Ethical Treatment of Animals Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1856 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Animals

Ethical Treatment of Animals

Most animals living with their owners will be able to spend their lives happily because they will always get love form their owners. Meanwhile, there are many other animals living in terrifying circumstance inside a laboratory. They are living in a small cage and they can only expect to be used as a test subject for new substances in the future. Experimentation on live animals began as early as the 17th century and the practice of testing cosmetics on animals began in 1933 ("History of Animal Testing"). Today, there are many varieties of animals used for experiments, and the number is enormous. According to APHIS estimates in 1998, 288,000 rabbits, 261,000 guinea pigs, 206,000 hamsters, 76,000 dogs, 57,000 primates, 25,000 cats. 27,000 sheep, 77,000 pigs, 54,000 other farm animals, and 143,000 other animals were used for animal testing (Curnutt, 2001, p. 448). In 2005, there were more than 2.9 million animal testing procedures, an increase of ten percent over 2001 ("Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2005, Home Office"). Increases are being spurred by new genetics research. Many of these animals lose their lives for useless experiments on new products every year. Animal testing cannot provide firm evidence that a new product is safe and effective because a human's and an animal's body structure is different. Therefore, products which do not produce any problem in animals can cause side effects in humans. Moreover, the testing methods used are immoral, and violate an animal's rights. Alternative testing methods that do not use animals have become available. Scientists should attempt to use these alternative methods, and stop their cruel animal testing.

Laboratory animals and humans are different, calling to question the benefits of animal testing. Laboratories use primates such as monkeys and chimpanzees for modeling human diseases related to the brain and the nervous system because these animals are the most closely related to humans. However, human's and primate's brains are not same. The primate brain is not simply a scaled-down version of human's brain. Although a chimpanzee's brains and a human's brain are similar in structure, they do not perform the same functions (Coghlan, 2002). Therefore, scientists cannot acquire human medical insights accurately from the studies of primates. While scientists have learned a lot about human's physiology through comparisons with animals, the search for drugs that modify human behavior and brain function requires a subtlety not available through the study of a primate's brain. (Coghlan, 2002). In addition, other animals used for testing drugs, chemicals, and cosmetics are also not identical to humans and cannot form some of the same health problems even though these animals are biologically similar to humans. In spite of this fact, many laboratories still continue animal experiments on new products, producing unreliable results. Although the scientists prove the safety of the products on animals, the products may be harmful to humans.

Because humans and laboratory animals have different body structures, physical side effects can be different. Products can cause side effects in humans even though they do not produce any problems in animals. Most people do not know that the next biggest factors causing death after cancer, heart disease and stroke are the side effects of prescription medicines that kill more than 10,000 people a year in the UK and more than 100,000 in the U.S. each year (Archibald, 2005). Even though these tragedies occur, the pharmaceutical establishment constantly reassures people that all drugs pass the test for safety and efficacy on animals before people administer the drugs. A drug described as the "single greatest drug-safety catastrophe in the history of the world" (Archibald, 2005) is the arthritis drug Vioxx. Vioxx was deemed to be safe and even beneficial to the heart in animals, but it caused as many as 140,000 heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. alone and was withdrawn from the global market in 2004 (Archbald). Hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) is another example of hazardous drug which had appeared on the market. Physicians prescribed HRT to many millions of women based on studies that showed it lowered monkeys' risk of heart disease and stroke However, it increased women's risks of these conditions significantly (Archibald, 2005). The Lancet, a British medical magazine, estimated that HRT was responsible 20,000 cases of breast cancer over the past decade in Britain as well as many thousands of heart attacks and strokes (Archibald, 2005). There are many other harmful drugs which had passed animal tests and then led to diseases in humans, and people took them without any doubt until a large number of users constantly got diseases. In other words, drug experiments on animals can keep dangerous drugs available for humans. This fact indicates that animal testing is untrustworthy and, therefore, it is unethical to stake claims based on these tests. One review of drugs that had been withdrawn because of adverse reactions found that animal tests predicted the human side effects only six out of 114 times (Archibald, 2005). This shows that animal testing is not an ideal method to find effective drugs.

Animal testing abuses animals' rights because the scientific experiments on animals are inhumane. For example, the Draize Eye Irritancy test experiment on a rabbit's eye is barbaric. "Scientists place experimental substance in a rabbit's eye which the eyelid is secured with clips. Rabbits are usually restrained in stocks or boxes from scratching at their eyes." (Curnutt, 2001, p. 450) Rabbits need to endure this condition until their eyes fester and decay. People treat animals as if they are property and control their lives. This is immoral. Animals are here for themselves; they have their own lives. They have emotions and can feel happiness, pleasure, sadness, fear, and pain. They should have right to live a life free of suffering (Smallwood, 2005). Nevertheless, humans think little of animals' rights, and they also think animals belong to a lower level of an ecological niche. However, people should treat animal's rights as importantly as those of humans. Humans are also animals. It is true that humans and animals are different in size, appearance, intelligence, and living style. but, there are many similarities. Humans are animals from a biological perspective. Both humans and animals feel emotions, eat, sleep, evacuate their bowels, reproduce, and communicate with each other; and more than anything else, they breathe (Rollin, 1998). Therefore, it is contradictory that humans abuse and massacre animals in a laboratory without guilt though humans are accused of murder when they kill another human. Moreover, it is unfair to expose animals to terrifying and painful situations for a human's benefit.

No one wants to volunteer to take tests for new drugs instead of laboratory animals without any persuasive evidence that the drugs are safe and effective. Fortunately, the validation of alternatives to animal testing is supported by the FDA, CPSC, EPA, and other federal agencies (Curnutt, 2001). Owing to this validation, there are excellent in silico (computer) and in vitro (in a live body) testing methods available today. Many companies specialize in virtual screening of drugs for potentiality toxic effects. Predictive software is available such as complete clinical trial simulations (Archibald, 2005). Other companies focus on safety and efficacy assessments in human tissues. "A ten-year international study proved that human cell culture tests are more accurate and yield more useful information about toxic mechanisms than traditional animal tests." (Archibald, 2005) These new methods to examine drugs can be conducive to reducing the number of laboratory animals or replacing them entirely. The FDA should encourage the development of alternative examination methods instead of animal testing in order to protect animals from cruel experiences.

Still, supporters of animal testing insist that animals make not only good surrogates for humans, but they are even better in certain ways.

For example, animals can be genetically engineered to produce identical animals to compare different procedures or treatments on them ("The Care of Use of Animals in Biomedical Research"). and, animals, unlike humans, may be confined inside a laboratory for use in controlled experiments that introduce only one variable at a time ("The Care of Use of Animals in Biomedical Research").

It is also useful to study animals to understand how to prevent and treat these studies in humans. For instance, the sooty mangabey monkey carries the simian immunodeficiency virus that causes Aids, but does not get ill like humans do ("Monkey Offers Aids Clue"). Because of tests on the sooty managabey monkeys, researchers have already begun to understand how the immune response in humans indirectly assists the Aids virus rather than hurting it ("Monkey Offers Aids Clue").

Although animals suffer, animal testing supporters argue that the research is justified because it saves more suffering than it inflicts (Jones). While some supporters of animal testing acknowledge that technology can potentially replace some of the millions of animals used each year for scientific research, they are quick to point out that animal testing will always be needed to validate models and that animal testing will be used for sometime into… [END OF PREVIEW]

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