More Cures and Fewer Animals: We Can Have Both

Nathan Herschler, November 5, 2018

In the recent Science Magazie article highlighting our analysis of the record number of primates being used in U.S. for testing, we were treated to a fabulously false dichotomy by Cindy Buckmaster, Board Chair of an astroturfing industry group that advocates for increased use of animal testing. “The public wants more cures, but fewer animals. They can’t have it both ways,” she said…

This is simply false. We can and should expect to have more cures and fewer animals used in research in the United States. And there’s an easy way we can make this happen. Increase government funding for human-relevant alternatives to animal testing, and have NIH leadership make a greater effort to ensure the alternatives that exist are used instead of animals.

Let’s look at the numbers. Our best estimates at the level of spending by the US Government on outdated, ineffective, and cruel animal tests is $15 to $20 billion dollars. Your tax dollars are going toward funding projects like the killing of kittens at a USDA facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland and countless other horrific experiments across the country.

In contrast, only $113 million was assigned as funding for the development of computational toxicology programs this year.

The amount of your taxpayer dollars working toward effective, humane computational toxicology alternatives this year was less than 1% of the amount that went toward cruel and wasteful animal tests.

We can and must do better.

Thomas Hartung, Director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing in Maryland believes that the new numbers suggest “people are just blindly running toward the monkey model without critically evaluating how valuable it really is.” We need checks and balances in place to ensure that more animals aren’t killed in the false name of scientific progress.

There are win-win solutions to this problem:

  • We must end taxpayer supported funding of duplicative and poorly designed tests using animals, including primates.

  • We must push for increased funding for human-relevant, animal friendly technologies at the same time we cut spending for cruel and unnecessary animal experimentation.

And with that, all Americans can have their cake and eat it too. We can develop more cures and get animals out of labs. It just takes funding, innovators, and passionate advocates for animals like you.

You can help.

Please take a moment and ask NIH to request additional funding for the development and validation of technologies and methods that replace conventional, cruel animal testing.