Should Animals Be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing?

June 11, 2014
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Although animal testing can seem cruel and unethical, animal testing has been proven to help with medical and scientific research. Medical and scientific research with the help of animal testing helps scientists with their understanding of certain medical treatments, and other human uses. Animal testing plays a big role in finding new information about diseases and understanding the development of germs that cause a certain disease. The estimated 26 million animals that are tested each year are usually tested to determine the side-effects of a certain medication, the toxicity of medications, safety hazards of products that are used by humans, and other medical uses.

Animal testing and research has been around for a very long time, even before regulations were made. In 2011, a poll of about 1,000 biomedical scientists was created by the science magazine, “Nature” and the poll stated that more than 90% of the 1,000 biomedical students agreed that the use of animals in research is essential. To conclude with that poll, according to the California Biomedical Research Association, in the last one hundred years, medical breakthroughs have been made due to animal testing. Insulin is used to save the lives of many diabetic people. Insulin was found by removing the pancreases of dogs during experimentation. With the help of animal testing, the polio disease went from 350,000 cases in 1988 to around 223 cases in 2012 because of the polio vaccine. Animal research has helped scientists understand different conditions and diseases in order to help individuals. It has help understand different diseases such as tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, malaria, leukemia, and different types of cancers. Also, some animals, such as chimpanzees, have helped understand human conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes because some animals get these diseases due to the biological similarities.

Although animal testing has been proven to save many people’s lives and create efficient results, people argue that animal testing is inhumane. The Humane Society International has done research on animal testing conditions and they stated that animals that are used for testing are often forced to eat, live in isolated conditions for a long period of time, don’t get enough food or water, and often have burns or wounds. According to the Human Society International, animals are killed by carbon dioxide asphyxiation, neck-breaking and more. In 2010, reports were made that about 97,000 animals suffered during experimentation without being given any anesthetics. According to different sources, many experiments do not follow the LD50 rule. LD50 means lethal dose 50, and this test determines if the chemical will kill 50% of the animals that are being tested.

Some studies and researches show that animals are mistreated while under experimentation but that’s not all necessarily true. There are laws and regulations that are made to protect animals. Since 1965, the federal Animal Welfare Act has been regulating animal research in order to maintain the treatment of these animals. The AWA protects animals that are only associated with their list of animals they have to protect, in other words, they do not protect all animals. Domesticated animals such as cats and dogs are protected under this act. If they are one of the animals that are being researched on, they are put into a habitat that’s acceptable in size and temperature. They are also given access to clean food and water. Animal research facilities have to be inspected by veterinarians and approved by IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee). Major facilities are regulated and reviewed often, and the domesticated animals are not harmed.

It is true that 95% of animals that are being researched on are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act, but what most people don’t know is that these animals that aren’t protected aren’t domesticated. For example, The AWA doesn’t protect rats, mice, fish, rabbits, and birds. These animals cover 95% of animals who aren’t protected. Even though that is a very high percentage rate of animals that aren’t protected, rats, mice, fish, and etc can produce more of their species very rapidly. That is primarily why it’s acceptable to do various tests on them.

Due to their shorter life cycles, animals are a better test subject than human beings. Mice have a lifespan of about two to three years, but they also produce rapidly, as mentioned earlier. Their short lifespans help researchers understand the development of a disease and a genetic mutation over whole entire lifespan. According to Science Daily, mice and rats are good to research on about long-term cancer because of their short lifespans.

Animal testing is very beneficial to animals themselves. Millions of animals would have died from rabies, distemper, feline leukemia, tetanus and more if it wasn’t for vaccines that are tested on animals. Another great benefit is the creation of the pacemaker which helps with heart diseases and glaucoma.

Several arguments have been made that animals do not have rights, again, that’s true. Animals do not have rights because they cannot conduct moral judgment and they lack cognitive skills. This is why animals and humans are treated differently. If animals do not have rights, then testing animals is completely legal. If animals were given rights, humans wouldn’t be allowed to eat animal meat and hunting would be illegal. According to an article called, “Vegetarianism in America” only 3.2% of U.S. adults are vegetarian. This means that not too many people would be very content with animals having rights.

In America, most health care products and cosmetics must be tested on animals to determine the effects of it and how safe it is to use. It is encouraged that these products be tested to ensure its safety. For example, mosquito repellent must go through animal testing to test the toxicity of the product for it to be sold in the United States and Europe.

People don’t realize that in the United States, our population consumes over nine billion chickens and one hundred fifty million cows, pigs and sheep. That’s more than how many animals are tested each year. While people get really defensive over animal testing, they should realize how many animals we kill to produce food. It definitely doesn’t measure up to how much animals we affect each year. U.S. Statistics says that Americans general consume around 340 chickens for every animal that’s being researched on.

It can’t be denied that animals have helped us create many discoveries, cures, vaccines, and more. Animal testing has showed benefits to helping humans. Without it, more animals would have unknown diseases, the spread of disease would increase rapidly, higher mortality rate, and more. While many people continue to address the problems of animal testing, they also need to address the reasons behind it. Animal testing isn’t used to enforce animal cruelty; it’s essential in finding innovative medical information and other scientific uses.

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