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Animal Experimentation: the Fallacy of Our Ethical System

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    Norman led Jennie into the laboratory and had her sit on a metal table near the windows. She sat quietly while Norman fitted her with a helmet containing electrial monitors and couplings for attaching the helmet to other devices. She was watching people walking across the lawn. When Norman finished, she had to lie down while the helmet was secured to a large machine and her arms and legs were secured to a table. All she could see now was the ceiling. Norman hooked up the monitoring devices in the helmet to a large console, checked out his equipment, and then turned it on.

    Jennie’s head was given a tremendous blow by a piston that crashed into her helmet. She was knocked unconscious and stayed that way while Norman pried off her helmet. When she regained consciousness, she went into convulsions for two minutes. When the convulsions stopped, Norman ran some tests on her. She was blind now and could not control her arms sufficiently to grasp and carry to her mouth some food placed in her hands. Finally, she was wheeled into another room where she was given an injection.

    Jennie died in less than a minute, and Norman began the work of decapitating her, describing the condition of her brain, and preparing slices of her brain tissue for microscopic analysis (Sapontzis). This is one of the many inhumane stories of animals who die every day for the sake of laboratory testing. Animal experimentation is a huge field that includes three main types of experimentation. Basic research, applied research and toxicology testing are the main fields of animal experimentation (Lankford 7). Although things like basic research is less harsh that toxicology testing, all experiments use animals as subjects to kill.

    Also, animal experimentation has extended to the many braches of science and there are a lot of people involved with it. From private cosmetic companies to big governmental corporations, they all experiment on animals (Lankford 9-10). Many researchers find it to be beneficial to test chemicals meant for humans in animal subjects- from household products and cosmetics to cures for fatal illnesses- but animal experimentation is unnecessary and ethically wrong. Research gathered from animal testing is more than often inaccurate.

    The animal testing provides no surely whatsoever about what these chemicals do to humans (Greek). Greek provides insight into the biological differences between humans and animals. Although humans and animal have very similar body systems, the systems have visible differences. These visible differences have an impact when it comes to assimilating drugs (Greek). For example, rats have no gall bladder; this makes it easier for them to detoxify themselves. Greek also explains that rats always breathe through their nose and have different skin absorption mechanism than humans.

    Therefore, gas toxins and epidermal lotions will not affect rats to a lethal level. These are differences on a gross level, and already will yield completely different results than if the same drugs are used on humans. There are also smaller differences between humans and animals. These are harder to observe since they are largely chemical. Greek explains: Therein lies a greater dilemma. Medications do not act on the macro-organism, the large, visible level of, say, keeping the organs in the right arrangement or bones in the right place.

    Medications act on the microscopic level. They interrupt and/or initiate chemical reactions, altering molecular activities that are far too small for the human eye to observe. Indeed, medication’s actions are not apparent, even with high-tech instrumentation, until they occur. In short, we may give humans some lethal chemical and have no idea why they die. This occurs simply because we didn’t pay attention to significant chemical differences between humans and the animal on which the chemical was tested. Humans are never kept on cages or anything similar.

    Since subject animals are kept captive, test results will be different than free humans. According to the former National Cancer Institute Director Dr Richard Klausner, “We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans” (Thompson). These mice were kept in labs, so they weren’t affected by environmental factors that cause cancer in humans like sunlight or smoke. In addition artificially induced in animals in a laboratory setting are never identical to those that occur naturally in human beings (Thompson). Also, psychologically these animals are different.

    In her essay Animal Experimentation is Unnecessary, Miller tells us that the mental state of lab animals can produce misleading results. If the animals are in a state of extreme distress from being trapped in tiny cages their whole lives with no stimuli and no room to move around, it can induce their various body systems to behave different. It all comes to money in this world, and animal experimentation is extremely expensive. 18 billion dollars is spent annually by vivisection industries in the United States (Miller). Most importantly is the fact of where is all this money coming from?

    Thompson explains that funding for animal experimentation comes from taxes, donations, lottery tickets and consumer products. This means that even pro animal rights people are forced to fund these animal experiments through taxes. Where the money comes from isn’t even as important as what the money is used for. In Millers essay, she gives examples of research money used in ridiculous experiments such as: malnourish rats to produce retarded offspring, stimulating female rat sexuality via glandular secretions and eve trying chemotherapy on fish!

    Even though huge amounts of money are spent on “improving” animal experimentation, regulations on this matter are inadequate. Most countries don’t have regulatory measures that protect animals. Experimenters don’t even have to count the mice and rats they kill (Thompson). There’s nothing that prevents companies from killing as much rats, birds, reptiles, and amphibians as they want. Also, labs are not required to provide any pain relief or veterinary care to these animals (Thompson). Adding to this is the fact that animal right laws are not clear and are loosely enforced.

    There are about 9000 facilities that the US Department of Agriculture regulates. But they only hire 99 inspectors to oversee these facilities. Reports over a span of 10 years concluded that even the minimal standards set forth by the Animal Welfare Act are not being met by these facilities (Thompson). We finally come to the biggest argument against animal experimentation; it is ethically wrong. “Why is it ethical to exploit animals in research when so exploiting humans would be ethically intolerable? ” (Sapontzis).

    Just because something benefits a group of people doesn’t mean it is right. In his essay Animal Experimentation is Unethical, Sapontzis compares animal experimentation to experiments run by the Nazis during WWII and slavery in the colonial United States. He argues that one group of people benefitted at the expense of exploiting another “species. ” Since those acts in history are now frowned upon, we should learn from history and stop animal experimentation. People explain animal testing through the argument that animals are not rational or autonomous.

    While that might be true, animals are still sentient. Animals feel fear. They feel isolation, and most importantly they feel pain. Some of the tests they run on these animals are completely inhumane and irrational. Lab animals live alone in cages. They do absolutely nothing, except maybe “rock back and forth to make it more interesting, day after day” (Miller). Miller explains that eventually, most animals will have reduced brain activity. However, this is nothing compared to what the actual test are. John B. Calhoun gave a group of rats everything they needed to live but space.

    The result was an extreme population boom that ultimately traumatized the rats that didn’t end up dead (Adams and Ramsden). Innocent animals are cut open while still alive, scientist crush their bones, and damage their muscles. In the Maclean’s article The Rat Race, scientists in Switzerland broke the extremities of a group of rats in order to try and develop a theory for paralyzed humans. Animals are burned to study severely damaged flesh. They get corrosive acid injected, rubbed on, or sprayed into their bodies, especially their eyes.

    Finally animals get lethal, and often painful, diseases injected into their systems and sadly after all they went through, all laboratory animals are killed. There’s another argument that says that because animals can’t say no, it is ok to experiment on them. This is completely ridiculous. They cannot say, “I have a stomachache” or “my head hurts,” or ever “I ache all over. ” Hence, until animals manifest grand scale malaise in a lab, observations are all guesswork (Greek). We can’t even tell if an animal has a headache. This means we are just assuming these medications work.

    To counteract this ridiculous argument that animals are ok with testing on them just because they don’t say no, simply think about children. Kids, especially infants, aren’t aware of their surroundings. They won’t say no, but it is ethically intolerable to experiment on children. Just because their defenseless, doesn’t mean we can take advantage. Humans are believed to be superior to animals. Consequently, we are justified to sacrifice these “lower” life forms to protect and enhance our human life (Sapontzis). In his essay Animal experimentation is Unethical; Sapontzis counteracts human superiority by stating that:

    Some philosophers have argued that our superior worth derives from our being ethical agents, which requires normal human intelligence, since ethical agents must be able to recognize impersonal rules, control their appetites, and be motivated by a sense of duty. Such philosophers forget that generous sentiments are as ethically admirable as a sense of duty. Loving parents are, if anything, superior to merely dutiful parents. It follows that we are not the only ethical agents, since many animals, from loyal dogs to industrious beavers, are capable of unselfish action.

    Given our destructive, exploitative history, it is not obvious that we are the most ethical species, either. This proves that we aren’t the most ethical species ever. Nonetheless, even if we take it that human are ethically superior to animals. We can’t use it to support animal experimentation. Ethically superior beings sometime have extensive obligations to and only circumscribed privileges over their “inferiors,” as in the case of human adults dealing with young children. In religion for example, god is superior to us, but that doesn’t give him the right to exploit us.

    In politics, the governors are superior to the governed, but they still don’t have the right to exploit them. Discrimination from aristocratic viewpoints such as race, social class or sexual orientation is considered wrong and naturally we have moved towards equality. Therefore, eliminating aristocratic bias from animal experimentation would contribute to continuing ethical progress (Sapontzis). Looking that the issues from different perspective, we can see that animal experimentation is unnecessary. At the end, they have to test the drugs on humans too.

    We must think outside the box and develop alternatives to animal experimentation. If we look at the market, there are thousands of medicines that are useless. Instead of using animals to test new drugs, we should focus on improving the ones that already exists. Also, why concentrate so much in curing a disease; it is more productive to work on preventing it. We already know how we are on the inside, so why use live animals to test new things? We can use computer simulators to achieve the same purpose, plus we won’t hurt anything with this alternative. As Miller put it in her essay, “we must fight to get more humane treatment, and we must start using the quicker, easier, less expensive, and much more reliable alternatives to animal research. ”

    Works cited

    Adams, Jon, and Edmund Ramsden. “Escaping the Laboratory: the rodent experiments of John B. Calhoun & their cultural influence. ” Journal of Social History 42. 3 (2009): 761+. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. Greek, C. Ray, and Jean Swingle Greek. “Animal Drug Tests Do Not Benefit Humans. “Sacred Cows and Golden Geese: The Human Cost of Experiments on Animals. New York, NY: Continuum, 2000. Rpt. n The Rights of Animals. Ed. Auriana Ojeda. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004. Current Controversies. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 2 Dec. 2012 Lankford, Ronnie D. Animal Experimentation. Farmington Hills. Greenhaven Press. 2009. Print. 2 Dec. 2012. Miller, Sarah Rose A. “Animal Experimentation Is Unnecessary. ” Animal Rights. Ed. Shasta Gaughen. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005. Contemporary Issues Companion. Rpt. from “Animal Research. ” Humanist (Sept. 2001): 15. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. Sapontzis, S. F. “Animal Experimentation Is Unethical. “

    Do Animals Have Rights? Ed. Jamuna Carroll. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005. At Issue. Rpt. from “Unethical Considerations: Probing Animal Research. ” AV Magazine (Spring 2002): 6-8. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. “The rat race. ” Maclean’s 18 June 2012: 8. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 2 Dec. 2012 “Using Animals for Medical Testing Is Unethical and Unnecessary. ” The Ethics of Medical Testing. Ed. Tamara Thompson. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. At Issue. Rpt. from “Animal Experiments: Overview. ” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA]. 2011. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 2 Dec. 2012.

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