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Quick Summary of Animal Testing Laws

Katie Galanes

Animal Legal and Historical Center
Publish Date:
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law
Printable Version

Quick Summary of Animal Testing Laws


Regulations and laws control the marketing of many commercial products, including drugs, cosmetics, pesticides, and food additives which could potentially be hazardous or pose a danger to human health or the environment.  A number of these commercial products are tested on animals.  Commercial products are tested on animals to ensure product safety for consumers.  For example, mascaras, shampoos, and perfumes are usually tested on the eyes of rabbits and oftentimes the eyelids of animals are forcefully held open for better absorption.

According to the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), animals that are used in testing are owed proper housing, treatment, veterinary care, food and water.  However, a vast majority of animals used in research are excluded from the protections provided for in the AWA.  Moreover, an exception to the protections of the AWA exists when a researcher determines it is not scientifically necessary or would negatively affect the results of testing.  As such, many of the laws and regulations that exist, including the AWA and many state anti-cruelty laws, are oftentimes ineffective.

Controversy and debate surround animal testing, especially regarding commercial products.  Advocates of animal testing argue that no alternatives exist, and that a long-standing tradition of animal testing takes precedence over other methods.  In addition, advocates argue that public health and welfare depend upon animal testing and the elimination of animal testing would subsequently lead to the sale of unsafe or hazardous products.  On the other hand, those who are against animal testing argue for animal welfare and state that animals deserve consideration regarding their own well-being.  Furthermore, animal advocates argue that scientific test results cannot truly be accurate or reliable when originating from an animal that has been mistreated, neglected, or abused.  As time passes and technology further develops, many of the tests performed on animal subjects are being scientifically questioned.  Overall, the debate that exists surrounding animal testing is incredibly complex and controversial.


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