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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Swiss campaigner: We must stop unnecessary suffering of laboratory animals.

Translation of a story that appeared in Swiss Daily newspaper Le Matin.

Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) denounces animal conditions in laboratories. Researchers benefit from more flexible rules than farmers or private animal owners. Some 600,000 animals used in research every year in Switzerland suffer, according to SPA. Le Matin interviews Isabelle Chevalley, a member of the PSA and National Councillor.

Le Matin - Should we do research on humans instead of animals?

Isabelle Chevalley - No, I am aware that animal testing is necessary in some cases . But we must respect the welfare of animals and stop needless suffering . It is incomprehensible that the Law on the protection of animals and the rules of detention are not met by laboratories, which benefit from more flexible rules for reasons of profitability.

Isn’t animal research essential?

Not in all cases . We used to test the substances in wastewater by subjecting fish  to it for 48 hours to see if they died. This system lasted until 2005, when another method with algae and bacteria had been available since 1997. In animal experiments some cases even lead to mistakes. Rats are 300 times less sensitive to asbestos as human beings, but  because of reassuring tests on rats this substance continued to be used for a century !

What do you suggest instead?

There are many alternatives. For example, for a long time we have injected products such as vaccines into rabbits to see if they caused ill effects. But perhaps the rabbit was stressed from other factors, thus the experiment was not reproducible . Now these substances are tested on human blood . Did you know that 92 % of substances that pass animal testing are abandoned after the first human tests because they have too many side effects ?

Frankly, aren’t there more pressing issues to deal with?

No, this is important. Each year Switzerland injects 100 million of public money into animal testing and only 450,000 francs to the search for alternatives : we are asking the Federal Council to rebalance these amounts. In the meantime, we are wasting a lot of money in research . Aspirin , penicillin and insulin are harmful to animals. Today they would never pass the stage of testing on animals.


The original article can be found here. (opens in a new window)

Archived Jan 2014