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.
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
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.
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.