Scientific Research With Animals Thesis

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¶ … scientific research with animals, and the scientific purpose of the research. Scientific research with animals has been controversial for decades. Animal rights activists violently oppose it in any form, believing it is cruel to the animals and unnecessary. Scientists and others, such as psychologists, believe it is necessary in many cases, and that animal research can prevent human suffering. In fact, they have developed guidelines for ethical conduct when using animals in scientific research, and one of the areas of those guidelines is to increase understanding or benefit the welfare of humans and other animals. Thus, animal research has a place in the scientific world, at least for the near future.

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Many people, including many psychologists, believe animal research is a necessary "evil." It provides valid scientific knowledge about a variety of health conditions that might not have been solved so easily without it, and it has led to some great medical and healthcare discoveries. An animal research veterinarian writes, "I think of my mother's angioplasty and cardiac bypass, miraculous procedures, really, in whose development animal studies played a crucial role. I think of the animal patients for whom I have prescribed vaccines and antibiotics developed in animal research laboratories" (Carbone 19). In another study, mice have been used to help uncover much more understanding of breast cancer in women, because the mammary glands are extremely similar in mice and women, leading to some breakthroughs in cancer research (Tillitt 249). Whenever research leads to increased longevity, better health, and healing treatments, it is relevant and necessary in society, and animal research does provide those results.

Thesis on Scientific Research With Animals, and the Scientific Assignment

It is important to note that animal testing began in the 19th century, and is responsible for saving many lives. An analyst notes, "It was not until the early twentieth century that cosmetic and household products were tested on animals. In 1933, a product called Lash Lure blinded over a dozen women, and one woman died after an ulcer caused by the product became infected" (Katrink). Clearly, these products needed testing, and killing humans was certainly not an option. The fact that laboratory animals helped point out flaws that could be potentially lethal, as in the case of these cosmetics, is certainly preferable to the Lash Lure outcome. Animals in the lab serve a vital purpose in keeping humans safe in many areas, and have saved countless human lives as a result of this research.

Animal research is also extremely important in the field of psychology, because it has helped scientists understand a variety of factors that help psychologists understand the human race. The editors of the APA Web site note, "Animal research has been the major contributor to our knowledge of basic learning processes and motivational systems, such as hunger, thirst, and reproduction. Animal research has provided critical information about the sensory processes of vision, taste, hearing, and pain perception" (Editors). Thus, animal research plays an important role in scientific study, psychological understanding, and in the overall health and welfare of people today. The editors continue, "Behavioral research by psychologists has contributed significantly to our understanding of drug abuse and physical dependence. Behavioral research with specifically bred strains of mice and rats is contributing importantly to understanding the nature and extent of genetic vulnerability to drug dependence" (Editors). All of this study has led to great strides in psychology and medical science, and has helped save millions of people from a variety of ailments. That is not to say that animal testing does not have its drawbacks.

Ask any animal activist, and they will be happy to recite a long litany of drawbacks when it comes to animal research. One of the first major drawbacks is pain suffered by the animals. In early scientific labs, little thought was given to the pain and suffering of the research animals, and because of this, there have been some horrific stories circulating about cruel procedures in the research, such as the Draize Eye Irritancy Test, used on rabbits to test cosmetics and other beauty products. During the test, "a substance is placed in one eye, with the other eye serving as a control. The rabbits are restrained, preventing them from responding naturally to the irritation, and their eyes are evaluated after one hour and then at 24-hour intervals for up to 14 days" (Katrink). Rabbits suffered a variety of symptoms after the test, including redness, bleeding, ulcers, and even blindness. In addition, studies indicate that rabbit eyes differ substantially from human eyes, and they do not produce as many tears, adding to the irritation from the test (Katrink). The tests were not usually used for health purposes, but to test beauty products, which seemed especially cruel and heartless to many people.

There has been a constant debate about whether animals feel pain or not, but standards have been established for research labs regarding pain and suffering in animals. In 1971, the USDA passed legislation regarding the use of painkilling drugs in research facilities. Author Carbone states, "Adequate veterinary care was to include the 'appropriate use of anesthetic, analgesic, or tranquilizing drugs when such use would be proper in the opinion of the attending veterinarian of the research facility'" (Carbone 144). Thus, public sentiment had begun to touch the scientific research facilities, and there was more awareness of pain and suffering in the research subjects. These laws have been updated throughout the decades, and animal research laboratories have to report their procedures and animal living conditions periodically.

Another drawback to animal research is the euthanasia of animals after they have been used in experiments. In most cases, the animals are euthanized, giving them no chance for a life outside the laboratory, even if the testing has not physically damaged them. This seems like a tragic way to end a life, and a sad waste of animal resources. On top of the euthanasia, many (or most) of these animals are born in the labs, spend their lives in small, cramped cages in the lab, and die in the lab, never enjoying the "normal" life that most pets would enjoy. Most of the animals used in testing, such as mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, chimpanzees, and even cats, can make good, loving pets if given the opportunity, but they never get that opportunity when they are born and raised in a lab.

Another drawback is the size of the cages that many research animals are confined in. These cages are often extremely small; giving them limited mobility. Most wild animals are extremely active in their natural habitat. Monkeys live in groups and swing from trees, rats and mice scurry around looking for food, and rabbits live in warrens and forage for food. However, in the lab, these animals are often confined in small cages, without the company of companions, and they get no exercise or interaction in any way. Another animal activist notes, "Another clear example of confinement is forcing a monkey to live alone in a small, barren cage. Monkeys, after all, like to roam around, explore things, play, and spend time with other monkeys. Severe constraints on movement often cause pain and bodily discomfort" (Degrazia 58). Mentally, these animals suffer as well, because they do not gain the mental stimulation that interacting with other animals provides, and so, they can become lethargic and depressed in the laboratory. Author Degrazia continues, "From the 1950s to the 1970s, Harry Harlow, a highly respected psychologist who worked at the Primate Research Center (Madison, Wisconsin), conducted experiments in which infant monkeys were raised from birth in total isolation, having contact with neither monkeys nor humans" (Degrazia 99). These infants, deprived of the normal infant-mother bond present in monkeys, exhibited clear psychological symptoms, such as jerking, self-clasping, and rocking (Degrazia 99). When mothers were similarly raised, they showed an abnormal lack of interest in their babies, and some even killed or harmed the infants (Degrazia 99). This indicates what harm isolation and deprivation can create in animals in the lab, and indicates how important it is to maintain the mental health of the animals, as well.

Finally, there is another drawback to animal research, and that is the moral and ethical arguments regarding the practice. Many people believe that animals have rights, just as humans do, and that humans are depriving animals of those rights by using them for testing. Ethically, is it responsible for humans to test procedures on animals rather than risking the life of human subjects? Many believe it is, and that animal research serves a vital purpose in our society. It is better to harm animals to save humans, and it is far preferable than using human test subjects. However, is it morally responsible to allow another living being to suffer in the name of science? In many cases, that is not morally correct, it seems, such as in the case of the Draize Test. This test was developed to test beauty products, and while that is important, the test itself seems excessively cruel and unusual, and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Scientific Research With Animals.  (2009, March 2).  Retrieved July 16, 2020, from

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"Scientific Research With Animals."  2 March 2009.  Web.  16 July 2020. <>.

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"Scientific Research With Animals."  March 2, 2009.  Accessed July 16, 2020.