The question of conducting animal testing has worried people for many decades. Numerous scientific and critical researches have been done on this problem. Medical scientists and activists supporting animal rights have been in conflict for a long time. Many protests are held every year, though the authorities do not forbid the experiments on animals. The scientists declare that the practice of using animals in various experiments plays a leading role in making vital discoveries. However, the fighters for animal rights proclaim that animal testing is cruel and inhuman phenomenon.
Animal Testing: Arguments Pro and Con
Though, the medical researchers and animal rights supporters struggle for different ideas, they stand on common ground in some aspects of such issue as animal testing. Both of them state that animal testing is widely conducted in present-day society. They agree that the number of animals engaged in medical experiments increases each year. The researchers and the activist for animal rights also stand on common ground in the question concerning cosmetic testing on animals. They agree that cosmetic testing seriously hurts animals and leads them to the fatal end. Thus, both of them suggest using alternative research method such as conducting experiments on non-animal models. However, they clearly understand that it will take much time to replace animals with non-animal models.
The aim of this paper is to find out if it necessary to conduct different tests on animals in present-day society. We will also define the attitude of researchers and fighters for animal rights to this issue.
Medical Experiments on Animals
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There are many people in present society who believe that the practice of animal testing is necessary for the development of medicine and science. They state that these experiments play a significant role in modern discoveries. Thus, it will be wrong to forbid animal testing. In addition, they refer to the fact that philosopher Aristotle supported the idea of using living animals for scientific researches. Moreover, in 1966 the Animal Welfare Act was published. According to this act, animals can be used for scientific and medical discoveries.
Meanwhile, the studies indicate that the number of animals used for tests has extremely increased in recent years. The fighters for animal rights were shocked when they discovered that in 2008 the number of animals involved in medical testing has raised dramatically in comparison with the previous decades. Tatchell says: “Home Office figures state that nearly 3.7m experiments were performed on animals last year, a rise of 454,000 or 14% on the previous year. This is the steepest increase in animal use in medical research since 1986, when the government introduced new recording and monitoring procedures.” (Tatchell).
The studies also show that much more animals are engaged in experiments now. The range varies from small rodents to apes. The most popular animals for experiments are fruit flies, guinea pigs, rats, rabbits, cats, and primates. All these animals undergo long-term clinical trials in the name of research. As a result, they either get severely injured or die at the end of such tests. In some cases, animals are bred on purpose to continue the conducted medicinal research.
The testing of a new drug is often conducted on rodents. Laura Blue explains: “Rodents, particularly mice, have very short life spans, so you can see how a compound would react in a young animal, then in the same geriatric animal, and then in the next-generation animal, all in a time frame that is reasonable” (Blue).
Neurological drugs are tested on cats, because the neurological system of the cat has much in common with the human one. Cardiovascular drugs are tested on dogs. However, the researchers do not conduct tests on dogs often, because they have discovered that pigs are excellent models for particular cardiovascular studies.
The supporters of animal testing determine significant reasons for conducting experiments on animals. The researchers declare that animal testing allows finding new drugs for treatment of numerous diseases. Blue states that the results of animal testing were discoveries of the medicines for the treatment of such illnesses as pertussis and measles (Blue). Thousands of people would die all over the world every year, if such experiments were forbidden.
They state that the main purpose of laboratory experiments is to define safety and efficacy of the discovered drug. Blue explains: “Animals are surrogates for humans. The basic reason for animal trials is to determine two issues before any new compound is introduced into a human: safety and efficacy, whether a compound is safe for human ingestion and also whether or not a product works for its intended purpose.” (Blue). It is necessary to understand how a new drug will behave itself inside the organism. The researchers need to know how the drug will affect the human organs and the whole body. Thus, animal testing prevents patients from getting seriously hurt.
It is necessary to mention that conducting experiments on animals is better than conducting experiments on human beings. A lot of adverse effects emerge within the human body. As a result, the number of people who agree to become volunteers is extremely small.
Cosmetic Testing on Animals
Many people, who support the idea of conducting medical tests on animals, argue against using animals for the purposes of the cosmetic industry. It is believed that cosmetic tests hurt animals even more than medical trials.
For example, rabbits are often used for cosmetic testing of mascara, because they have a low flow of tears. Thus, sponsors can clearly observe the changes in the eyes of the tested rabbits. However, they do not think about the bad consequences for animals while conducting such tests. It should be mentioned that rabbits become blind after such experiments.
The Results of Animal Testing
The researchers and animals rights supporters agree that data obtained from the animal testing is not always accurate. The activists of animal rights insist on ceasing of animal testing because a problem of discrepancy of results between tested animals and the humans. Tatchell explains: “Whatever you discover, you will have to re-discover using people, so not only do the animals suffer using these experiments, the first few patients using these novel treatments will suffer, too.” (Tatchell).
Engagement of Non-Animal Models in Conducting Experiments
Both the medical researchers and fighters for animal rights stand on common ground that animals used in experiments can be replaced with the non-animal models.
Taking into account the fact that we live in the era of highly developed technologies, the scientists and medical researchers are trying to find non-animal models for conducting clinical experiments. Blue comments: “Increasingly scientists are also looking at non-animal models to provide more and more answers.” (Blue). However, they state that the change can be made only partially, because they will always need a living system to conduct special experiments. They hope that their efforts will subdue the combative spirit of animal rights activists.
Besides, the animal rights supporters insist on the idea that alternative research methods must be found. They state that all experiments can be conducted with the help of non-animal models. Peter Tatchell states: “Replacement of animals is possible in many spheres of medical research.” (Tatchell). They declare that the problem of conducting animal testing instead of non-animal experiments is a result of poor funding. In most cases, the governments are not ready to sponsor more expensive experiments despite their wish to save animals.
We live in a time of possibilities. Today everyone can buy some drugs if ill, to recover faster. If one has money, there is no reason to be afraid to die of pneumonia. Rich people have the possibility to stay healthy and do not decease young. However, if one is poor and lives in Africa, Asia, Latin America or Eastern Europe, risk of dying in infancy has high chances. The reason of such injustice is money. Today, money decides human lives.
Drug Testing on Animals
Pharmaceutical companies experience rapid growth and make money on experimental drugs. They use guinea pigs from poor countries to test new medicines. It is not enough for the pharmaceutical industry to conduct experiments on animals. This problem is growing with every next day, but not much is done for prevention of murders. Still, this information leaks out. As a result, such movies like The Constant Gardener appear on TV screens.
Sonia Shah wrote the article with regards to the issue that was raised in the atmospheric drama The Constant Gardener. Western drug company was accused of conducting experimental drugs on unsuspecting African villagers. The plot of the movie is extremely close to life – the number of drug trials is constantly increasing. In the article The Constant Gardener: What the Movie Missed, Sonia Shah provides with a lot of examples of inhuman drug experiments on poor people from developing countries. One of the arguments that the writer develops in her article is the suppression of unethical drug experiments. In the West, experimental protocols are condemned. Nevertheless, when the subjects are poor Asians or Africans, one will rarely show any reaction or concern. Why do we divide human lives according to their purses and credit cards? Those who are supposed to heal do it selectively.
This problem cannot be solved by printing few critical reports. The government of each country must put an emphasis on this issue. People from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa must be aware of the danger that not tested drugs may cause. Every person who conforms to take part in the experiment should get the whole information about the medicine, risks and side effects.
The condemnation of the drug companies is not as easy as the movie makes us believe. In the real life, one uncompromising activist cannot obtain justice. Pharmaceutical companies work like one giant machine, involving substantial amounts of money. What is more, new drugs are not uniformly dead. Moreover, they work, but not always and not for everybody. There are a lot of nuances that are hidden and rarely mentioned. However, behind the curtains it is hardly to notice every broken life and unfortunate results of medicines. Utilitarian desire of pharmaceutical companies to extract financial benefits from unethical drug experiments is amoral.
Utilitarian theory is based on highest utility. The action may be considered right if it brings the utility for majority. The desires of one particular person are not taken under the consideration; lives are being understated. This is what pharmaceutical companies do. They are conducting drug tests to get the cure for all diseases. However, they do not pay attention to those guinea pigs that are suffering from side effects. I do not think that this theory is right. The happiness of the majority should not be created by the grief of the particular group of individuals. Kant’s theory is more humane. Kant stands against treating anybody as an instrument to promote ends to which they have not agreed. Every person must be respected, despite the status or race. We are all equal and want to be healthy and happy. However, there are those who forgot about the world cooperation. I am not against the tests in general, but I am sure that those who take part in the drug tests must be aware of the probable risks. What is more, in some cases, people must know that tests are being conducted on them. In case of drug testing on human subjects, I would require every drug company to follow the rules above and do not forget that we all are human beings. Morality and humanity are two wings, which would help medicine reach better tomorrow.
If there is a law, which would tell “Every American shall have to serve at least once in his or her life as a subject in a clinical trial for a drug. While the trial may involve substantial risk, the test will be approved by the National Board of Ethics of Drug Testing”, I think that I would not support it. The clinical trial is not supposed to be obligatory for everybody. Why should I risk my life for it? From one hand, it may bring a lot of good and favor – we can find the cure of terrible diseases like AIDS or cancer. From other hand, it is supposed to be tested on cells and rodents, at first. During this first stage, the substantial risk must be minimized. I would probably agree to take part in a drug testing if I were 80 years old. I suppose I would not be afraid to die in that age. Nevertheless, everybody has the right to choose, especially if one’s health or life is under consideration.
We live in time of possibilities. All ways are open for us, and we can do almost everything, except forgetting about humanity and morality. Human life is the most valuable thing in the world.
This paper is characterized by a holistic approach to the study of animal testing. We have defined the points of view of researchers and animal rights fighters concerning animal testing. Though their priorities are different, they have common ground in some aspects. They agree that animal testing is widely conducted today. Both of them state that cosmetic testing hurts animals. The researchers and fighters for animal rights agree that animals must be replaced by more advanced technologies.