Animal Testing refers to the practice of using non-human animals in experiments outside of their natural environment – with the ultimate aim of using this research to facilitate advancements in medicine. Research on animals is conducted by a range of organisations, and has led to many cures and vaccines for diseases being developed. Yet despite the good, the practice has proven very controversial, and many oppose testing on animals for a range of reasons. In this article, we analyse both sides of the argument.
Animal testing dates back hundreds of years, though the past two centuries have witnessed a rise in cases. Cosmetic companies, Universities and Pharmaceutical firms are just some of the organisations that lead these tests. Animals tested on are usually mice, rats and fish, though frogs, primates and rabbits are among other animals used. The actual testing usually involves exposing an animal to a harmful substance, injecting them, surgically removing body parts or even forcing them to inhale gases. Many organisations against animal testing have been set up, with PETA the most renowned.
Arguments FOR Animal Testing
- The biggest argument for animal testing is the fact that so many medicines have been created thanks to animal testing. Medical advancements in recent times have been astonishing – largely being facilitated by animal testing. The Polio vaccine and some cancer treatments have been tested on animals.
- As an advancement on the above, many, many human lives are saved thanks to animal testing.
- Animal lives are also saved due to animal testing. Treatments for rabies, tetanus et cetera have been able to be used on animals, with some treatments helping save endangered species.
- Animals are irreplaceable in these tests. In experiments on humans, like the MKUltra and Stanford Prison, there has been outrage. Animals are relatively similar to humans, which means it could be argued that humans shouldn’t be sacrificed.
- Animal testing is conducted by many organisations, and has billions of pounds ploughed into it. These organisations employ many people, and therefore it is an important element of a healthy economy.
- The animals involved in the tests are usually euthanised upon completion of trials – meaning there is no risk of them having lasting damage.
- Animals aren’t humans. If a train was hurtling down a track and could turn either left or right, yet hit either a cat or a baby, many would opt for the train to hit the cat. This analogy could be applied to animal testing. It could be argued that it is a necessary evil.
- Animals have a shorter-life cycle than humans, and therefore it makes more sense to use them.
- Humans eat meat like chicken, pork and lamb – the meat industry is a multi-billion pound industry. Is there much difference in killing animals for food and conducting medical treatment on them?
Arguments AGAINST Animal Testing
- No matter what advancements it creates, there is no justifying the cruelty involved with deliberately harming animals. Test subjects are subjected to abuse, intentional infliction of pain, and sometimes treatment that amounts to torture. It could be argued their pain isn’t worthwhile.
- Animals have rights too. How can anyone say a human life is more valuable than that of an animal?
- Just because a drug is deemed safe by an animal trial, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will work on humans. Two horrific examples of this are the sleeping pill Thalidomide, which caused birth defects in thousands of babies, and Vioxx.
- Animals are not humans. Humans and animals can never be considered the same. Just because animals pass a trial, it doesn’t mean humans will. It is predicted that around 90% of drugs that pass animal tests go on to fail clinical trials.
- It could be argued that the costs involved in animal testing outweighs the benefits. It costs any company millions to develop a drug – with animal testing an expensive practice that rarely actually results in success.
- Animal testing is poorly regulated in many countries, and therefore can be abused. The poor regulation leaves many animals to be vulnerable.
- What gives humans the right to preside over the animal kingdom? Don’t animals have rights too?
- In the case of when Universities conduct animal tests, it puts students in the unfortunate and regrettable position where their tuition fees inadvertently go towards animal tests – even when they are fervently against the practice.
- There are some alternatives to animal testing. Advancements in technology has meant computerised tests can be deemed valid in many cases, and reduces the need for animals to be harmed.
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As you can see from the arguments above, it is very difficult to choose which side puts forward the most compelling argument. Most believe animal testing is a ‘necessary evil’ for human gain – but what does give humans the right to test on animals? It is a very difficult topic that has raised many questions. The practice of animal testing is unlikely to change any time soon, but campaigners are working hard to change the way that research is conducted.