The issue of animal experimentation remains contentious and provoking. Advocates for animal protection and rights have waged a strong criticism of animal experimentation for biomedical research or drug safety testing calling for its absolute prohibition. On the other hand, medical researchers and other proponents of the practice assert that without animal experimentation, many inventions made in the medical and healthcare field could not be made. The two sides debate on cruelty, morality and significance of the practice. Although recently we have seen major benefits of animal experimentation, there is a need to evaluate whether animal experimentation should be replaced by alternative methods or totally prohibited, where possible.
Objections against the use of animals in testing for humankind’s benefit were in existence since the early times. However, as the number of animals used for medical testing increased, protest campaigns gained momentum. Numerous agencies were designed to stop the practice decades ago. Through the 1990’s, campaigns against animal abuse gained more publicity and agitated the protest moods. As a result, in 1998, Britain banned the animal experimentation practice in the sector of cosmetics. However, one cannot say this was effective.
With an increased globalization and use of technological advancements, there is a need to address the issue and reach the consensus, because animal experimentation may accelerate in the future. The following research indicates that animal experimentation should be replaced by other methods or absolutely prohibited, where possible, since this practice deliberately inflicts pain on animals, deflects resources from alternative methods, may cause a considerable harm of humans by implementing unreliable findings, and since some regulations put in place to govern the issue are not effective.
Animal Experimentation Inflicts Pain and Suffering on Animals
Animal experimentation should be replaced or totally prohibited because it subjects animals to pain and suffering, which human beings would not consider for themselves. Before drugs, pharmaceutical compounds or medical products are put into the market for a human consumption, their safety and effectiveness is being determined by testing on animals. In many cases, animals are forcefully fed or injected with the test products. In some cases, an experimental product may be applied to the animals’ skin, eyes or other predetermined organs to observe its adverse effects or potency. In some cases, asserts Kolar (2006), this process may be extremely painful or even result in the death of animals. Moreover, some testing can deprave a quality of life of some animals used in testing. Kolar (2006) assert that millions of animals undergo such a pain every year regardless of the regulations being in place.
For example, cosmetic companies used a Draize eye test on animals to assess the rate of irritation caused by shampoos. Another example is the lethal dose 50 test, aimed at finding what dosage amount may kill 50% of the animals used in an experiment. These two examples demonstrate the inhumanity of animal experimentation. As such, it is important to make animal experimentation completely abolished.
However, supporters of animal experimentation argue these methods are necessary for the advancement of medical and biological knowledge. They argue that effect of medications on animals is the same as on humans, hence, the process is justified. To an extent, such statements of proponents make sense because advancements in addressing such conditions as tuberculosis, malaria and Hepatitis B among others have been fostered through animal experimentations. While this claim sounds plausible, it fails in acknowledging that animals used in the experiments are, in much respect, biologically and psychologically similar to human beings, especially in the characteristics of pain and suffering. Therefore, it does not make sense to inflict pain on animals; especially, when there are but a few chances of that the tested product will work.
Animal Experimentation Deflects Resources from Alternative Methods
For another thing, the practice of animal experimentation should be prohibited because it deflects resources from other methods that would be equally or even more effective. The exaggerated superiority of animal experimentation is a cost-intensive while, potentially, it can lead researchers in a wrong direction. Akhtar (2015) asserts that in many cases, researchers are lured to the wrong path by the promise that animal experimentation provides the best alternative for drug and other medical product testing and, consequently, opportunities which arise out of the developing other methods are not utilized. The laboratory growing of human organs; mini synthetic organisms, multi-organ chips allowing modeling of metabolic processes in the human body; printing of human living tissues in 3D format as well as cognitive computing technologies are all approaches that are rapidly gaining a widespread acceptance. In addition, a method of micro-dosing can also be used in experimentation instead of animals.Therefore, an extensive focus should be laid on developing these technologies aimed to replace animal testing.
Proponents of animal experimentation, however, argue that since human beings are extremely complex animals, there is a need to study their functioning and reaction to pharmaceutical products using equally complex organisms of animals. For example, the study of any complications in humans’ circulation system requires experimentation on animals’ circulation system. To an extent, such proponents make a valid point as at the moment we have no alternative methods matching the complexity of human beings as well as animals do. However, as much as this argument sounds convincing, it ignores the fact that human beings are extremely different from animals and, therefore, results of testing on animals are, to an extent, undependable. Differences between humans and animals range from visible characteristics such as weight, size, and physical anatomy to internal aspects such as the functioning of the endocrine system, central nervous system as well as the immune system. In 2013, a study of the mice models used in an earlier experiment demonstrated also the physiological differences between human beings and animals. The study established that the response of mice to inflammation is extremely different to those of humans, which is, hence, further proving the need of re-thinking this approach. On the assumption that nothing is more accurate than using animals in experiments, proponents should consider the advancements in technology which made a simulation of the human body functioning easy and accurate. The resources used for animal testing should be directed to developing better and more humane alternative methods.
Animal Experimentation May Cause Significant Harms of Human Beings
Another reason why animal experimentation should be replaced or prohibited is that it was proven that such practice sometimes leads to findings which cause a significant harm to human beings. For example, an effectiveness of dampening the immune system by the immunomodulatory drug TGN 1412 was tested on mice and rabbits, and the drug was proved to have no negative effects on animals. However, once injected, the human volunteers suffered adverse reactions contrary to what was observed in the experimental animals. After numerous tests, the drug still had no effect on the animals whereas humans suffered adverse reactions. This example shows that most animal experimentations can lead to harmful effects to human beings. Therefore, misleading and imprecise results from animal testing can harm specifically those human beings who expected benefits from medication.
Supporters of a practice of animal experimentation, however, argue that though such occurrences may happen, they are minimal. Further, they argue that animal experimentation helps to reduce extreme harms which may be obtained while carrying the same tests in human beings with no prior testing in animals. The proponents make some sense since the animals do help to eliminate usage of products and drugs that would cause extreme reactions. This argument, however, is flawed at its core. There is little to no sense in harming animals for a test that is not guaranteed to work. Carbone (2012) asserts that over 115 million animals are used every year in biomedical studies where over 25 million of them die. Justification of animal experimentation, in this case, is not only ethically wrong but also a fundamentally flawed since there is a little guarantee that human beings will not be negatively affected even after the products have demonstrated negative effects on animals. In such a way, risking the lives of animals in a process that can potentially harm the same human beings who were meant to benefit from the approach makes a little or no sense.
Current Regulations do not Protect All Animals
The last reason why animal experimentation should be outlawed is that the few regulations put in place in order to protect the animals have failed. Current licensing of animal experimentation calls for ethical evaluation. In his research, Kolar (2006) found that even with the implementation of the 3R’s (replacement, reduction, and refinement) rule supposed to protect the welfare of animals, the number of animals dying or suffering from animal experimentation was alarmingly high. The replacement in 3R’s calls for developing the methods to replace the use of animals, but this replacement remains only planned. The reduction aspect should lower the number of animals used for experimentation, but the numbers are increasing every day. Lastly, refinement calls for methods that decrease the inhumanity and pain in animal experimentation but little has been achieved in this regard. The in place legislation have failed to fully protect all animals considering the increased cruelty.
Those who support the engagement of animal to the research, however, argue that the regulations ensure that animals, where possible, are not harmed. For instance, the local and state laws and, in particular, instructions by the Animal Welfare Act, ensure that animals are protected. They argue that, for example, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, determines and approves animals for research. The argument does make some sense since regulations such as those prohibiting animal experimentation in the cosmetics industry have, albeit to a small extent, helped to reduce animal experimentation. Regulations have also protected apes and bonobos among a few other animals. However, even though the above-mentioned argument sounds valid, it ignores the fact that as technology advances, the need for the tests and experiments is increasing. The proponents also overlook the fact that there are worrying irregularities in reporting the actual number of animals used in experiments, whereupon, the numbers are possibly higher than the reported ones. Kolar also notes that today, an increasing number of fishes, mice, and non-sentient protozoa are being used for experimentation. Moreover, legislative restrictions toward experimentation on vertebra do not help address the issue as well. The protective legislation might have been working in the earlier days, but with the increasing demand for new biomedical discoveries aimed to address the emerging complications, the practice of animal experimentation can only intensify. This demonstrates the dire need to regulate the subject.
The issue of animal experimentation continues to attract differing opinions, most based on the ethicality or significance of the practice. Proponents argue that without animal experimentation, the cure for many diseases would not have been found. They further argue that the practice is justified since there is a legislation to protect animals and that animal experimentation helps to reduce the harm that humans may face if the drugs are not tested in animals. However, experiments in animals should be outlawed since they subject animals to pain and suffering, possess potential harm to human beings and deflects resources from non-animal alternative methods which would be promoted by the advancement in technology. More than that, such practice should be outlawed since the legislative regulations in place do not cover all the animals. Elimination of the practice should be gradual to guarantee a minimal breakdown in scientific research. Nevertheless, a society that does not practice animal experimentations does not necessarily become disadvantaged with regard to the scientific progress. Instead, it becomes the one that respects the rights of all the living things.