The research is conducted inside universities, medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, farms, defense establishments, and commercial facilities that provide animal-testing services to industry. It includes pure research such as genetics, developmental biology, behavioural studies, as well as applied research such as biomedical research, xenotransplantation, drug testing and toxicology tests, including cosmetics testing. Animals are also used for education, breeding, and defense research.
Supporters of the practice, such as the British Royal Society, argue that virtually every medical achievement in the 20th century relied on the use of animals in some way, with the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences arguing that even sophisticated computers are unable to model interactions between molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, and the environment, making animal research necessary in many areas. Some scientists and animal rights organizations, such as PETA and BUAV, question the legitimacy of it, arguing that it is cruel, poor scientific practice, poorly regulated, that medical progress is being held back by misleading animal models, that some of the tests are outdated, that it cannot reliably predict effects in humans, that the costs outweigh the benefits, or that animals have an intrinsic right not to be used for experimentation. The practice of animal testing is regulated to various extents in different countries.
The application of animals to test a large number of products from household compounds and cosmetics to Pharmaceutical products has been considered to be a normal strategy for many years. Laboratory animals are generally used in three primary fields: biomedical research, product security evaluation and education. (Animal Experiments) It has been estimated that approximately, 20 million animals are being used for testing and are killed annually; about 15 million of them are used to test for medication and five million for other products. Reports have been generated to indicate that about 10 percent of these animals are not being administered with painkillers. The supporters of animal rights are pressurizing government agencies to inflict severe regulations on animal research. However, such emerging criticisms of painful experimentation on animals are coupled with an increasing concern over the cost it would have on the limitation of scientific progress.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. With two million members and supporters worldwide, it claims the status of the largest animal rights group in the world. Ingrid Newkirk is its international president.
Founded in 1980, the organization is a nonprofit, tax exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation with 187 employees, funded almost entirely by its members. According to its website, PETA focuses on four core issues: factory farming, fur farming, animal testing, and animals in entertainment. It also campaigns against the killing of animals regarded as pests, the abuse of backyard dogs, cock fighting, dog fighting, and bullfighting. It aims to inform the public through advertisements, undercover investigations, animal rescue, and lobbying. Its slogan is "animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment."
The organization has been criticized for the style and content of its campaigns, and for the number of animals it euthanizes. It was also criticized in 2005 by Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who said it had acted as a "spokesgroup" for the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, after those groups were listed in a draft planning document as domestic terrorist threats by the U.S.
Greenpeace believes that every effort must be made to avoid the use of animals for chemical testing and to reduce future reliance on animal testing, with the ultimate aim of eliminating such uses.
Greenpeace supports a two phase approach to testing in which substances that exhibit bioaccumulative potential or are persistent in the environment will be automatically prohibited without the need for toxicity testing. It is not necessary to use animals to test for these intrinsic properties and such a policy will reduce the need for animal tests.