The Myth Of Animal Testing Toward Medical Research Biology Essay
Animal testing was raised by the need of human society. Human utilize many different kinds of animal on experiments and researches. It was regarded as important actions of speeding science research benefiting our human welfare. In addition, passing animal testes has been a required process for pharmaceutical and biological products to release to the public market. While it is true, that animal testing is a mainstream of modern medical and scientific research and alleged for the purpose of human benefits. Most people only recognize the significant contribution of animal testing towards psychiatric, pharmaceutical, and biological research; however, few people are aware or suspicious of the cruel fact behind animal testing regarding the aspect of ethics and animal right. It is critical for us to put the question of necessity of animal testing and animal right side by side to discuss this subject fairly and to evaluate the costs and returns of animal testing at same time.
Since the 19th century, the usage of animal testing has been increased rapidly to learn about physiology, medication to defeat diseases, and possible dangers to human health caused by chemical substances. According to estimated reports, world widely there is about 60 to at least 100 million animals are being used for animal testing. Most of them are rats or mice. Their mission is simple: they are either killed due to the experiment or euthanized afterwards.
The usage of animal testing was founded on the "dualism" which was claimed by René Descartes (1956-1650) who is a French philosopher, mathematician, physicist, and writer. He claimed that only humans have minds, therefore he believed that animals do not feel pain. Consciousness became the basis of determining whether animals have moral status or not. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who was a German philosopher, also claimed that only the independent and self-control individuals, that are rationally behaving individuals, could be applied to moral status consideration. He emphasized that only the human is the object of moral status consideration. While other species lack the ability to perform rational behavior, they cannot be included within the scope of moral considerations. Kant's theory had encouraged vivisection in medical research at that time. It is clear that animal right was excluded completely from moral considerations at first place, although, these theories have been rejected in the modern society. People who support animal testing nowadays assert that animal testing benefits to the human society. They are standing at the position, which claims that the interest of humanity is more important than other vulnerable species. It apparently comes from the prejudices of speciesism.
In the general community, there are arguments of necessity on animal testing. The basis of these arguments was not founded in fact, but created by myths and misunderstandings. Nevertheless, these myths and misunderstanding are widely publicized. There are four myths in general.
First myth: medical science is founded on the animal testing. That is not right. Hippocrates, the father of classical medicine, has never done any animal testing. That tells us the development of medicine study does not necessary involve animal testing, although, there has been some cases of animal testing. However, the essence of classical medical knowledge is not based on animal testing, but observation: to observe the difference between healthy and unhealthy individuals. Animal testing is mostly used to prove, but not developing the knowledge. There are important medicine milestone of developments in the past and they are all developed without animal testing. For example, the drug used to reduce fever like "Acetylsalicylsäure", the drug used to help sleep or treat epilepsy: Phenobarbital, and the discovery of using vitamin C to prevent scurvy. It is ignorant to think that basis of medical knowledge is based on animal testing. // (More Reference Needed)
Second myth: In order to defeat diseases and prolong human lifespan, the animal testing is necessary. It is a myth that people who support animal testing usually say, and that is wrong. According to McKeown thesis, the fundamental causes of diseases are the social conditions and the way to prolong human lifespan is to control communicable diseases.
He has conducted a large-scale of study demonstrated that the control of infectious diseases, and improving medical equipment and sanitation are the solution. Moreover, the leading ten causes of death are mostly caused by individuals' life style. It is difficult to convince that animal testing would help at this point.
Third myth: Animal testing is harmless to human, one of the most dangerous myths. Although we are not sure if the new drugs or chemical are safe, but after passing the animal testing, it makes them look safe. The animal testing provides a sort of evidence. However, human do not react to the drugs or chemical in the same way as animals do. There are a few examples of drugs that have caused terrified harm to human, even though they had all passed the animal testing. One of the examples is Contergan (Thalidomide), which introduced as a sedative drug in the late 1950s. One of the purposes was to reduce the pain of women during gestation. It was marketed as a "harmless tranquilizer for the pregnant woman and absolutely safe for the unborn child." However, a doctor found the increasing abnormal rate of birthing a malformed child few years later. Soon and later, scientists found the Contergan was the cause, and it caused more than 10,000 children in 46 countries to born with deformities. Contergan also have other side effects, such as peripheral neuropathy (permanent nerve damage), fatigue, and constipation. Sadly, those side effects were not detected in the animal testing. Another example is Clioquinol (Entero-Vioform). It is an anti-fungal and anti-protozoal drug, which is give as an anti-diarrhoeal drug. Between 1958 and 1970, it has caused over 10,000 cases of paralysis, blindness, and deaths worldwide. It also developed a new nervous disease called SMON (subacute myelo-optic neuropathy). Additionally, there are some examples of a drug that is harm to animals but harmless to human: Aspirin (Analgesic), Penicillin (Antibiotics), Digitalis (A drug for heart treatment), Chlorophorm (Narcotic), and Morphine (Tranquilizer). Many people claim that animal testing is required to ensure safety before releasing to the public. However, the examples above show that none of the side effects were predicted or detected under animal testing duration. It also shows the evidences that animal testing is not only helpless and worthless, but also dangerously unpredictable to the environment and human. Dr. Moneim Fadali, M.D also stated, "Animal model systems differ from their human counterparts. Conclusions drawn from animal research, when applied to human beings, are likely to delay progress, mislead, and do harm to the patient. Vivisection, or animal experimentation, should be abolished."
Fourth myth: Animal does not feel pain during the experiment. Pain is a complex experience; pain causes when the cellular tissue damages due to external stimuli or feel the potential crisis. All animals have the capacity to feel pain, and can generate the corresponding response to it. The stimulation of pain can motivate us to withdraw from damaging or to avoid those situations. When animals feel pain, they do not necessarily demonstrate the expression or voice. And when animals get injured or ill, they often do not move nor make any sound due to the self-defense, which is opposite with human. However, that does not mean that animals do not have the ability to feel pain. On the contrary, animals' sensory perception is much more sensitive than human, especially dogs, because dogs are highly complex psychological mechanisms and awareness activities. Once if a dog is locked in a cage, it soon knows it lost its freedom and the ability to defense itself. At first, they will roar, but soon they will stop roaring and start feeling deep despair that continues. The only thing left is the empty and desperate eyes. Major R.F.E.Austin, M.D. even said, "Experiments on animals do not only mean torture and death for the animals, they also mean the killing of people. Vivisection is a double-edged sword."
In dozens of animal tests, the two tests most well-known are "Draize " and "LD50". Draize test is a toxicity test developed in 1944. The procedure involves applying a bit of testing sample to the eye or skin to test the irritation and will leave there for hours. The Draize eye test usually uses rabbit as a testing subject since rabbits do not have lacrimal gland. As a result, the testing sample will not be washed away by tears. The purpose of it is to study the reaction after contacting animals' eyes in order to measure the irritant level to the human eyes. During the experiment, rabbits are forced to close their eyes after applying a test substance, so scientists could test the full irritating and damage to the eyes. Their necks are trapped in the instrument to avoid any interference to the testing result. A researcher describes the most severe reaction happened on testing subjects: As the structure of the cornea or internal of eye injuries seriously, the animals blind completely. As a result, they try to close their eye urgently. They screamed, try to grasp eye, jump, and escape, which are impossible since they are stuck in a special instrument. Often time, they end up with breaking their neck due to the severe pain. Even if, they survived from experiment, they would not get any treatments, they would be euthanized afterwards instead. The Draize skin test has a similar procedure as well. Say testing for a make-up product. Instead of using rabbits as experiment subject, scientists use the technology of GM (Genetically Modify) to make rats born with wrinkled skin. Then, apply the testing substance on whole body of rats.
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The Draize test is worthless and inhumane, and there is no scientific evidence to support it. The eyes of rabbits used in the Draize test are substantially different from human eyes since rabbits have more sensitive eyes than human does, they feel more pain. Therefore, they do not react the same way as we would. Moreover, this test is not only expensive and time consuming, but also is meaningless since the whole purpose of this test is to let rabbits experience pain and suffering, and kill afterward or keep using for another test. It should be urgent to end this animal testing and spent the time on other meaningful researches.
LD50 is abbreviated from "Lethal Dose, 50%." A toxicity test requires killing half of testing population after certain test duration. The procedure involves forcing testing subject to eat, subcutaneous inject, inhale, or gastric tube insert testing samples. Depending on different testing samples, the symptom or reaction animals have includes cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis and so one. The experiment will be over until after the half of animals die. (This is the reason that it is called "LD50.") The test of surviving animals will be destroyed afterwards.
The LD50 test has defect itself, and does not stand any scientific evidence. According to the scientists, the LD50 is highly influenced by factors such as the sex of animals, the where the test is performed and so on, but not directly related to the experiment. In addition, the test is mainly concentrates on when animals die but not why they die. That does not help us to solve the problem but torture animals. The painkillers could not be used to reduce animals' pain. Experimenters think it would interfere with test results since not all the effects of the substance would be seen.
From above examples of animal testing, we can clearly know why we should against animal testing and find alternatives. By the way, there are some animal testing about the same subject has repeated for several times. It is wasted and meaningless. Many debate over animal testing that some animal testing does give some advantages. The head of Johns Hopkins Center, Alan Goldberg, points out "the most obvious and important advantage of whole-animal testing: It provides an integrated biological system that serves as a surrogate for the complexities of human and other animal systems." However, over use animal testing does not gain more advantages. In 1959, there are two British scientists: W. Russell and R. Burch proposed the principle, so called "three Rs": reduction, refinement, and replacement. The role of three Rs principle mainly obtains the balance between interest and compromise in the interests of humanity and animals.
The first R: "reduction" means reducing the number of animals in tests. To achieve the goal, we should collect and organize the test results that ever published, and avoid repetition of experiments. Moreover, when we need an animal testing, we should carefully plan the procedure and implement sophisticated statistical methods to analyze the data in order to use fewer animals to obtain the result.
The second R: "Refinement" means refining tests to decrease pain. It mainly focuses on improving the living quality of experimental animals. The improvement includes providing comfortable living environment, lighting, noise control, and other conditions. Therefore, that will reduce animals' discomfort that may arise and would affect the results.
The third R: "replacement" means replacing methods that use animals. It refers not to use experimental methods to do testing. There are many alternatives available nowadays: the Ames test, CAM test, computer assimilation, organ culture, tissue culture, and bacteria cultures and protozoan studies.
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In the conclusion, as we know the truths behind animal testing that it clearly cannot be extrapolated to human due to the species differences, and it could be sometime producing unpredictable dangerous to human or animals. We should abolish all animal testing without any delay. We need to reject the false ideas of animal testing. As Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, M.D. explained that, the reason why he against animal testing is it just simply does not work and has no scientific value. Animal testing does not help medical research at all; on the contrary, it will hinder the development of medical research since there are some medications helpful to human but harmful to animals; and some medications harmless to animals but harmful to human. Moreover, when diseases induce artificially on animals for testing purpose to evaluate drugs, the result can never be compared to the diseases arising spontaneously. It is substantially different. The massive time spends on animal testing for unreliable result fail to contribute anything. It is better to utilize the time effectively in other meaningful researches or other directions. There are dozens of alternatives already exist and available to replace animal testing. Therefore, we as human beings, lord of creation, should stop uncontrolled exploitation of animals. In order to maintain the interest of humankind and protect animal rights at same time, we should completely abandon animal testing.
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