Today, it is estimated that more than twenty-six million animals are being used yearly in the United States for both scientific and commercial research, as they are used in the development of medical treatments, determining of toxic medicines and analyse how safe are products designed for people use among many others. According to Langley et al., “the issue with animal research has been in practice since 500 BC as those who agree with the issue testifying on how it has been of help in developing plenty life-saving medicines for both human beings and animals (270)”. According to the proposers of the animal research issue, there are alternate ways of carrying out complete research on living organisms and that the strict outlaid rules ensure the animals are not mistreated while in laboratories. However, those opposing the use of animals in carrying out research claim that the process is cruel and that scientists should try and use the alternative means that they have. Additionally, the feel that animals are different creatures from humans; hence, research conducted on animals is always inconclusive as it produces irrelevant results. In view of the two groups, it is clear that the use of animals in carrying out research by scientists is a necessary evil because it is through such researches that life-saving treatments have been developed.
Even though scenarios to do with animal testing seemed to have existed before the nineteenth century, they appear to not having been documented clearly, but a clear documentation of animal testing occurred at the end of the 19th century when Louis Pasteur injected anthrax to a sheep and demonstrated the significance of vaccines using his germ theory. Additionally, the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin of the year 1850 also showed that the use of animals in research offered an efficient means of comprehending the biological nature of humans (Jones and Greek 492). The use of animals for research therefore progressed and in research society defence meeting in the early 70s, Medawar gave a statement that predicted the practice to stabilise in the early 80s (Martins and Franco 318). In that “the use of animals in conducting research was not a permanent practice and its peak will be attained in ten years bearing in mind that testing on animals was the only means to get the knowledge needed and to pave the way for their dispensation in the use in research” (Medewar, 338). The above statement was confirmed in the early eighties by a figure that was produced by United Kingdom specialists considering that the number of animals that were being used had stabilized at five and a half million per year. Therefore, the 1980s marked the peak of using animals to carry out research after which the use of animals in testing reduced significantly, as researchers went on to predict a further reduction and even the development of alternative methods. Earlier, it was believed that animals did not feel the same measure of pain as compared to human beings because of their inability to be conscious. According to Bernard Rollin, “researchers were not sure in the early 1980’s on whether animals felt pain and veterinary doctors who went to college in the United States before 1989 were instructed to ignore animal pain” (Wever et al. 15). The 1980s also marked the passing of laws regarding research on animals with the example of the principally the degree of October 1980 in France where the legislative body that made it a mandatory for researchers to obtain project and institutional license before carrying out tests on vertebrates. Additionally, the European Union passed a Directive 86/609/EEC that was supposed to be followed by member countries in the manner in which they conducted research on animals, even though it displayed a substantial difference in the way in which member countries decided to exercise the directive.
The 1990s saw an increased implementation of government regulations to regulate the use of animals in conducting research as compared to how things were the previous decade because researchers were required to obtain scientific approval in addition to many governmental approvals. Additionally, the Cork illustrated the manner in which the process of animals’ research became sophisticated where “scientists were getting the maximum variations of results from the smallest number of animals and issues to do with pain was to be researched to make sure that there were no alternatives that existed” (Verrinder, Ostini, and Phillips 12). However, the claim that the use of animals in conducting research had reduced was disputed by animal rights organisation, which claimed the practice was still being widely practised as shown by California data. In that, the department of agriculture conducted a study in 1994, which showed that two hundred thousand five hundred and ninety-six animals had been used in carrying out research (Peggs 634). However, this number may appear considerably small, but the fact that it does not contain the sum of rats and mice that were used in the experiment that constitutes ninety percent of animals used in research makes the number considerably high. Additionally, the figures showed that sixty percent of the animals that were subjected to testing suffered no pain or stress, thirty percent of them underwent distress and pain but were relieved while the remaining ten percent underwent pain but were not relieved. The use of animals in research also saw more than two thousand animals being sent into the space on the shuttle Columbia that took place in the year 1998, an event that was followed by the regulation of pocket pets that required “retail pet shops that sell pets to be licenced as dealers,” in accordance with the Animals Welfare Act (Stokes 1300). Additionally, more regulations were passed to ensure that animals were kept under a serene environment in terms of climatic conditions especially when enclosed in cottages. One such regulation that was passed in the late 90s required cats and dogs to be placed in good climatic conditions and that they were not supposed to be exposed to a combination of temperatures and humidity that will affect their well-being. Therefore, any animals that happen to be in such conditions need to be attended to by applying the right measures that will ensure the impacts of the adverse climatic conditions are alleviated.
In conclusion, the use of animals testing is still a common practice ranging from projects regarding alcohol-induces aggression to pain treatment, but a 2007 report has helped to shade light on the need for the use of vitro techniques that make use of human cells. However, researchers still believe that the new methods cannot fully provide conclusive results and will, therefore, need to be complemented by animal research. The other effort that has been implemented on the side of reducing the use of animals in research includes the banning of cosmetic imports and exports that contained ingredients tested on animals by the European Union. The breeding of chimpanzees that were stopped in the year 2007 has also seen the U.S. government retire close to three hundred and ten chimpanzees, even though opponents feared that the move would lead to a setback in the development of treatments and vaccines.
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Jones, Robert, and Ray Greek. "A Review of the Institute Of Medicine's Analysis of Using Chimpanzees in Biomedical Research." Science & Engineering Ethics 20.2 (2014): 481-504. Print.
Langley, Gill, et al. "Lessons from Toxicology: Developing a 21St-Century Paradigm for Medical Research." Environmental Health Perspectives 123.11 (2015): A268-A272. Print.
Peggs, Kay. "An Insufferable Business: Ethics, Nonhuman Animals, and Biomedical Experiments." Animals (2076-2615) 5.3 (2015): 624-642. Print.
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