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Animal Testing Should be Limited
Every year, millions of animals, such as cats, dogs, mice, rats, rabbits, and chimpanzees, are being used in experimentation to benefit human beings. A great number of animals are suffering and tortured. Animal testing is not only used for human health testing but also for commodities like cosmetics. Unfortunately, animals are likely to be considered as inferior beings, and their life is viewed as less valuable than humans. All animals, including humans, have the right to live on the earth. We should not ignore this basic as well as critical principal. Without animal experimentation, it is evident that today’s medical industries would not exist. However, thanks to advanced technology in modern days, alternative ways for animal testing have become practical and effective. Perhaps we cannot get rid of all of animal experimentation, but we should be trying to use different ways of experimenting to decrease as much animal mistreatment as possible.
Animals are being treated brutally, and their right to live is prone to be ignored. The documentary Earthlings tells us how humans have done brutal research on animals for science and entertainment. This makes audiences realize that these practices are accepted as a part of our everyday lives. In Earthlings, pigs are hung upside down while still alive. Even worse, the people who care for chickens in the name of research trample on or jump on the living chickens on purpose for fun. Similar to Earthlings, the website created by PETA, which stands for “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”, reveals the brutal reality of animal abuse by human hands in animal experimentation and entertainment. On the website, there are videos that depict cruel treatments of animals. For example, one researcher deliberately caught an animal in the door while uttering harsh words. PETA says “more than 100 million animals every year suffer and die in cruel chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics tests as well as in biology lessons, medical training exercises, and curiosity-driven medical experiments at universities.” Also, the website emphasizes that we never know the exact numbers of mice, rats, and birds because they are not counted as a part of the Animal Welfare Act even though these animals account for more than 95 percent of animals used in research. Therefore, after seeing the PETA videos and Eathlings, it is apparent that animals are being mistreated as if they do not have the right to live.
It is a fact that animal experimentation has contributed to the great development in the medical industry and life science. The report “Medical Advances and Animal Research” states that a Swedish scientist, Arvid Carlsson discovered dopamine in the late 1950s by testing on rats. Additionally, Oleh Hornykiewicz writes in regards to Parkinson’s disease that “PD is due to a part of the brain called the substantia nigra degenerating and ceasing to produce dopamine” (13). Needless to say, the consequence of his discovery led to much more effective treatment and new therapies for Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, the report states regarding breast cancer that “Animal studies led to the development of tamoxifen, one of the most successful treatments, and more recently Herceptin (trastuzumab) and aromatase inhibitors”(9). Approximately one in eight women are suffering from breast cancer around the world. Thus, animal studies must be indispensable for evolving medical discovery.
Even though animal experimentation has helped us a lot in discovering new medicine or treatment for various human diseases, the outcome in animals does not necessarily show the same results of human subjects. The major reason for this is the fact that the human body is extremely complicated. Halen Maston, who heads an organization that campaigns against the use of animals, states in a magazine New Internationalist “This complexity and intricacy is precisely why animals are not good models for human medicine. Humans differ from other animals anatomically, genetically and metabolically, meaning data derived from animals cannot be extrapolated to humans with sufficient accuracy” (34-35). Considering the differences of the metabolic, genetic and molecular levels, intricate differences become exponential. All testing needs to be conducted in a circumstance that has very few differences.
Due to the differences between animals and humans, there are many cases that animal testing did not contribute or were meaningless. According to the article “Scientific Alternatives To Animals In Medical Experiments,” in 1963, prospective and retrospective studies (that is, the method of research to determine the relationships between current data and another which occurred in the past), showed that there is a strong correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. However, “all experiments have failed to produce lung cancer in animal models.” Another example is AIDS research. AIDS researchers used chimpanzees, even though they are an endangered species, to investigate the HIV virus. As a result, it rarely developed treatment for AIDS. As PETA mentions, not animal studies but epidemiological, and in-vitro studies have found out how the virus that causes AIDS is transmitted in people.
There are many alternative ways to conduct research. One of the alternatives to animal testing is population studies. The study disclosed the system of the transmission of infectious diseases and also AIDS in addition to epidemiological, and in-vitro studies. Besides, it demonstrated the prevention from them, while animal testing did not show any results in preventing or treating AIDS. According to The National Institutes of Health, “more than 80 HIV/AIDS vaccines that have passed animal testing have failed in human clinical trials” (qtd.in PETA). It demonstrates that alternatives can be much more accurate than animal experimentation. Computer modeling is also an alternative. Rob J. Vandebriel and Henk van Loveren report in their article, “A computer-based mathematical model for contact sensitization was constructed from over 500 published papers” (“Non-Animal Sensitization Testing: State-Of-The-Art”). Accordingly, there are a lot of good alternative ways to conduct research.
Non-animal testing has great benefits indeed. First of all, it is often more accurate and reliable. Ranganatha N and I.J.Kuppast say in-vitro studies, which are derived from cultured human skin cells, were proven be more accurate than animal testing. While in-vitro studies discovered correctly all of the chemicals tested, rabbits misclassified 10 out of 25 chemicals (A Review on Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods in Drug Development). Secondly, it takes less time and less cost than animal experimentation. This is because scientists use computers or mechanical devices, so they do not have to spend time to raise animals. Moreover, animals have the possibility of getting infectious diseases, which take considerable time and costs extravagant amounts. PETA mentions that “Unlike crude, archaic animal tests, non-animal methods usually take less time to complete, cost only a fraction of what the animal experiments that they replace cost, and are not plagued with species differences that make extrapolation difficult or impossible.” Thirdly, it is environmentally friendly. When scientists use computers, or population studies, they do not have to dispose of bodies as much as in animal testing. Hence, alternative ways for animal testing are beneficial.
The Cosmetics Directive of Europe established a law to abolish animal testing and a prohibition to sell products and ingredients included in cosmetic products that were tested on animals in the European Union, regardless of where in the world testing on animals was carried out. According to Europe commission, “The testing ban on finished cosmetic products applies since 11 September 2004; the testing ban on ingredients or combination of ingredients applies since 11 March 2009” (Health and Consumers). Nevertheless, “most of the rest of the world still allows animal testing to a greater or lesser” (“EU Imposes Ban On Animal Testing For Cosmetics” 231). Also, PETA claims that in the United States many companies have been employing animal experiments for cosmetics, even if non-animal tests are widely available. Recently, the big Japanese cosmetic company Shiseido abstained from animal testing. It says on the official site that “Shiseido's goal is to eliminate "animal testing" for cosmetics, rigorously working to ensure the safety of cosmetics, in order that our customers can feel safe to use them, while paying full respect to animal protection as well.” Since Shiseido decided not to use animal testing, some companies have begun to realize the importance of animal rights. Cosmetics are not necessary for living. With non-animal studies, a great number of companies have been working successfully to sell safe products by using alternatives.
Despite evidence that animal testing is unnecessary, there are those that continue to promote it. Tom Chivers states on The Telegraph that it is necessary to continue animal testing in order to make sure and enhance human and animal health. He made his point that we have to do animal experimentation on the grounds that it is the only way to know whether or not new drugs are dangerous. Otherwise, we do not know that there may have side effects, and “it’s preferable to accidentally killing humans with untested chemicals” (7). He insists that animal research is definitely necessary.
Chivers advocates the necessity of research on animals strongly; however, humans have various ways to make sure whether the medicine has side effects or not. Moreover, there is no strong evidence that only animal testing is able to demonstrate accurate or true results. This is because living systems between animals and the human body are enormously different, and the human body is incredibly intricate. As PETA says, the research in regards to HIV/AIDS demonstrated the accuracy of non-animal testing while animal testing in the rabbits failed.
Animals cannot express the mistreatment to the scientists. We ought to take action to stop cruel and inhumane animal treatment unless it is significantly necessary. It is quite obvious that animal experimentation has contributed to human health discovery. Yet, there are many other ways that products and medicine can be examined, such as epidemiological, in vitro, population studies and computer modeling. Humans have no right to subject animals to testing as we please. Contemplating the rights of animals and refraining from animal-based studies as much as possible can alleviate animal suffering while also aiding in the discovery of alternative methods of research.