In today’s generation, there is a rise in population of those who are against the unfair treatment of animals, including the consumption of their meat, use of fur for garments, and testing for medical reasons. Using animals to scientifically test the safety of drugs and cosmetics for humans is controversial within many organizations, such as PETA and Pro-Test. Animals should be tested on for scientific reasons because it has been proven beneficial for human’s safety, and they do not have the same moral capacity as humans.
However, there should be set standards for conditions of how these animals are tested, as well as treated: they should be comfortable, they should never suffer, and they should be treated respectfully with their wellbeing highly prioritized. Every year, about 50-100 million animals are used scientifically worldwide. In 2003, about 3 million animals were used in the United Kingdom alone. One-third of those animals were used for pharmaceutical testing, while another one-third was used for biological comparisons. A majority of the animals used for testing are rats and mice.
Less than three percent of the animals used were pigs, dogs, and primates. Rats and mice should continue to be used for testing because, unlike primates, they have a low moral status. According to Pro-Test, an organization that believes animals should continue to be tested on medically, moral status means that the living thing can sense whether what they are doing is right or wrong, or will bring pain or pleasure. How one responds gives him or her their own moral value. For example, when we, as humans, see someone suffering, we help because we understand his or her moral value.
Humans do not give non-sentient living things moral value, and believe that since it cannot feel anything, how we treat them is not important. Seeing all non-sentient life forms suffer does not create an emphatic response because we know that it does not have the moral status to value its life. Testing animals helps advance the world scientifically. Using animals, researchers find the differences and similarities between how humans and animals develop and function biologically. Another reason is to find out the effects of diseases, medications, and cosmetics.
Scientists will use the animals to study the gene disease process and figure out the proper way to stop the disease. They will also monitor the health of the animals once exposed to new medications and cosmetics. Usually, the animals used are genetically modified and bred for science. The final reason is to have to opportunity to research the safety and hazards of certain chemicals that can be found in your home or in the environment. Since the 1970s, the United Kingdom has seen activism for animal’s rights. Many activists responded with violence, leading to the silence of many scientists researching with animals.
Regulations in the UK were established with the Animal Science Procedure Act of 1986. Because of this act, a researcher will need to obtain three separate licenses: researcher license, project license, and certification for the facility that is being designated for the research. Each researcher is required to also provide a cost-benefit assessment to prove their intentions are fair. This assessment shows that the conclusions of the research that will be found will be beneficial to society, and will outweigh the effects of the research on an animals life.
Peter Singer and Paola Cavelieri wrote the Declaration to the Great Apes. The two of them believed that if one has a right to life, freedom, and no pain, then they are a part of moral community, but animals do not need to follow those rules therefore do not have any moral responsibility. Their lack of responsibility leads to the dismissal of their rights of consent; therefore, animals cannot give or deny the consent to live. A jury in the United Kingdom discussed every aspect of the morality of testing on animals.
They decided that there are five moral features to help with their decision: the ability to feel pain and pleasure; high cognitive capabilities; satisfying species needs; social communications; and the amount they value their own life. The jury also laid out that the most popular decision that one chooses is that they should limit what should and should not be done to an animal in regards to scientific testing. For example, testing on a chimpanzee should not be done due to its high cognitive capabilities, but a test that requires minimum pain on mice should be allowed.
In other words, the benefits (i. e. a step toward a cure for cancer) should outweigh the costs (i. e. injured genetically- modified mice). There are four positions that one may take over this controversy: “anything goes” meaning there does not need to be any justification; “on balance justification” meaning the costs must be less than the benefits; “moral dilemma” meaning they understand that it is unacceptable, but if it helps a human it should be considered; and “abolitionist” meaning there should be no discussion as to why animal testing should be banned.
In contrast to non-sentient life forms, animals are able to feel pain and pleasure; therefore we should respect how our actions may hurt them. Although animals can feel pain, they cannot obtain the same moral status as humans, because, as humans, we are the only species that have the ability to reflect on our own actions, decisions, and beliefs. The Declaration of Helsinki states that animal research should continue to be allowed, but should remain morally justified. The animal should be comfortable in the surroundings and should never suffer.
The wellbeing of the animals is and should be held in upmost importance, and alternatives for the research studies should be used when warranted. Alternatives for testing can be using cells, DNA, and in-vitro. Some people argue that with today’s technology, we should be able to run the same types of tests through a computer. Although this statement is true, scientists prefer using animals, for the results are real instead of a computer-generated answer. A Replacement alternative means to substitute warm-blooded animals with microorganisms, eggs, and invertebrates among others.
Models, such as dummies or models on a computer, of real animals to be used for dissection can also replace them. Another alternative is reduction with which the researcher downsizes the amount of animals needed for his experiments. Refinement is an alternative that ensures that the animal has minimal pain. This is done by handling the animal in a humane way, and giving it the proper dose of the drugs being tested. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) states that some animals receive testing, and then they are killed.
The research done on the animals can lead to injuries and make them unable to live in the wild; therefore, the wild animals are kept in captivity. Being around humans may cause anxiety and create a fear of humans. Besides the effects on an animal from experimentations, other factors, such as transport, housing, handling, and restraint, can affect the animal negatively. It has been noted that 30 percent of genetically modified animals involved in an experiment are at risk of death, while 21 percent experience mild discomfort. Researchers can evaluate the animal’s distress by monitoring their increased hormone levels and decrease in weight.
These actions give more responsibility to make certain that the experimented animal is as comfortable as possible. Some of society believes that because of our biological differences with animals, the studies do not apply. However, the biological similarities that we share do help show the effects of chemicals and medicine on humans. Research has already proven effective treatments for arthritis, polio, and hepatitis C. If the benefits of testing on animals outweigh the detriments of it to society, scientifically testing animals should continue in the future.
Studying the conditions and side effects that the animals experience helps us understand our own biological systems. So far, tests have helped us with our current efforts on the management and cures of Cancer, HIV, insulin, antibiotics, and vaccines. The substances they are given during the experiments are to ensure the safety of humans who may be in contact with the medications or chemicals. The Foundation of Biomedical Research, based in the United States, notes that animal research has been imperative to the studies of humans and animals in the last century.
Many medical findings have been found due to the tests done on animals. Not only does testing benefit humans, but also it has helped find cures for other animals. Morally, humans place more value on their lives than animals. For this reason, placing an animal in potential danger is more acceptable than doing the same for a human. Testing on animals should be done for new scientific breakthroughs for health. However, the government should place regulations to keep the sentient living things safe and free from suffering.
Courtney from Study Moose
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