Animals Like Us- The truth about Animal Experimentation
Jade Burke investigates animal experimentation in the 21st century and its lasting effects on society
Written on 19 March, 2013 by jadeburke77.
Animal experimentation, or as it's more commonly known as animal testing, invites controversy as many believe this type of research is unnecessary, whereas others believe the practice is crucial if the human race is to survive. Animals that are tested on vary from mice and rats, to birds and fish and primates, all of which can be tested for medicines and vaccinations, household products, food additives and chemicals. It is because of this that the medical profession has been able to move forward and transform, but usually with the price of an animal's life. When a new drug is tested on an animal, it almost always either killed in the process or finally euthanised.
British law states that any new drug produced for medicine must be tested on at least two different types of live mammal, to ensure the drug works and will not harm any human that will come into contact with it. However, the fact that drugs must be tested on animals is often worthless as nine out of ten drugs tested on animals successfully, fail on humans. An example of this is when the drug thalidomide was introduced after it had been tested on animals. The drug was used to treat morning sickness for pregnant women; however, the drug actually caused birth defects due to incorrect animal testing. The website Pro-test states that the drug "thalidomide was not tested on pregnant animals. If a thorough battery of tests had been performed in animals, the teratogenic effects would have been caught."¯ Because of previous mistakes made due to animal experimentation, many people have disregarded it as a way of finding cures and vaccinations. This is usually because the life of the animal is wasted for human benefit, as sometimes the drug can create effects that scientists would never have anticipated.
British law has also banned the use of animals for tests on cosmetic products in 1997, throughout the United Kingdom. Although this law is enforced, mice are still used to test botox, as it is still used as a medical treatment. However in more recent times botox is more commonly known for its 'off-label' cosmetic use, meaning animals are essentially still being used for research within the cosmetic industry. To know that this is happening begs the question: why humans do not test these drugs or products on themselves. If these drugs are for a human's benefit surely we should be the ones to test out if its use is viable, rather than subjecting to an animal to cruel laboratory experiments?
Although animal testing has created amazing vaccines for life-threatening diseases, such as HIV and Aids, it is a distressing thought to know that animals are being used solely for the human population, regardless of the product scientists are testing.
Considering other, more successful experiments, scientists and professors have found treatments for cancer and vaccines for deadly viruses, in the process of animal testing. For example, professor John Stein of the Oxford Functional Neurology group stated in a television programme 'The Big Questions' that animal testing is: "justified for the improvements of medicines and treatments."¯ The professor is currently researching a cure for Parkinson's disease which he says would not have been possible without the use of animal testing on primates.
Tom Holder, from Pro-Test, an organisation that promotes animal testing, spoke to me about his feelings: "We have a moral duty to try to eradicate human suffering, by using animals for research"¯ however he also agrees that animals shouldn't be "harmed for any reason, and that animal welfare should be a priority across the country."¯
Animal experimentation involves many pros and cons, and it will always be a difficult subject to deliberate. However, many animals can be harmed and killed in the process and it is argued that this unlawful killing of animals for the life of a human is extremely unfair. Many scientists who support the testing on animals believe that if five primates are sacrificed during research for a disease, this can be justified if it means saving the life a human being. This is strongly disputed among activists and campaigners such as the BUAV, The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, as they believe there are other ethically correct ways to conduct research for medicines. These include MEG scanners, a technique for mapping brain activity and this could replace primates being used for scientists study in brain activity. Michelle Thew, Chief Executive, of the BUAV, spoke about the use of primates and said: "There is no ethical or scientific justification for their use in research."¯ As other research methods are available it is hard to understand why they do not replace animal testing. rnWhen new research methods are created constantly for the human race, it could be argued that animal testing is unnecessary. However, sadly these methods are not favoured by the medical profession, as more than 2.5 million live experiments were authorised in Great Britain in 2000. This has occurred because it is believed that human life has greater intrinsic value than animal life. I feel this is unethical, as animals do not have a voice and therefore we as human beings are the ones that must stand up for them.
In my view, it is immoral to say that an animal’s life is not as worthy as a human’s, when after all we are ‘animals’ as well. Peter Tachel from the Greater Love campaign stated on the programme ‘The Big Questions’ that: “to treat them as objects for our benefit is morally wrong.” I believe this statement is correct as we should not be able to determine the length of an animal’s life. We have no right as a race to do this as they are living creatures who feel and have emotions, like us.
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