Animal Testing: Pros and Cons

The application of animals to test a large number of products from household compounds and cosmetics to Pharmaceutical products has been considered to be a normal strategy for many years. Laboratory animals are generally used in three primary fields: biomedical research, product security evaluation and education. (Animal Experiments) It has been estimated that approximately, 20 million animals are being used for testing and are killed annually; about 15 million of them are used to test for medication and five million for other products. Reports have been generated to indicate that about 10 percent of these animals are not being administered with painkillers. The supporters of animal rights are pressurizing government agencies to inflict severe regulations on animal research. However, such emerging criticisms of painful experimentation on animals are coupled with an increasing concern over the cost it would have on the limitation of scientific progress. (Of Cures and Creatures Great and Small)

Around the world, animals are utilized to test products ranging from shampoo to new cancer drugs. Each and every medication used by humans is first tested on the animals. Animals were also applied to develop anesthetics to ease human ailments and suffering during surgery. (Animal Experiments) Currently, questions have been raised about the ethics surround animal testing. As a result several regulations have been put in place to evaluate and control the animals being used for testing purposes. These regulations hope to ensure that such research is carried out in a humanely and ethical manner. (Testing on Animals: A Patient’s Perspective) Acceptance of such experimentations is subject to a lot of argumentation. As the statistics indicate animal testing is dangerous and harmful, but medical research must continue. We need to find other testing techniques that are advanced in order to eliminate this harmful process, till then all we can do is continue with our research.

Arguments for testing

The supporters of animal testing argue that if animal testing is eliminated, that many of the medications and procedures that we currently use today would exist and the development of future treatments would be extremely limited. They argue that humans have been assisted from the healthcare developments that have been based on the benefits of animal research and testing for many years now. Supporters for animal testing argue that research is justified because it assists in discovering ways to help people and other animals for the future. Surgery on animals has assisted in developing organ transplant and open-heart surgery techniques. Animal testing has also assisted in developing vaccines against diseases like rabies, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and TB. Development of antibiotics, HIV drugs, insulin and cancer treatments depend upon animal tests. They argue that other testing techniques are not advanced enough. (Animal Experiments) The most radical progress in reproductive medicine such as oral contraceptives, in vitro fertilization, hormone replacement therapy, etc., have all been made possible by animal research. (Alternatives to Animal testing on the Web: FAQs)

Medical procedures like measuring blood pressure, pacemakers and heart and lung machines were used on animals prior to being tried on humans. Surgery techniques, like those to mend and eliminate bone diseases were devised out of experimentation on the animals. Animal testing not only benefits humans but also helps other animals, for example the heartworm medication that was devised from research on animals has assisted many dogs. The cat nutrition has been better comprehended through animal research and has assisted cats to live longer and healthier lives. (Animal Testing: Why Animals Are Used in Research?) Animal models for AIDS are very important factors that are required to understand the biology of immuno-deficiency viruses in the vivo. This allows us to raise necessary awareness about the processes of pathogenesis and its prevention by vaccination and chemotherapy. (Alternatives to Animal testing on the Web: FAQs) Those who support animal testing argue that the society has an obligation to take actions in ways that will minimize injury and maximize benefits. Banning or restraining the experimentation on animals would not allow society to achieve such results. It is assumed that a scientist’s goal is to devise methods to minimize pain to every extent possible but for now we have to sacrifice on animals to achieve this result. Activists against this practice portray scientists to be a society of crazy, cruel, curiosity seekers. However, when one feeds painkillers to animals, one should ask where they came from and what their purpose is. Is it to improve the quality of human life? (Of Cures and Creatures Great and Small)

Those who support this procedure argue that the advantages that animal testing has brought to humans is considered a lot greater in comparison to the costs in terms of the sufferings inflicted on comparatively less number of animals. They argue that society is required to maximize the opportunities to generate such valuable consequences even at the cost of inflicting pain to some animals. Moreover, many argue that the lives of animals may be worthy of some respect, but the value we give on their lives does not count as much as the value we give to human life. Human beings are considered living beings that have the capability and sensibility that is much higher than animals. For example if we were put in a dilemma of saving a drowning baby and a drowning rat is it almost definite that our instincts will guide us to save the baby first. Is it universally assumed that humans do not treat the animals as our moral equivalents. In theory, any living thing is considered an animal if it is not a plant. (Of Cures and Creatures Great and Small)

As humans it is assumed that we have a moral requirement to prevent any animals of unnecessary suffering. However, as far as animal testing is concerned we are confronted with the moral dilemma of a choice between the welfare of humans or the welfare of animals. Some supporters of animal testing argue that moral rights and principles of justice apply only to human beings. Morality is considered as a social creation out of its eventual process in which we do not associate animals. Moral rights and moral principles are applicable to those who are part of the moral community generated by this social process. As animals are not part of this moral community created by these social processes our moral obligations do not extend to cover them. However, we do have moral obligations to our fellow human being that involve the liability to decline and prevent needless human suffering and untimely deaths that in turn may entail the painful tests on animals. (Of Cures and Creatures Great and Small)

A review by the American Medical Association indicated that about 99 percent of active physicians in the US believed that animal research has given rise to medical advancement, and about 97 percent supported the persistent use of animals for basic and clinical research. (What Scientists Say About Animal Research) Scientists found that there are no such differences in lab animals and humans that cannot be used in tests. The Research Defense Society – RDS, a British organization instituted to defend animal testing, maintain that most of the complaints made against animal testing are not found to be correct and that animal testing generates valuable information about how new drugs react inside a living body. Tests are continued to detect major health problems like liver damage, enhanced blood pressure, nerve damage or damage to the fetus. Research revealed that the drugs can be distorted by digestion, and become less successful or more toxic and that such difficulties cannot be examined by applying cell samples in test tubes. (Vivisection: Fact Sheet) If animal testing were to be outlawed it would be impossible to attain the significant knowledge that is necessary to eliminating much suffering and premature deaths for both humans and animals. (Animal Experiments)

Arguments against testing

The critics of animal testing base their argument on the grounds of morality, the necessity or the validity of this procedure, whether proper authority to perform such tests is granted, whether such tests are actually needed and whether such tests practically provide us with any useful information. The supporters of animal rights say that animals have the right to live their own life peacefully; and we are not allowed to meddle with them just because we can. (Alternatives to Animal testing on the Web: FAQs) Deaths through research are considered unnecessary and are morally not different from murder. Animal dissection is regarded as misleading. (Animal Experiments) Arguments against animal testing may generate at least two different arguments. Some believe that the goals of this type of testing are not significant. The blinding of rabbits to have a new kind of mascara is yet to be justified. (Alternatives to Animal testing on the Web: FAQs) Others argue that the reaction of an animal to a drug is quite different than that of a human being. Animals are involved in testing the products such as cleaning products that assist humans less than medicines or surgery. (Animal Experiments) The major disadvantage of animal testing stated by John Frazier and Alan Goldberg of CAAT are “Animal discomfort and death, species-extrapolation problems and excessive time and expense.” (Animal Testing Alternatives) Supporters refute this statement by emphasizing that the brutal treatment of animals in tests is administered most of the time with anesthesia. (Animal Testing Alternatives)

The fact that the results attained from experiments on animal testing do not accurately portray their influence on humans is considered to be a one of the serious argument against the animal testing. Humans are quite different from other animals, so the consequences of animal testing may not applicable to humans. They argue that they way one species reacts to a given drug or chemical in a particular way does not necessarily entail other species will react in the same way. (Alternatives to Animal testing on the Web: FAQs) An Italian Professor Peitro Croce has been fighting against animal testing for several years. The arguments he puts forth includes misleading results of animal tests while they are applied to humans. Parsley is considered to be a deadly poison for parrots yet we use it to flavor our food; Arsenic, a poison for humans but it is not harmful to sheep. Sheep, goats, horses and mice can also eat hemlock in large numbers while this is toxic to the humans. Lemon juice is toxic to the cats. A hedgehog can take a sufficient amount of opium can be taken by a hedgehog at one sitting but humans can’t without the obvious effect. Morphine is regarded as an anesthetic for humans but if it is administered to cats; it generates a state of frenzied excitement. (Vivisection: Fact Sheet) Vitamin C is not something dogs, rats, hamsters and mice, have to worry about taking, for their bodies generate Vitamin C. If humans inhale a small amount of prussic acid fumes it can kill them. However, toads, sheep and hedgehogs can drink it without any harm; Scopolamine can kill humans with a dose of just 5 milligrams. To dogs and cats about 100 milligrams was considered harmless. Information like this can be misleading when scientists try to determine safe dogages. Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was experimented first on mice. Its application on guinea pigs would have entailed dangerous consequences, because penicillin controls the floral bacteria in the stomachs of guinea pigs and destroys them within a few days. The unpredictability of animal testing was thought to have harmful effect in the case of fialuridine. This drug successfully passed its animal test phase without much difficulty. However, when it is administered on fifteen human volunteers it resulted in severe liver damage, causing death to five of them and compelling two others to have liver transplants.

The Medical Research Modernization Committee – MRMC, an American organization for doctors who are against animal testing, argue that AIDS research in America has been very unproductive. Animals being infected with HIV were not successful in developing symptoms quite similar to those humans develop when they have AIDS. Over a decade more than 100 chimpanzees have been infected with HIV. But only two have become ill. The same description continues to prescribe that AIDS may have been caused by vivisection, with monkey viruses being mutated to form HIV whist generating a polio vaccine from baboon tissue. It is definitely true that 15 laboratory workers in the US have been killed by the Marburg virus and other monkey viruses, and that there have been two outbreaks of ebola in the US “monkey colonies.” (Vivisection: Fact Sheet) Critics continue to argue that animal kept in unnatural conditions, or animals in pain or distress, are not giving rise to accurate or consistent results anyway. Stringent regulations have not eliminated researchers from abusing animals even though such instances are rare. (Alternatives to Animal testing on the Web: FAQs) As a result those against animal testing argue that animal testing should be banned immediately.

My Stance:

The arguments for and against animal experimentation are going to continue for some time, both between the general public and those directly involved. Those who oppose animal testing believe that all testing associated with the use of laboratory animals should be banned immediately. However, one could argue by saying that a total ban on the use of animals will prevent a great deal of basic medical research, and the possible production of certain vaccines. No new medicines would develop and the safety of workers, the general public and patients would be at stake. On the other hand, the supporters of animal testing say that humans have always benefited from the health care developments that depended upon the accomplishments of animal research and would continue to benefits from animal testing. However, some argue that testing for cosmetics and household materials is not adequate enough to gain support for this argument. There is a lot of pain that these animals have to undergo for testing; hence animal testing cannot be supported. But at the same time all animal testing cannot be banned immediately because it is our only successful channel to develop medicines and cures. (Alternatives to Animal testing on the Web: FAQs)

One cannot argue that all animal testing is useful in all cases but at the same time all animal testing cannot be disqualified. Hence, I argue that it is essential to continue testing on animal until a truly effective alternative is developed, but till then we can play our part in trying to cut down on animal testing. ‘Replacement’ is not always an alternative. Some significant type of testing just cannot be done without animals, at least at this moment. (Alternatives to Animal testing on the Web: FAQs) There are still no alleviation for many diseases – contagious diseases like HIV/ AIDS, metabolic diseases like diabetes, and genetic disease like Cystic Fibrosis and haemophilia. The necessity for a vaccine against HIV, Hepatitis C and many other infectious diseases is definitely beyond doubt. (Testing on Animals: A Patient’s Perspective) Animal testing is morally questionable. It is bad and wrong but pharmaceutical companies invest millions of dollars for research and to find cures. It is impossible for all animal testing to be substituted in the immediate future and it will take time to devise other methods.

Studies are under way in trying to develop alternative methods of testing but they are still not developed enough. Most of the scientists hope to lessen the use of laboratory animals being used today and apply a minimum number of animals. Last year it was determined that the toxicity of a new substance was calculated to be ‘LD 50’ – lethal dose 50%. The test used about 200 rats, dogs or other animals to be force-fed different animals. The current variations in protocol have exerted a ban on the LD50 test, except in extraordinary conditions. Additionally, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development entails that when a substance kills the first three animals it is experimented on, further continuation of trials on them is considered irrelevant. In the 1970s, the Netherlands applied 5000 monkeys per annum to form the polio vaccines. Now, the kidney cell cultures from just 10 monkeys entails sufficient information to find a vaccine for everyone in the country. Hormones or vaccines produced in cell cultures are also purer than those formed within the animal themselves. This further decreases the necessity for animal tests to verify the safety of the vaccines. (Animal Experiments)

Presently there are improved methods to form safe products for human consumption. The concept of alternatives has been proposed. In W. M.S. Russell and R. L. Burch’s book ‘The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique’. They mention three R’s as alternatives. It involves ‘Reduction in number of animals applied, Refinement of strategies to minimize pain and distress to the animals, and Replacement of the animal model with a non-animal standard or a species phylo-genetically lower’. (Why Conduct Literature Searches for Alternatives?) Most of the large manufacturers of personal care and household products could implement strategies that are considered cost effective, better predictors of human injury, produce far quicker results, and do not associated with animal cruelty. (Animal Testing Alternatives)

Government and humanitarian agencies have financed researches into the substitutive strategies since the 1960s. (Animal Experiments) Revlon Cosmetics has financed research studies for substitutions to animal testing. They donated $750,000 to the Rockefeller University in 1979. Several agencies like the John Hopkins Center for the Alternatives to Animal testing – CAAT, the International Foundation for Ethical Research, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, and the Soap and Detergent Association followed the trend and initiated their own projects in finding alternative solutions. (Animal Testing Alternatives) During the last 15 years, Germany has granted about $8 million per annum in research grants, while the annual expenditure of Netherlands in these regards is $2.6 million. The UK government has also acknowledged this cause and has spent nearly $4 million. The European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods was instituted in 1992 by the European Commission, and grants about $12.4 million annually. (Animal Experiments) Indicating that progress is underway.

The most normal kinds of substitute strategies for animal testing are: in-vitro tests, computer software, databases of tests already performed and even ‘clinical trial’ experiments on humans. Application of animal cells, organs, or tissue cultures is also believed to be a substitute irrespective of the fact that animals are killed in order to use their body parts. The particular tests are Eytex, Skintex, EpiPack, Neutral Red Bioassay, Testskin, TOPKAT, Ames test and Agarose Diffusion strategy. Presently, in-vitro in contradiction to in-vivo has advanced as a result of progresses in tissue culture methods and other analytical strategies. (Animal Testing Alternatives) The effective substitution involves test tube studies on human tissue cultures, statistics and computer models. People can substitute animals in some kinds of research. Skin sensitivity experimentation of cosmetics for example can draw on human volunteers. Human clinical studies and epidemiological studies can find out a great deal about the strategies of health and disease. The statistical design symbolizes one form of reduction substitute. The cost effective statistical set of programs that exists now a days enables researchers to receive the most out the data formed by each animal they apply and therefore require a fewer animals in aggregate. Researchers can also share animals in order to reduce the number of killings. For example if a scientists needs to study the brain of a rat, he can allow the other scientist to make use of the kidneys, or livers or parts for there concerned studies.

Horst Spielmann of ZEBET of the German center for animal testing substitutes has reviewed decades of industry data on pesticides. He found out while mice and rats are reactionary to a chemical, it does not have to experience further tests on dogs. Spielmann expects that about 70% of tests on dogs can now be successfully avoided. There is a common attempt by researchers to use lab animals that are less prone to undergo the sensations of pain or discomfort. In Canada, many studies have substituted mammals with fish and now researchers are even attempting to apply bacteria in tests rather than the rats. Instead of shaving the back of an anaesthetized rabbit to test a skin product, can we use “Corrositex” a synthetic material for the same purpose. Similar solutions ought to be devised for many other kinds of experiments that presently use the animals.

Conclusion:

While there has been promise to find alternatives to animal testing, the best researchers can do for now is try to reduce the number of animals being used. They can resort to new scanning technologies like magnetic Resonance Imaging, which can assist doctors to learn about disease from human patients without the actual necessity for invasive surgery, or animal experimentation. Computer models can be used to devise the reaction of a drug to the animal, as a result it would eliminate the necessity for live animal experimentations. (Animal Experiments) The development to the extensive application of substitutes to animal experimentation will persistently gain momentum as people become more aware about the problem. Though it is hard to eliminate animal testing completely, consumers can prevent the unnecessary animal testing by boycotting certain products that don’t necessary require animal testing. To conclude, all we has humans can do now is to try to reduce the number of animals being harmed in these experiments aimed at benefiting society.





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