Term Paper: Use of Animal Testing

Pages: 5 (1652 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Animals  ·  Buy This Paper

Animal testing is a much discussed matter at the moment and its controversy is mainly owed to the fact that a certain part of the general public supports the concept, while another is against tit Even though itmight be regarded by some as being cruel animal testing is beneficial for humanity as a whole, as it provides scientists with solid information related to drugs, their efficiency, and the effects that they have. The world of medicine owes a great deal of its discoveries to experiments that have been performed on animals. (Shank, Greek, Nobis, Swingle-Greek, 2007)

While some believe that animal testing is a rather new way of experimentation it has been performed for thousands of years, the earliest reports going back as far as the fourth and the fifth centuries B.C. (Sharp, 2004). By performing vivisections on animals, scientists learned about physiological processes, which they could later use when they had to operate on human beings. These researchers did not consider animal experimenting to be a cruelty, as the acts were perfectly justifiable through the benefits resulted from the process.

Approximately until the eighteenth century, the masses did not express any notable hostility on the subject of animal experimenting (Mitchell; Allen; Rollin; Mullen; Tobias; Scholtmeijer; Regan; Sztybel; Francione; Broida; Finsen. 1998, p. 1). However, taking into consideration the knowledge that people were in possession of regarding the subject, it is not surprising that no one voiced any opinions against it. In the eighteenth century, this practice was still performed according to the primitive methods of the ancient world, with the animals not receiving any form of pain relief. Slowly, in modern times, people had started to change their views on the subject and become more sympathetic for the degree of pain the tested animals were subject to (Sharp).Thus, the time lasting from the first animal experiments in the fifth century B.C. And until the early eighteenth century a.D. had been the perfect time for animal lovers to express their revolt.

Animal testing is perfectly understandable if it is done in safe conditions and as long as it is part of a science experiment. Experiments performed on animals do not necessarily have to involve a new drug, as they can also be related to education. Animals are often being tested during high-school or college biology courses with the purpose of teaching students. Evidently the experiments performed during classes are recurring and new animals are needed each time a class takes place. However, the benefits of these tests are later seen, when a new generation of scientists emerge (Orlans, 1990).

Testing is principally performed for scientific, medical, or commercial purposes as people want to verify the properties of various substances. The perfect justification for these tests is that the effects seen in animals are similar to those that would normally be seen in humans. The number of animals being used in research is somewhere between twenty and one hundred million (Yarri, 2005, p.15).

The federal government in the U.S. is acknowledged as an important player in testing animals. The Department of Agriculture has used animals in a great deal of occasions, mostly to facilitate the development of food and health products. The Department of Defense has tested various types of weapons on animals so as to learn their effects. The government uses animals for numerous reasons, ranging from environmental technology testing to astronaut program testing.

Most divergences associated with animal testing are a result of the actions performed in the private sector. Some companies test animals in order to carry out biomedical research, while others do so in order to test the effects of cosmetic products (Yarri, p. 14). In view of the commercial character of animal testing, the process should be stopped and alternatives should be found, so that animals would no longer suffer for a cause that is not necessarily for humanity's vital needs.

During medical examinations, animals are usually injected with a particular drug and their immune system produces antibodies with the purpose of recognizing the drug. Scientists later collect these antibodies with the intention of using the substance in the overall research process (Willette, 1991, p. 68).

Animals are not perfectly similar to humans, and this contributes to the theory that the benefits of animal testing are limited. Not all of the studies performed on animals are expected to have the same effect on humans. However, certain organs, regardless of their shape or size, are extremely similar in essence and they are known to respond to the same stimuli. This would mean that the effects from a test performed on a particular organ from an animal are likely to be very similar to those displayed by the same organ coming from a human being. (Mitchell; Allen; Rollin; Mullen; Tobias; Scholtmeijer; Regan; Sztybel; Francione; Broida; Finsen. p. 91) Aging, for example, is a process that basically has the same effects on animals as it has on humans. (Gallagher; Rapp. n. d.)

Even though the world of science has had a lot of benefits from animal testing, it too wants to get actively involved in refining the experimenting methods, reducing the number of animals engaged in the process of testing, and eventually replacing animals by employing new research techniques. (Mitchell; Allen; Rollin; Mullen; Tobias; Scholtmeijer; Regan; Sztybel; Francione; Broida; Finsen. p. 8)

Animal Welfare organizations lobby against animal testing, especially with the purpose of influencing researchers to stop experimenting on non-rodent creatures. In their opinion, non-rodent animals are more susceptible to feel pain in comparison to rodents. A reason for their convictions might be that they naively consider smaller animals to be less important than larger ones. Unfortunately, because it is easier to execute tests on rats and mice, most of scientists choose to execute tests on these species of rodents (Orlans).

At the time when the drug named Thalidomide appeared, people in Europe had been amazed by its impressive characteristics. One of the drug's attributes had been the fact that it ameliorated morning sickness for pregnant women. At their doctor's recommendation, a large number of women have tried the drug, feeling the supposedly beneficial effects immediately (Wanderer, 2003).

It seemed that Thalidomide had revolutionized the world of medicine. Of course, researchers did not test the drug directly on humans, as they experimented with mice and rats. The results were pleasing, as the substance had no evident side-effect, and, regardless of the dosage that was administered to the rodents, it seemed that they did not suffer from any side effects (Wanderer)

It is presumed that over ten thousand women had taken the drug, confident that it would help them get over their suffering. However, the drug had done exactly the opposite. Most of the women who had taken the drug have had troubles with their pregnancies. Most of newborn children had been suffering from some sort of malformation while some even died shortly after birth.

Witnessing the disastrous consequences and eventually deciding to test their product on larger animals such as monkeys and rabbits, the creators of Thalidomide had been shocked. All of the tested animals displayed similar side-effects to the drug. Their young ones had been mentally or physically disabled and the anomalies present in the newborn animals had been very similar to the ones in newborn children after their mothers had taken Thalidomide. "In any case, the damaged-baby experience has shown that drugs must be tested on animals more nearly like humans, not just on mice" (Wanderer).

This is just one of the cases when animal testing could have provided priceless information to scientists and the suffering of tens of thousands of people could have been avoided. People normally want humane standards for the animals that undergo tests, but, concomitantly, they want scientists to find cures (that have no side-effects) for a variety of diseases.


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