The use of animals for experimentation has been employed by scientists for many centuries in testing particular findings related to medical procedures before they are administered on human beings. This is, however, a very controversial issue, with many supporters viewing it as a major tool for discovery of new drugs, procedures, or cosmetics. Those disputing the idea view it as a practice, which goes against the rights of animals that also have feelings of pain. Animal experimentation is performed for two major reasons. The first one is to research more about the animals themselves, and the second is to test viability of substances, drugs, and procedures with an intention to determine whether they are applicable on human beings or not (Haugen, 2007). This second category is usually performed to try cosmetic products and medicines in order to check the response and side effects before they are administered on human beings and to test the safety and success of medical procedures. This debate is about whether people should be allowed to experiment on animals for scientific and medical reasons; it is based on the discussion of the pros and cons of animal testing.
Presently, there is consensus among the majority that cosmetic products should not be tested on animals. This has been come to after determination that many animals are killed in the process. It is estimated that approximately 100 million animals die or are injured by man annually during research (Buzzle.com). Animal testing statistics also discloses that about 95 percent of the animals preferred for experimentation are species like mice, birds, guinea pigs, and other cold blooded animals that are purposefully bred for testing. Although animal rights activists criticize such practices, the direct proponents of the idea hold the opinion that testing animals is better than causing harm to humans during research (Monamy, 2009). This paper seeks to look at the animal experimentation topic from the perspective of both, scholarly and popular press sources. Some of the press releases discussed in this paper include articles from Chicago Tribune, Mail Online news, BBC News reports, Buzzle.com news and articles from Premium Beauty News release. These will be analyzed against scholarly articles, such as “Animal Experimentation: Cruelty or Science” by Nancy Day, EMBO reports, GEARI, and JAMA, among others. The paper also outlines the similarity between animal experimentation and Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Animal Testing Should Be Permitted
Animal Testing Requires Tighter Regulation
According to the article concerning animal experimentation, that was reported by James Gallagher of the BBC News on July 21, 2011, tighter regulations are needed to guide the rapidly growing research on animals that have human tissue or genes. The press release admits that the research is necessary for medical research. However, new ethical concerns are likely to emerge, thus, called for a national body of experts to regulate it. The press release says that “category three” experiments that involve monkey brains to generate human-like behavior, permitting any mixed embryo to develop beyond 14 days, and breeding animals through the use of human influenced sperms or egg cells that adjust non-human primates’ cells to generate human-like behavior should be banned (Gallagher, 2011). Category two experiments that involve fixing human genes to non-human primates and substantially changing its formation to be more human-like may be permitted, but after strong scientific justification on its necessity.
“The ethics of animal research. Talking Point on the use of animals in scientific research” from EMBO Reports by Simon Festing and Robin Wilkinson, which is a scholarly research paper, also agrees with this issue and states that there should be control on the use of animals for experiments. The article reads that there is no responsible scientist, who would intend to use animals and instill unwarranted pain and suffering if it can be avoided in any research process. Equally, the bioscience community consents that animals should be used for research but only within an ethical framework that needs to be set.
Animal research has played an imperative role in many scientific and medical developments in the past, and continues to build people’s understanding of various diseases. Humans enjoy better quality of life all over the world because of these developments, and the successive improvement of new medicines and treatments techniques have arrived at through animal research. However, if both, animal rights activists and groups, who are of the opinion that animal testing is cruel and unwarranted, irrespective of its purpose or benefit, win the controversy and gain total abolition of the practice, then scientists assert that it will bring devastating consequences on scientific research and to future human generations (Festing, 2007).
In the United Kingdom, an ethical framework stipulated by Animal Act 1986 is being implemented. The Act demands that suggestions for research that include the use of animals must be fully evaluated in relation to the possible harm the animals may be exposed to in the process. This involves exhaustive analysis of the procedures and experiments, and the species as well as the numbers of animal to be used, which are considered against the prospective benefits of the project (Festing, 2007).
According to the article titled “Animal Experimentation”, which was published by Paula Goldman and Joy Soderman in the Chicago Tribune on March 11, 1997, the duo wrote that those carrying out experiment on animals were engaging in bad science. This was in response to Susan Paris’s position of support for cloning in Voice, Feb. 27. The article states that it has been repeatedly proved that scientists cannot dependably and safely transfer research results from animal testing to human beings. For example, there are drug therapies that have failed animal tests but became effective on humans and drugs that have been approved in animal testing but are harm to humans.
Comparatively, a scholarly Journal of the American Medical Association, published in 2010, disagreed with the position but stated that in as much as the animal activists condemn the practice, the scientists are of view that testing done on animals is better than causing harm to human beings. The article states that those in support of the experiment argue that the process is to the benefit of humans, especially in relation to the discovery of medicine, which is impossible to ban. It notes that in case the testing is discontinued, the medicines currently being tested on animals will have to be tested on humans, something that can ultimately turn out to be fatal. It is important to note that medical investigation begins from cells, before progressing to small animals, such as rodents, then ultimately to larger mammals with systems resembling that of human beings. In case the product or procedure is discovered to be unsafe at any stage, the search stops immediately. For example, dog’s cardiovascular system to some degree resembles that of a man, making it the best animal to test medicines intended for cardiovascular diseases before they are used on humans.
Animal Testing Should Not Be Permitted
Alternatives to Animal Testing
GEARI confirms the assumption that there are many alternatives that can be used instead of live animals in experimentation. Some of the alternatives include use of synthetic skin known as Corrositex, improved statistical design, computer modeling, and the use of the murine local lymph node assay (LLNA). This is confirmed by Johns Hopkins, a top educational institution that has a center exclusively dedicated to developing and encouraging alternatives to animal experimentation. They also manage an online resource known as Altweb, which is used to receive information, news, and resources through the internet concerning possible alternatives to animal testing. According to GEARI (2012), there is another resource set up in England known as Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) that encourages a moderate, but determined approach and a genuine undertaking of the ethical, moral, and scientific concerns revolving around animal experimentation. FRAME suggests refinement that involves minimizing animal suffering, reduction of the number of animals used, and replacement, which involves avoiding use of animals.
According to the article published by the Premium Beauty News, Cosmetics Europe that represents cosmetic industry in Europe agrees with the position not to permit animal testing, but to seek alternatives to animal testing, and says that it will inject 8 million more euros to finance the program devoted to get alternatives to animal testing. Similarly, a ban of marketing products tested on animal should be in force by March 2013 in the European Union. At the annual SEURAT-1 meeting in Lisbon Bertil Heerink, the Cosmetics Europe Director, reiterated that the industry remained fully committed to replacing alternative testing methods as soon as scientifically applicable (Premium Beauty News). However, this press release states that there is a general scientific acknowledgement that realization of non-animal alternative testing methods is considerably a challenging task. It also notes that the development, acceptance, and validation of alternative experimentation approaches by regulatory groups can only be considered as an effort that can be implemented in the long run. This is because it is a little difficult to develop testing tools that share the same characteristics as that of humans to be able to develop accurate results.
Animal Experimentation: Cruelty or Science?
Steve Boggan in his article that was published on a popular service Mail Online on July 29, 2011, opposed the practice and claimed that a total of eight million animals die in the process of testing toothpastes and washing-up liquids used by humans in Brussels. This is a shouting approach of disseminating the information with a view to convince many people and win support of the activists. The article reveals that in their Daily Mail investigation they discovered that the death of 8 million animals was as a result of the directive from Brussels that demanded that 30,000 chemicals be tested if fit for human use (Boggan, 2011). This is a process that has been dubbed Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemical substances (REACH) (Boggan, 2011), to protect the environment and minimize people’s exposure to hazardous substances. The article has shockingly revealed that many of the chemicals tested are already among the household products that have been in use by humans for generations, thus, do not warrant the death of the animals in a cover up exercise. Such brands include Colgate toothpaste, Gillette shaving foam, Ajax cleaner, and Fairy washing-up liquid (Boggan, 2011). This shocking revelation elicited public outcry, especially from the animal right activists, who pushed for the abolition of the practice. The article through Steve Boggan’s secret investigation behind the scenes at a testing facility and laboratories, has discovered that the testing provide little real benefits to medicine.
A scientific article in a book Animal Experimentation: Cruelty or Science? by Nancy Day, states that scientists insist that every major medical development has in most cases banked on animal experiments. It states that animal safety groups also need to try balance between human and animal interests, and the general procedure needs to be viewed in the aspect of human care and treatment, but done in a humane way (Day, 1994). Scientists argue that it was animal experimentation procedures that led to the discovery of insulin drug administered on diabetics. Without this drug, millions of diabetic people including children would be helplessly dying annually all over the world. Animal experimentation has also resulted into the development of organ transplants and several other medical discoveries that save the lives of millions of people around the world. For these reasons, scientists are of the view that animal testing is not cruel but necessary, though should be carried out in a humane manner.
Should Animals be used for Research?
Buzz.com news indicates that the reason behind opposition of animal testing is the inhumane treatment of animals, since the practice inflict a lot of pain. The article argues that the practice is unwarranted having, and there are several alternatives to animal experimentation. It is unanimously accepted by both, proponents and the animal activists that animal testing has promoted the medical world. However, there was a time when the presently available replacements were not available. Similarly, it is immoral and improper to handle animals in such a harsh manner for selfish gains.
On the contrary, American Medical Association, Volume 269, Issue 9 that was digitized on November 24, 2010 supports the practice with a reason that failure to use animals in the experimentation means that humans will be used in the tests and this can prove to be detrimental to man. This is because test on animals gives the scientists a chance to observe the side effects of the procedure of drug before it is administered on humans. In case the test fails, it is abolished or reengineered to eliminate the weaknesses.
There is a little difference in the language used in a few popular press articles as compared to the scholarly articles. One major difference is that the language used in popular press articles is exaggerating the impacts of animal testing. For example, the article published by Mail Online exaggerates that 8 million animals are facing death only to test the safety of toothpastes that are already in circulation in Brussels. This language is outrageous and meant to win more sympathizers and animal activists in order to ban the practice, without pointing at the little positive outcomes of the experiments. Scholarly articles, on the other hand, use gentle but rather complex scientific language and mainly focus on the benefits of the practice to the humans. Alternatives to animal experimentation need to be fully adopted to reduce the controversy that exists between the proponents and the animal right activists (Haugen, 2007).
Animal experimentation relates to the theory of evolution in relation to Darwin’s assertion that species evolved from lower to higher species and based on the natural history and classification indicating that different species of animals and mammals share some common characteristics that provide the link of a common ancestry. For example, chimpanzees and monkeys are considered to have a closer link to human beings since they possess 99% characteristics as humans. This makes them be the best animals to be used to test drugs, products, and procedures before they are administered on humans. Dogs equally have cardiovascular formation close to that of humans because of the historical connection according to Darwin’s theory, making them best testing tool for cardiovascular related medicines.
Before any animal testing is done, scientists have to consider the resemblances in internal structures between the animal used and the human being, to ensure that the results will match the human system. This is done through comparative anatomy and principle of correlation of parts.
Pros of Animal Experimentation
Animal experimentation has resulted in discoveries especially in the area of medicine. For example, insulin drug used by diabetic patients was as a result of animal testing as well as cardiovascular drugs related to dog testing, among others. Animal experimentation is also beneficial in guarding humans from the harm of particular toxic drugs and other products. In a number of countries, it is obligatory for all drugs to be tried on animals prior to their release to the market in order to minimize their side effects on humans. Based on this, if animal testing is abolished, the whole human race would be exposed to high risk and worst still, medicinal research will be stopped . There are animal species like chimpanzees and monkeys that are closest to humans where by 99% of genes are similar to man. As a result of this, tests executed on such species give vital indicators of the effects of the drugs and products on the human body, and the results are enough either to confirm or not the viability without risking human beings.
Cons of Animal Experimentation
While proponents of animal experimentation believe that it is inhuman and risky to test a human being when lower' species exist, those against simply question how humane and moral is it to use animals that cannot give consent for the purpose of testing to protect human beings (Monamy, 2009). It is noted that if the tests go wrong, in most cases the animals die since it is not possible to treat animals in such conditions. Equally, it is not guaranteed that the outcome of a certain drug on an animal will generate the same results on a human being.
It is argued that since animals like chimpanzees and monkeys are similar to human beings they are likewise as intelligent and conscious, and it is, therefore, inhuman to experiment on them. With the current scientific and technological advances, it is difficult to believe that there are no alternatives to animal experimentation.
Presently, there are procedures like testing human tissue cultures rather than animals. With the discovery of such procedures, animals can certainly be spared the cruelty of such experiments. However, additional cost must be incurred to genetically modify the tissue cultures that can be used as alternatives.
Animal experimentation is a controversial subject that has been in practice for several years and has attracted a lot of interests from both, scholarly writers supporting the idea and popular press publishers all over the world. Many of those opposed to the practice are majorly animal rights activists, who argue that it is unwarranted, immoral, and insensitive to the animal welfare to subject the animals to cruel pain (Monamy, 2009). The proponents of this practice, on the other hand, point to the benefits that include discoveries of medicines and cures used to treat several diseases, such as the insulin for diabetes, cardiovascular problems and have made organ transplants possible. The proponents are of the opinion that the practice is purely to ensure that the human race is not exposed to the testing risks that may arise before a procedure, drug, or a product’s credibility is confirmed. There is also a slight difference in the language used in the popular press articles and the scientific articles. Animal experimentation practice also has both, advantages and disadvantages.
It is imperative to note that there is a relationship between animal experimentation and Darwin’s theory of evolution that classifies animal into species with certain common characteristics. Animal testing in this case can only be done by using animals that share some common characteristics with humans, such as chimpanzees, monkeys, and dogs, among others.