IS ANIMAL TESTING A NECESSITY?
Animal testing is also referred to as animal experimentation; it is the use of animals in conducting experiments. These experiments are normally done in medical schools, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and in defense establishments. The animals used in these laboratories are purposely bred for experimentation; though some are hunted from their natural habitats or supplied by those dealing in their sale. The experiments on animals are used to conduct pure studies on developmental biology, genetics, and behavioral studies. The experiments may also be used in applied studies on toxicology tests, testing of cosmetics, and biomedical research. The purpose of these studies is mainly for education, defense, and medical research. Animal testing is done by humans in an attempt understand their bodily functions, as it is risky to experiment on oneself. This testing is done on animals because they cannot consent or dissent to the testing. The question that comes into mind when one hears of these tests is whether the findings are so important such that it makes it justifiable to harm innocent animals. Although some people say animal testing helps in making advances in science, we humans should find another way of testing drugs, cosmetics or foods without harming animals.
Those who support animal testing base their argument on that animal testing has played a significant role in the development of most of the new technologies and techniques in medicine. However animal rights activists argue that animal testing is a painful to the animal and also that it is cruel since a majority of the animals used in testing end up being killed after the experiments. Activists also argue that the experiments, in most cases, are done in stressful surroundings and that much of the findings obtained are not reliable. According to those who support animal testing, all these tests are necessary before the final product is released to the market. Giving the matter a critical look shows that the activists are right; animal testing is cruel and unfair. Research has helped show that animals also feel pain and hence the argument by some pro animal testing groups that animals do not feel pain is false (Singer 270). I also believe that animal testing is unfair based on the fact that no living thing has the right to advance its kind at the expense of another. It is simply cruel to raise an animal only to kill it later all in the name of testing a cosmetic, a drug, or a new food product. About 30 million animals, every year, are used in research projects and experiments. A majority of these animals die immediately after the test, some are killed, and some die later due to post experiment effects. One thing that makes us different from animals is the fact that humans have feelings; it’s a pity we are not showing this to the animals when we act in such cruel ways towards them.
One of the arguments raised by the supporters of animal experimentation is that the results of these processes are very vital for the survival of the human race. Further, they claim that human beings cannot be used by medical practitioners for various experiments, whose results are not safely predetermined. The supporters therefore take into account this factor and consequently justify the use of animals as the next best option for crucial medical experimentation. Further, members of this school of thought point out that most of the technological advancement in the medical realm is resultant due to the numerous tests carried out on animals. They also argue that medical practitioners prefer this mode of experimentation and should not be questioned as they are professionals and should therefore have the final say.
Those supporting animal testing defend their position with the argument that society has benefited from this research. They argue that since animal testing has played a significant role in ensuring how safe new drugs and medical procedures are, then the testing is necessary. According to them, there is moral justification to use animals in experiments that are dangerous and at times painful as the findings are used for the greater good of the society. Animal rights activists claim that procedures such as use of tissue sample, computer modeling, and cell cultures are alternatives to animal testing. However those supporting animal testing argue that these alternatives are not useful as they lack accuracy. The latter argument may be true but it is important to note that we as human beings have an ethical responsibility to animals; this responsibility means protecting them and not subjecting them to painful experiments simply because they cannot sue or speak out their opinion. It is also important to point that the bodily functions of animals such as rats is different from that of human beings and hence animal testing is not really a necessity.
The issue of how ethical animal experimentation is? Has not been clearly defined; but using general standards, a medical procedure is not ethical if it subjects the patient to undue pain and suffering. Those who argue that animals should be used in experiments do so mainly based on the assumption that animals do not feel any pain. However since research has shown that animals are susceptible to pain though the question on whether they are able to remember the pain has still not yet being answered. Hence if animals can feel pain then animal experimentation that subjects the animals to pain cannot be supported. Singer also points out that some institutions conducting animal experimentation do not use analgesics. This further shows that animal experimentation in most cases does not adhere to ethics.
The beliefs held by the supporters of animal experimentation are full of flaws evidently. It is not true that medical advancement and technology owes its current state to the processes of animal experimentation. Causes and cures of many maladies have resulted in alternatives ways other than animal experimentation (Brecher 4). For instance the cause and cure of scurvy were found out through human experimentation. Why was penicillin discovered without animal experimentation? These are some of the questions that the supporters of animal experimentation need to ask. It is evident that there exist numerous alternatives to animal experimentations. The argument that the medical practitioners have the final wise say is not rightly applicable. A human face integrated with the profession of medicine is non-supportive of animal experimentation. Animals are susceptible to pain; why then should medical practitioners engage in the unethical process of inflicting deliberate pain on animals? Animals cannot consent or dissent the procedure. However, it is obvious that the animals would not prefer such acts towards them.
Animals are living beings, and the only difference with us that makes them not give their opinion on this issue is that they cannot talk. But from if the findings from experiments they are involved in are considered valid then findings that these animals also experience pain should not be ignored. It is hence important that animal experimentation puts into consideration that though the animals may not speak out their pain, they do feel pain and hence experiments should be conducted with the highest ethics.
Scruton, Roger. “Animal rights.” City Journal (2000): 86. Print.
Singer, Peter. “Animal Liberation.” New York: Routledge, 1990. Print.
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