Animal Rights

For the past 20 years, there has a been an on going heated debate on whether experiments on animals for the benefit of medical and scientific research is ethical. Whether it is or isn't, most people believe that some form of cost-benefit test should be performed to determine if the action is right. The costs include: animal pain, distress and death where the benefits include the collection of new knowledge or the development of new medical therapies for humans. Looking into these different aspects of the experimentation, there is a large gap for argument between the different scientists' views. In the next few paragraphs, both sides of the argument will be expressed by the supporters. A well known scientist named Neal D. Barnard said," The use of animals for research and testing is only one of many investigative techniques available. We believe that although animal experiments are sometimes intellectually seductive, they are poorly suited to addressing the urgent health problems of our era, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, AIDS and birth defects." He goes on further to say that animal experiments can not only mislead researchers but even contribute to illnesses or deaths by failing to predict any toxic effect on drugs. The majority of animals in laboratories are used for genetic manipulation, surgical intervention or injection of foreign substances. Researchers produce solutions from these animal "models" and are adapting them to human conditions. Unfortunately, these animal "models" can't always be connected with the human body thus creating problems. Many times, researchers induce strokes on animals in order to test certain methods for curing. The downfall of this procedure is that a healthy animal that experiences a sudden stroke does not undergo the slowly progressive arterial damage that usually plays a crucial role in human strokes. In another illustration of the inaccuracy of animal research, scientists in the 1960s deduced from many animal experiments that inhaled tobacco smoke did not cause lung cancer. For many years afterward, the tobacco industry was able to use these studies to delay government warnings and to discourage physicians from intervening in their patients' smoking habits. We all know now that this is totally untrue and that smoking is a large contributor to cancer. It turns out that cancer research is especially sensitive to differences in physiology between humans and other animals. Many animals, particularly rats and mice, synthesize within their bodies approximately 100 times the recommended daily allowance for humans of vitamin C, which is believed to help the body ward off cancer. The stress of handling, confinement and isolation alters the animal's mental stability and introduces yet another experimental variable that makes any results from testing even less valuable to human helping. In many cases, drugs and other substances are given to the test animals but studies have shown considerable differences in the effects of these drugs on different species. David Salsburg of Pfizer Central Research has noted that of 19 chemicals known to cause cancer in humans when ingested, only seven caused cancer in mice and rats using the standards set by the National Cancer Institute. This justifies that many substances that appeared safe in animal studies and received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in humans later proved dangerous to people. The drug milrinone, which raises cardiac output, increased survival of rats with artificially induced heart failure; humans with severe chronic heart failure taking this drug had a 30 percent increase in fatalities. Also, the antiviral drug fialuridine seemed safe in animal trials yet caused liver failure in seven of 15 humans taking the drug (five of these patients died as a result of the medication, and the other two received liver transplants). Scientists and the populous that do not agree with the experimentation of animals believe in different methods. These techniques include epidemiological studies, clinical intervention trials, astute clinical observation aided by laboratory testing, human tissue and cell cultures, autopsy studies, endoscopic examination and biopsy, as well as new imaging methods. In the last decade, scientists with these views have learned to respect the animals for their own species observations and for their ability to communicate. On the reverse aspect, many scientists are firm believers of animal research. This group believes that experiments using animal have played a crucial role in the development of modern medical treatments, and they will continue to be necessary as researchers