Animal Experimentation – Inhumane, Inefficient and Dangerous
Intellectual knowledge is precious for humankind, and with the continuous development of science, researchers thirst for remarkable discoveries, doctors desire life-saving treatments, companies fancy about international lines of products, and military personnel long for historic victories. How do we achieve these goals? Are there certain techniques such as animal testing unethical? Because animal experimentation is common among scientists and has a lot of supporters, it creates a wave of public controversy. In my point of view, animal experiments should be limited to the fullest, since using animals for scientific experiments is inhumane, inefficient and even dangerous.
In laboratories, researchers are imprisoning depressed families of chimpanzees in tiny metal boxes, separating the mothers from young chimpanzees, dropping chemical substances in their eyes, pumping newly-discovered medicine into their stomach, rubbing soon-to-be-advertised hand cream into their shaved skin. Such horrible scenes are one of the reasons David Suzuki in “The Pain of Animals” raises a question: “What gives us the right to exploit other living organisms as we see fit?” (558). Whether in the search for new medicine or knowledge, cosmetic or weapon testing, animals experiment is inhumane. Laboratories conditions are deprivations of freedom. Locking young chimpanzee is like “locking a two- or three-year old child in a metal box the size of an isolette – solid walls, floor and ceiling, and a glass door that clamps shut, blotting out most external sounds – and then leaving him or her for months, the only contact, apart from deeding, being when the door swings open and masked figured reach in and take samples of blood or tissue before shoving him back and clamping the door shut again” (Ian Redmond, BBC Wildlife, April 1988). Most animals are meant to be free, running through forests, swinging from trees to trees, swimming through oceans, but not to be captured. How do people feel if they are deprived of freedom, even worse, forced to live in small cages? So do animals. Moreover, experimentation is a cruel way to exploit animals, because nearly all animals end up suffering, soon dying. In protest against animal testing, a 24 year-old artist performed at Lush’s Regent St store a series of actions in a typical lab test: a lab technician dragged her with rope around her neck to the experimental area, stretched her small mouth with metal hooks, fore-fed her with mixture of yellow chemicals, dropped white substance into her eyes, shaved her hair and applied testing cream on her reddish forehead, while she was wired with electrodes, screaming and struggling; she was clearly terrified – like the unlucky animals were.
Also, military tests sicken animals with radiation and toxics, and wound them with bullets and cannons. Psychologists do research on animals’ reactions toward maternal deprivation obviously by taking their mothers away, drug and alcohol addiction by force-feeding them. Therefore, 112.6 million animals are killed in U.S. Laboratories every year. Even worse, Animal Welfare Act does not prohibit any experiments no matter how cruel and painful these experiments are, and it only covers basic housekeeping, which is not enough to provide animals with good living condition and leave 90% of experimental animals unprotected (Peta2.com). A faster, crueler ways to “exploit” animals is by testing lethal dose, which is the amount of substance or radiation per kilogram of subject body weight at which the subject will die. Each year, more than five million dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, monkeys, and other animals in these test die of stomach ruptures or being poisoned. The testers also jot down animal reactions, which include convulsions, laboured breathing, diarrhea, constipation, skin eruptions, abnormal posture, and bleeding from the eyes, nose or mouth. Animals are reported to die after suffering in 2 or 3 weeks (P.A.W.S. Club Petition).
Animals have emotions just like humans, so they do suffer from pain, deprivations and trauma. Why dogs are a lot of people’s best friends? I have a best friend myself, her names is Bear. Bear gave birth to three boy puppies. She really loves them. I had different food bowls for the boys and their mother. However, the boys were so ravenous that they came to eat from their mother’s bowl. Despite my disapproval about the boys’ behaviours, Bear just let the boys eat up all her food. I also remembered when there was a 5-year old disobedient boy at my house, playing with my little angels, the pups. After he violently dropped the snobbiest puppy down the stair, Bear ran immediately to her poor, unlucky child to comfort him and made sure he was ok. Bear was there, not behaving badly to protest against the boy’s action, but watching her kids very closely. I asked the boy to stop right away when he was about to throw the younger puppy into the sky. The time I had with Bear and the boys brought tears to my eyes. How great mothers are, and even a dog (I personally think that I shouldn’t use such term to describe such amazing creature) has maternal love. We, people, can barely watch other being dragged on the street, poisoned with toxic or wounded by bullets. We are afraid of seeing other screaming with fear, moaning in pain and suffering from torture. Some of us are even scared of loud noise, storms, blood or injections. So do animals! Hurting other people in anyway is immorally wrong, so what makes hurting other living creatures to accumulate knowledge is morally acceptable?
The ethical view is not persuasive enough; please look at some of the facts below.
The long, infamous history of animal experimentation proves that using animals in laboratory tests are inefficient. Animal testing has been conducted for a few hundred years, while animal ethology, the study of animal behaviours, is comparatively recent. Animals are used since the biology structures are fairly closed to humans’, but because of the biological diversity on Earth, the chemical and mental reactions are quite different. As the result, scientists fail to know the differences between human and animals’ reactions in several circumstances, which leads to experiments that not only harm animals, waste money, but also give flaw and pointless results. For examples, PCP is a tranquillizer for chimpanzees, but a recreational drug to humans. Penicillin can kill cats and guinea pigs but can save human lives. Arsenic is strong poison to human, but is nothing to rats, mice, or sheep. Morphine helps human relief pain and induce sleep, but promote excitement for cats, goats, and horses. Also, digitalis can kill dogs by raising their blood pressure, but save countless cardiac patients by lowering heart rate (“The Scientific Argument against Animal Testing”).
Again, animals have emotions. Captive animals would behave distinctively than animals in other conditions. Even under the same condition, the reaction may vary between individual with unique past experiences. How can psychologists justify human’s behaviours by the behaviours of certain groups of captive animals? For instance, in a research of trauma, to learn about humans’ experiences of shock, scientists have traumatized mice and studied their behaviours. The problem is that when scientists conduct the experiment, they simply assume that all mice are in the same mental and psychological condition. In fact, “[the mice] were all passive objects awaiting human action within the framework of an experiment designed to induce trauma”. Also, the experimenters fail to realize that the mice are traumatized already by captivity, so the result is totally “screwed up and pointless” (McWilliams, “Taking Lab Rats Seriously: The Case Against (Most) Animal Testing”).
There are arguments that stopping animal experimentation means the development of cures for cancer and AIDS will be stopped forever at the cost of human lives and medical movement. However, in a March 22, 2004 article in Fortune Magazine, “Why We’re Losing the War on Cancer” stated that: “Animals are not good models for human cancer for 2 fundamental reasons:
- Animals and humans do not get the same diseases. As a result, animal research focuses on artificially inducing symptoms of human cancer and attempting to treat those symptoms.
- Experimental drugs and treatments that have been found effective on animal models will not necessarily work in people.”
Furthermore, Moneim A. Fadali, M.D., in his book, Animal Experimentation: A Harvest of Shame, agreeing that even if the experimental drugs are effective on animal, chances of them work on humans are low, wrote: “Despite screening over half a million compounds as anti-cancer agents on laboratory animals between 1970-1985, only 80 compounds moved into clinical trials on humans. Of these, a mere 24 had any anti-cancer activity and only 12 appeared to have a ‘substantial clinical role.’ Actually, these so-called ‘new’ active agents were not so new: they are analogs of chemotherapeutic agents already known to work in humans.” (pg.25). Moreover, animals are widely used for AIDS research even though they don’t react to AIDS virus. The research on monkey misled to the inefficient development of an AIDS vaccine which doesn’t work on human. Consequently, AIDS researcher Dr. Mark Feinberg stated that: “What good does it do you to test something in a monkey? You find five or six years from now that it works in the monkey, and then you test it in humans and you realize that humans behave totally differently from monkeys, so you’ve wasted five years” (The Scientific Argument against Animal Testing).
While wasting times, efforts, finance, and even worse, lives of millions of beautiful creatures, there are many alternative ways such as embryonic stem cell test, the 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Photo toxicity Test, human skin model, microdosing, etc (Peta2.com). Therefore, New York Times brought good news in an article on November 12, 2009, that scientists, with their goal of using human tissues to replace animals in testing drugs, cosmetics or other products, continues to grow human skin, eyes, lining of the throat etc. in test tubes from donated cells (J.Feder, “Saving the Animals: New ways to Test Products”). As positive results, 3-dimensions human skin models are made to replace rabbits in testing skin irritation. In fact, a report in 2004 noted that 92% of the experiments succeeded on animals, but failed in human trials, while nearly 16 billion of dollars were spent and hundreds of millions of animals, innocent creatures of earth were killed (peta.org). What is the point of wasting huge amount of resources and gaining nothing, while there are alternatives?
It would be better if the tested drugs don’t affect humans at all than have dangerous impacts on public’s health. However, there were many cases in the past that were too deadly to be forgotten or forgiven. The first case is Thalidomide, promoted in German market late in the 1950s, which was advertised to have been safety tested on thousands of animals and would be a marvelous sedative for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, since it would cause no harm to either mother or child. In contrast, around the world, more than 10,000 children whose mothers had taken Thalidomide were born with severe deformities. The second case is Clioquinol, which was manufactured in Japan in the 1970s and marketed as a safe relief from diarrhea. By contrast, it caused diarrhea, so 30,000 cases of blindness and/or paralysis and thousands of deaths were reported worldwide (“The Scientific Argument against Animal Testing”). The third case was mentioned by Deborah Blum, in her 1984 book, The Monkey Wars: “In the late 1980s, scientists tracking the life histories of 59,000 pregnant women all vaccinated with Salk polio vaccine found that their offspring had a thirteen times higher rate of brain tumors than those who did not receive the vaccine.” (229) In addition to several disreputable cases in the past, most prescription drugs nowadays are tested regularly on animals, but still hundreds of thousands of people are killed every year, and more than 2 million are hospitalized due to these drugs. Reports also showed that at least 4 out of 10 patients who use a prescription drug may soon suffer from considerable side effects (“The Scientific Argument against Animal Testing”).
Animal testing is a step backward in science, since human genetic system was discovered, human tissues are grown in test tubes, and alternative ways can be used instead of exploiting animals in severe ways. Also, it is a waste of money and time, since the success rate is low and there are many major scandals about drugs, proved to be safe by testing on animals, harmed humans.
To conclude, scientific knowledge is precious to humankind, so animal research should be accepted if it helps humankind in exploration. However, animal experiments can only be used when there is absolutely no alternative, and the pain afflicting the subject is minimum. The reasons for these strict requirements are animals have the same right to live and be free as humans, so exploiting them in severe ways are inhumane; the experimental results are inefficient since animals and humans are different; the worst of all is tested drugs end up harming humans.
Works Cited List
Suziki, David. “The Pain of Animals.” College Writing Skill with Readings 4th Cdn
Ed. Toronto: McGraw Hill, 2005. 556 – 560.
McWilliams, James. “Taking Lab Rats Seriously: The Case Against (Most)
Animal Testing.” Freakonomics 28 Nov. 2011. 26 Oct 2012
J.Feder, Barnaby. “Saving the Animals: New Ways to Test Products.” The New
York Times 12 Sep. 2007. 26 Oct 2012 <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/12/technology/techspecial/12animal.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>
“The Scientific Argument against Animal Testing.” Stop White Coat Welfare. 28
Oct 2012 <http://whitecoatwelfare.org/aat-text.shtml>
Harris, Paul. “Is this the most extreme window display ever? Brutal treatment of
woman, 24, as she is subjected to ‘animal tests’ in front of horrified
shoppers.” Mail Online 25 Apr. 2012. 28 Oct 2012 <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2134555/Lush-animal-testing-protest-Woman-subjected-experiments-horrified-shoppers.html>
“Against Animal Testing Petition.” P.A.W.S. Club- Immaculate Conception High
Animal Club in Jamaica. 28 Oct 2012. <www.petitiononline.com/pawsclub/petition.html>