Contradictory Trends

Mike Ryan, October 23, 2018

As of 2018, two contradictory numbers are at an all-time high

1. The number of Americans who oppose animal testing
2. The number of primates suffering in these tests in the U.S.

Yes, the number of primates suffering in testing is now at a record high.

This chart is using USDA’s own data for the number of primates that are being used in medical tests (also known as Categories C, D, and E to use USDA’s lingo) in American facilities, both public and private.

As of the end of 2017, there were 75,825 primates suffering in medical tests somewhere in a facility in the United States. That’s a record high, sadly.

About the public opposition to animal testing

  • In 2001, 65% of Americans said medical testing on animals was morally acceptable. By 2018, that number fell to 54%. If trends hold, that means that by next year an additional 9 million fewer Americans will find medical testing on animals acceptable.

  • At this rate of change, by 2021, according to Gallup, in just over two years, a majority of Americans will see medical testing on animals as morally unacceptable.

  • Gallup’s data shows a 65% increase from 2001 to 2018 in how many Americans see medical testing on animals as “morally wrong”.


These numbers are growing at roughly the same pace

If you look just at the last five years on this chart, you’ll see other similarities: the number of primates suffering in tests is up 15%. Over that same time period, opposition to animal testing is up nearly 13%. Anyone that profits from primate testing should see this as unsustainable.

Gallup’s numbers are conservative

It’s worth noting that the numbers we’re citing here for public approval are conservative. After all, polling about opposition to animal experiments often varies by species, and those Gallup questions weren’t specific to primates. Had they mentioned primates specifically, the numbers would likely be far higher given an abundance of polls on primate testing specifically that show public opposition above 70%. What’s more, Pew Research also does an annual polling question on animal testing, and their numbers consistently show greater American opposition to animal testing than this relatively conservative data set from Gallup. In other words, we’re understating the severity of this contradiction.

A record number of Americans don’t like to see their relatives, non-human primates, abused in captive medical testing. And instead of accommodating this fact by working to reduce the number of primates abused in testing, NIH continues to fund these experiments at a record-high level.

By doing so, NIH is just making itself more vulnerable than ever to intervention from Congress, whose oversight is intended for exactly this purpose – to ensure that the government Americans are paying isn’t doing something Americans fundamentally oppose.

You can help show congress that the public opinion is more disaproving of animal testing than ever before. Join our email list to stay up-to-date on ways you can help. Simply add your first name and email address on the green Stay Connected form below. Thank you!

Sources: Gallup “Social Series: Values and Beliefs” poll. Here’s more on that poll, this trend, and the 2018 findings.