Is Animal Testing Justifiable?

Animal testing (or vivisection) has the whole scientific community divided in two. Some people argue it’s necessary, others say it’s cruel. If you are undecided or just like arguing and need some arguments, here are some pros and cons on animal testing.

In favour:

  • Testing different substances on animals may help find one that can be used as a treatment for diseases. Antibiotics, vaccines, cancer drugs…. were all found thanks to this type of experimentation
  • It improves human health. Therefore, animal experimentation for medical uses should be acceptable. However, cosmetic testing shouldn’t since it doesn’t help anyone in such an important and essential way
  • Since experiments are on animals and not on humans, human harm is reduced, and thanks to the treatments discovered lives are saved
  • Animals are the best method since they can simulate humans. We are both organisms with an identical genetic code

Against it:

  • Animals used are killed or have their lives ruined. This can happen if they spend their lives in cages or with mutations/disabilities that make there lives miserable
  • Animals can be injected or applied substances that produce: irritation, cancer, crippling, burning, poisoning and ultimately, death
  • 90% of drugs used on animals never succeed. So only 1 in 10 experiments has some use. The rest cause animals to die in vain because their death has had no direct benefit to humans. And sometimes, this ‘use’ is a new laundry detergent or a new eye shadow.
  • The price of buying the animal, feeding it…. can get very costly, even worse if you think that its probably going to be useless
  • Animals and humans are never exactly the same. When you see a dog down the street you would never think he’s like you at all!
  • Drugs may react differently on different organisms because there may be some unknown factor that is forgotten and its effects not taken into account. So its results may not be applicable to humans
  • Also, if animals are under stress (like when they are trapped in a laboratory cage, being injected with dangerous chemicals…) the drug might react differently
  • How about instead of creating drugs to cure obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases, people start eating healthier and doing more exercise, and stop using drugs like alcohol and tobacco, or even having a cleaner environment?
  • Some people say there are laws that protect animals from being too damaged. But the AWA (Animal Welfare Act) doesn’t cover all animals. Mice, rats, birds, reptiles and amphibians are not covered
  • There are many alternative methods that combined can bring similar or maybe even better results than animal testing. Examples are:
    • Organs-on-a-chip – Cells from different organs, such as the lungs, are inserted in a structure that mimics the organ, so its effect on it can be studied.
    • In vitro testing – Humans can donate cells that are added to a test tube which is screened for toxicity or another factor
    • Skin or Liver Substitute – These are complex systems that are created to be almost identical to the human skin (to test for cosmetics or skin treatments) or the liver (to see how the body breaks down substances)
    • MRI and other – To see how different chemicals react on the brain, advanced brain scanning in real time can be used

However, although this previous information is crucial to make a decision, the ultimate factor is emotion. How do you feel about a child dying because scientists were too concerned of the ethical problems to use animals to find a cure for his disease? Or about a poor, innocent animal being tortured during his whole live for an experiment that may be completely useless?

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One comment on “Is Animal Testing Justifiable?

  1. I think that animal experimentation isn’t justifiable. For the reasons mentioned above, 90% of drugs don’t work (now I believe it’s estimated to be 94 -96%), many differences between animals and humans (penicillin is deadly in guinea pigs but cures people of infections in humans). That animal testing can delay discoveries, for example Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) affect 5 M people alone in the US with 500,000 die every year! Animal testing showed a drug called digoxin was very useful but finally in the 1970’s some researchers started experimenting the usefulness of this drug on humans and found it wasn’t useful at all. We (the medical profession) hasn’t look back since. With ever increasing emphasis on alternatives to animal experimentation, this is necessary to improve both the lives of humans and animals. =]

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