Because of the ever-increasing demand for medicine and veterinary health, biomedical research is more critical than ever. Animals are widely acknowledged to play an important part in scientific science around the world. According to the British Royal Society (1), “virtually any medical success of the last century has relied in every way on the use of animals.” Animal testing has aided in the identification of potentially life-saving drugs for diseases such as diabetes, as well as in research that has expanded scientific understanding about the growth, behavior, and biological functioning of animals. However, the use of animals in testing has become a much-debated issue. There are those who believe that animals have equal rights as humans and should not be subjected to such suffering. This author argues that use of animals in scientific research is inevitable if humans are to survive the numerous diseases that emerge on a daily basis.
While some people might argue that all creatures were created equal and humans have no right to deprive animals of their life, it should be noted that rights apply to humans differently as they apply to animals. Animals and humans could never have same rights because “there is no morality for them; animals do no moral wrong,” hence, the “concepts of wrong, and of right, are totally foreign.” (Cohen and Regan 31). Owing to this reason, it is impractical to accord equal rights to both animals and humans, and the two groups should never be placed in the same position. As an example, human rights demand that human life is respected and no one should be subjected to torture or any treatment that would hurt them. If the same rights are extended to animals, of course, scientists should be barred from experimenting with animals. On the other hand, however, the laws of the animal world do not offer such as wild animals have to prey on weaker ones in order to survive. It is obvious that animals lack the same sense of duty as humans and so should be treated the same as humans. The use of animals in scientific experiments should not be opposed. According to Cohen and Regan (30), “to say of a pig or a rabbit that it has rights is to confuse categories, to apply to its world a moral category that can have content only in the human moral world.” therefore using animals in research should be seen as mistreating them as it has a more essential and meaningful purpose.
It is also important to note that there are acceptable animal testing standards that are controlled by a wide range of laws and regulations. In the United States, the Animal Care Division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) makes sure that animal welfare regulations are observed. The first federal law passed to offer oversight on animal research was the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act that came into effect in 1996. Also, each institution that conducts animal testing must put in place Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) that assess all experimentation protocol. The composition of an IACUC includes at least three members, and the chairman can be appointed by the institution (Klemfuss 1831b). Another member must be a veterinary who is trained in experimental training and has no relation to the institution apart from serving on the committee. Other members include a scientist who has experience in animal testing and a non-scientist (Klemfuss 1831b). Through these laws and oversight authorities, animals used in laboratory tests are guaranteed certain standards of care and treatment. For instance, there a limit to the number of times an animal can be used, as well as an acceptable degree of pain that is allowed without the use of anesthetic.
Thirdly, without animal testing, it would have been impossible to reach the current achievements in product development. From these experiments, humans have been able to develop good medicine and also develop technology. The Foundation fot Biomedical Research (1) acknowledges that “animal research has been responsible for every medical breakthrough over the past century, although this position has been disputed by some animal rights activities and organizations.” Lab tests on animals can be credited for the discovery of penicillin, organ transplants as well as the invention of a polio vaccine. In order to demonstrate and convince other scientists about the germ theory of medicine, Louis Pasteur had to induce anthrax in sheep. In another example, the development of treatments and vaccines for leprosy in the 70s was first done using armadillos and then administered to humans (Walgate 527). Cohen and Regan (78) also reveal that “Influenza caused an estimated twenty million deaths during the international pandemic of 1918; it was finally brought under control during World War II by vaccines developed using laboratory animals…that victory would have been impossible without using animals.” Moreover, much of the current knowledge about how nutrition works and how humans reproduce comes from experiments on animals. From the above evidence, it would be no exaggeration to say that such progress in medicine would not have been achieved if animal subjects were not used in research.
It is also worth mentioning that no substitute could offer as satisfying findings as experiments done on animals do. According to the National Research Council of the National Academies (2), “even sophisticated computers are unable to model interactions between molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, and the environment, making animal research necessary in many areas.” Animals offer the best results because they show similarities to humans in both behavior and the structure of their body cells. They provide better evidence regarding feelings and behaviors, which human beings experience such as pain and stress.
Finally, it required by law that pharmaceutical drugs should first be tested on animals before they are distributed for human use. That testing is meant to identify the potential risks when the drug or any other medical product is used on humans. Any new medical product is tested on animals to make sure it would not have harmful effects on consumption. For example, a vaccine for a particular illness is usually developed by testing medication on animal subjects to see who are then observed for signs of improved health. Experiments with animals aid in the training of doctors and veterinarians so they can practice on how to perform operations on their patients. According to BBC.com (3) there are “No differences between lab animals and humans that can’t be factored into tests.” The use of animals, therefore, is an efficient technique that is meant to make pharmaceutical products safer and also help in the development of life-saving medication. Presently, this is the safest testing method for pharmaceutical products, and it should continue being used to ensure the safety of humans.
At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that indeed there are some product testing practices that are outright cruel and barbaric. Some tests are noxious and subject animals to pain and torture. An example is skin irritancy and eye irritancy tests whereby a test product may be put inside an animal’s, such as a rabbit, eye to observe if it causes irritation, eye damage, or any other negative effect. Higher level animals have feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that are very similar to humans and it is thus important they are cared for and respected. It is in recognition of this fact that scientists have been actively searching for more and better ways of conducting these tests. For example, there has been extensive use of tissue culture, which are cells that have been kept alive in test tubes, as a replacement for animals in medical experiments in modern laboratories. In addition to the substitutes for animals, scientists have also employed cautious statistical analyses to reduce the number of animals required for testing procedures and bring to an and noxious testing on animals. Other strategies that have been used as alternative techniques to animal testing include “experimenting on cell cultures instead of whole animals, using computer models, Studying human volunteers and using epidemiological studies.” These techniques help protect lab animals and reduce pain experienced by the animals to those levels that are acceptable.
A ban on animal experiments would have far-reaching consequences on the quality of human health. Firstly, many new deadly infections emerge every year, and it is a must new drugs and methods of treatment are developed for the survival of the human race. Secondly, it would be crueler to use human subjects for these tests or allow people to die because studies were not conducted on a certain infection. The argument that information gained from animal testing is not helpful is not sustainable because it has been proven that drugs that work on animals also work on humans. Take the example of a scientist testing drugs A, B, C, and D using a rat, a dog, and a mouse. Drug A caused death to all test animals while drugs B and C caused death to two of the three animals. Drug D did not kill any of the animals. Out of all these drugs, a scientist would only recommend drug D to be used on humans (Greek 236a). Moreover, if scientists successfully create remedies with the experiments, they could help animals, as well as humans, survive by providing the right medication.
In conclusion, it is clear from the discussion that animal testing has numerous benefits and is irreplaceable when it comes to biomedical research. Although there are serious concerns about hurting animals, the benefits by far outweigh the negative effects. Animal testing is useful in developing medicines and testing the safety of new products before they are approved for use by humans. Governments around the world have established laws and regulations that have to be observed for the protection of test animals. Scientists have also sought alternatives to animal testing in a bid to reduce the negative effects. Ultimately though, animals are irreplaceable in the field of biomedicine, and any meaningful progress in the field can only be made when they are used as test subjects.
BBC.com. “Ethics Guide: Animal Experimentation.” BBC 2014. Web. 9 Nov. 2017.
Cohen, Carl, and Tom Regan. The Animal Rights Debate. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001. Print.
Foundation for Biomedical Research. Animal Testing And Research Has Led To Countless Medical And Scientific Advancements.. 2017. Web. 9 Nov. 2017.
Greek, R. “Animal Studies And HIV Research.” BMJ 324.7331 (2002): 236a-236. Web. 9 Nov. 2017.
Klemfuss, H. “Assessing The Reviewers Of Animal Research.” Science 294.5548 (2001): 1831b-1832. Web. 8 Nov. 2017.
National Research Council of the National Academies. Science, Medicine & Animals. 2004. Web. 9 Nov. 2017.
The Royal Society. The Use Of Non-Human Animals In Research. 2004. Print.
Walgate, Robert. “Armadillos Fight Leprosy.” Nature 291.5816 (1981): 527-527. Web.