11 November 2010
Animal testing can even be dated back to the ancient times of the Greeks and Romans. Physicians would dissect animals with the pure interest to obtain knowledge. But even then, one such physician stated that he would rather use a pig as his subject because he wanted to, “ avoid seeing the unpleasant expression of an ape” (Monamy 9). The ethics of animal testing has always been questioned. Humans do not want to think of animals as on the same level of us. The similarity is terrifying and makes the cruelty obvious. In the 16 century it has been recorded that early vivisectionists, scientists who perform experiments and operations on live animals, did not consider animals to be of the same lineage of us and barely cared for them. One such scientist, Relado Colombo, was known to perform live lectures on pregnant dogs. Maehle and Trohler said that he would take the young fetuses from the mother and harm them in front of her. Being a mother, she would bark furiously and attend her younglings, ignoring her own sufferings (qtd. in Monamy 9). Would a human mother not do the same? Though animals cannot speak and are not thought to be capable of our thinking, they do not deserve to have products tested on them or to go through horrible experiments just to better our scientific world. Animal testing should be completely outlawed or modified to where animals do not suffer, because experimentation is cruel and unfair and does not have enough beneficial results to deem it necessary.
Humans and animals have many characteristics in common. Like humans they have similar skin and organ systems and can tend to react and project the same reaction a human would. The animals that are generally used in research are mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, primates, dogs, cats, cows, fish, and birds. Over one hundred million animals are experiment subjects annually (Peta). Most of these animals are used in hope to make human life better and to progress in the world of medicine. The remaining animals are used as test dummies for products. Hundreds of thousands of animals are experimented on each year in order to figure out the results and dangers of products such as cosmetics, other personal care items, and cleaning supplies (Peta). Experiments and research are also done in order to obtain knowledge and attempt to advance in science. In most science classes today students will dissect animals that were caught or even bred just for the purpose to one day be cut open and discussed. Animals in laboratories are also constantly given drugs and chemicals to test out possible cures or solutions for diseases.
Many of these animals are bred either in the laboratory or in special companies. Others, like the primates, are captured from the wild. There is even a market for lab animals. Licensed dealers sell animals to research companies. These animals can come from miserable places such as puppy mills. Some dealers will do pound seizures and even go as far to lure animals in from the streets with meat and sedatives. Others will pose as animal control officers and get their animals that way (Peta). Found pet and “will give to good home” flyers are answered by the wrong people. It is terrible to imagine that some of these suffering animals were once or could pets, pets that were loved and adored and treated like family. It breaks one’s heart to know that a family member is being treated cruelly and has to suffer for something they do not deserve.
Many different tests are done on the animals in order to predict the effect it will have on humans. One test called the Draize eye test is done for eye irritancy and the effects or damage chemicals will cause in the eyes. It is a test created by John Draize, a scientist working for the United States Food and Drug Administration. During the test a substance of some sort will be placed in a rabbit’s eye and the rabbit will be observed in intervals. The rabbits may suffer consequences such as bleeding, ulcers, and blindness for up to three weeks. At the end of the tests it is probable that the rabbits will be killed (Types of Animal Testing). Another test is done to determine acute toxicity, which is done to calculate the danger when a chemical is exposed to the mouth and skin, or is inhaled. It is generally conducted on rats and mice. In the past the test included poisoning a large amount of animals and waiting until at least half of them died (Types of Animal Testing). The tests today are less lethal. They now conduct the tests until the animals show signs of suffering and then the scientist will terminate the experiment. These signs of suffering are severe and include agonizing pain, seizures, and loss of motor function. In the end though the animals are still killed in order for the scientists to observe the animals’ internal damages. A further experiment is called repeated dose toxicity, which observes chronic damage when exposed to chemicals daily over a period of time. Sometimes this test is done on animals other than rodents to obtain a more realistic comparison to larger animals that have the most similar features as humans. These animals are watched over the test period and then killed to find out the organ and body system damages. Skin tests are also performed on laboratory animals to test the skin sensitivity and see if an allergic reaction occurs from a product or material. Scientists will generally test a shaven spot and measure the amount of itching or swelling and also see if any irreversible damage was caused (Types of Animal Testing). Guinea pigs are often the subjects for these tests. Absorption rate or dermal penetration, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of toxic matters are tests called Pharmacokinetics. Animals will receive these chemicals by force-feeding, inhalation, or injection. Blood samples are taken but in the end the animal is killed and the organs are examined. In laboratories, research animals also experience a mutagen test. Mutagenicity is when a physical or chemical agent is injected that causes a change in the animal’s actual genetic make-up and leads to frequent mutations. Many of these mutations will cause cancer in the animals. In carcinogenicity, scientists purposely administer a carcinogen, a substance that causes cancer, to the animal. The animal is generally a rodent and is killed in the end for studies. Not only will scientists carry out research on animals but also they will also purposely have them reproduce, and they will study the reproductive and development aspects. Pregnant animals and their partners, typically rats and mice, will receive a chemical and they will be murdered before birth and the fetuses will be observed for toxicity reports (Types of Animal Testing). The nervous system is also studied in neurotoxicity in animals. Hens and mice are usually the subjects and the must endure doses of chemicals or pesticides over a long period of time and are then killed to examine the nervous system and the effects left. Another research experiment done is ecotoxicity, a test that involves fish or other sea creatures and shows scientists the environmental effects due to certain chemicals. In these tests it is possible that about half of the fish die within the first few days, and longer experiments measure the entire life cycle and can last up to two hundred days (Types of Animal Testing). There are numerous amounts of experiments done on animals for research purposes, and they all seem to affect the animal negatively.
According to a former employee at Huntingdon Life Sciences, one of the world’s largest research laboratories that have locations in England and New Jersey, stated that only five to twenty-five percent of the tests done agree with humans and are successful (Kinship Circle). The small differences between humans and animals can cause completely different reactions and therefore unreliable test results. Firstly animals vary from species to species and it’s hard to use a specific species for each test. The Draize eye test has been said to be unrealistic because the rabbit’s cornea has a different structure than humans and they also produce less tears, which allows the chemical to sit longer and cause more irritation. Skin tests have been criticized because animal skins differ anatomically and may have different absorption rates and are generally applied to the animals in a way that is not realistic to a human, like via injection. Also animals are often given large doses of a chemical. These doses are made larger in order to ensure they reach an animal’s cells or bone marrow, but can therefore be impractical when in comparison with a human. Animals have different reproductive cycles and life spans than humans so it makes it difficult to extract meaningful information when experimenting in those areas. Animals tend to have more than one offspring at a time so that creates different possibilities for each one, though humans generally have one child at a time. In contrast though ninety-nine percent of chimpanzee genes are shared with humans so the results are mostly accurate (Dixon). It is also said that surgeons perfect their trade by practice. By practicing on animals they obtain a feel for tissues and muscles and learn the best ways to go about their surgeries (Sherry 12). Though the counterargument for that is human corpses, which are clearly more realistic. In example of this cruelty was in 1983 when the United States Department of Defense announced plans to teach combat surgeons how to deal with bullet wounds by shooting anaesthetized dogs. They received much negative feedback so they decided to switch to farm animals due to the fact that the public would care less about them (Rollin 167).
Today, scientists are pursuing the “three Rs.” In 1959, two scientists Russel and Burch published this idea for change in The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique (Monamy 75). The “three R’s” are replacement, reduction, and refinement. Scientists are trying to replace research animals with other more ethical alternatives (qtd. in Monamy 5). Such alternatives are things such as EPISKIN or EpiDerm, which are models of reconstructed human epidermis that can be used in skin experimentation (Alternative Test Method Project Milestones). Other artificial products include man made simulated human eyes. Human cells and tissues can be grown in cultures and studied (Peta). Another proposed alternative is the isolated chicken eye test in which eyes are taken from slaughterhouses and used to identify chemical damage. These eyes are considered trash at the slaughterhouses and scientists would only be helping the companies out. The Ames test uses certain bacteria strains to detect genetic changes rather than using animals’ genes (Types of Animal Testing). The second “r” is reduction, and this simply means to reduce the number of animals used. Scientists are constantly repeating the same work over and over. There is too much duplicated and therefore unnecessary research being done (Sherry 8). The third and final “r” is refinement, refinement of laboratory and field techniques to reduce invasiveness and produce more valuable results (Monamy 5). Scientists are striving to use non-living subjects or subjects that are non-sentient and can feel no pain.
In the end the moral status of animals is questioned. Are they on the level of people, property, or pets (Hauser 5)? Most would not put animals in the same category as humans so giving them the same rights seem ridiculous. Humans are the alpha species; animals do not have our intelligence or capabilities. This is why we do not experiment on ourselves. We have too much value. Considering them as property is more realistic, but to put them on the level of other nonliving things does not seem fair. Animals are pets they feel, they love, and they care. They deserve to be cared for to have some rights. No animal deserves to have his or her life purpose be to give his or her life unknowingly for science. Just putting an animal under anesthesia does not get rid of the ethical wrongness. Animal testing and research is cruel and should be done away with.
Dixon, Thomas. “Animal Experimentation.” International Debate Education Association. Creative Commons Attribution, 7 April 2009. Web. 31 October 2010. <http://www.idebate.org/index.php >.
“Animal Testing 101.” PETA. PETA. 2010. Web. 19 October 2010. <http://www.peta.org>.
“Types of Animal Testing.” American Anti-Vivisection Society. The American Anti-Vivisection Society. 2010. Web. 19 October 2010.
“Who is Huntingdon Life Sciences?” Kinship Circle. Web. 31 October 2010.
Monamy, Vaughan. Animal Experimentation: A Guide to the Issues. Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.
Hauser, Marc D., et al., ed. People, Property, or Pets? West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2006. Print.
Sherry, Clifford J. Animal Rights: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1994. Print
“Alternative Test Method Project Milestones.” National Toxicology Program. NICEATM-ICCVAM. 25 October 2010. Web. 4 November 2010. < http://iccvam.niehs.nih.gov/methods/milestones.htm>.
Rollin, Bernard. The Unheeded Cry. Iowa State University Press, 1998. Print.