is whether the suffering of animals is so unimportant that it is to be neglected for superficial beauty or in the name of health.

The process of testing results in the death of several voiceless animals due to being subjected to several inhumane acts, exploitation and merciless torture. Every day, these animals suffer and are tormented violating all animal rights that exist for the protection of such animals.

India, relatively, is at a better position due to the deep knitted relation of animals to religion. Religion holds a special significance in the lives of the Indian citizens irrespective of the religion a specific person belongs to. Referring to the Indian culture, monkeys are considered to be an incarnation of Lord Hanuman and cows are considered gau mata (given the status of a mother). In a country which observes such close affinity between culture and animals, it is expected that the extent of this behaviour would also cover the areas of animals being tested in the fields of cosmetics and medicines, but the shocking unfortunate truth is no.

Many crimes of rights violations are reported all across India with one recently being in the news, the brutal notorious murder of an elephant[1] which was followed by the murder of a jackal[2]. The human species has stooped to a new low, with no sense of shame while indulging in such torturing acts, most of which have failed at the primary level of even being reported in the first place.

There are several acts in place for the protection of animal rights such as The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. There also exists some sections in The Indian Penal Code, 1860 which mandates for crimes against animals. This article aims primarily at discussing the issue of animal experimentation.

India’s Approach to Animal Testing

India is the second most populated country in the entire world.  It is assumed that India will soon displace China as the most populated country in the world. India has given its citizens various Fundamental Rights of their own along with some fundamental duties that should be followed by every citizen of India. These fundamental duties can be described as moral obligations which helps promote a sense of unity amongst its citizen. Fundamental duties are given in part IV-A of the Constitution of India. As per Article 51A (g), it is the duty of every citizen “To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures”. Hence, the constitution of India not only promotes the welfare of its citizens but also promotes harmony between humans and wildlife.

Now as per the data from Statista, the revenue earned by the cosmetics industry in the year 2020 – present is somewhere around ₹388,604.3m[3].

The question that is put before us is- what happens to animals being used in testing and how is it conducted?

Animal testing is extremely cruel and harsh and has severe consequences on the animals. The consequences more than often result in the death of these poor voiceless creatures. Experimenters force harsh chemicals down animals’ throats or rub toxic substances into their eyes or raw skin and then record the damage inflicted on their bodies. One of the most known experiments is the Draize Test[4] and is more commonly done on rabbits. Furthermore, there have been instances where experimenters cut open the skull of the animals and drills inside the skull. Then, machines have attached that track the infliction of harm on their bodies, mental capacity, and much more.

Adding on to the miserable lives of these animals, they are kept in small cages which are half the capacity of their size. This is further pushed to the extent where the animals are starved and not given any food or water or minimal amount of the same. It results in the degradation of their mental health, psychological health, and physical health as well. The animal starts developing negative symptoms because of the test and tends to express irritability towards everything including their surroundings.

These animals are constantly treated without empathy for so long that they start self-inflicting harms as their bearing surpasses all measures. But the ruthless behaviour of the so-called intellectual experimenters doesn’t stop.

India has enacted several legislations, acts, set up different welfare boards, committees, and coupled them with adequate punishment to deter people from indulging in such activities. Section 11 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, prescribes as to what may be considered as cruelty. Section 11[5] of the act specifically mandates for the cruelty against animals and is further elaborated into 15 types of cruelty. Section 11(1)(a) to section 11(1)(o) states the cruel acts that are deemed as offence and subsequently punishable.

Talking about some specific provisions which are violated in the process of experimentation, section 11(1)(c)[6], “wilfully and unreasonably administers any injurious drug or injurious substance to [any animal] or wilfully and unreasonably causes or attempts to cause any such drug or substance to be taken by [any animal]” is considered as cruelty.

So, it is prima facie visible that any experiment so conducted, violates the above-mentioned section. Furthermore, it is of vital significance to know that such experimenters are not only in violation but are repeated offenders under the same. Furthermore, the argument of public welfare as posed by the industries is grossly flawed as killing someone for the welfare of others is immoral and unethical.

But the actual point of contention arises when section 14[7] of the same act legalises the use of animals for experiments. The section 14 of the act states, “Nothing contained in this Act shall render unlawful the performance of experiments (including experiments involving operations) on animals for the purpose of advancement by the discovery of physiological knowledge or of knowledge which will be useful for saving or for prolonging life or alleviating suffering or for combating any disease, whether of human beings, animals or plants.

So, if we try and put it in simpler words, the section enables the experimenters to continue the inhumane and barbaric acts of torture on the innocent and name it as the discoveries done for human welfare. It is nothing different if we pass certain sections which legalise murder in the name of reducing the number of criminals in the country. Though there are medicines such as penicillin which have proven to be a useful drug for animals that comprises and complies only to a small number of cases.

The abovementioned section allows the experimenters to carry out experiments including surgeries on animals which may prove to be beneficial for human beings, animals, or plants in the long run. So, eventually, all experiments are allowed under the name of human welfare and promoting that the value of humans is more valuable and superior to that of animals and plants and the same can be sacrificed if it aids the medical development for that matter. Even if we take up the medical reasons, it still fails to answer how cosmetics and house-hold stuff is necessary and requires animals to be treated as laboratory objects.

The Act has laid down a set of procedures under section 17[8] of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1960 which states several elements that should be kept in mind while animal testing or performing surgery on the animals. According to section 17, it mandates the Committee to supervise and ensure that the experiment does not cause unnecessary pain but it fails to elaborate on the same. The term unnecessary pain remains ambiguous and does not outline as to what may come under the term.

Fallacy and Shortcomings of Animal Testing

The proposition of animal testing is contradicting and flawed in several aspects. Firstly, the experimenters claim the use of animals in experiments as completely essential. The law of nature doesn’t give any superior status or supremacy to the humankind that is neither human nor kind.

Secondly, condemning cruelty on animals as specified under section 11 but legalising the same under section 14 for personal greed jeopardizes the intention of the policymakers. The animals undergoing such experiments are subjected to extreme cruelty. Any human assenting to such a test for personal greed should be equally liable as the one doing it.

An article in the esteemed Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that there is no similarity between the physiology of a human and an animal. Any test that might have successful results does not guarantee that the same will effective enough in humans. Hence, though the experimenters can have breakthroughs with their research, it could be rendered useless. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has noted that 95 per cent of all drugs that are shown to be safe and effective in animal tests fail in human trials because they don’t work or are dangerous.[9]

An article titled, “Where Is the Evidence That Animal Research Benefits Humans?[10]” was written by well-renowned universities like Yale which mentioned that there is none to a negligible amount of evidence to support that animal testing is useful for humans.

Though India might be proud of its stand, yet the act fails to provide any strict punishment for violation of the section. According to section 20[11] of the Act, it authorizes the committee to penalise anyone who is found in breach of the same. However, the penalised amount remains lowly of only Rupees two hundred (₹200). This might have a deterring impact as it is not something hard on the pockets of the experimenters or organization per se. In short, India has fallen short of adequate deterrence measures and subsequently should amend the provisions and introduce stricter punishments for the same.

India’s Stand on Animal testing

India has become the first South Asian country to ban all animal testing in the cosmetics department in the year 2013. The country took a step further to ban all imports of cosmetics that have been tested on animals abroad. It was further notified that in addition to cosmetics, any ingredient used in the making of the final product is also banned if involves animal testing.

The test ban was finalized when the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (Second Amendment), 2014 was notified through Gazette no: 346 (E), post completion of a 45-day public consultation. Violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act by any person, corporate manager, or owner is liable for punishment for a term which may extend from 3 to 10 years or shall be liable to a fine which could be INR 500 to INR 10,000 or both.

In April 2016, India, then, went on to ban animal testing for soaps and detergents which is even a step further from the cosmetics. The present situation showcases that there is stress on animal rights. Not only deterring but also minimising the same is a step forward which is appreciated by everyone around the world.s

This clearly emphasizes that India has brought in the amendments for the good and is progressing at a much better place than other countries all over the world. Though it might seem picture-perfect, this is not the case for other countries. Countries like China still have a mandatory animal testing policy and doesn’t show any signs of progression. It is rumoured that the Chinese are trying to bring in policies to end such thing but until such legislations are passed and implemented, none of this matter for the time being. The countries which claim themselves as progressive aren’t showing any signs of it and should try their best to bring a stop to such immoral and unethical practices.

There should be some ad hoc committees set up on the international level which should research on animal testing. They should determine how effective animal experimentation results in aid for the actual humankind. Furthermore, there should be research for the alternatives on how the role of animals can be replaced in these industries and saving wildlife for good.

Conclusion

Animal experimentation is a practice that has been in continuance from a very long. It was with time that some scientists started to call out the immoral practice. Animal experimentation is used as a measure to see the toxicity and harmfulness of the substance if used by a human. Though many progressive scientists have called out such practices, there still exist countries like China that have a mandatory animal testing policy.

India has passed many acts, legislations, and constructed committees to observe the entire procedure and if there are any violations while conducting animal testing. India uses animal testing in several fields such as Drugs and Medicines, Cosmetics, House-hold stuff, etc. India had enacted The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for the said reasons.

There are some fallacies those who contend in support of animal testing and have been rightly pointed out by renowned universities and scientists all over the world. There have been articles in the Journal of Royal Society of medicine and others who call for taking up alternatives if it is needed.

Lately, India has tried to curb such practices and successfully banned it in the cosmetics section. They have further gone to impose a ban on ingredients that are used in cosmetics. In addition to this, they introduced bans on imports of such products as well. It clearly shows that India is on the path of development and progress but it still has a long way to go. They need to carry out similar acts in other industries and enact stricter punishments for abovementioned kinds of violation. But being the first country in South Asia to impose such bans, the future of India seems bright.

References

  1. https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-bad-science/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6702685/
  3. http://alternativecurator.com/animal-testing-laws-india/
  4. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/india-bans-animal-testing-for-cosmetics-41549
  5. https://www.opindia.com/2020/06/animal-cruelty-prevention-laws-india-pca-kerala-elephant-death/
  6. https://www.strawindia.org/laws-that-protect-animals-in-india.aspx
  7. The Protection of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

[1] Pregnant wild elephant dies in Kerala after cracker filled pineapple explodes in her mouth, PTI, June 05 2020, The Hindu

[2] After Elephant, A Jackal Dies After A Country Bomb Explodes In Its Mouth At Trichy, June 09 2020, Metro Saga

[3] Data from Statista; https://www.statista.com/outlook/70010000/119/cosmetics/india?currency=inr

[4] the Draize test was invented as a way to measure skin and eye irritancy of chemicals and other products

[5] Section 11, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 – Treating animals cruelly

[6] Section 11(1)(c), The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

[7] Section 14, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 – Experiments on animals

[8] Section 17, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 – Duties of the Committee and power of the Committee to make rules relating to experiments on animals

[9] https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-bad-science/

[10] Authors – Pandora Pound, Shah Ebrahim, Peter Sandercock, Michael B Bracken, Ian Roberts on behalf of the Reviewing Animal Trials Systematically (RATS) Group

[11] Section 20, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 – Penalties


Anurag Jain from Symbiosis Law School, Noida

Editor: Swadha Sharma

One thought on “Animal Testing: A Violation of Animal Rights?

  1. It’s so amazing. I think the youth needs to be more and more aware about this serious issue. It is such a burning topic amd needs immidiate attention.

    Liked by 1 person

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