Animal testing is unnecessary. Supporters of animal testing contend that experimenting on animals is necessary to develop and advance human life especially with regards to health and quality of living. However, this is not so such that animals need not go through these experimentations and tests so as for scientists to know how to improve mans way of living. Contrary to claims that using animals is the only concrete way to finding cure for illnesses and improve life standards, there are other methods that are capable of replacing animal testing that do not only achieve the same results but can even be more accurate in the findings.
The Scientific Advisory Committee of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (2006) claims that the use of cell cultures rather than animals in establishing the toxicity of cancer drugs and in identifying contamination increases test accuracy and consumer safety. Other alternatives to animal testing include mathematical and computer models; use of organisms with limited sentience such as invertebrates, plants, and microorganisms; and human studies, including the use of human volunteers, post marketing surveillance, and epidemiology. (Bekoff & Meaney, 1998, p. 7).
Animal testing may cause harm than good for both man and animal. Those who support and are amenable to animal testing contend that the physiques and characteristics of animals are very much like that of humans and as such, the outcome of laboratory tests on animals can predict or produce the same outcomes to humans. There are certain characteristics and organs, however, found among humans that may be absent with the animals. Rats, among the most commonly used animals in research and testing, for example, do not have gall bladders like humans. As such, with different physiological make-ups between man and animals, findings in experiments that use animals may not be applicable to humans.
This does not only connote useless sufferings and even death on the part of the animals, it also poses threat to humans as well. A popular case in this contention is the Thalidomide tragedy. During the 1960s, Thalidomide was marketed and sold as a prescription drug to prevent nausea among pregnant women.
The drug was first tested on mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, and dogs and since no other side effects were observed in any of the animals tested, thalidomide was declared nontoxic (Stephens & Brynner, 2001, p. 9). Unfortunately scientists soon discovered that the drug caused birth defects among pregnant women who have taken it. This pharmaceutical tragedy, as such, reflects an underlying danger in using animals for testing: drugs that may have safely passed in animal testing may have adverse side effects on humans.
Animal testing is cruel. It is contended that the exploitation of animals is necessary for the welfare of humans. However, there is a thin line between arrogance and necessity among humans in the exploit of animals. This can be attested by the fact that animals suffer more in relation to the benefits that can be taken out of animal experimentation.
For example, using animals to test the efficacy of household items like tissues, towels and dishwashing detergents is not just unnecessary, it is cruel in that animals have to suffer for needless improvements of these products. Numerous reports have also emerged as to the cruelty imposed by researchers on laboratory animals. One of the most popular and most controversial of these is the alleged maltreatment of a macaque monkey named Britches. The monkeys eyelids were sewn shut as a part of a sight deprivation experiment. This reflects the kind of neglect and maltreatment given to tested animals in research laboratories.
Animal testing is expensive and time consuming. Tests done on dogs for example can last up to seven years during which it will be exposed to chemicals and other forms of experimentation. Being a time consuming process, it follows that animal testing is also expensive. It costs at least $8 to $20 million to test a substance. (Rollin, 1992, p. 147). It can even cause loss to those who engage in the activity. In 1980, for example, a coalition of animal activist groups attacked Revlon in newspaper advertisements for using the Draize test (Rollin, 1992, p. 150). This eye-irritant test involves placing a substance in the eyes of four to six rabbits (Thompson). The result of the test is used to evaluate eye and skin irritancy of new pharmaceutical and cosmetic products such as soaps and shampoos.
It has been contended that using animals in tests and experiments is not a viable and safe option. The primary argument of supporters of animal testing is that animals are necessary to advance and develop human health and human life. However, it has been proven that this is not so because there are new alternatives and methods that can replace, and even surpass the accuracy of animal experimentation. In addition to this, using animals in laboratory tests can even result to more harm than good for both man and animal as exemplified by the thalidomide tragedy. It is also cruel and expensive.
Bekoff, M. & Meaney, C. A. (1998). Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=20827171
EU approves new alternative to animal testing. (26 April, 2006). Retrieved October 3, 2006, from http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/news/ng.asp?n=67259-ecvam-animal-testing
Rollin, B. E. (1992). Animal Rights and Human Morality (Rev. ed.). Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=94706353
Stephens, T., & Brynner, R. (2001). Dark Remedy: The Impact of Thalidomide and Its Revival as a Vital Medicine. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=98121627
Thompson, R. C. (1988, February). Reducing the Need for Animal Testing. FDA Consumer, 22, 15+. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5002136127