Animal research is an experiment performed on a living animal to determine the efficacy and effectiveness of a variety of items such as medications, cosmetics, and the production of military weapons, among others. All human beings now use has been checked on animals at some point in the past to determine its efficacy for human use. The tradition of animal research began with the Greek scientist Aristotle in 384-322 BC, who conducted tests on living animals. The practice was later advanced by other scientists like Galen (129-199 AD) who developed an understanding of physiology, pharmacology, anatomy, and pathology by conducting experiments on animals. Later an Arab physician by the name Ibn Zuhr introduced methods for surgical procedures as a test on animals before introducing them to human patients (Hajar). According to Hajar, it became important to carry out animal testing in the twentieth century after a pharmaceutical company in America, in 1937, prepared a drug that was poisonous to people without their knowledge. Sulfanilamide solution, as it was known, was prepared by adding raspberry into diethylene glycol (DEG) resulting in a poison that killed more than hundred people. The drug was initially a tablet for throat infections, but many people didn’t prefer tablets, and thus it was changed to solution by adding DEG which is poisonous. This and other similar calamities led to the establishment of safety standards which recommended that drugs that were to be used on humans had first to be tested for their safety and workability on animals before being experimented on humans. The basic questions the researchers seek to answer in doing these experiments are: How do the chemicals affect the skin? How does it affect the body organs like the liver and stomach? What dosage is required to treat the condition? What are the side effects of the drugs and what are the behavioral changes that the chemicals can be brought about by the usage of the chemical (Sepahban)? This testing has received criticisms from various groups, but this essay explains and supports that it is important to do animal tests first before doing it on humans.
One of the key reasons as to why animal testing should be done is because it can save human lives. Most of the tests have bee conducted on mice and rats and chimpanzees because they have similarity in several organ functions with more than 95% of their DNA being similar (Watson). Just like humans, the animals can also contract diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. If they suffer from any of these diseases, the scientists will study the symptoms they exhibit and then put them on testing medications. The scientists will then know when humans start to exhibit some characteristics and relate them to the tests they have already done on the animals. Scientists also found out a way of producing insulin for diabetic people. Since pancreatic hormones from cows and pigs are similar to that of humans, the scientists discovered that these animals could be helpful in creating sources of insulin to cure people with diabetes. Other procedures like organ transplants have first been carried out on animals before humans, through the tests on animals, doctors have known how to do the procedures with otherwise could have led to many people dying due to ignorance on how to do them. All these processes are ways for scientists and researchers to find drugs and treatments so as to improve medicine and human health. They also help in determining the dosage of drugs that patients need to be given for every stage of the diseases in the first human trials (Murnaghan). This helps in avoiding underdose or overdose which eventually can save lives of people who could have been affected by an overdose of the drugs. In another way, the tests help in protecting consumers and the environment from the harmful effects of the chemicals used in the drugs. If they are left unmanaged, the chemicals can accumulate in air, soil or water and eventually be a danger to human life, environment and other animals. To prevent this, few animals need to be sacrificed for the good of the many. In the military, animal testing has been used in the development of weapons – in testing the weapons as well as the effects of the weapons should they be used against an army, as well as vaccines where the military forces uses animal tests to examine how to treat diseases should there be an outbreak while in the battlefield. Even though the process is considered a needless waste of animal life, yet it is a better option than using humans to make the tests.
Animal testing also helps to improve scientific research. It could not be possible for scientists to know the effect of some chemicals on human bodies had the tests not been done. The safety in the usage of some cosmetics could only be assessed by first carrying out trials. Despite this process taking long and being an expensive one regarding costs incurred in breeding or purchasing the animals to be used for research, yet at the end of it all its more beneficial and the contribution it makes to research progress is magnificent compared to the expense. The advances that the research on the treatments for pandemic diseases like Cancer and HIV have only been made because of trials like these. Studying the trends in animals and having trials on researched drugs helps to make informed projections on the suitable medicines to help out in curing the diseases. The tests also do ct as study models for diseases.There are hundreds of diseases that humans and animals share, and studying those illnesses in humans can give a picture of how they affect people. The researchers can introduce bacteria, viruses and other substances that can cause disease in the animals, observe what happens and then introduce different medicines to the animals before taking them to humans (Watson).
From the animals’ rights activists, they feel that the animal testing inflicts pain and discomfort on the animals that are being used in the experiments. For example, in the Draze Test-a test of cosmetic products, the eyes of the rabbit in test are held back for three days or more which cause pain to the rabbit. The activists argue that the animals that undergo the suffering do not consent before they are being used but rather they are being forced to (Woods). After the experiments, some of those animals are killed while some are left injured and put in captivity for the remainder of their lives. These activists also argue that the animals have feelings like humans and whenever they are subjected to the torture, they too feel the pain like any other person. From another point, some of those products that are being tested may never be approved or may not be used for public consumption (Murnaghan). At the end of it, the products will have no benefit to humans, and the animal might have died in vain. Some of the people who are against animal testing also argue that the pain that the animals undergo during the tests and the stress they are exposed to when they are in custody may affect the accuracy of the finals results and therefore the researchers may not arrive at the true intended results thus rendering them useless. At the same time, not all tests done on animals can accurately account for the diseases in humans.
In the process of carrying out the experiments, some of the animals may get treatments for their diseases and thus restoring their health, and not only themselves but also others which may be affected by illnesses like those. Despite the opposition to animal testing as well as the pain inflicted on the animals during the testing, there are no better alternatives that can substitute the experimentations. It is both a reasonably accurate and practical which then highlights between the ethics and the needs of people in making decisions to continue with the tests. The pain the animals suffer is a small price compared to the advances it makes to science and providing new ways for curing various diseases. It is the only practical way to guarantee the safety and the effectiveness of drugs and other chemical products like house cleaners, insecticides and pesticides among others. However, care must be taken to ensure that the suffering inflicted on the animals is minimized to avoid them being abused.
Hajar, Rachel. “Animal Testing and Medicine.” Heart Views: The official Journal of the Gulf Heart Association 12.1 (2011): 42. 11 December 2017.
Murnaghan, Ian. Using Animals for Testing: Pros Versus Cons. 8 Dec. 2017. 11 Dec. 2017.
Sepahban, Lois. Animal Testing: Life-Saving Research Vs. Animal Welfare. Minnesota: Capstone Imprint., 2015.
Watson, Stephanie. Animal Testing: Issues and Ethics. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group Inc., 2009.
Woods, Geraldine. Animal Experimentation and Testing: A Pro/Con Issue. Enslow Publishers, 1999.