Animal testing becoming “less common”

Hot-on-the-heels of the “Portuguese dogs and cats sent to Asian countries” exposé comes the much better news that animal testing in Portugal is “slowly but steadily becoming less common” – with an increasing number of alternatives being developed by researchers.

So says Mariana Crespo, the director of the Portuguese Society for Humane Education (SPEDH), who spoke to Lusa news agency ahead of this weekend’s ‘International Conference of Alternatives to Animal Experimentation’.

Scheduled to start today (May 8), speakers will be presenting new research methods that are proving “more reliable” than animal testing.

Although she admitted that nationally “thousands of animals” are still used in experiments, Crespo stressed the number is dropping “thanks mostly to European laws” favouring alternative forms of research.

One of the most common alternatives is the use of human cells developed in-vitro, she added.

Using this method, researchers are able to test substances on human cells from different part of the body, such as the skin, liver or stomach.

For example, rabbits used to be commonly used to test the toxicity of eye products, but thanks to new techniques their suffering is no longer necessary.

The head of SPEDH concludes that science is proving that “alternative methods are more reliable and allow researchers to draw more appropriate parallels with human medicine”.

The conference will be held in Auditorium 2 of the Forum Picoas building in Lisbon. It is open to the general public.