Is it Cruelty or the Key to Advancing and Bettering our Future?
Jasmine L. Smith
March 6, 2014
Testing on animals has been around for centuries but recently it has become a highly argued bioethical issue. It has become a question of where our commitment lies; to the safety and health of other humans, or to the welfare and rights of animals. Debates between animal welfare advocates and organizations that use animal testing have turned into heated arguments. The intensity of this ongoing debate has even caught the attention of many celebrities, causing them to choose sides as well. Organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society work endlessly to put an end to what they call animal cruelty. However, is animal testing as bad as these organizations make it seem? Would an end to animal testing cause an influx of human sickness and death? Which is more important, the well being of animals or the safety of humans? It is difficult questions such as these that must be answered to determine an ethical solution for this situation. Within this paper we will take a look at some of the key points of animal testing. The “3 R’s” (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) will be defined and we will see if they have made a difference in animal testing research. Different opinions on animal research will be explained and evaluated and we will see what regulations these opinions have formed against animal testing. Finally, some of the most current animal research techniques will be addressed as well as alternatives to some of the current testing being performed.
Keywords: animal welfare, alternative testing, well-being, experimentation, activism.
Introduction Before we begin to look more into the ethics of animal experimentation, we must first define just what animal experimentation is. The formal definition of animal experimentation is the “use of animals in experiments and development projects usually to determine toxicity, dosing and efficacy of test drugs before proceeding to human clinical trials.”1 Animal experimentation and testing is no longer just used for drugs however, it is also now commonly used for the testing of cosmetics. Despite the testing that is being performed for cosmetic use, this paper will focus on the use of animal experimentation and testing for medical purposes and advancements. The types of animals that are most commonly used for these experiments are rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, and monkeys.2 Each case that includes animal experimentation has made people from all walks of life question whether these experiments are ethically moral. They wonder if it is right to use animals for experiments that are not guaranteed to work or provide the needed results for research. From the many historical cases of animal experimentation, there have been several ethical arguments that have arisen.
The History of Animal Testing Since ancient times, man has been obsessed with knowledge, including knowledge of anatomy. To satisfy this craving of knowing how the body works, a primitive form of animal experimentation was performed.3 These experiments were often times performed by a public demonstration of vivisection, which is when a dissection is performed on an animal (human or non-human) that is still alive. At the time of these public experiments, anesthetics had not been discovered and there was no way to reduce the pain. One of the most well known scientists to perform these public demonstrations of vivisection was Andreas Vesalius. Vesalius was famous for cutting live dogs open in public to examine organs and their function in the body. Another famous scientist who used vivisection as a means of research was William Harvey who demonstrated the circulation of blood by cutting live animals to examine the way the blood circulated. As time progressed, other forms