The ethics of animal testing Essay examples

Submitted By Mikejkelly
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Pages: 4

The ethics of animal testing.

Since the beginning of the species, man has used animals to aid in his survival. Initially the animals were hunted and eaten and if the animals were not available then the fruit or nuts the animals consumed were tried, resulting in a varied and reliable diet. However as we developed and began to use our superior intellect we became curious about the other fruits, why do the animals not eat these? From this curiosity there developed a need to know things and one of the fundamental ways of acquiring knowledge is to test. In a medical sense testing began when it was observed that different ailments could be helped with certain fruits or concoctions. The doctors would give these out to lots of different people and in a few instances people with similar conditions, given the same medication, would give similar results. From this doctors started to experiment with patients and when patients with the correct symptoms were not numerous enough doctors would just infect people themselves. The first vaccination occurred when a rich doctor infected his gardener’s son with cowpox, waited until the boy was better and then infected him with smallpox. The result was favourable and the boy survived however there were many instances when the participants of these experiments would not. As the western world started to appreciate ethics, around the time they started introducing human rights and abolishing slavery, the use of human beings as test subjects became less and less acceptable. Replacements came in the form of animals. All mammals share much of their DNA and have very similar internal structures meaning that animals such as mice and rats generally give similar results to humans in many different medical trials. Some species of monkey are so closely related to humans that they can even develop the same kind of mental deficiencies such as autism. These similarities mean that, with extensive animal testing drugs can arrive at human trials with little or no side effects, reducing risks and thus reducing expense. There is proof that animal testing works throughout the history of the pharmaceutical industry. Penicillin was developed by testing it on rabbits and the development of a vaccination for meningitis, with multiple trials of rats and mice, has reduced deaths by ninety six percent since nineteen ninety two. The awarding body of Nobel prizes also recognises the importance of animal testing with seventy percent of the awards for medicine and physiology going to research with a high involvement of animal based research. Animal testing has become such a large part of research conducted that all drugs require, by law, to have been tested on at least one animal before it can be released for human trials. Once an animal has been used in a medical experiment it is common practice to euthanize that animal, with the number of animals used in the research industry over eighty million some people are pushing for alternatives. One such alternative which has become viable within recent history is computer modelling. This involves mapping the conditions within an animal and then introducing the simulated drug. This method has proved effective in some situations however it required the world’s most powerful supercomputer to map less than one second of activity within the brain of a mouse, meaning that this particular method is not very cost effective. Another issue with the computer was that it required multiple dissections to get the information to be able to accurately programme the computer. Since many of the animals are only required for a particular purpose and looking after them can be very expensive many test animals are kept in