Dating back to the third and fourth centuries BC, philosopher Aristotle and Greek anatomist and physician Erasistratus conducted experiments using live animals. Modern animal testing resulted in the creation of a number of life-saving vaccines, including ones for rabies, polio and measles. However, animal testing is also used to create cosmetics, toiletries and cleaning products. The tests are often inhumane and the results can be misleading – an animal’s response can differ from a human’s response and the subject’s pain can affect the accuracy of the test. Legislation exists to limit the use of animals in experiments,yet researchers believe that animals cannot be completely eliminated from the testing process. The debate over animal testing has spawned advocacy groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Students from Beijing City International School spoke about this complex and highly controversial issue.
Pictured from left to right:
Maher Kader, Bangladesh, 15, has lived in Beijing for 15 years
Sonia El Mabrouk, 15, Tunisia, has lived in Beijing for 15 years
Christine Bai, 15, Hong Kong, has lived in Beijing for 11 years
Thilo Braun, 15, Germany, has lived in Beijing for 5 years
Do you think animal testing is necessary?
Sonia: If it’s make-up testing, I think that’s wrong. But if it’s medical-based testing, I think it could be okay, [because]it benefits everyone.
Christine: Yes, [in order]to make sure what we use is safe, even though it’s inhumane.
Maher: It really depends on what it’s used for. For make-up, I don’t think it’s necessary. But for medical things, we have to test on something.
Thilo: I think it’s necessary to test on animals at the moment. However, I don’t think it can be justified [in]that way – that animals serve humans, because humans are animals as well.
Do you buy products that have been tested on animals? Christine: If it was tested, then I would be sure that it’s safe. But if it caused damage to an animal, then I probably would not [buy it].
Sonia: I would not purchase anything that was tested on animals, unless it was something I needed in a dire moment. If it harmed anyone, I wouldn’t be involved in that.
Thilo: If it’s important to know if it is safe, like [pharmaceutical]drugs, I would.
Maher: If the testing on animals is unjustified, then I wouldn’t buy the product. But I wouldn’t boycott it with signs, shouting on the street.
Do you think a product is safer if it’s tested on an animal?
Thilo: We don’t know what impact [pharmaceutical drugs]can have on a body. By testing, we find out more about the side-effects, which we can’t simulate on a computer yet.
Sonia: It is necessary, but it just depends on how necessary. People go all crazy when they hear animal testing, but you have to think about it – half the things we use in our house are animal-tested, [like]pharmaceutical drugs, make-up, or a cream, anything. Most of the time [it is tested on]animals, and people don’t mind [buying them].
Maher: Yes. Because that’s what testing is for. I guess people don’t just aimlessly harm animals. That’s why people test [on]animals – to make sure it is safe.
Do you trust a product if it’s not tested on animals?
Christine: It depends on the product. You’re not sure what reaction you will have and wouldn’t trust it like you would other products [that were tested on animals].
Sonia: [If there] is perfume from Chanel and an unknown brand, I bet [people]would take the Chanel. Because that brand is famous and everyone thinks that it’s safe. People tend to go with what other people think. We don’t look at whether [it was tested on animals]; we look at the brand.
Do you think there’s a difference between testing on humans and animals?
Sonia: I [don’t] think there’s much of a difference. They’re taking an animal, they might kill it and they treat it like it’s a piece of wood, but actually it feels.
Maher: Most humans don’t value an animal life as much as a human life. It’s about priorities and what you feel is morally right or wrong.
Should companies continue testing their products on animals?
Thilo: Testing shampoos on animals isn’t going to hurt them, so I don’t see why not.
Sonia: They should stop. I don’t see why they have to kill or harm an animal for shampoo or hand cream.
Maher: Shampoo that’s not tested on animals might make my hair fall out. To give you a real answer, I would have to do some research on it.