SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Korea Bizwire) – Over the last five years, over 1.33 million animals have been subjected to experiments at 11 prominent national universities, including Seoul National University and Pusan National University. Globally, it’s estimated that more than 500 million animals suffer and perish in experimental procedures annually.
While the number of animals utilized in experiments continues to rise, there is growing concern about how to handle “excess experimental animals.” These surplus laboratory animals, whether they survive the experiments or fail to meet research criteria from the outset, are euthanized due to their perceived lack of economic value or legal status.
This practice, driven by economic considerations, raises ethical issues and highlights the need for alternative testing methods.
Animal testing has faced criticism not only for its ethical concerns but also for its limitations caused by genetic variations among species. Consequently, there is a growing interest in organoids, also known as artificial organs, as an alternative to animal testing.
Organoids are synthetic organs created through stem cell cultivation to replicate organs like the intestine and liver. These artificial structures mimic the functionality of real organs, enabling the evaluation of drug effectiveness without resorting to animal experimentation.
Organoids are actively being developed in various fields, including the discovery of new drugs, anti-cancer medications, and personalized treatments. According to the Korea Agency for Drug Safety and Administration, the organoid market is projected to reach KRW 4.65 trillion by 2027, with an average annual growth rate of 22.1 percent.
In the United States, the mandatory requirement for animal testing was abolished late last year, making organoids a viable clinical option.
Meanwhile, a breakdown of data concerning animal testing at South Korean national universities reveals that 1,336,840 animals were used in experiments at these institutions over the five-year period from June 2018 to June 2023.
This information was provided to the National Assembly by 11 national universities, excluding Jeju National University, Incheon National University, and Seoul National University of Science and Technology.
The number of animals used in experiments has steadily increased from 169,330 in 2018 to 306,250 in 2019, 238,361 in 2020, 243,430 in 2021, and 225,010 last year. In the current year, the count already surpassed 150,000 by June, reaching 68.7 percent of the total from last year.
Seoul National University accounted for the largest share over the past five years, employing 472,746 animals for testing, equivalent to 35.4 percent of the total. This was followed by Chungnam National University (207,447), Pusan National University (165,599), Kyungpook National University (129,884), Jeonbuk National University (119,525), Kangwon National University (102,500), and Chonnam National University (62,123).
The annual number of animal tests conducted by these institutions also rose sharply, increasing from 3,226 in 2018 to 4,300 in 2021 and 4,536 in 2022, with 2,635 conducted from January to June of this year.
Moon Jeong-bok, the Democratic Party lawmaker who requested this data, remarked, “We should draft legislation to ban animal testing, following the example of the United States and Europe, and promptly develop alternative testing technologies. It is imperative for authorities to take action as societal awareness and calls for animal rights continue to grow.
M. H. Lee (email@example.com)