Animal Testing: an Ethical Dilemme Essay

Submitted By rmcross42
Words: 1363
Pages: 6

Animal testing is an ethical dilemma because it is using other living creatures to benefit humanity, when they are incapable of giving consent. Animals are protected only by the Animal Welfare Act, which sets forth laws to ensure animals are not treated cruelly and that they are taken care of2. People opposed to animal testing justify their stance by pointing out that many tests can be physically painful and the living conditions can cause psychological problems for animals. Those who support animal testing say that when done responsibly there is nothing wrong with it and its contribution to society is worth the cost. Frankie Trull, president of the non-profit Foundation for Biomedical Research and a supporter of responsible animal testing said, “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.”1 While animal testing is not required for products, many believe that for the reasons that Mr. Trull stated that it is an important step before introducing a product to humans. Promoters of responsible animal testing also point out that everything is done to make test animals as comfortable as possible, including pain medications when they are put through painful tests.
Monkey from the Silver Springs Case3 One of the first cases of the clash between supporters and those who oppose animal testing was the case of the Silver Springs Monkeys in the 1980’s. In this case Dr. Edward Taub was testing to see if under certain circumstances monkeys who had lost feeling in a limb could learn to use the limb again if they needed to do so.3 The monkeys were surgically disabled by having a nerve severed, and they were put through tests that would force them to use their

numb limbs. Alex Pacheco, a student at the time and a founder of PETA, volunteered to work in the lab with Dr. Taub claiming an interest in medical research. Pacheco brought experts into the lab while it was in a poor state, and Dr. Taub ended up being arrested for 119 counts of animal cruelty charges. This was the first raid in the US against an animal researcher. In the end Dr. Taub ended up only being convicted of one count of animal cruelty, and this was later appealed. However, PETA had gotten what they wanted; Dr. Taub’s research had been stopped. National organizations, including the National Institute of Health, conducted their own investigations of Dr. Taub and cleared him. Therefore, after some years Dr. Taub was able to return to his research career. This case highlighted the ethical dilemma in research. The treatment of the monkeys was certainly not in their best interest, and it is surely not something that would not be allowed to be done to human participants. However, the benefits that the research could have held for society and those who suffer from similar issues could have been great. The ethical dilemma here is how do you measure what is an acceptable amount of suffering to put these animals through in the name of research, and is it okay to force them to suffer for our benefit at all. In recent years alternatives to animal testing have become more common. While these alternatives may not be a replacement for every situation of animal testing, they do have the potential to decrease the number of animals being used for experiments. Some of these alternatives are even cheaper and easier to use than animal testing. In cases like that it is beneficial for everyone to use the alternative. A few examples of alternatives to animal testing are artificial skin used for skin irritation tests, Reduced Local Lymph Node Assay for skin allergies testing, and using blood from human volunteers to test for the presence of fever-causing contaminants in intravenous medicines.4 There are many other alternatives out there, each of which saves a few more animals from a life of