Animal Research Following the Precedent Established Term Paper

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Animal Research

Following the precedent established for the past hundred years of using sentient beings for laboratory modeling, animals should continue to be used in biomedical research because the scientific knowledge gained far outweighs any ethical and moral considerations.

Animal research has always been a contentious subject, but within the past few decades the debate has risen to critical levels, leading to sides being drawn up for and against both with seemingly irreconcilable demands. Shortly after the end of World War II, the 1940's saw an incredible increase in the use of animal research. Government research in biomedical technologies was blooming and the GI bill during that time period provided many incentives for students to pursue techniques for in-vivo (animal) research. (Spun 21) Animal research is responsible for almost all of the advances in medicine from vaccines to genetic research. Many different species of animals have been used to help medical and other sciences to progress and this research has assisted doctors to eradicate many diseases. (Use of Animals) Fields such as biological, pharmaceutical and biomedical research, as well as consumer goods testing, educational classes and many more have used animals in their scientific investigations. (Rollin 137)Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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However, the debate over the many ethical issues regarding the use of another sentient species to aid humans in prolonging and increasing the quality of their lives continues with increasing animosity on both sides. After the revolution in ethical and moral thinking in the sixties, the seventies provided the first real gain in momentum by many animal rights activists. Since then the use of animals in research has dropped by almost fifty percent. This is partly due to these advocacy groups raising awareness among the populace, but it is also because many other alternatives became available. Most of these alternatives were also much more cost effective and were happily hailed by both sides. (Spun 22) Nevertheless, there is still a great deal of animal research being done today.


believe that while there are certainly some viable alternatives for certain sectors, such as cosmetic labs, there is still an overwhelming need for the use of animal research in the scientific community. While a certain cadre of fringe organizations have sensationalized this issue by destroying labs and in some cases doing violence against the researchers themselves, they are even more directly responsible for causing the deaths of perhaps millions of people by delaying this much needed and critical research. Even the AMA (American Medical Association) has stated that by their efforts these activists,.".. In obtaining philosophic and financial support for legislative and regulatory changes, would compromise the future of biomedical research." (Guither 123)


Over the past century animal research has played an absolutely vital role in the advancement of both medicine and science. This research has promoted rapid developments in the fields of antibiotics and organ transplants to blood transfusion and dialysis and many more. Almost every protocol that exists today for the treatment, prevention and control of disease is firmly founded in the annals of animal research. (Trull 45; Use of Animals) While there certainly has been an emotional issue in regards to using the companion animals of humans such as cats and dogs, they really make up only less than one half of one percent of this research. The predominant animal of choice at ninety-five percent of all research is the specially bred laboratory rat and mouse.

The availability of "transgenic" mice (which have added genes) and "knockout" mice (which have disabled genes) has revolutionized our understanding of cancer, Parkinson's disease, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, memory loss, muscular dystrophy and spinal-cord injuries. The so-called "nude" mouse -- lacking a functioning immune system -- has become an incredibly important model for understanding cancer suppression. (Trull 45)

This research, just barely the tip of the iceberg, is giving us insight into genetics and other sciences that we could never possibly achieve in any other manner. The fact that these animals are specifically bred and would not exist otherwise certainly gives us some responsibility towards them and there are many protocols and guidelines that govern their uses. The AMA supports many polices that protect animal's from unnecessary pain or inappropriate use (Guither 123) and the American Pain Society (APS), who uses animals in their neuroscience research particularly for their ability to experience pain, follows the guidelines of both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychological Association (APA). (Hadjistavropoulos and Craig 336) These standards minimize pain and discomfort at all times during the research. However, we must be realistic and understand that if a blanket policy of no further animal use is adopted then countless men, women and children will experience pain, suffering and even untimely and agonizing death.

In a 1988 survey of active physicians, the AMA found that 99% agreed that animal experimentation had contributed to medical progress, 97% supported the use of animals in basic and clinical research, 96% supported the use of animals for drug testing, and 93% supported the use of animals for medical education. Compared to a similar survey in 1948, the survey showed that physicians' views on the use of animals in research were very similar to physicians' opinions forty years earlier. (Guither 123)

The most widespread method in use for animal research is vivisection. This is the application of surgery, implantation, and other treatments while the animal is still alive in order to better understand the reaction of a living organism to certain actions and conditions. There is certainly no other way to gain this insight short of inflicting it upon a human being. While there are many Anti-Vivisectionists among animal researchers who do not accept for ethical, but more predominately, for emotional reasons the use of this method, they have yet to present any alternative. This methodology is used so that "...thousands of children won't get polio, so that diabetes won't kill every person who acquires it, so that cancer can be treated and perhaps cured, so that a variety of illnesses may be fought. (Miller 15) the efficacy of this research and the results it has garnered far outweighs any reduction or elimination of animal testing and research. While this may smack of human sovereignty or species elitism it can also be described as survival of the fittest.

That being said, it must be noted that animal research has itself proven as beneficial to animal health as it has to human health. Many advanced life-saving techniques have been discovered not only for our companion animals and farm livestock, but for other wildlife and endangered species. Treatment for feline leukemia and diabetes, pacemakers for dogs and cats, cures for deadly animal infectious diseases have all been achieved thanks to the application of animal research methods. "New treatments for glaucoma, heart disease, cancer and hip dysplasia can save, extend or enhance the life of a beloved pet; exciting new reproductive techniques are helping to preserve and protect threatened species." (Trull 45)


The implied contrast between human life and animal life is at the center of the controversy. There are those that believe animals have a lesser standing when it comes to the hierarchy of the planet. This is based on the idea that human beings have the capacity to be self-determining in ways that animals cannot. This concept is usually asserted in order to justify the ways in which we promote species elitism, putting our own interests well above that of the "lesser" animals. The problem is in finding the exact criteria to support this view. Animal activists say there is no such thing, life is life. (Beauchamp 114)

Darwin has forever blurred the absolute distinction between humans and all the other species on the planet. By linking us to a long line of descendants from single celled organisms to our fellow simian relatives, the line between them and us has become quite a slippery slope. (Rowan 769) Emotions run strong on this side of the debate:

It is "the ultimate evil" and "the most intense form of systematic cruelty in the history of humanity." Strong stuff. Yet these are not descriptions of the Holocaust or the genocides of Rwanda or Cambodia. It is how one animal rights group chooses to describe on its website the use of animals in scientific research. (Owen 20)

Organizations such as PITA and others have acted to protect animal rights well above human rights sighting that it is a human beings' charge to protect the less fortunate and vulnerable and not to exploit them. One sentient being cannot and should not exploit or purposefully cause harm to another.


While it is certainly incumbent upon us as human beings to treat our planet and its inhabitants with care, it is also intrinsic to our survival that we learn as much as we can about the earth and its indigenous species. In order to facilitate our scientific progress and understanding, animal research is a necessary method of study. We are charged with a duty to cause as limited harm… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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