Animal Testing: Necessity or Cruelty?


2/3/03


There has been an on going heated debate on whether experiments on animals for the benefit of medical and scientific research are ethical. Whether it is or isn\'t, most people have to decide whether the benefits will outweigh the costs of the experiments. These costs include: animal pain, distress and death where the benefits include the collection of new knowledge or the development of new medical therapies for humans. Looking into these different aspects of the experimentation, there is a large gap for argument between the different viewpoints.


In the US, 20 to 70 million animals are tortured and killed in experiments each year. The conditions in which they are kept are far from optimal; they are left in steel cages in isolation and often neglected and even abused by their keepers. In comparison to the actual tests that would seem pleasant. The way that LD50, or Lethal Dosage test, works is a group of animals is force fed or injected with increasing amounts of the test substance until half the animals die. It is typically a very slow, and painful death for the animals involved. They can suffer convulsions, seizures, tremors, bleeding from eyes and nose, uncontrollable vomiting, self-mutilation, and become paralyzed. Over two thousand animals can be killed for the testing of only one chemical. But it isn’t just companies testing products; some of the worst tests are done by the Military. The Department of Defense spends 172 million in taxpayer’s dollars a year, and up to 1500 animal’s lives, in a day on animal testing. These animals are shot, burnt, dosed with biological chemicals, nuclear substances, exposed to deadly viruses, subjected to eye and other surgeries without pain medication, and restrained while insects are allowed to feed on their shaven skin. This is just a few of the horrendous things animals; as a result of their place on the food chain, have no choice but to endure.


The majority of animals in laboratories are used for genetic manipulation, surgical intervention or injection of foreign substances. Researchers are producing solutions from these animal "models" and are adapting them to human conditions. Unfortunately, these animals "models" can\'t always be connected with the human body and create problems. Many times, researchers induce strokes on animals in order to test certain methods for curing. The downfall of this procedure is that a healthy animal that experiences a sudden stroke does not undergo the slowly progressive artery damage that usually plays a crucial role in human strokes. By testing on humans we would get more information on how our bodies react to different drugs compared to continuing the testing on different species that don’t have the same body and DNA make-up as us. It makes it easier to test on animals because they can’t disagree or volunteer. The tests animals are full of constant pain and torture, even if the product being tested is simply mascara. The benefits that we get from experimenting with animals cannot alone morally justify killing them on our own behalf.


There is, however, ample evidence to show that animal research has been vital for medical advances in the past. It has helped provide antibiotics and vaccines, insulin for diabetes, local and general anesthetics, and has made possible advances in medical technology such as blood transfusion, kidney dialysis, and the heart lung machine. Without animal research, doctors would have no chemotherapy to save the 70% of children who now survive acute lymphocytic leukemia. Also, without animal research, 60 million Americans would risk death from heart attack, stoke or kidney failure from lack of medication to control their high blood pressure, and polio would kill or cripple thousands of unvaccinated children and adults this year. Thus from a scientific perspective, working with animals in research is vital to continued medical progress.


Many people believe that killing anything is morally wrong. Animal testing has been the subject to much controversy as a result of these people’s beliefs. Useless, cruel, inhumane, and brutal treatment of animals is wrong. There is no justification for treating any animal or living thing in that regard. Many of today’s animal testing would fit under that category. There are however exceptions to everything. Certain animal testing has been proven to save the