Animal testing is not a new thing. For many centuries scientists and testers in research have used animals of all kinds. Most of the animals are small ones like rodents – rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils. Some dogs, cats and a variety of goats, monkeys and rabbits have also been used. The animal rights issue is an emotional one. For decades the value of animal research has been grossly overrated.
Although researchers claim that they depend on animal test data to achieve medical advances, we should demand other means of research and there should be laws assuring a minimum level of animal protection because testing on animals is cruel, inhumane, and often unnecessary. The American Medical Association has stated that it believes that research involving animals is essential to maintaining and improving the health of human beings.
They point out that all advances in medical science in the 20th century, from antibiotics to organ transplants, has been achieved either directly or indirectly through the use of animals in laboratory experiments. Arguments for animal experimentation may question the morality, necessity, and validity of these studies. The moral issue on animal experimentation concerns the need to protect human life and to improve the quality of life.
The gains in human health and well being outweigh the cost in animal suffering (which nonetheless should be kept to a minimum), in this viewpoint. It would be immoral to conduct such tests on humans, and so animals serve as our stand-ins for many kinds of testing and research. Those who support animal testing may care deeply about animals but don’t place them on an equal status with humans. Research on animals may be deemed necessary for a variety of reasons: to develop vaccines and treatments and cures for diseases, to ensure that new products are safe to use.
Such as making sure that they won’t blind us, burn our skin, or even kill us (which did happen in several instances, before product safety testing was required by law); and to help students, especially prospective doctors, veterinarians, and so on, learn their way around a body. Animals do make good research subjects for many purposes and research on them can tell us a great deal about ourselves. Animals are, in many ways, biologically similar to humans and are susceptible to many of the same health problems.
Some species may serve as particularly good models for certain aspects of human health or physiology. Much of what we know about the immune system, for example, has come from studies with mice, and much of what we know about the cardiovascular system has come from studies with dogs. Many heart surgery techniques, such as coronary bypass surgery, artificial heart valve insertion, and pacemaker implants, were studied first in dogs before being used in people. Animals may make even better research subjects than humans in some regards.
For example, many species have relatively short life cycles, so they can be studied throughout their entire life span or across several generations. Furthermore, scientists can control certain aspects of an animal’s environment, diet, temperature, lighting, and so on, more easily than would be possible with people. Supporters of the use of animals in research argue that alternative methods can’t fully replace the use of animals, and may never do so. Neither cells grown outside a body nor computer programs can predict the complex interactions that occur in an entire living system.
Countless medical treatments, techniques, and technologies have come about, at least in part, through animal experimentation. The development of immunization against such diseases as polio, diphtheria, mumps, measles, rubella, pertussis, and hepatitis all involved research on animals, as did the discovery of insulin and the study of diabetes. Animal research also has played a part in the development of organ transplantation, hip replacement, chemotherapy, cardiac pacemakers, coronary bypass surgery, ongoing efforts to understand and treat AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
Animal research has played a role in many advances in veterinary medicine, including the development of vaccines for rabies, parvovirus, and distemper. Various devices and treatments developed through animal research such as pacemakers, hip replacement, diabetes treatments, dental care, and chemotherapy are used in veterinary as well as human medicine. Some animal research is aimed at developing alternatives to animal use so that fewer animals will be needed in the future. Not all research is conducted on laboratory animals.
Pet owners looking for the best or newest treatment for their ailing dog or cat may agree to take part in a clinical study similar to the human clinical trials that test the effectiveness of different drugs or treatment methods on people with pre-existing conditions or diseases. Research on such matters as nutrition, housing requirements, or social behavior can help improve living conditions for captive and domestic animals. Some kinds of animal research may contribute to habitat restoration and conservation efforts for wild animals.
Arguments against animal testing may also question the morality, the necessity, or the validity of these studies. That is, whether we have the right to perform such tests, whether we need such tests, and whether the tests actually tell us anything useful. Animal rights advocates argue that sentient animals have a right to their own life; they are not ours to do with as we please. In its broadest form, this argues against using animals or animal products in any way. That means maintaining a vegetarian diet, not wearing leather or fur, and, at its most extreme, not even keeping animals as pets.
A more moderate animal protection or animal welfare viewpoint is concerned more with our responsibility toward animals, that we have a moral obligation not to cause them unnecessary pain and distress. This stance does not necessarily argue against all animal testing. Arguments against the need for animal testing may take at least a couple of forms. Some may consider the object of the testing to be trivial. Is it worth blinding rabbits so we can have a new kind of mascara? Another argument is that we dont need to use animals, we can use non-animal alternatives or computer simulations or test on human volunteers.
Every year, millions of animals suffer and die in painful tests to determine the safety of cosmetics. Substances such as eye shadow and soap are tested on rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, dogs, and other animals, despite the fact that the test results dont help prevent or treat human illness or injury. Cosmetics are not required to be tested on animals and since non-animal alternatives exist, its hard to understand why some companies still continue to conduct these tests. Cosmetic companies kill millions of animals every year to try to make a profit.
According to the companies that perform these tests, they are done to establish the safety of a product and the ingredients. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates cosmetic products, does not require animal testing. Some of the tests used on animals are eye irritancy tests, acute toxicity tests, and skin irritancy tests. Another form of objection argues that we can’t rely on the results of animal tests anyway. Humans are different from other animals, so the results of animal testing may not apply to us.
Just because one species reacts to a given drug or chemical in a particular way doesnt necessarily mean another species will respond the same way. Furthermore, the argument goes animals kept in unnatural conditions, or animals in pain or distress, arent going to give accurate or consistent results anyway. There are numerous cases that highlight the absurdity of assuming that humans and animals have biology sufficiently similar for experimentation to yield useful results.
For example: morphine calms humans but excites cats, cortisone causes birth defects in mice but not in humans, penicillin kills guinea pigs and hamsters and aspirin poisons cats. If the results of tests on animals had been relied upon we would not have penicillin or digitalis (a drug used by heart patients but which was withheld for a long time because it was found to raise the blood pressure of dogs). We would also be without chloroform (once a common anesthetic but not used initially because it was toxic to dogs) and aspirin (which causes fetal deformities in rats and is toxic to certain animals).
Certain steroids, adrenaline, insulin and some antibiotics are also toxic to many animals but medically beneficial to humans. Animal research is a very controversial issue and probably will be until our technology increases enough to rely on alternatives. Animal experimentation has its pros and its cons and neither side has much more of an argument. Medical studies are needed to find certain drugs that will work to cure diseases and animals are the closest things to humans so we need to use them. It would be cruel and illegal to use these drugs on humans before we know if they are safe.
If drugs were marketed without proper testing we would not know if they were safe to use. However, It is also said to be cruelty towards animals to use drugs on them not knowing how they will react towards them. Often different species dont react the same towards drugs as humans would. This causes suffering to animals for no reason at all. Most cosmetics require test to be done to see if they will be safe for human use. How would we be able to tell if these products will cause skin irritation or blindness or even cancer without using some form of tests.
Although there are many alternative to product testing, animals are most likely to produce accurate results on what the product may do to humans. However, blindness, skin irritations and cancer are all very severe and we should try to find more accurate alternative without having to torture these animals so much. So until scientists learn a little more about humans and technology increases more, we probably couldnt do without animal research and testing completely but we need to try to keep it at a minimum and as necessary and proper as possible.