Ethics in Animal Research

January 24, 2016
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Animal research is not an easy topic to talk about, as it creates a lot of controversy the suffering endured by the animals involved is justified. It cannot be said that the researchers do not employ a set of ethical guidelines:

1. avoid or minimize stress and suffering caused to all living animals
2. always consider alternatives to using living animals
3. If necessary, use as few as possible

Unfortunately, much of the techniques used in animal research involve physical or chemical changes to the bodies of these animals in order for researchers to study their effects; these invasive techniques invade these animals’ right to their own own body.  Hence, whether the benefits seemingly outweigh the losses or not, the incalculable suffering and number of animals that fall victim to these studies “does not provide moral justification” (BBC ethics guide).

It is difficult to compare the physical suffering of a human with that of a chimpanzee or a rat, as one cannot know the extent that teach experiences. Just think: is a human’s experience of Alzheimer’s the same as that of a rat’s? Is a human who experiences brain damage due to trauma more worthy of pity than a rat who endured intentional abrasions to those same regions of their brain? While we do not at present have the capacity to know precisely the kind of pain or bewilderment experiences by this rat, it is negligible to assume that the rat’s suffering is any less important.

The undeniable suffering that lab animals experience is indisputably unethical, in spite of established guidelines, and although modern research may be maintained as treating these animals in the most humane manner that they can, the kindest option will always be complete abstinence.

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