Last Updated on March 15, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
An animal test is any medical experiment or study in which a living animal is required to experience something which is likely to cause discomfort, suffering, trauma or permanent harm to them.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Animal Testing
Animal experiments aren’t the same as taking your partner to the vet. Animals that are used in laboratories are deliberately harmed, not for their own benefit, and are usually killed at the end of the test.
The science of animal research has many pros and cons. Unfortunately, neither appears to tip the scale fully to a side that pleases everyone including the general public, government and researchers.
Pros of Animal Testing
1. Contributes to Treatments and Cures
The main pro for animal testing is that it helps researchers find treatments to improve medicine and health. Animal testing has made many medical treatments possible, including cancer and HIV medications, insulin, antibiotics, vaccines and many more. For example, insulin had been discovered through an experiment in which dogs have their pancreas removed. Animal testing at the Anderson Cancer Center has linked the Hepatitis B vaccine to chimpanzee experiments.
According to the California Biomedical Research Association, the majority of scientific breakthroughs that have arisen over the last 100 years have been direct effects from animal testing and experimentation.
2. Adequate Test Subject
No other living creature on this planet has the nearest human-like anatomic form than animals. A human body is incredibly complicated, because cell cultures in a test tube are unable to provide sufficient test results or evidence that a cure or product is effective. For example, testing a medication for side effects includes a circulatory system which will bring the medication to different organs.
It is also possible to research interrelated mechanisms in subjects with the endocrine system, the immune system and the central nervous system, something both humans and animals have. What about the computer models being used? They ‘d need reliable information which is obtained from animal testing.
3. Improves the Health of Humans
Chimpanzee DNA is 99 percent similar to humans, while mice genes are 98 percent identical. Also, humans and animals are biologically similar, having the same set of organs, blood vessels, and central nervous system, which is why they are affected by the same conditions and diseases.
It is because of that reason that animal testing is considered vital to human health improvement and it is also why the scientific community and many members of the public support its use. Actually, there are also people who are against animal testing for cosmetics but still support animal testing for medication and the development of new and advanced drugs for illness.
4. Is Beneficial to Animals Itself
Animal testing benefits not only humans but also animals. If the vaccines were not tested on them, rabies, infectious hepatitis virus, anthrax, feline leukemia, and canine parvovirus could have caused many to die.
They also discovered remedies for hip dysplasia and glaucoma through animal testing. But the main attraction is that vivisection has helped keep endangered species from becoming extinct, such as the California condor, Brazil’s tamarins, and the black-footed ferret. This is why the American Veterinary Medical Association endorses the animal research.
5. Enable Researchers to Study a Lifelong Test Subject
Human beings will live for up to 80 years or more, suggesting that certain scientists will be dead before other findings are gathered. Laboratory mice, on the other hand, live only for 2 to 3 years, allowing researchers to study the effects of genetic manipulation or treatment over a lifetime.
They can in some cases continue studying for many generations. For this reason, mice and rats have been used for long-term research into cancer.
6. Helps Ensure Health and Safety
Another important thing to notice is that animal testing helps or is regularly exposed to the safety of drugs and many other substances consumed by humans. Drugs in particular can carry substantial hazards with their use, but animal testing allows researchers to initially assess drug safety before starting human testing.
It means that human risk is minimized and human lives are saved not just because the risks of drugs are prevented, but because the drugs themselves help in saving lives and improve the quality of human life
Cons of Animal Testing
1. Cruel and Inhumane
According to Humane Society International, animals used in research are commonly subject to force feeding, lack of food and water, infliction of burns and other wounds to test the healing process, infliction of pain to test its effects and remedies, and death through asphyxiation of: carbon dioxide, neck-breaking, decapitation, or other means.
For example, when testing to determine discomfort caused by cosmetics, the eyes of a rabbit are held open by clips so that it cannot blink away the items being tested. The clips usually remain on for days, and they are disabled to ensure the rabbits stay in place.
In January 2020, the US Department of Agriculture reported that research facilities had used more than 300,000 animals in pain-related activities in just one year.
Another disadvantage regarding animal testing is the price. Animal testing typically costs a large amount of money, because the animals have to be fed, housed, cared for and treated with drugs or a similar experimental material.
In addition, animal research may take place more than once and over the course of months, which means extra costs are incurred. Animal prices themselves do need to be factored into the equation. There are organizations that explicitly breed animals for research, and can buy animals from them.
3. Can Trigger Misleading Research
Many drugs and goods harmful to animals are also beneficial to humans. For starters, aspirin was nearly shelved because it proved to be harmful to animals. Imagine what would have happened if aspirin were removed from the pharmaceutical list altogether? There would have been no way to reduce the risk of rejection of organ transplants.
4. Humans and Animals Aren’t Exactly the Same
There is also the claim that a drug ‘s reaction in an animal’s body is very different from that of a human reaction. The main criticism here is that there are some who think animal testing is unreliable.
The anatomical, metabolic, and cellular variations between animals and humans make them poor models for humans. Following that criticism is the basis that animals will be under stress because they are in an unnatural environment. Therefore, in a natural environment, they will not react to the drugs in the same way as compared to their potential reaction.
Thomas Hartung, Johns Hopkins University Professor of Evidence-based Toxicology, calls for alternatives to animal research because “we are not 70 kg rats.
5. Lives of Many Animals can be Wasted
Considering all the experiments that failed, not to mention other non-experimental factors affecting animals, a large number of animal lives have been lost for nothing. During the experiment they suffer or become killed, and suffer the same fate after the experiment. But the poor study methodology used by some facilities are what is truly inhumane and unethical.
A study found major flaws in most U.S. and UK government financed animal studies using rodents and primates. Only 59 percent of the studies reported the study’s theories or purpose and the number and characteristics of the animals used.
6. Medical Breakthrough Without the Use of Animals
Allocating sufficient funds and resources to animal-free alternatives could lead to the same medical advances that animal testing could bring.
Humane Research Australia (HRA) states that animal studies later confirmed several findings made using non-animal techniques, presenting false credit to animal use.
7. Medications Which pass tests on animals are not exactly safe
The sleeping pill thalidomide of the 1950s, which caused 10,000 babies to be born with serious deformities, was checked on animals before launching it into the market. Subsequent experiments on pregnant mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, and hamsters did not lead to birth defects unless the medication was supplied at exceptionally high doses. Animal studies on the Vioxx arthritis drug found it had a calming effect on the mice’s hearts, but the medication managed to cause more than 27,000 heart attacks and premature cardiac deaths before being taken out of the market.
A large percentage of the drugs which passed animal experiments failed in human clinical trials, 94 per cent to be exact. One hundred of the stroke-treated drugs worked on animals but failed completely in humans. In addition, more than 85 HIV vaccines worked well in primates but failed in human beings.
Animals have similar feelings, thoughts, goals, needs and desires to human functions and abilities and these similarities should be respected, not exploited, because of human selfishness. Tom Regan argues that “animals are subjects of a life just as humans are, and a subject of a life has intrinsic meaning. The lives of animals should also be valued, as they have an intrinsic right to be treated with dignity. The damage done to animals should not be diminished, since they are not considered human.
In Conclusion, animal testing should be stopped because it violates the rights of animals, causes discomfort and distress to laboratory animals and alternative methods of measuring toxicity to the drug are available.
Human beings can’t justify enhancing their lives by arbitrarily torturing and killing thousands of animals every year to conduct laboratory tests or test items. Animals must be treated with dignity and respect and when animals are exploited for selfish human gain this right to decent treatment is not upheld. Human beings are animals too, after all.