Animal testing for medical purposes, also known as animal experimentation, is conducted when inventing new medicine to cure people. In order to test the safety and the effectiveness of new drugs, animals that share similar genetic groups with humans are used as experimental objects to simulate the human environment.
The world has been witnessing the debate of whether to ban animal testing since 1930s, when an animal-tested drug called the DEG caused more than 100 deaths of people . This essay will first argue against Animal Testing for medical purposes from moral basis. Then, it will deeply analyze the current situation of animal testing, distinguishing the achievements of animal testing from the apparent or hidden drawbacks, in order to persuade people that disadvantages overshadow advantages. After that, it will list alternatives to replace animal testing for medical purposes and prove their promising future developments. At last, this essay will summarize from all the arguments and give a conclusion.
Animal Testing is morally wrong. This is the basis of why it should be banned. Even where there are laws against cruelty towards animals , the brutality of animal treatment still crosses any justifiable line. Dr. Chaitanya Koduri, science policy advisor for PETA chronicles laboratories, wrote that rats and mice infested with worms and mites and the decayed bodies of newborn animals (were just) left lying on the groundsheep had holes drilled into their skulls and were injected with rabies Ratswere blinded after having glass tubes pushed behind their eyes to extract blood. Lauren Walker of Newsweek describes experiments like this: the monkeys were made to inhale a lethal amount of anthrax, (they had) difficulty breathing (they) were vomiting, losing control of their bowels. Many were just left to die . These are just a few of the countless examples of cruelty to animals. At least 115 million animals are tested on each year, large percentages of those without any anesthesia .
Yet, many people stay ignorant of all those immoral experiments, simply because they are far away from them. On the contrary, the benefits of animal testing to humans are quite obvious: it is helpful to cure human diseases. The details of this statement will be analyzed in the following paragraphs, in which they will be argued against. At this point, it is no bother to assume this statement to be 100% trustworthy, and the following theory will explain why. According to Kohlberg, the theory of Stages of Moral Development, whether to ban animal testing lies in the contradiction between requirements in Social Contract and Individual Rights (stage 5) and requirements in Universal Ethical Principles (stage 6) .
At stage 5, people tend to gain the mutual benefit for all in society. So, if animal testing for medical reasons is beneficial to the majority of mankind, it should be conducted regardless of any fixed law. That is the reason for many proponents of animal testing. However, at stage 6, people cease to just think of themselves, the society or any other concrete entities in the human world. Instead, their behavior depends upon universal ethical principles: justice, equality and conscience. From this level, although animal testing is probably beneficial, it is undoubtably cruel, because every form all it deliberately violates fundamental rights for animals as a form of life, and all lives are sacred. British poet Tomas Hardy has an excellent expression in the novel Jude the Obscure to clarify this phenomenon : Do not do an immoral thing for moral reasons. In other words, all kinds of animal testing should be banned, regardless of their different purposes; all kinds of animal testing should be banned, whether they are beneficial to mankind or not.
Supporters of animal testing have good reasons indeed. They argue that the medical and scientific advances earned by animal testing have allowed countless lives to be saved from the ravages of disease and injury, so that banning animal testing causes hundreds of thousands of deaths every year because of the lack of effective medicine. They can list a lot of achievements, including HIV , GBM and other treatments. Nevertheless, they apparently ignore the following three factors:
First, it has to be admitted that animal testing for medical reasons has played important roles in case of curing diseases, but the efficiency is questionable. In order to invent a valid new medicine, scientists usually conduct thousands of experiments, resulting in possibly one successful example. Cancer drugs, among all drugs, have the lowest success rate, for only 5% of all samples are proved effective after entering clinical trials. Other examples, such as psychiatry drugs (6% approved), heart drugs (7% valid) and neurology drugs (8% success), are in almost the same condition .
The problem with this is not because that scientists haven’t done enough experiments, but because human genetic groups, though very similar to those animals that we test on, are different and will only be affected by the genetic determinants and physiological mechanisms that are unique to our own. A study published in Science found that a crucial protein that controls blood sugar in humans is missing in mice. Even if scientists made this gene to express in genetically altered mice, it behaved differently. The worse thing was that this injected gene had exactly the opposite effect from what should have in humans — it caused loss of blood sugar control in mice. So, if scientists use animal models, they will not be confounded with relevant data. Instead, they will actually be diverted away from unraveling the causes behind human diseases and be misguided.
Second, the cost of using animal testing to make medicine is incredible. The US government, for instance, spends as much as $14.5 billion per year on animal testing, with several projects continuously demanding for taxpayers’ money but resulting in nothing . Anthony Bellotti, founder and executive director of White Coat Waste Project, said: This large amount of money is paying for experiments in which small dogs are forced to run on treadmills until they have heart attacks at schools like Wayne State University, and to study the effects of crystal meth on monkeys at UCLA. How can we justify government waste like this?
Moreover, there is little need to calculate the number of testing animals—they are too many to be counted. By sacrificing all those lives and all that large amount of money, what benefits does the world have? The truth is, whether supporters of animal testing admit it or not, billions of dollars are spent every year on useless programs that are cruel and inhumane and have no scientific benefits.
Third, even when drugs do pass animal testing, they can be deadly for humans. Blind faith in animal tests means that incidents like TGN 1412 trials happen. The drug showed no ill effects, after testing in mice, rabbits, rats and monkeys and even being given 500 times the dose for humans to those animals for four consecutive weeks. However, within minutes of being given to humans, some patients suffered from permanent organ damage. Horribly, one of them was spotted as swelling heads and was regarded as elephant man trial. This is not just a rare example. Alzheimers drugs and hepatitis drugs also reported similar accidents . If animal testing is aimed at saving human lives, it also puts people in greater danger.
From technological, financial and social perspective, animal testing has been proved unreliable, wasteful and dangerous; from the moral basis, it is obligated to stop this inhumane behavior. The strongest argument for not banning animal testing is now reduced to this: It is morally wrong and has all those disadvantages, but it is indispensable, therefore cannot be cancelled. It is possibly true before, during the last century, when other technologies were not developed. Today, things are different.
Artificially constructed organs can now model diseases and their cures, eliminating the need for animal testing. Donald Ingber, Doctor at Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, has constructed a human lung. Cells within it are susceptible to infections. When Ingber’s team added bacteria to the airspace of the lung-on-a-chip, white blood cells swarmed to the bacteria. They have also tested the toxicity of a cancer drug known to fill patient’s lungs with fluid, a condition known as pulmonary edema.
Ingber’s lung-on-a-chip is one of many new attempts at replacing animal models with more effective analogs. Despite artificial organs, computer models can extensively simulate human inner environment.
A research team at the Danish National Veterinary Institute has spent years feeding computer models with information about toxins. The so-called QSAR models (Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships) help them study unknown substances for health hazards, and they can also in certain situations reduce the demand of animal testing. This model is also capable of comparing the chemical structure of the new substance with existing substances in the database. Though not very developed, methods related to cloud calculating and huge databases like this will become mature in the foreseeable future.
With these methods, the number of diseases that need animal testing to cure is declining—ultimately it may be unnecessary at all, and this is not an unreasonable guess. After all, science and technology are always developing—a natural tendency. One day, animal testing would be old-fashioned and replaced
To sum up, animal testing for medical reasons has a cruel history, a questionable and current situation and a doomed future. Maybe it was useful and helpful in the past; it is time for us to ban animal testing now. The process could be long and arduous, but there is hope. John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the US, told his people in his inaugural speech to have faith. Although he was talking about something else, the spirit within his words is the same: All this will not be finished in the first hundred year, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet, but let us begin.
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