Animal Testing There Are Individuals and Organizations Research Paper

Pages: 6 (1907 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Freshman  ·  Topic: Animals

Animal Testing

There are individuals and organizations that say using animals in test laboratories for biomedical research or for product research is unethical no matter what the purpose. Others argue that using animals is vitally important for research that could possibly resolve human health issues. Both sides have valid points and this paper delves into issue using positions from several sides of the animal testing issue.

Defining animal experimentation

Roman Kolar with the Animal Welfare Academy in Neubiberg, Germany explains that any experimental procedure carried out "…on an organism from the zoological (taxonomic) category Animalia" is an animal experiment (Kolar, 2006, p. 113). That said, in Germany and other nations there are restrictions on the use of vertebrate animals for "historic reasons," Kolar explains. It has been previously believed that vertebrate animals were the only animals that had the capacity to "feel pain and suffer," so those vertebrates were off-limits for that reason (Kolar, 113). At the time that restriction was placed on the use of vertebrates, Kolar continues, there was no "scientifically accepted rationale" for the assumption; but in the past few years "overwhelming scientific evidence" has shown that many non-vertebrate species also have nervous systems and hence, they too are capable of suffering "…in a way that we would assume for most vertebrates" (113).

Kolar points to the specific areas of animal experimentation, including: a) basic biomedical research (anything done to animals to investigate "biological phenomena" and "medical or veterinary implications"); b) applied biomedical research (specific "pathological symptoms" are artificially created by giving the animal "toxic substances" or burning their skin); c) regulatory testing of drugs, compounds and products (animals are used to determine if there are "adverse effects" when certain substances are force-fed or applied to the skin or eyes of the animal); d) regulatory (routine) testing of biological substances and products (vaccines and other biologicals are tested on "a huge number of animals" before being used on humans; these are "extremely severe procedures"); and e) educational purposes (animals in this category are killed and used for education; frogs, rabbits, and other animals are used ) (Kolar, 114).

The ethical issues in opposition to animal testing

"Millions of animals are used every year in oftentimes extremely painful and distressing scientific procedures," Kolar reports. Notwithstanding the potentially positive results from using animals in biomedical experiments -- "a valuable gain of knowledge" -- from an ethical perspective, "…it seems unacceptable that we, as humans, put sentient beings into states of suffering that we would never accept for ourselves," Kolar writes in the peer-reviewed journal Science and Engineering Ethics (112). That having been said, the author notes that in 2003 alone, some 10 million vertebrate animals were used in testing (for science and product companies) in the European Union, and "it must be assumed that the real number is considerably higher" due to "shortcomings" in the reporting format (Kolar, 112).

Kolar reaches back into the past for viewpoints about the use of animals in testing, and he quotes iconic philosopher Immanuel Kant, who wrote -- in his 1797 Metaphysics of Morals -- that "painful, physical experiments for the purpose of speculation, if the aim can be reached without them, are to be abhorred" (115). As for the attitudes toward animal research in the 21st century, Kolar believes there are some points that need to be addressed prior to justifying inflicting pain on animals: a) the experiments must be "indispensable for specific purposes"; b) there must be an ethical justification for inflicting "pain, suffering or distress"; c) the "3Rs" must be applied (replacement for methods that use living vertebrates"; reduction (lowering the number of animals used); and refinement "a decrease in the…severity of inhumane procedures") (116).

Meanwhile, the most vocal and visible organization that opposes the use of animals in laboratory testing, and that is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). This organization does not simply put out press releases and produce public service announcements. They send picketing protesters to walk in front of companies that they believe are being cruel to animals; they send undercover investigators posing as employees into labs and factory farms where chickens by the tens of thousands are crammed into small spaces and cruelly slaughtered.

According to www.peta.org, millions of rats, rabbits, cats, dogs, primates and mice are locked inside "cold, barren cages in laboratories," waiting for the next "terrifying and painful procedures" to be performed on them. PETA claims that "more than 100 million animals every year suffer and die in cruel chemical, drug, food and cosmetic tests, biology lessons, medical training exercises, and curiosity-driven medical experiments."

These animals aren't necessarily being used for biomedical purposes (to help find cures for diseases, for example), PETA explains; they are often being used to test "cosmetics, household cleaners, and other consumer products." Dogs are "force-fed pesticides," rabbits have "corrosive chemicals rubbed onto their skin and eyes," and mice and rats are "forced to inhale toxic fumes," PETA explains. And corporations aren't the only groups putting animals through these painful procedures, PETA goes on; in fact, PETA accuses the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and the National Toxicology Program of conducting testing projects on animals.

Meantime, PETA's undercover investigation crew has made public a video of a U.S. Coast Guard training course in Virginia that shows a company called "Tier 1 Group" (reportedly hired by the U.S. military) "…breaking and cutting off the limbs of live goats with tree trimmers, stabbing the animals and pulling out their internal organs" (PETA, p. 1). What was the point of these exercises? Supposedly they will help soldiers come to the air of fellow soldiers that have been wounded in battle, but PETA says these training exercises "…bear no resemblance to real battlefield conditions."

Kathy Archibald, the director of Europeans for Medical Progress (www.curedisease.net), asserts that "…nobody benefits from animal testing when they take medicines" because drugs "originate not from such tests but from clinical observation, serendipity and rational drug design" (Archibald, 2005, p. 1). Archibald points to the drug Vioxx, which passed various tests using animals in laboratories but when it was put on the market by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration "…an estimated 88,000 to 139,000 Americans…had heart attacks or strokes as a result of taking Vioxx" (p. 1). About 55,000 of the above-mentioned afflicted Americans passed away from Vioxx, Archibald continues. If human-based tests had been conducted, rather than using animals, these deaths may have been avoided, Archibald emphasizes (p. 2).

The ethical and other issues in support of animal testing

The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) explains that "…virtually every major medical advance of the last century is due, in part, to research with animals." What scientists know about human cardiovascular system has come from research involving dogs and what science knows about the immune system has resulted from research involving mice, the AALAS Web page explains.

The "vast majority" of lab animals used in research are "rodents" and those rodents are "specifically bred for research," the AALAS continues. About half of the cats and dogs that are used in lab experiments are "also bred for that purpose" and those cats and dogs come not from an animal rescue center or a pound, but from dealers that "…must be licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture" and the USDA insists that those dealers providing cats and dogs for experimentation must adhere to the Animal Welfare Act (ASLAS). The AALAS points to the research that has helped "certain species [avoid] extinction," for example when distemper vaccines were tested on Siberian polecats, that resulted in "…the revitalization of the waning black-footed ferret population."

Moreover, the ASLAS explains that the scientific community "…advocates the highest quality of animal care and treatment for two key reasons." One, using animals in research is "a privilege" because those animals help humans "unlock the mysteries of disease" and hence they deserve respect and the best possible care. And two, when animals are treated well, they provide "…more reliable scientific results, which is the goal of all researchers" (ASLAS).

Meantime the Society of Toxicology has published a position statement that points out the importance of using animals in research, and they offer narrative justifying the use of animals in research as well. The importance of using animals boils down to four points, according to the Society of Toxicology (SOT):

One: in order to "ensure and enhance human and animal health and protection of the environment," using animals in laboratory research is "necessary." Two, in the absence of data from humans, using animals in experimental research is "…the most reliable means of detecting important toxic properties of chemical substances for and estimating risks to human and environmental health." Three, animals used in research must be handled in a "responsible manner"; and four, the SOT encourages scientifically-valid research that is "…designed to reduce, refine, or replace the need for laboratory animals" (SOT, p. 2).

Toxicologists / scientists conduct basic research using whole animals and in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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