Animal experimentation research essay
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Prompt: Should animal experimentation be allowed to test drugs? Animal testing is the use of animals for scientific and medical research purposes. Animal experimentation is very prevalent nowadays and it became a common and an accepted means of testing by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Animal testing, however, dates back to many centuries even before Christ. It had started in Greece as indicated by the writings and the records of Greek physicians of the third and fourth centuries BC .Aristotle and Erasistratus were probably the first ones to carry out experiments on animals. Also, the physician, Galen, known as the father of vivisection had dissected goats and pigs and compared his results to the knowledge he had about the human anatomy. This activity dates back to the second century in Rome when human autopsies were not allowed by the churches. (Lpag – Biomed for the Layperson.)
Such experimentation has been used to test potential drugs and develop new medicines and treatments. Animal experimentation is currently one of the most controversial topics under public scrutiny, the scientific, religious and social community. The views of the public diverge greatly whether animal experimentation leads to medical breakthroughs or such progress is achievable by other means. The views depend on one’s own ethical and moral values and standards. Although many people believe that animal experimentation should be carried out and is justified due to several reasons, animal experimentation should be abolished because it is a very cruel and immoral method of testing, it is unnecessary, unreliable, and may lead to the experimenters becoming inhumane. Animal experimentation is a very cruel and immoral method of testing.
Just as humans have rights to live and choose their own way of life, humans should realize and provide animals with the same rights. Animal rights are usually ignored just because of their inability to reason. This inability should not be a factor that justifies animal tests. Analogously if a mentally ill or an insane person can have the same rights as a normal human being then animals have the same rights which are violated by animal tests. In addition, just as it is morally wrong to subject humans to pain it is wrong to do it to animals. The nineteenth century utilitarian, Jeremy Bentham, who is an advocate of animal rights and welfare once questioned about animals that it is not “Can they reason? Nor can they talk? But, Can they suffer? (Andre, Claire, and Manuel Velasquez)
The answer to this question is straightforward that animals do suffer and in fact they do feel pain. It is just that they are ignored because animals do not have a voice and that they cannot reason. There is also research that proves that mice and other animals do experience various intensities of pain and many of the emotions that are considered unique to humans. They also respond to pain similarly to humans such as abnormal postures, vocalizations, aggression, physiological and endocrine responses. Discomfort of mice is pretty evident by the facial expressions (expressions very similar to humans) when they are subjected to pain ( Ferdowsian, Hope; Human and Animal Research Guidelines: Aligning Ethical Constructs With New Scientific Developments). Pain is an intangible quantity and therefore it cannot be observed by the experimenters.
However, this pain should not be overlooked and ignored. In addition, animal experimentation is unnecessary because alternatives exist. Alternative methods include micro dosing, MRI scanning, and computer modeling .There has been research that proves that alternatives can be more accurate than animal tests and instead of reducing the animals required in animal tests, those methods can render the animal tests as unnecessary. For example there was research published in the BMC Genomics journal by BioMed Central open that had revealed that the response of the laboratory grown human cells can be used to classify chemicals and it can also be used to predict the strength of allergic responses thus providing a good alternative to animal testing. (Cell-based Alternative to Animal Testing? Genomic Biomarker Signature Can Predict Skin Sensitizers, Study Finds).
Furthermore, Kara Rogers who holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Arizona has written a report based on the alternatives of animal testing. She says in her report that the alternative methods are based on experiments on human cells carried out in vitro (i.e. test tubes), and on computer models. She says that those techniques are more sophisticated and more precise in comparison to the traditional animal testing method. Also, the results obtained by carrying out in vitro tests are as accurate or more accurate compared to the results that are obtained when the same experiment is carried out on animals (Scientific Alternatives to Animal Testing). Therefore, time, money, and our mental skills should be used to develop these alternative methods. Animal testing also is very unreliable due to several reasons.
Firstly, the way animals and humans react towards a drug can be drastically different and therefore what applies to an animal might not apply to the human situation. Kara Rogers, in her report, describes the reliability of animal testing results. She says that the chemical properties of a drug are the main factors that determine the effect of a drug in a body. Animal experiments might give an indication whether a drug is likely to be effective but its applicability is determined by the outcomes revealed by clinical trials done on humans. Kara says that sometimes the effect of a drug on animals and humans is different due to the physiological and genetic differences. There are examples of drugs that were proven to be toxic to humans but such toxicity was not evident when it was given to animals.
Kara advocates the use of alternative methods such as in vitro tests to test for drugs because not all are applicable to both animals and humans simultaneously. There are many examples of drugs that have completely different effects on humans and animals. For instance, monoclinical antibodies that are used to treat immune system diseases and neurotherapeutics that treat nervous system diseases show completely divergent effects when they are used on animals and humans. (Scientific Alternatives to Animal Testing) .Secondly, one should not forget the physiological differences between the humans and the animals especially rats. According to information stated at the Christian Medical Fellowship about 2.78 million animals are used annually in research in the UK and that most of the animals used in UK are rats.
According to the stated statistics only 84% of the animals are rodents, 12% are fish, amphibians or birds, and the rest are small animals, large mammals and primates (CMF Publications). Moreover, people should become conscious of the fact that conditions in which lab animals are kept can influence and alter experiment and therefore results. Therefore, results obtained by animal tests can’t be assumed to be reliable. Supporters of animal research argue that animal experimentation is cheaper than research on humans. That is because human experimentation would require legal fees, the consent of participants and the government, and would involve additional costs such as human insurance in case an accident occurs.
But how can we allow animal experimentation just to satisfy corporate greed? Many of the alternatives are in the research and development phase, but scientific and biomedical researchers should allocate more time and money to develop and advance those techniques if cost is the factor that involves the decision of using animals over human subjects. According to a report by the European Commission, it was stated that alternatives will provide a faster, more efficient and cheaper method compared to the basic animal testing. (Report From The Commission To The European Parliament And The Council). Besides, the alternatives will avoid the hassle that is required in animal tests where results need to be extrapolated to consider the species disparities.
These alternatives should be adopted because along with saving millions of animal’s lives it’s a more humane method of experimenting and involve less moral and ethical implications Supporters also say that humans are of more value in comparison to animals because of god’s own image on us. They say that since we are more highly developed humans are more important. However, since we are able and well-formed we have the responsibility to take care of other animals. Although humans might have a unique value to god they are answerable to god for the way they treat animals. Peter Singer, in defense of animals said that, “The animal liberation movement, therefore, is not saying that all lives are of equal worth or that all interests of humans and other animals are to be given equal weight, no matter what those interests may be.
It is saying that where animals and humans have similar interests – we might take the interest in avoiding physical pain as an example, for it is an interest that humans clearly share with other animals – those interests are to be counted equally, with no automatic discount just because one of the beings is not human. A simple point, no doubt, but nevertheless part of a far-reaching ethical revolution” (Animal Rights). The misconception should be eliminated that animal liberals consider all lives of equal worth but they share equal interests with equal value. Therefore, although the lives may not be of equal worth but when it comes to interests, the interests should have the same worth and should not be overlooked just because of the difference of the being’s belonging to another species.
Also, assigning different rights and level of respect just based on an organism’s membership in a species is speciesism. Speciesism is a term that is used to refer to racism that is due to differences in the belonging of specious based on physical differences that are given moral worth and it was created by British psychologist Richard D. Ryder. It is unacceptable to discriminate animals just because humans are superior to animals perhaps because humans have self consciousness or perceived higher rationality. It is morally wrong to do such a thing and animals do possess some features that are common to human beings. Also if infants, the elderly, or people in the vegetative state can have rights than it is morally wrong to undermine the rights that animals have.
Humans and animals share similar interests and those interests should be given equal value no matter what specious a being belongs in. Animal researchers argue that advances in medicine can only be achieved by animal testing and toxicity tests have to be carried out on animals before they are tested on humans. This is a misleading assumption because there are various incidents where animal research was unable to avoid serious and detrimental effects. According to the US food and drug administration ninety two percent of the drugs that are passed forward after animal tests fail during the human clinical trials. Also after surpassing the clinical trials and being released into the market at least half the drugs are withdrawn. Such withdrawals have occurred due to the discovery of very harmful and detrimental effects a drug imposes on humans that are not discovered during animal tests (Brewer, Ted)
A case in point is the thalidomide tragedy. Thalidomide is a drug that was given to pregnant women to reduce the morning sickness; however its injurious effects were discovered when it was too late. Thousands of babies were born that didn’t have fully developed limbs. It is said that about ten thousand babies were born with birth defects because of the toxic effect of the drug and thousands of other fetuses died throughout the world. The problem that those children suffered from was referred as phocomelia which is the failure of the limbs to grow. Those babies were also referred to as flipper babies. Thalidomide seemed to effect the limb development in fetuses and this effect was not evident in animal tests.
In an article written by Doris Lin ,an animal rights attorney who holds a BS. in applied biological sciences from MIT, it is said that there are many cures for diseases that were discovered without the use of animal research. Some of these cures were released after studies on humans. One such discovery was the finding of the cause and treatment of scurvy, a condition when a person suffers from a deficiency of vitamin C. Also, the smallpox vaccine was invented without the use of animal testing. She said that studies on human populations have led to many important medical breakthroughs such as the discovery of the correlation between heart disease and cholesterol levels in the blood and the connection between smoking and cancer (Lin, Doris). In an article, it is said that penicillin, which is one of the most extensively used antibiotic proved to be fatal to guinea pigs (Brewer, Ted).
Arguers can name many important discoveries that had been achieved by animal tests. Although such discoveries cannot be denied, animal experiments are still unacceptable. “Let’s say that it’s true, that animals were indispensable to the discovery of insulin,” says Neal Barnard, M.D., of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an animal-protection group. “That was a long time ago. I think to say, ‘It was done this way and there’s no other way it could have been done’ is a bit of a leap of faith, but let’s say that at the time there was no other way. You could also say that you couldn’t have settled the South without slavery.
Would you still do it that way today? Just because something seemed necessary or acceptable at the time is not to say that we should do it in our time.”( Animal Research ) Arguers also say that governments have created laws and acts that prevent animal experimenters behaving cruelly towards the animals. They say that animals are not tortured because of such laws and therefore animal experimentation should continue as it is regulated and that animals are only used when it is really necessary. Although it is true that laws exist, the effectiveness of such laws should be analyzed. Looking at the efficiency, one will see that the laws are not implemented and imposed properly and cases do exist where some corporations have violated such laws. Also having a look at the statistics of the number of animals used in animal tests reveals that the numbers used are rising despite laws and encouragement from the government to reduce the numbers used.
According to the statistics revealed by Home Office for 2010, there was an increase in the number of animal experiments in UK. There was an increase of 3% compared to the figures of 2009 and an immense increase of 37% compared to the figures of 2000. The 37% increase is equivalent to an increase of one million animals and this significant increase is unacceptable. Also, a review by the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate was released in those days that stated that there are many drugs that were during animal trials despite the fact that the drugs were not scientifically required by the international regulations.
An investigation was carried out following the review by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), an animal rights group that campaigns against all animal experiments and it was discovered that those animals in the drug tests were also dreadfully treated (BUAV Shocked at Lack of Progress to Reduce Animal Suffering despite Government Pledge).There is another incident where the animal welfare act was violated. Covance was found to severely mistreat the primates and the dogs in their investigations. The animals were given inadequate housing, painful procedures were carried on them without giving them painkillers and the animals were abusively handled (Covance Fined for Violations of the Animal Welfare Act) .If this can happen in developed countries where law and order is firmly established then it is probable that such acts that violate animal rights are carried out in other parts of the world.
Animal experimentation allows usage of gruesome techniques, while conducting them it may be too easy to forget. Animal experimenters do various cruel things while performing animal tests.” Animals are starved, shocked, burned, and poisoned as scientists look for something that just might yield some human benefit”( Andre, Claire, and Manuel Velasquez ). This lack of sympathy and heartless attitude can later lead to the animal experimenters performing such cruel tests on humans. These researchers would seem to forget the value and worth of living animals and they seem to completely overlook the pain involved for those who are experimented on. This can be explained by a quote by Leo Tolstoy who says, “What I think about vivisection is that if people admit that they have the right to take or endanger the life of living beings for the benefit of many, there will be no limit for their cruelty.”(History of Vegetarianism – Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)).
Therefore, if this ruthless experimentation can be tolerated and be considered acceptable then there is no limit to how cruel man can become. On one side of this heated debate corporations are spending millions of dollars to make medicines and a ban on animal experimentation will cause them to suffer from huge losses. On the other side, NGO’s are also funding millions of dollars to prevent animal experimentation. Government in many parts of the world does try and intervene and mediate this controversy by passing laws that prevent the cruel behavior of animal experimenters towards animals. Despite the benefits of animal experimentation, animal tests must be completely abolished.
This is because animal tests are a very cruel and immoral way of testing the affectivity of a drug. The assumption that what applies to the animals can be applicable to the humans if very misleading and therefore animal testing is an unreliable method. The knowledge and skills that humans have should be used to the benefit of animals by developing alternative techniques to test drugs that do not require animal subjects. There is already much success in the alternative methods. Also, we should realize that animal experimentation is leading the humans to become more and more inhumane.
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Brewer, Ted. “Trials and Errors.” Best Friends. Sept.-Oct. 2007. Web. 3 Jan. 2012. . “BUAV Shocked at Lack of Progress to Reduce Animal Suffering despite Government Pledge.” BUAV. Web. 03 Jan. 2012. . “Cell-based Alternative to Animal Testing? Genomic Biomarker Signature Can Predict Skin Sensitizers, Study Finds.” Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. Web. 03 Jan. 2012. . “CMF Publications.” Christian Medical Fellowship. Web. 03 Jan. 2012. . “Covance Fined for Violations of the Animal Welfare Act.” Covance Cruelty. Web. 03 Jan. 2012. . Ferdowsian, Hope. “Animal Research: Why We Need Alternatives – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.” Home – The Chronicle of Higher Education. Web. 03 Jan. 2012. . “History of Vegetarianism – Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910).” International Vegetarian Union. Web. 04 Jan. 2012. . ” Human and Animal Research Guidelines:Alighning Ethical Constructs With New Scientific Developments – FERDOWSIAN – 2011 – Bioethics.” Wiley Online Library. Web. 03 Jan. 2012. .
“Leo Tolstoy: What I Think about Vivisection Is That If People Admit That They Have the Right to Take or Endanger the Life of Living Beings for the Benefit of Many, There Will Be No Limit to Their Cruelty.” Famous Quotes – Inspiration and Knowledge – CloverQuotes. Web. 03 Jan. 2012. . Lin, Doris. “Why It’s Wrong to Test on Animals.” Web. 3 Jan. 2012. . “Lpag – Biomed for the Layperson.” Lpag Home. Web. 03 Jan. 2012. . “Report From The Commission To The Europian Parliament And The Council.” Web. 03 Jan. 2012. .
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