An Essay on the Experimentation of Animals in Laboratories

Categories: Animal Testing

Animal Testing/Experimentation: Why not?

People who would end experimentation on laboratory animals dont understand the importance it. They dont realize that we have came a long way in animal research that has benefited humans tremendously. From bettering human bodies, curing diseases, and saving lives is all due to animal testing. (Hoagland 23)

It is very easy to find extreme statements for and against experimentation on animals. Publications like Frank Stilleys The $100,000 Rat and Other Animal Heroes for Human Health tend to paint a glowing picture of animal experimentation as untainted by inhumane practices and motivated by the pure selfless desire to better the human condition (Goodwin 217).

There are six main reasons for animal testing. First, animals have a much simpler life span than humans. This means that they are less complicated. They are less complicated organically and psychologically. It would take years to understand a human organism. It would also take a long period of time to fully evaluate a human psychologically.

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If you study animals you can cut back on a lot of time (Hoagland 111).

Secondly, animals usually have a shorter life span. This factor is important because the transmission of genetically determined traits is of vital interest. For example, if you test on the life of a mouse it would take about five months. On the other hand, if you test on the life of a human, would take 50-60 years (Hoagland 111).

Thirdly, one can control the animals environment more easily than that of the human. The researcher decides what the animal eats and where the lives.

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Humans may not want to live under such a controlled life. So it would be wise to do research on animals. This reduces the number of variables that we have to take into account (Hoagland 111).

Fourthly, researchers can use larger numbers when they use animals as compared to humans. Even if they get human volunteers it will not be many. More experiments the researcher does the stronger his/her experiments (Hoagland 111).

Fifthly, one can use animals for critical experiments. This means experiments which it would be unethical to perform on people. There would probably be absolutely no human volunteers (Hoagland 111).

The sixth reason is that one can use animals as models for human systems and their responses. Humans are animals, in a sense. If something works in animal testing, there is a good chance that is may work in humans (Hoagland 111).

In sum, animals resembled humans to varying degrees according to species and in relation to the system or type of reaction under investigation. Many animal diseases are closely related or identical to their human counterparts. Researchers can also set up a situation for testing some reaction where the immediate cause, relevant influences, and irrelevant or extraneous factor can be strictly controlled (Camroe 4).

Some people may say, “Well what has animal based research accomplished or, is testing on animals worth risking the lives?” Frank Kendig stated in a speech: 

“In pharmacology there can be little doubt that the traditional and basic procedure of animal experimentation has been central in the development of drugs used in the treatment of diseases of known etiology drugs such as antibiotics, antiparasitics, antiallergenics, and others. It has also led to the development and validation of drugs useful in the treatment of diseases of unknown etiology drugs such as antiinflammatories, pain relievers, and drugs for nonspecific disorders such as heart and renal diseases. The whole field of nutrition has its foundation firmly rooted in animal experimentation, which has led to the discovery of diet essentials (such as all the known vitamins], the understanding of deficiency diseases, the interrelationship of diet and cardiovascular disease, and such recent mass programs of disease prevention as fluoridation. The literature shows that advanced surgical techniques (cardiac surgery and organ transplants to name but two of the more recent and glamorous, which will in their time move to the classification of routine), the control and management of hemorrhagic shock, the development and use of nuclear medicine, and even the conquest of space would not have been possible under concepts of research different from those that have evolved from centuries of efforts using animals as the basis for experimentation and observation.” (46).

The central role of animal experiments is the discovery and development of immunizations against a wide spectrum of diseases has been highlighted frequently. Some of the most noteworthy landmarks in the history of preventive medicine can be included here, such as vaccines or antioxins to combat rabies, cholera, diphtheria, tetanus, pneumaonia, polio measles, and viral hepatitis. Diphtheria, also known as yellow fever, killed thousands. If it wasnt for animal testing we would have fell victim to even more deaths. We really need to thank animal researchers for developing cures for these diseases that we dont have to worry about dying from (Miller 26).

Moreover, while animal testing improves or advances the life of human beings, animal testing also benefits animals as well. If you think about the concept of animal testing you will realize that everything learned for the benefit of man through animal experimentation is of the same benefit to animals. As the ICLA Governing Board of Cairo states:

“General medical research has provided the basis for important improvements in the care, feeding and protection from infection of domestic animals. It is also significant that a large proportion of the medicaments, procedures and materials used in human medicine form the basis for, or are identical to those widely used in veterinary medicine. Laboratory animal technology, which has done much to advance the health of experimental animals, particularly when allied to statistical analysis, also has led to significant reductions in the numbers of animals used.” (Hoagland 134).

Furthermore, animal testing promises far-reaching advances is genetic engineering.

Developments in this field are occurring so rapidly that it is very difficult for any survey to remain up to date for very long. In one typical experiment scientists accomplished the successful transplantation of growth hormone genes into mice, producing mice twice the normal weight that could pass on the new genes to their offspring. This represents a small but significant step toward the mastery of techniques that may eventually make possible the elimination of genetically inherited diseases in humans and animals. This is all due to the outcome of animal testing (Kim 160).

In addition, in the past few years animal research has led to progress in understanding the physiology of pain. This will lead to the control or eradication of pain itself. This is referring to the discovery of natural opiates in the brain and of specific sites where these substances concentrate. Here we have an example of a breakthrough with potentially profound consequences, which came about as a serendipitous by-product of brain research (Young 32).

Animal rights activists assert that animal testing is essentially cruel. This argument misses the point that experiments usually want to disturb the animal as little as possible in order to study its material response to whatever is being tested. About five percent of research employs procedures causing distress or pain. For example, this kind of animal experimentation has allowed us to develop effective painkillers (Young 32).

Animal activists also say that we should urge people to adopt measures such as an altered diet or increased exercise to prevent major illness, so that we wouldnt need so many new treatments. This misses the fact that much of what we have discovered about preventive measures is the result of animal research (Goldberg 29).

Some activists suggested that researchers should use alternatives like computer simulations. Anybody with half a brain should realize this doesnt even make good sense. Where do they think the data comes from that is then entered in the computer simulations? Researchers need to use real physiological data to feed the machines. Activists also argue that researchers should use PET scans, which can provide an image of how a living human organ is functioning, to avoid the use of animals. These activists must be ignorant to the fact that it took Lou Sokoloff, of the National Institute of Mental Health, eight long years of animal research to develop the basis of the PET scan (Goldberg 31).

The radical animal rights movements have become an increasingly powerful force that threatens the continued discovery and development of new treatments and prevention strategies for a variety of illnesses. The effort to end biomedical research with animals is based on a profound misunderstanding of how science really works and the gains we have achieved. Fundamentally, it represents a philosophical position reflecting a profound moral confusion that equates our use of animals with the enslavement of human beings and treats them as moral agents on par with people (Fox 170).

Animal rights activists made a decision earlier on to make scientific researchers their targets of protest rather than farmers. Even though the fact that more than ninety nine percent of the animal used in research are from farms. Peter Singer said that decision was made because farmers are organized and politically powerful, and they also live out in rural areas, which makes them hard to get to. On the other hand, scientists are not politically organized. They live in urban areas and arent very good at defending themselves because they often have trouble explaining their own work in simple terms (Black 43).

The most important truth about the history of medicine is that most major medical discoveries has been due to the account of animal experimentation. For example, an Australian psychiatrist named John Cade was interested in understanding what might be wrong in the brains of patients who suffered with manic-depressive illnesses. Since he was evaluating nitrogen metabolism, he wanted to see if giving them a substance called urea might help. Testing his hypothesis on guinea pigs, he used a salt form of urea, which happened to contain lithium, to make soluble solutions for the pigs consumption. What happened was that the guinea pigs became unexpectedly calm. Further experimentation revealed it wasnt the urea producing the effect, but the lithium, which came as a complete surprise to Cade and everyone else. Cade confirmed his findings by taking lithium himself and giving it to human patients. These patients experienced similar results. This single discovery has entirely revolutionized the treatment of manic-depressive illness. It improved the lives of many people and saved billions of dollars along the way. This was all thanks to animal experimentation (Fox 176). 

There was no way anyone could have predicted what the outcome of this experiment before actually performing it. There was no way to list the health benefits that would come from using those guinea pigs before the experiment was done. That would have been like asking for an answer before you understood the question. If you know the answer before you do the experiment, youre not doing research. There would be no point.

A long time ago, before animal rights fanatics arose, the National Institutes of Health sponsored a study to examine whether the governments funding of basic biomedical research was a good investment. As part of the study, the author surveyed practicing cardiologists to determine what the group thought of as the ten leading medical advances of their lifetime. They wanted to know the ten developments most helpful to their patients. The authors then traced the scientific ancestry of each of these discoveries and found that, in every case, animal research was a major component or factor (Goodwin 220).

It would be extremely difficult to find a working biomedical scientist who would dispute the importance of using laboratory animals. Only about twenty two percent of the work being done in biomedicine involves animals, more than ninety percent being rats and mice. Any one working in the field will tell you that its indispensable. You cant develop an understanding of a chemical or a gene and then try and determine its role in a complex human organism with billions of cells and dozens of organs without knowing how it works in the complex biological systems of animals. The animal model allows a scientist to understand what is actually happening at a level of detail that could be achieved in humans (Goodwin 221).

Think about one of the first people to perform kidney transplants. Dr. Thomas E. Starzi should come to mind. This great kidney transplant pioneer used dogs in his work. Starzi was asked why he used dogs in his work. He responded saying that in his first series of operations he transplanted kidneys in a number of subjects and the majority of them died. After figuring our what had allowed only a few subjects to survive the operation, he revised his techniques, operated on a similar group of subjects, and the majority survived. In his third group only one or two died. Finally, in his fourth group, all survived. The point, he added, was that the first three groups were made up of dogs, while the fourth group consisted of human babies. Just think, if had started on humans he would have been responsible for fifteen human deaths. Even though there are still animal rights activists who believe that is the choice that should be made (Feder 32).

Muscle laceration remains a difficult problem for orthopedic surgeons. Despite many studies related to the muscles ability to regenerate after muscle degeneration, very few reports state available information regarding structural and functional recovery after skeletal muscle laceration. Researchers have developed an animal model of muscle laceration in mice, where the gastrocnemius muscles were reproducibly transected. They compared the effect of a surgical repair versus a short period of immobilization (five days) on the muscle healing. The natural course of muscle recovery was monitored at several points after injury using histologic, immunohistchemicalm and functional testing. In the injured muscle, they observed a high number of regenerating myofivers and development of fibrotic scar tissue. Suturing the lacerated muscle immediately after injury promoted better healing of the injured muscle and prevented the development of deep scar tissue. Tetanus strength one month after injury was eighty one percent of control muscles for the sutured muscles, thirty five percent for the lacerated muscles with no treatment, and eighteen percent for the immobilized muscles. Based on the study, suturing a muscle laceration with modified results in the best morphologic and functional healing. This was a result of animal experimentation (Jacques 222).

Animal protection activists have at times said that as many as one hundred million of laboratory animals are used annually in this country. An impeccable repository of statistics on animal use in the United States does not exist. As concern over the use of animals in research and testing has grown, different observers have made varying estimates. Other estimates put the figure closer to ten million. The congressional Office of Technology Assessment projected an annual use figure of about twenty two million (Fox 150).

Maybe if these activists could realize that animal testing could improve their lives, they just might start thinking a little different. Like over in Britain, attitudes on animal experimentation shift dramatically when people were told about the potential medical benefits. Sixty four percent of two thousand and nine people in Britain, who were fifteen years old and older, disagreed with the view that scientists should be allowed to conduct any experiments on animal, and only twenty four percent agreed. Twelve percent were unsure. However, when told that animal experiments might hasten development of treatments for life threatening diseases, such as leukemia and AIDS, there was a huge swing in opinion. It changed from sixty four percent against and twenty four percent in favor to forty five percent in favor and forty one percent against. Fourteen percent were unsure (Woodman 1438).

The MORI poll found that people do not recognize the link between animal research and medical treatments. Thirty five percent said that they or a close family member had taken a prescribed drug for a serious illness in the past two years. At the same time, only about fifteen percent of this group realized that the drugs had been tested on animals. Alan Anderson, editor of the New Scientists, who commissioned the poll, told a news conference that he hoped that the findings would encourage a climate of reasoned debate in which scientists could talk openly about experiments instead of the present “bunker mentality.”(Woodman 1438).

The survey found that attitudes to animal experimentation vary dramatically with the purpose of the animal experimentation and the degree of pain suffered. While sixty five percent were prepared for mice to in experiments to develop a drug to cure leukemia, only fifty two percent would let monkeys be used in the same experiments. In the case of AIDS vaccines, the figure fell to fifty six percent and forty four percent respectively. When asked about less emotive treatments like new painkilling drugs, the percentages dropped to forty seven percent and thirty five percent. Fundamental research, such as studying the sense of hearing, was opposed by sixty one percent and seventy five percent respectively if the animals suffered in kind of way (Woodman 1438).

Despite the weakness of animal rights arguments, the animal rights movement has already cost society a lot. They should not protest and threaten to kill or try to hurt scientists who are trying to better mankind. Nothing destroys creativity like fear and these movements have introduced a sense of fear that fill the research community. The people who work with animals are now often segregated in high security buildings like bunkers. They are separated from their fellow colleagues. There has been an effective cut in biomedical research budgets resulting from the costs of increased security and compliance with new regulations. The public needs to understand whats at stake in this controversy before the costs mount any higher. We shouldnt forget that animal research has already done a lot for mankind. If we stop it then we will not progress. Researchers may even find a cure for cancer or AIDS through animal experimentation. As long as scientists meet regulations, limit experiments, and minimize suffering, let them continue to experiment.


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