For decades, scientists have used many methods of research in order to come up with countless remedies and solutions to problems that exist in the world today. However, we bring in to question today probably the most controversial method of them all, animal testing. An animal test is what scientists perform on live animals, causing the animal to undergo unspeakable pain and unnecessary suffering (“Cruelty Free International”). Not only are these animals tortured, but they live out the remainder of their lives in terrible conditions and are almost always killed when the experiment has come to fruition. Some examples of animal testing include, but are not limited to: making animals inhale toxic gas, exposing animals to harmful radiation, and removing vital organs from animals to cause irreparable damage (“Cruelty Free International”). The reason as to why this topic is such a big issue is because most of the research gathered from testing on animals would not be considered to be significant by any means in terms of the advancement of medicine or research in general (“Experiments on Animals: Overview” April 05, 2019). It is estimated that over 100 million animals die each year due to chemical, food, drug, and cosmetic testing (“Experiments on Animals: Overview” April 05, 2019). I believe that animal testing is a dated method in terms of gathering useful information and should be considered obsolete by the scientific community. By examining animal testing as a whole, discussing the various rights and freedoms that are granted to animals, and by studying other alternatives to animal testing, we will be able to answer the question if scientists should continue to test on animals for research purposes.
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Animal testing, in general, has always been a type of research method that has been practiced for centuries, dating all the way back to ancient Greece (around 400 B.C). Scientists, such as Aristotle, would perform experiments on living animals in order to broaden his knowledge on subjects like anatomy and physiology (Rachel Hajar). More recently, animal testing has been put under a microscope due to the fact that countless unethical experiments have been performed on millions of animals. Those who oppose animal testing believe that just because data gathered from these experiments may be beneficial to humans, does not give us the right to perform said experiments. On the contrary, there are those who are in favor of animal testing and believe that these experiments are crucial in order to advance biomedical research (Rachel Hajar). Historically speaking, animal research had its place in the scientific community. It helped physicians understand anatomy and were a huge stepping stone in helping create modern medicine and what it is today. However, not only is animal testing today not only inhumane, but it may also be counterproductive. Just because drugs have passed animal tests, it does not necessarily mean that it will pass human trials. There have also been countless cases where drugs have passed the preliminary stages of testing, but fail when it comes to human trials (Aysha Akhtar). An example of this can be found in Akhtar’s book titled: “Animals and Public Health. Why Treating Animals Better is Critical to Human Welfare.” In this book, Akhtar talks about scientists that were working on an HIV vaccination. After initial creation, the drug was tested on animals, however; when it came to human trials, all 85 of the vaccines failed (Aysha Akhtar). This could’ve been caused by a plethora of reasons, maybe having to do with the fact that humans are structured differently than that of another animal. Despite the fact that animal testing comes with many inaccuracies, it is still being used as the main method of scientific testing. “if research conducted on animals continues to be unable to reasonably predict what can be expected in humans, the public’s continuing endorsement and funding of preclinical animal research seems misplaced.” (Michael Bracken). I believe that Michael Bracken put it nicely, suggesting the fact that if animal testing continues to not meet expectations in terms of delivering quantitative results that can be applied to humans, it should most definitely be replaced by some other form of research.
We know that animal testing dates all the way back to ancient times, as it was used as a primary method of research. The reason as to why people began to test on animals in the first place is simply because we would much rather test on an animal, have it die, rather than test on a human and have the human die. Just because an animal’s brain lacks the capacity to carry a frontal lobe, does not give people permission to test on it. To prevent people from abusing animals, and to stop people from unjustly killing them, higher authorities have granted animals with special rights in order to try and to preserve many species that may have been going extinct. During the third and fourth century, a Roman Jurist named Hermogenianus affirmed that “the law was is made for men and allows no fellowship or bonds of obligation between them and the lower animals.” (Steven M. Wise). This was important as animals were not recognized as living beings, but rather just seen as “things.” (Steven M. Wise). Philanthropic reformers, between 1780 and 1820, began debating child rights as well as rights for defenseless animals. (Steven M. Wise). This eventually snowballed into what we know as today as the modern animal rights movement. A principle that serves as a foundation for this movement is the fact that many animals have interests that demand our awareness and protection (Steven M. Wise). Some reasons as to why animal rights are important and hold a valuable spot in today’s society are because human animals have their own rights, biologically speaking there would be no difference when comparing an adult human male and an adult mammal (Ethics – Animal ethics: Animal rights, BBC). With this in mind, it would be inconsistent to grant humans with their own rights and freedoms, while restricting animals to fend for themselves. This is why activists put so much time and effort into raising money and passing certain laws for these animals, as they can’t rationally think for themselves. However; there are still countless animals out there that continue to endure excruciating pain and suffering as most scientists are negligent in following correct procedures and disregard rights granted to animals. (“Experiments on Animals: Overview” April 05, 2019)
Seeing as animal testing has been proven to be not only inhumane and cruel, but it is also not the most efficient way to gather actual data. The pursuit to find direct alternatives for animal testing first began in 1979, when campaigners dressed as rabbits, in order to protest against the DET (Michael Balls). The DET stands for the Draize eye irritancy test. This test is conducted against rabbits, where the scientists dip certain products in the rabbit’s eyes such as cosmetic products and dishwashing soap. After, the scientists examine and record the results, then finally killing the rabbit when the experiment has been completed. (“Rabbits in Laboratories” January 23, 2019). In hopes to find a better alternative to the DET, activists fell short as nine out of 10 alternative test could not match the DET score which means, no better alternative could replace the DET. Solving the problem of alternatives to animal testing proves to be a daunting and difficult task, “questions concerning relevance and reliability must not be focused on whether an alternative method can produce the same classification for a chemical as that provided by tests in rodents, but on whether the outcome of a new test is credible and meaningful for the target species of concern.” (Michael Balls). In other words, the new alternative would have to be better at predicting results than the actual test of a subject animal. Such alternative includes the following: vitro methods, silico methods, and studies that involve human volunteers (“Alternatives to Animal Testing” April 17, 2019). The vitro method is a practical test that allows scientists to use human cell and tissue to experiment on. For example, Crypotex, a specialist contract research organization (CeeTox Acquisition 2 January 2014), has developed something called a “human-celled derived skin model” (“Alternatives to Animal Testing” April 17, 2019). This model allows scientists to perform experiments on a replica of human skin, which makes extremely accurate predictions and at the same time ensures that no harm is being done unto animals. The silico method basically involves computers that can replicate human biology and is continuously developing new models to help combat diseases amongst other things (“Alternatives to Animal Testing” April 17, 2019). This alternative to animal testing could be the best one as it does not potentially harm not only animals but humans as well. The last alternative would be studies that involved human volunteers. These studies incorporate a method called “microdosing” (“Alternatives to Animal Testing” April 17, 2019). This method is best described as giving a human patient a very small dose of a drug, then scientists monitor how the drug reacts in the body, hence the term: “microdosing”. This method would help the final screening processes of certain drugs without using defenseless animals for research purposes. The advancements made with these alternative methods could be enough to prove that there are better ways to come up state-of-the-art medicine and make the first push in abolishing animal testing as a whole. It is estimated that the US allocates around 16 billion dollars each year to fund testing on animals. (Sign the Petition). This is a huge waste of taxpayers’ money and it could be allocated to many other sectors that further contribute to society (Sign the Petition). If the government were to fund these other alternatives of experiments, it would save the taxpayer’s dollars and save the lives of millions of defenseless animals at the same time
In conclusion, I believe that animal testing should be prohibited as it infringes on animal rights and has contributed to hundreds of millions of animal deaths alone. There are many more alternatives that allow scientists to accurately predict the same results as if they were to conduct the same experiment on an animal. When scientists continue to test on animals, problems may also occur when creating certain drug remedies for certain diseases. This is because humans operate differently internally when compared to a primate. With that said, the different alternatives may also predict better and accurate results in human models. In the present day, this is still on ongoing issue that has seen many controversies over the years, but yet at the same time, most of the global population does not understand the severity of this issue. Do you think animal testing will continue to be a primary source for gathering research, or do you think modern science will adapt better alternatives in the future?
- Cruelty Free International, www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/why-we-do-it/what-animal-testing.
- Akhtar, Aysha, and Aysha Akhtar. “Want to Improve Medical Research? Cut Out the Animals!” HuffPost, HuffPost, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffpost.com/entry/want-to-improve-medical-r_b_3576080.
- “CeeTox Acquisition.” Cyprotex, www.cyprotex.com/news-article/ceetox-acquisition/1/3060.
- “Ethics – Animal Ethics: Animal Rights.” BBC, BBC, www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/rights/rights_1.shtml.
- “Experiments on Animals: Overview.” PETA, 5 Apr. 2019, www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animals-used-experimentation-factsheets/animal-experiments-overview/.
- “Footnotes & Sources – Animal Testing.” ProCon.org, animal-testing.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=005450#58.
- Hajar, Rachel. “Animal Testing and Medicine.” Heart Views : the Official Journal of the Gulf Heart Association, Medknow Publications Pvt Ltd, 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3123518/.
- Hester, R. E., et al. “International Validation and Barriers to the Validation of Alternative Tests.” RSC Publishing Home â Chemical Science Journals, Books and Databases, 7 June 2006, pubs.rsc.org/en/content/chapterpdf/2006/9781847552457-00028?isbn=978-0-85404-211-1&sercode=is.
- “Rabbits in Laboratories.” PETA, 23 Jan. 2019, www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/rabbits-laboratories/.
- Wise, Steven M. “Animal Rights.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 18 Aug. 2016, www.britannica.com/topic/animal-rights.
- Pandora Pound and Michael Bracken, “Is Animal Research Sufficiently Evidence Based To Be A Cornerstone of Biomedical Research?,” BMJ (2014): 348
- “Sign the Petition.” Change.org, www.change.org/p/petition-reduction-of-animal-testing-to-reduce-government-waste-at-tax-payers-expense.
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