Table of contents
- Historical Context and Prevalence of Animal Testing
- The Ethical Dilemma: Animal Rights vs. Scientific Progress
- Legal Regulations and Ethical Considerations in Animal Research
- The Limitations and Failures of Animal Testing in Medical Research
- Advancements and Successes: The Role of Animals in Medical Breakthroughs
- Exploring Alternatives: The Future of Research Without Animal Testing
Historical Context and Prevalence of Animal Testing
Is it morally right to progress in health and medicine? Would killing an animal with society’s own bare hands be right? Animal testing is when a scientific experiment is undergone by an animal that might cause them pain or suffering. Experiments go back to the Ancient Greeks with Aristotle, a well-known Greek philosopher, and Erasistratus who is known for being an anatomist and physician. In the United States alone, over ten million animals are used for testing, education, and research. About 60% of the animals tested are used for testing products and biomedical research. Most of the animals used are mice and rats. Ever turn on the television and see an advertisement for the latest shampoo or soap just to realize that hundreds if not thousands of animals had to partake in experiments to assure the safety of the product. It has become a worldwide problem that bothers a majority of the world. Physicians and scientists believe that animals have little intelligence which means that immoral and moral rights do not apply to them. One of the heated arguments, animal research, has both its necessities and dreadfulness; however, alternatives may be essential.
The Ethical Dilemma: Animal Rights vs. Scientific Progress
The continuing debate over whether animal research is essential or ultimately unethical. Is the killing of twenty to fifty million animals worth it? Scientists claim that it is justly to use millions of animals for the prime purpose of research and information that might better the medical world. Researchers believe that creatures die so that humans get a greater grasp and comprehension of diseases and health issues. However, a group of activists is suggesting against the use of animals which is considered a social problem. This started the tension between researchers and activists over the topic. Opinions on the matter vary. Some find it necessary, and alternatives do not have the full impact that a living creature has. On the other hand, advocates say to cut the number of lab animals used. Animal welfare activists proclaimed that the “suffering or death” of the animal should not be allowed when being tested (source 1 1). Even though the topic is controversial, it may be mandatory to test on animals for human safety. Although laws have not been placed to prohibit or ban animal testing or animal research, the practice is regulated. Animal abuse or cruelty is never legal and criminal laws are placed because of that reason including research. The development of cures and vaccines was thanks to animals, but that does not make it ethical and morally just. Barbara Orlan’s book, In the Name of Science: Issues in Responsible Animal Experimentation, states that sixty percent of all animals are used for testing products. Many people view animals as loyal friends while others view them necessary to research advancement. Research has led to technological advances such as new techniques for doing surgery and devices in the medical world. The animals are researched in places such as universities, laboratories, and facilities which is different from research on the animal’s habitat. The majority of biologists and organizations promote testing. A poll was issued to 3.748 scientists by the Pew Research Center and found that 89% favored animal research. The anti-vivisection movement has tried to assure the safety and protection of animals; however, animal rights movements caused millions of dollars of damage to research facilities due to “intruders set afire” laboratories at university campuses (Belleme 39).
Legal Regulations and Ethical Considerations in Animal Research
Animal research is very dreadful to both humans and animals. It is extremely wasteful to use test animals. The US drug industry “invests $50 billion per year” on research with little to no real results (source 3 13). The drugs approved by the FDA seemed to not help everyone with only fifty-nine new medicines approved every year. The results are not exceedingly positive. For instance, positive drug results seen in animals result in a 90% fail rate in humans. Testing drugs on animals with a close relation to humans does not offer much insight. Drug failure can lead to tremendous harm than good such as a drug that was said to treat arthritis caused thousands of heart attacks and deaths even though it showed effective results in animal testing. Animals do not get diseases that humans do like Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and types of cancer which should be taken into consideration. Cosmetics is another key issue as the substances need to be tested. Some animals were forced to consume toxic chemicals namely the L.D. 50 lethal doses which led the way to the deaths of fifty percent of animals. In 1981, undercover activists documented the treatment of monkeys in laboratories. The outcome was horrendous. The living conditions of the monkeys were hideous and had no veterinary care. Tom Regan, a philosophy professor, states that “Animals have a basic moral right.”This research approach is flawed and wastes time and money with little to no useful results. Researchers are seen “redefining previous work” or dividing a problem into “multiple parts” to keep an endless number of experiments (source 5 26). This delays potential discoveries. For example, a drug called Pfizer showed little to no great payoff result; however, once a scientist suggested it be tested on humans, it began to show tremendous results. In today’s world, it is best to outlook the older methods and adapt to new technology.
The Limitations and Failures of Animal Testing in Medical Research
It is found necessary to do research on animals to ensure the safety of humans. Scientists consider animals as better subjects due to their lifespan which is why it is imperative to use animals and not humans. For example, mice typically live for two to three years giving researchers the time needed to study the effects of possible treatments over the course of a few years. This led to a great deal of life-saving discoveries. The polio vaccine and smallpox were originally tested on animals before being tested on humans which are “no longer major health threats” giving way to a new medical world (Jacobson 28). Another experiment was the removal of the pancreas led to the insulin drug saving the lives of diabetics. The animals also benefit from it. Since testing was done, vaccines for diseases such as rabies, hepatitis virus, and anthrax have been discovered. Endangered species were helped in the process like the black-footed ferret, koalas, and California condor. Using a minimum number of animals for research is something to bargain with. In the United States alone, the consumption of millions of chickens, cattle, and more is a portion of the animals researched. The similarity between animal subjects and humans is relatively similar. For instance, chimpanzees “share 99%” of human DNA which is much closer than other animals (source 2 7). Even religion allows humans to dominate over animals. It states in the Bible Genesis 1:26 “God said… let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth.”Medical researchers find it crucial to have animal experiments to get a broader idea of diseases like cancer. Millions of people have cancer and in the last decade, the United States spent six billion dollars for potential cures. Dr. John Bailer of Harvard’s School of Public Health says, “That shows why we are worried.”This is why various organizations promote research on animals.
Advancements and Successes: The Role of Animals in Medical Breakthroughs
Alternatives to animal research must be placed. Since technology is progressing rapidly, researchers developed micro devices that imitate human organs which can determine the responses our organs make. In the twentieth century, computers are able to model the human body more accurately than animal testing. A non-sentient material that resembles actual skin. An example is the Eyetex which resembles an eye a “synthetic material” that is nontransparent unless it is damaged (Dunnuck 46). The Eyetex can help to save the eyes of future animals and humans. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wants to decrease animal suffering and refine research programs. The HSUS suggests plans on improving the future of animals. Vitro experiments are a great way to gain data without harming an animal. Vitro experiments use “human cells and tissues” which assure the safety of the animal and acquire better data (source 4 20). The animals are cared for by veterinarians and specialists. This will ensure the well-being of the animals as well as positive results. If animals are not taken care of, laws have been placed to guarantee an animal’s safety. The federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) has a daily consensus on the general rules and requires inspections from veterinarians. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee have to give permission for research and funds can only be distributed by the United States Public Health Service. The government has established programs like the American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research which seeks to use fewer funds for research. The American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research even rewards those who make major improvements in research. Congress has taken action and the Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act (ISLAA) was later passed to prevent experimentation. Martha McSally, a representative, introduced the Humane Cosmetics Act to help slow down or stop animal usage in cosmetic industries. Cosmetic companies have sought alternatives such as a pamphlet by The Body Shop that uses ingredients from nature like bananas and nuts.
Exploring Alternatives: The Future of Research Without Animal Testing
One of the heated arguments, animal research, has both its necessities and dreadfulness; however, alternatives may be essential. Animal research has its pros and cons which makes it an intensely hard subject to latch onto. Some support the purpose of it well others despise its existence. The dispute on whether experimentation on animals is morally just or obligatory in today’s world. Countless people find research on animals unnecessary and a downside. The ethical approach should be taken into account. It should not be taken lightly that millions of animals are dying without a plausible reason. On the other hand, people find it a requirement and should be considered the reason for medical advancements in the medical world. Scientists and physicians test on animals in hopes of developing and advancing in medicine. However, it should be known that not everyone has the same viewpoints as each others which means that people do not compromise. That is why alternatives or substitutes are needed to fulfill one’s satisfaction.