Heart attacks, bladder failure, and lack of medical cures are all very serious problems that are killing people today. How can doctors learn more about these medical difficulties? Through animal testing doctors can obtain valid results regarding these medical problems and create cures for people with many other medical difficulties. The progression of medicine and the day to day life styles of the general population rely on the ethical practice of animal testing. The alternatives to animal testing are not very valid. “Artificial testing with computer simulations, have not reached a technological level at which these simulations can be trusted to give a valid results to experiments(3).” Also, human testing has many restrictions and guidelines that make it almost impossible to perform tests on humans that could mentally or physically harm the subject. Therefore, animals provide a necessary involvement in the tests being performed today because there are no other reliable, valid sources for medical or cosmetic experimentation.
Animal testing is imperative to the progression of medical cures, procedures and drugs. Animal research is constantly insuring the healthy future of others or a future at all for infants and children. “Recent advancements in biomedical research have led to better treatments for common childhood ailments(5).” “Today, vaccines developed through animal research have all but eradicated diseases such as small pox and polio and treat asthma, juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer and many other illnesses.(5)” This can be seen especially in the advancements of drugs used to cure and inhibit the HIV virus and diabetes. Today, doctors are able to “achieve long-term insulin independence in a small group of severely diabetic patients who had received pancreatic islet cell transplant, something previously achieved in experimental mice and primates but never before in humans(5).” Now people with sever even life threatening diabetes can receive relief from this disease. Without the necessary preliminary testing on mice, this procedure would not be possible. Think about it, a common rodent that people try to eliminate everyday is now saving peoples lives!
But why animals? Are they really that biologically close to humans? Now some may argue that an animal’s anatomy is very different than that of a human’s anatomy, which is very true for the most part. However, what most people fail to realize is that certain parts of animal are almost identical to that of a humans. For example a pigs urinary track is very similar to a human’s, a cats throat is similar to that of a child’s and a dogs heart is similar to that of a human’s as well. Currently, artificial bladder transplant in pigs are being preformed and perfected so that bladder failure is no longer life threatening. People with complete bladder failure will someday be able to receive a new artificial bladder and not die as a result of this fatal medical complication. Pediatricians are using cats for practice as to be able to recognize any complications in the throat of children before future problems can occur. Doctors, by giving a dog a controlled heart attack can keep the dog alive but also study what parts of the heart will suffer the most dependent on where the heart attack occurred. This will allow doctors to be able to prevent future complications for heart attack victims.
Yet, what are the alternatives to animal testing besides humans and why are they not as accountable? These alternatives can supplement work with live animals in some cases. “A tissue cultures for example, can help identify the potential toxicity or medical benefits of chemical compounds in the early stages of investigation. But compounds must also be tested on living systems-made up of interrelated organs and organ systems before they can be tried on human beings(3).” Tissue cultures allow for the study of nerves or establishing how many chromosomes are in the human cell. They can not simulate how a drug will flow through the body and how it will effect each part of the body. A tissue sample can not simulate loss sight or dizziness as a side effect of a new drug. Thus, a tissue culture is not a replacement for animals in today’s experiments. Computer testing can only simulate results. “A computer cannot tell you if there is going to be a mutation or a complication because it can only give you the probability of success or failure in the experiment.” No real life conclusion can be drawn from a computer simulation because computers can only know what we program them to know. Also, to reiterate, human testing guidelines are so strict that it is almost impossible for even psychologist to perform tests on people today in order to figure out, for example, how we as a race think and interpret the world.
Animal research allows people to live comfortably from day to day in a lifestyle that they have become accustom to. Companies such as “Calvin Klein, Pfizer Inc., Playtex Products Inc., Schick, 3M, Vidal Sassoon, and Victoria’s Secret” are just a few companies that use animals in their product testing (4). Companies that make your under-wear, fragrances, drugs, feminine products, and house hold and office products all do their preliminary tests on animal. Why? Isn’t it possible to test a shampoo, a new fabric or a fragrance on a person? The answer to that question is yes; but is it economically sound? To pay people for their employment as product testers is very expensive due to the possible medical repercussions from the new products. A new smoother fabric for under-wear can cause a rash or an allergic reaction in some people resulting in a law suite and an expensive court case. Animals also lower the cost of these products to the general population because the preliminary testing on animals was less expensive as if it had been done on humans. Also, Pfizer who makes most of your allergenic drugs and other drugs and medical devises must make sure that their drugs work before putting them out on the market. “The FDA requires that new prescription drugs be tested on animals before they become available to the general population (6).” For allergy medication, animals and humans are needed in order to decipher exactly what makes a person sneeze or cough or get a running nose so that the medicine can properly prevent these symptoms in humans. Schick makes sure that it razors aren’t misshapen. A misshapen razor can cut and possible kill a person if they are cut in the right place. Thus, humans can’t be used in this test and the only alternatives are animals. We rely on these products and the safety of these products because we trust our business. Many people rely on daily medication in order to be in good mood or healthy or allergy free or to just keep on living. Now why can’t these big businesses spend more money and test on humans? Because animal testing is legal, easier to do, and produces just as good conclusions as testing on humans would produce. Also, think of the people who rely on cosmetic products so that they can cover facial deformities from birth or caused by incidents later in life. Shouldn’t these people be able to assimilate themselves into a very unaccepting society? Of course, and animal testing makes this possible. As long as people rely on these products and these companies, animal testing will always be a legal and valid practice, but one question still remains. Is it an ethical one?
The answer to this question depends on how the general population views animals and humans. One view point is “that humans own animals, which are intrinsically inferior. Animals have value because they are useful to humans. There are no limits to what humans can do to animals in the interests of human welfare or profit. (6)” Since animal research provides humans with so many advancements in the medical, social, and business realms the ends justify the means. But how are the animals treated? Experimenters do whatever they can to minimize the animal’s discomfort. In fact, animals receive “comfort toys” such as chains to chew on or balls to roll around. One must also keep in mind that by the end of the experiment each animal is extremely valuable to the company do to the results obtained and the time put into the testing. The cost of each animal on average after testing is seven thousand dollars. Experimenters care a great deal for these animals; they just don’t love them. Is love unethical? No but the humanity care provided is ethical. Also, these animals have never seen grass or the outside. They have been raised in captivity. They can’t long for the outdoors because they know nothing else except the lab where they were raised. But what about the animals being used for cosmetic research? This is the argument between excess vs. necessity. There are those companies who do use animals in excess and I agree that, practices such as that shouldn’t happen However, while most people rely on these cosmetic advancement to satisfy fashion, again think about those with facial scars and need cosmetics so that they feel socially acceptable. However, the good out weighs the bad. The medical advancements and new drugs that save so many people lives make animal testing worth it alone. And what about animals used for food production such as chicken, cows and pigs? We as humans rely on animals for life. We eat them to stay alive and that is apparently acceptable. Food producing animals are raised in a contained environment just like animals used for experimental research. Both food producing animals and animals used in experiments provide humans with life sustaining products. Animal testing is a way of life because it sustains and extends life and until there are valid alternatives, animal testing will remain an ethical, valid, and conclusive practice.
Animal Experimentation. 14 Jan. 2002 .
Animal Research Fact vs. Myth. 14 Jan 2002 .
Are There Valid Research Methods. 14 Jan. 2002 .
Bad Company. 18 Jan. 2002 .
Breaking the Diabetes Transplant Barrier. 14 Jan. 2002 .
Fox, Michael Allen. The Case For Animal Experimentation. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986.
The Argument Over Animal Testing