Why We Are Selective with the Use of the Word "Alternative"

We explain why it's important to use the word "alternative" carefully when referring to animal-free science.
August 23, 2018

We are mindful when using the word “alternative” when referring to animal-free science. This is because if used in the wrong way, it can suggest that using animals to try and predict how we humans will respond works well, which we know isn't true. The examples below help explain this further.

Example of “alternative” being used in the correct and accurate manner:  If a teacher used a plastic frog model or a computer simulation of a frog to teach their class about the anatomy of a frog instead of dissecting a real frog. Here, the frog model is an alternative to using a live a frog to study frog anatomy in the classroom. I.e., both methods teach the exact same thing.

Example of “alternative” being used in the wrong, misleading manner: If a researcher was using human tissues or cells to research a specific cancer treatment instead of rodents, we would call this an animal-free or human-based method instead of referring to it is an alternative. This is because the results from this type of human-based research will give accurate results that are very different from the misleading results created by an animal model. i.e. the animal-based method and the human-based method wouldn’t create the same outcome, meaning they are not real alternatives to one another.

It's a small but important distinction and we encourage you to be mindful of the word alternative too. This way you can help remove one of the biggest misconceptions about animal testing!


With your help we can end animal experimentation in Aotearoa.