Medical research, particularly biomedical research is made possible through the use of animal testing and modelling. The practice of animal research and testing is used for experimentation for first testing medical procedures, medicines, and various medical outcomes related to diseases and conditions, before using them on human patients. Drug testing is a primary aim of animal research as it is how pharmaceutical companies ensure medicines and cosmetics are safe to administer to the public (Hajar, 2011). At times, the animals are given specific diseases or conditions for testing purposes, and then they are given experimental medicines or treatments so that medical researchers and scientists can learn about specific diseases and conditions, as well as the efficacy of certain medications (Hepworth, 2010).
The use of animal testing for medical research is a controversial practice because there are opposing views on the efficacy of animal research, as well as the ethics and necessity of this practice. Those against this practice argue that animal testing is inhumane and wrong, and say it is unethical to use animals for research. They also argue that just because humans can benefit from the use of animals in medical testing, it is not an excuse to do it. Proponents of this practice argue that animal testing is important for the advancement of medical technology, and is beneficial to protect humans from unsafe medicines and procedures.
This topic was chosen because of the perception that most people take for granted many things in life and what goes into the process of developing medicines and manufacturing cosmetics is one of them. Most people rarely even think about what animals go through so that humans can eat, dress, play, and heal. Animal testing is likely used for most everything humans need and desire. In addition, the topic was chosen because the controversy is interesting because it shows just how divided people are on the issue. However, it is questionable how people’s viewpoints would change one way or the other if their view of animal testing was suddenly challenged by something in their lives.
Argument One: Those Against Animal Research
The argument against animal research proposes animals should have rights and states that animal research is animal cruelty, because the animals are often inflicted with painful or stressful experimentation (Gomez, Conlee, & Stephens, 2010). It is also noted that a study showed as much as 75 percent of animals used for research were killed in the process. Also, as stated,
The research used to obtain this data was based on an analysis of results of case reports from The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). OLAW released more than 160 reports that revealed animal rights noncompliance with regard to animal research and testing. Most of the animals (at least 1,000) in these reports were rodents, guinea pigs and hamsters and most of them were killed in the research process due to noncompliant incidents. Most of them (at least 80 percent) were also in pain and fear at some points during experimentation (Gomez, Conlee, & Stephens, 2010).
According to Henry & Pulcino (2009), animals in resesarch testing are exposed to risks and harm at levels that no one would think to put humans through. However, it is stated that attitudes regarding this issue are subjective and relative to how people perceive the type of animal being used. For example, some people may feel it is fine to use a rat for research but not a cat. Moreover, those against animal research believe that animals are entitled to the same respect as humans and should not be forced into service or the burden of being hurt and killed for human gain (Henry & Pulcino, 2009).
Argument Two: Those For Animal Research
The argument for animal research defends the practice on the grounds of the perception that animals are not important enough to be treated with the same respect as humans. According to Von Roten (2008) a recent study measuring the acceptance of animal research was conducted by the method of reviewing surveys that asked people if animal testing is acceptable if it saves the lives of humans and heal health issues. This study also examined why those for animal research seemed more receptive to science and had a positive attitude toward science. It is interesting to note that this study showed that those for animal research were mostly men, as the women were more empathetic toward the thought of animals being hurt. In addition, Swami, Furnham, & Christopher (2008) states that Americans were less concerned with animal rights and welfare than British citizens. This is possibly due to more media attention on animal rights in Britain than in America.
Strengths and Weakness of Both Sides
The Side Against Animal Research
According to this report, the strengths of the side against animal research include advocating for the humane treatment of animals and also their welfare. As well, it is noted that animals can feel pain and fear so they are entitled to some respect and to have their pain and suffereing minimized while being subjects of research, or animal rights activists state that the animals should not be used for research in the first place. Doing this is considered, by animal rights proponents, as prejudice toward a species (Hepworth, 2010).
The weakness in the side against animal research is the obvious, and that is without it, medical technology and advancement would suffer. Animal research has made it possible for scientists to develop life-saving medicines and treatments for humans for decades. Without animal research, many people may die as a result of untested, toxic medicines.
The Side For Animal Research
It appears that the strengths of the side for animal research include advancing medical technology into the next realm. As well, this side is pro-science and sees the need and the benefit of improving the lives and longevity of humans through animal research. This is based on the belief that human beings are more significant and more important than animals, due to the contention that animals do not have the same capacities as humans, and this is the basis for the justification. The weakness in this view is there are some humans who lack capacities such as the handicapped or the very young; however, they are not used for experiments as animals are.
Strongest Supporting Evidence
As the research shows, both sides have strong supporting evidence to their claims. It does appear; however, that the side against animal research has a stronger claim, simply because what they propose makes a great deal of sense and it is the truth. The animals used for testing purposes do undergo pain and suffering and they do know fear. However, this is necessary for the success of the testing, though their pain, fear and stress should be minimized in the most humane ways possible. This gives light to the strong evidence supporting the animal research proponents that feel that animal research is necessary for the advancement of science and medical technology and research. This is true as well. However, this group may not care as much about doing it all in a humane way.
This research assignment was interesting and there was much gained from it. I learned that my personal view of animal research is well-founded, but I am divided on the issue because I believe in science and advancement, but I feel sorry for the animals. I thought it was interesting to read about how many people feel it is ok to hurt animals like rodents, but feel strongly against using dometicated animals such as dogs and cats for research purposes. I also thought that monkeys and rodents were used the most. I was not aware that dogs and cats were used for research purposes. I do believe that cruelty to animals is wrong, so I am for animal research that strives to be as humane about it as possible and minimizes the animals’ suffering, pain, and fear in the process.
I do not believe that we should totally get rid of animal testing because I do feel it has been beneficial in the fields of medicine and science as well as for the advancement of humanity.
Carbone, L. (2011). Pain in Laboratory Animals: The Ethical and Regulatory Imperatives. PLoS ONE, 6(9), 1-6.
Gomez, L. M., Conlee, K. M., & Stephens, M. L. (2010). Noncompliance With Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: An Exploratory Analysis. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare , 13(2), 123-136, 14.
Hajar, R. (2011, Jan-Mar). Animal Testing and Medicine. Heart Views, 12(1), 42.
Henry, B., & Pulcino, R. (2009, Aug). Individual Difference and Study-Specific Characteristics Influencing Attitudes about the Use of Animals in Medical Research. Society & Animals, 17(4), 305-324.
Hepworth, A. (2010, July 6). Animal Research: The Ethics of Animal Experimentation. Retrieved from Huntington’s Outreach Project for Education (HOPES), at Standford University: http://www.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/wordpress/2010/07/animal-research/
Swami, V., Furnham, A., & Christopher, A. N. (2008, June). Free the animals? Investigating attitudes toward animal testing in Britain and the United States. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49(3), 269-276.
Von Roten, F. C. (2008, June). Mapping Perceptions of Animal Experimentation: Trend and Explanatory Factors. Social Science Quarterly, 89(2), 537-549.