Animal Testing Cruelty Or Necessity

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Is using animals in medical research necessary? Some people would say yes, others would say no… but who’s right? No matter what one thinks or believes this question still remains yet to be answered. At first this question seems like its answer lies within ones opinion and only that, but if you look closer there is a lot more to it than opinion. Feeling sorry for the animals is definitely where it starts for people who don’t agree with animal testing; but that’s not where it ends.
I feel we should test on animals for the purpose of medical research. According to Carl Cohen, there is no other method available now or perhaps in the future that can fully replace the testing of drugs, procedures, or vaccines in living organisms. (Cohen) The anatomy and physiology are basically the same for humans and animals, especially mammals. (OSERA)
In the United States, federal regulations require the testing of all new drugs and other products on animals, for efficacy and safety, before human beings are exposed. (Regulations)
I do feel it is cruel to test on animals for cosmetic and household product purposes though. Sixty percent of a sample of 1,000 Americans opposes the use of animals for cosmetic testing. (Stephens) More and more cosmetic companies see this and now offer “cruelty free” products.
Let us take a brief look at the history of animal testing.
The earliest references to animal testing can be found in the writing of the Greeks in the second and fourth centuries BCE. Among the first to experiment on living animals were Aristotle and Erasistratus. The “father of vivisection” is Galen, who dissected pigs and goats. (Greek CR)
Ivan Pavlov used dogs to describe classical conditioning. Is that considered cruelty? Insulin was first isolated from dogs and has helped with the treatment of diabetes.
Scientists and medical researchers say that animal testing is the future to finding cures for diseases. They do not like testing on animals but what other choice do they have? Using animals helps them find out what will and will not work on humans. Testing on animals can help find cures faster and help prevent more human deaths.
Ray Creek, a board-certified doctor, talked about study of AIDS. “One area where human data has contributed far more than animal studies is in the area of infectious disease research, specifically the study of AIDS. An animal virus can be 99.9% similar to its analog in humans and still be completely different. A virus is a long chain, like a long series of letters, and if you take out one letter you have an entirely different word.” This may be true, but look at what all testing on animals has contributed. Insulin was first isolated from dogs in 1922 and revolutionized the treatment of diabetes.
In many cases the good of the research is overlooked and the bad is used. Even though many people believe that animal research is morally wrong, I feel animal research should continue. It is critical in helping heal human lives. It is a major part of today’s society.
Think of how much progress we have gained in human health with the use of animal experimentation. Vaccines against polio, mumps, measles, rubella, and smallpox would not have been possible without such experiments. Brain surgery, open heart surgery, organ transplants and correction of heart defects would not be as easy as they are now without animal research. The list can go on and on.
If we were to do away with animal research it would slow down our society’s advancement of more medicines for our health. There are no alternatives to the animal experiments. Computers can be used to view the human’s body and internal features, but they can not give you results to vaccines and medicines. Animals need to be tested on to invent a vaccine for diseases such as cancer, aids, stress and many others. The only other alternate to receive a full bodily effect would be to use humans instead of animals. I do not see many people volunteering for this, so animals must be used.
It is true that many of these experiments often leave animals with diseases such as Syphilis, herpes and AIDS. Wouldn’t you rather have an animal with these diseases so you can find a cure than a person? I think so.
I do not agree with every medical test they do though. For example, the Draize Test. It is used on white albino rabbits (Stephens). They use white albino rabbits because of their sensitive eyes and because the formation of their tear ducts stops tears from draining away all of the foreign substance (Stephens) In this process, scientists rub shampoo, soap, toothpaste, oven cleaner, lipstick, even lawn products into their eyes. From this point, scientists record the damage that they observe. This test can last up to eighteen days with the rabbit’s eyelids held open with a clip. Many of the rabbits end up breaking their necks trying to escape from the pain. I do not understand why they keep the product in their eyes for that long of a period. There is no way that even a child would have something like that in his/her eye for that long
There are many reasons why animal testing is meaningless, but, in many ways, it can be good. According to Jack Botting and Adrian Morrison, animal testing is essential because it is the only way that cures can be invented for many diseases. Also, many other medicines have been developed through animal testing. Morrison and Botting feel that there is no difference between humans and animals. Experimenting on animals helps store precise information for humans (Morrison)
If we did not test on animals we would have to test on humans. Do you honestly think any human would sign up to be tested on? True, they agree to some test but not very many.
When you think of animal testing, you primarily think of cats, dogs, rabbits and mice. These are not the only animals tested on though. They also test on fruit flies and nematode worms. (Antoshechking I) Studies of the fruit fly can use an amazing array of genetic tools. (Matthews KA) These animals offer great advantages over vertebrates, including their short life cycle and the ease with which large numbers may be studied, with thousands of flies or nematodes fitting into a single room. However, the lack of an adaptive immune system and their simple organs prevent worms from being used in medical research such as vaccine development. (Schulenburg) Similarly, flies are not widely used in applied medical research, as their immune system differs greatly from that of humans, (Leclerc V) and diseases in insects can be very different from diseases in more complex animals. (Mylonakis E)
The number of rats and mice used in the United States is estimated at 20 million a year. (Rich) Other rodents commonly used are hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs. Mice are the most commonly used because of their size, low cost, ease of handling and fast reproduction rate. The best model of inherited human disease is the mouse. They also share 99% of their genes with humans.
Neurological research is most commonly done on cats, while dogs are widely used in biomedical research, testing, and education. They are also commonly used as models for human diseases in cardiology, endocrinology, and bone and joint studies.
Non-human primates are also used. They are used in toxicology test, studies of AIDS and hepatitis, studies of neurology, behavior and cognition, reproduction, and genetics. They are either caught in the wild or are purpose-bred. The United States primarily uses purpose-bred primates. The polio vaccine and the development of Deep Brain Stimulation are some of the most notable studies performed on non-human primates.
The extent to which animal testing causes pain and suffering, and the capacity of animals to experience and comprehend them, is the subject of much debate. (Duncan IJ) (Curtis SE) According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2006 about 577,885 animals (not including rats, mice, or birds) were used in procedures that did not include more than momentary pain or distress. About 382,298 were used in procedures in which pain or distress was relieved by anesthesia, while 73,640 were used in studies that would cause pain or distress that would not be relieved. (US Department of Agriculture)
The idea that animals might not feel pain as human beings feel it traces back to the 17th-century French philosopher, René Descartes, who argued that animals do not experience pain and suffering because they lack consciousness. (Bioethics) (Carbone)
Bernard Rollin of Colorado State University, the principal author of two U.S. federal laws regulating pain relief for animals, writes that researchers continued remained unsure into the 1980s as to whether animals experience pain, and that veterinarians trained in the U.S. before 1989 were simply taught to ignore animal pain. (Rollin) Mr. Rollin argues that any benefit to human beings cannot outweigh animal suffering, and that human beings have no moral right to use an individual animal in ways that do not benefit that individual. In his interactions with scientists and other veterinarians, he was regularly asked to “prove” that animals are conscious, and to provide “scientifically acceptable” grounds for claiming that they feel pain. (Rollin) Carbone writes that the view that animals feel pain differently is now a minority view. Academic reviews of the topic are more equivocal, noting that although the argument that animals have at least simple conscious thoughts and feelings has strong support, some critics continue to question how reliably animal mental states can be determined. The ability of invertebrate species of animals, such as insects, to feel pain and suffering is also unclear.
There is general agreement that animal life should not be taken, and regulations require that scientists use as few animals as possible. However, policy makers consider suffering to be the central issue, and see animal euthanasia as a way to reduce suffering, while others, such as the RSPCA, argue that the lives of laboratory animals have intrinsic value. Regulations focus on whether particular methods cause pain and suffering, not whether their death is undesirable in itself. Researchers call the killing of laboratory animals after an experiment “euthanasia” — literally “good death” — a term applied to all animals, including the young and healthy, although the same term is used of human beings only when the death will end severe suffering that cannot otherwise be relieved. The animals are euthanized at the end of studies for sample collection or post-mortem examination; during studies if their pain or suffering falls into certain categories regarded as unacceptable, such as depression, infection that is unresponsive to treatment, or the failure of large animals to eat for five days; or when they are unsuitable for breeding or unwanted for some other reason. I feel that if the animal is suffering then yes, euthanasia should be used. However, if the animal is not in any pain, then let it live.
The ethical questions raised by performing experiments on animals are subject to much debate, and viewpoints have shifted significantly over the years. There remain strong disagreements about which animal testing procedures are useful for which purposes, as well as disagreements over which ethical principles apply, and to which species of animals. The dominant ethical position, world-wide, is that achievement of scientific and medical goals using animal testing is desirable, provided that animal suffering and use is minimized.
A wide range of minority viewpoints exist as well. The view that animals have moral rights is a philosophical position proposed by Tom Regan, who argues that animals are beings with beliefs, desires and self-consciousness. Such beings are seen as having inherent value and thus possessing rights. Regan still sees clear ethical differences between killing animals and killing humans, and argues that to save human lives it is permissible to kill animals.
To be able to find cures and to keep humans from getting injured by products, we must test on animals. There is no other way at this point in humanity. The question still remains, should we or shouldn’t we test on animals. Until there is an alternate way of finding cures for diseases, we will have to continue to test on animals. There may never be an alternate way though. We still have so much to learn and to learn we must experiment.

Works Cited
Antoshechking I, Stemberg. “The versatile worm: genetic and genomic resources for Caenorhabditis elegans research.” Nature Reviews Genetics 8.7 (2007): 518-532.

Bioethics, Nuffield Council on. May 2005. Nuffield Bioethics. 27 February 2008 .
Carbone, Larry. What Animal Want: Expertise and Advocacy in Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy. Oxford University Press, 2004.
Cohen, Carl. “The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research.” Brereton, Linda H. Peterson and John C. The Norton Reader. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004. 693.
Curtis SE, Stricklin WR. “The importance of animal cognition in agricultural animal production systems: an overview.” Journal of Animal Science 69.12 (1991): 5001-5007.
Duncan IJ, Petherick JC. “The implications of cognitive processes for animal welfare.” Journal of Animal Science 69.12 (1991): 5017-5022.
Greek CR, Greek JS. Sacred Cows and Golden Geese. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2000.
Leclerc V, Reichhart JM. “The immune response of Drosophila melanogaster.” Immunological Reviews 198.1 (2004): 59-71.
Matthews KA, Kaufman TC, Gelbard WM. “Research resources for Drosophila: the expanding universe.” Nature Reviews Genetics 6.3 (2005): 179-193.
Morrison, Jack Botting and Adrian. Scientific American: Animal Research Is Vital to Medicine. 1 May 2002.
Mylonakis E, Aballay A. “Wormns and flies as genetically tractable animal models to study host-pathogen interactions.” Infection and Immunity 73.7 (2005): 3833-3841.
OSERA. 2008. 25 February 2008 .
Regulations, United Stated Code of Federal. “Food, drug, and cosmetic regulations.” Title 21. Section 505 (i).
Rich, Frankie L. Trull and Barbara A. “More Regulation of Rodents.” Science 284.5419 (1999): 1463.
Rollin, Bernard. The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain and Science. Blackwell Publishing Professional, 1999.
Schulenburg, H., Kurz, CL, Ewbank, JJ. “Evolution of the innate immune system: thw worm perspective.” Immunological Reviews 198.1 (2004): 36-58.
Stephens, Dr. Martin. The Humane Society of the United States. 2008. 25 February 2008 .
US Department of Agriculture. 17 August 2007. 20 February 2008 .

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