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Animal experimentation is the use of live animals in a laboratory for scientific reasons or medical purposes. It has been used for centuries to discover and determine medicines to treat illnesses and diseases; however, it has been termed as morally in-defensive. These experiments have helped in the development of modern and better medicine. This animal research is cruel to animals since they don’t have an idea on what is done to them and that they have no say in that they don’t give any consent like humans do.
Vivisection is the cutting up of a life animal and it is referred to as the dissection of living or live animals. This surgery is purposely meant for scientific research purposes however, it has a connotation that is negative which implies suffering, torture and even death. These scientists are very cruel since during the dissection of the animal, there is no anesthesia used to ease pain on the animals and after the researcher is through with the vivisection, he then kills the animal when it pleases him.
Animals play a very important role in scientific and medical research. Some of the most commonly used animals are mice, rabbits, pigs, cats, guinea pigs, primates, rats and dogs. The overall number of animals that are currently being used in the United States is drastically falling. 90% of the animals that are used are mainly mice, rats and birds (Guerrini, 2003). Surgery on animals which is also called vivisection is done on these animals which causes pain to the animals since no anesthesia is used unlike it is with humans which makes this experimenting on animals unethical in nature.
Animal testing has been debated widely on whether it is ethical or unethical and whether it is that necessary for the health of human beings and also if it really is so necessary to carry out. There are three different types of animal testing which include product testing, research purposes and educational purposes. In the figure shown below, it shows the composition of the vertebrates that are commonly used in animal testing in Europe.
As seen in the diagram above, the percentage of mice is very high symbolizing that mice are the most commonly used then followed by the rats. In many laboratories, the scientists prefer to use rats and mice other than other mammals, carnivores and non-human primates.
Is it unethical to test on animals, even if the testing helps save human lives?
Animal rights activists are against the use of animals to run tests and experiments for medical research purposes. According to a random sample survey carried out in Europe on 1000 individuals on whether it is ethical to carry out experiments on animals in order to save human life, the following were the results
According to the table above, out of 1000 people interviewed, 48% of the population were for the idea that running tests on animals was ethical to run tests on animals in order to help save human life while the rest of the population, 52%, were against the idea of running tests on animals in that they argued that animals were too innocent for such a brutal treatment. From the table, we can conclude that it is unethical for running animal tests when we look at the majority versus the minority where the people who were against the animal experimenting were more than the people who were for the idea of supporting animal testing. There are several arguments that support and are against animal testing.
Arguments for animal testing
Scientists claim that animals are not and cannot be termed as humans therefore; we cannot use humans to experiment when animals like rats, guinea pigs are available. They claim that animal testing as compared to human testing is less or not immoral than consuming beef. Scientists have cured many diseases like polio, hemophilia, typhoid, Prussia, measles, German measles, tuberculosis and yellow fever. Many diseases can be cured through first having to test them on animals the treating the diseases in humans.
Doctors used the animal or child example to explain why it was deemed necessary or ethical to do animal testing. If you had a pet and a very sick child who is dying if he does not get medicine and the doctors themselves don’t know or are not sure of the safety of the medicine on the child, they have to conduct a series of tests, so they can’t test the medicine on the child which could cost the life of the child, so in this case, the doctors other alternative is to sacrifice the life of the animal for the life of the child. No one would like to lose their loved ones (Carbone, 2004)
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Animal testing in a majority of medical instances has been proven beneficial in that the experiment done on animals help to save human lives. Human life is of a higher form as compared to that of animals. When medicines are produced or made, they need to be tested before they are brought out for human consumption and that they are properly tested to be less toxic and not dangerous to the human life (Guerrini, 2003). This testing should be done on animals first before they are proven free to be used by humans. Animal experimenting can be helpful in understanding humans that is to be able to understand the effects drug use and drug addiction.
The biology and metabolism of animals is enough to detect toxicity in many drugs. It is therefore ethical and moral to run animal tests for the sake of human life. We use animals for the betterment of human life on daily basis like for instance; we use animals for food, or even for labor like pulling of ploughs so there is nothing wrong in using the same animals for running tests and experiments (Carbone, 2004).
Vaccines for diphtheria, smallpox and measles were first tested on mice and rats. Organ transplants of vital organs, blood transfusions, were also first done to animals. In this animal testing, not only humans benefit but the animals themselves also benefit with the new development of treatments for rabies, distemper, anthrax, and many other types of diseases of animals.
Neurobiologists are also experimenting on mice and rats to find ways of trying to repair the nerve tissues and also restore movement due to injuries to the spinal cord. Alzheimer’s disease and AIDS (Acquired Immuno deficiency Syndrome) which are diseases that are causing threat to the human population scientists are using animals to try and find cures to these diseases.
Arguments against animal testing
Animals like any human feel emotions and also they feel pain therefore running tests and experiments on animals is more of torture and it should not be encouraged or allowed at all. If the scientists and doctors tried to fit into the shoes of the animals, then they would not even think of doing it. There is no human who would wish to have experiments done on him. These animals that have to be experimented are locked up in cages, their freedom is minimized and the only time that they are let out is when the tests are done to them. These animals undergo a lot of pain and some even die in the process. Once the scientists are done with the animals, they then kill the animals which become very unfair to the animal life.
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Small animals like rats and guinea pigs are tortured to justify helping human life which is very unethical. There are so many ways of running tests and experiment in the laboratories which would avoid these mistreatments these innocent animals have to undergo. Animals in this case have no choice since they cannot talk or express their feelings so humans are so selfish into not letting these animals live their own lives in their own natural environments other than living in locked cages.
Animal research failed to show bacteria as the root cause of ulcers therefore, there was a delay in the treating of ulcers using antibiotics. An arthritis medication, flosint, was tested on dogs, monkeys and rats and it worked well however, in humans, it caused deaths. This shows that how medication reacts in animals may be very different in humans since it can have a positive reaction in animals but trigger a negative reaction life leading to death and other complications like kidney or heart failures (Bowlby, 1991). Many observers of today are doubtful on whether the results that are got by the scientists in the laboratories out of testing animals on whether they are valid and true since in most cases they act in the reverse. This is where the drug the scientists come up with may respond well to the animals but may be toxic when it comes to humans. Human life in this case is considered not to be equal to that of the animals.
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Animal rights activists completely support the ban on these animal experiments and support the modern and alternatives. Animals are helpless and defenseless and they need to be protected. They cannot give consent to have their bodies used for scientific research as humans do give a consent. A scientist cannot just decide to use a person’s body for scientific purposes without the will of the individual, so animals also have a right to live not to be used as tools when one is through with, damps or kills them at will (Rudacille, 2000).
Opponents and observers argue that these research animals due to captivity experience pain and may be injured or may even become distressed. They term this testing and experimenting as being ineffective. The stress that these animals may suffer from may hinder the biological process. The humane society of the United States carried out a study which showed that 92% of the many drugs that were tested through the laboratories and pass the tests often fail in the trials on the humans it was intended for.
Injecting a virus like the virus for HIV forcefully in animals to understand the effects it will have to humans is actually unethical. An animal cannot be able to express suffering and pain and in this case, the humans take advantage of the animal by performing these dangerous tests on the innocent animals. It is not easy to make a comparison on the importance of the life of a human over the life of an animal. Scientists tend to think and believe that animals don’t really possess significant relationships so they get them for running these cruel tests on them.
Animal testing in most cases is always unsafe and misleading and fallacious. There is believed to be other alternatives like computer models, working on isolated cell cultures and tissues which can still produce good results as the law demands. Running tests on animals in most cases is rather expensive and time consuming and yet on the other hand, it is still termed as one of the best ways into discovering safe and effective new treatments and the causes of some diseases.
The Animal Welfare Act of the United States sets minimum requirements for the treatment of animals in the laboratories. It protects rats and mice which make up about 95% of the animals that are used to run tests. Some diseases like smoking related cancer and other types of cancers are very difficult to be reproduced in these lab animals which make it very difficult to control and treat thus making many people to die out of the continued smoking. Animal experimenting and research is brutal, cruel and unnecessary. In conclusion, it is unethical to test on animals, even if the testing helps save human lives.