The Reasons Animal Testing Should Be Continued
The clash between the animal rights activists and researchers over the issue of, whether animals should be allowed to be studied in research labs, or not, is constantly debated. The heavily accepted plea of the animal rights activists to remove animals from testing is a completely preposterous goal, and when looked further in to, have extreme flaws and negative adverse effects on scientific progress and the world. Because of this, scientific research on animals should continue until other sustainable means are developed and the negative effects of the current “solutions” are resolved.
It is often claimed that the use of animals in testing is extremely dramatic and taxing on the animal’s health, and ultimately livelihood. While this is true in some cases, there are extreme restrictions on what scientists and researchers are allowed to do to these animals. With the most notable restrictions in the United Kingdom, where every researcher must have his procedural steps approved by a government organization known as the Home Office or HO, in England (Jha).
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The HO’s job is to first decide whether the use of animals is necessary, then to weigh the benefits of the research to the effect it has on the animals, and finally to minimize the suffering that the animal may endure by refining the process. This is known as the “three R’s”, which stands for Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement (Banner, 35). After all of these steps are taken, animals are finally allowed to be used in the research, while in the most humane possible way.
This is especially implemented when used on primates (monkeys), where they are seen to have more human like qualities and minds, and seen to have a greater risk of having mental or physical discomfort (Randerson). Although it is more heavily implemented in primates, it is also taken in to great consideration for rats, mice, and fish that make up 95% percent of all research subjects (“Mice and Rats”). This should be especially pleasing, considering these animals would often end up in a trap or on a dinner plate in a home.
It also should be considered that researchers and scientists are not some barbarian like people without a conscience, and when given the opportunity to not use animals in research, would ultimately take that alternative if it means getting the same results. However, this is not an extremely viable option, and using these moral codes before adequate alternatives are developed, ultimately hurts the results in which may be gathered from the research tself. The most commonly suggested solution to combat the use of animals in labs is the use of other alternative research methods. These methods involve test tube research, brain and body simulations, and the use of humans. Some of these alternate forms of research are used as full replacements for the use of animals, which cut costs, and time, because no money has to be invested in the upkeep of the animal subjects (“Limitations and Dangers”).
These tests include embryonic stem cell tests which is a partial replacement for birth defect animal testing, the 3T3 neutral red uptake photo-toxicity test, replaces the need for animals in sunlight-induced irritation in the skin, and the EpidermTM test, which is used as a total replacement for skin corrosial testing (“Alternatives: Testing Without Torture”). Although it is great that there are replacements for animal testing, there is an obvious trend with these.
The trend is that these replacements are only covering extremely specific forms of testing, and in a world where millions of animals, such as monkeys and rabbits, are tested on every year (not including mice and rats), there is a slim chance that enough alternatives can be developed to take out animal testing for good. These methods also do not cover a large portion of animal research, psychological testing, in which animals account for 7-8% of (“Research Animals in Psychology”). This leaves the only other alternative, and that is testing on humans.
And while there are willing participants who will accept payment to be tested on, the restrictions are heavy and the costs are exceptionally higher, not to mention the time in which they are allowed to test on humans is much lower than that of animals. So, in an economy where scientists already battle for extra funding on their research projects, the use of humans would make the job of gaining funding for their research that much more difficult (Gray). Especially given the physical and financial risks of testing on humans, researchers would generally opt for animals.
This can be seen in the case of Jesse Gelsinger, in 1999, developed systematic blood clotting as a result of testing, and later died (Niu). A multi million-dollar compensation was awarded to the family later on. This is a heavy setback, which would not have been as debilitating to the research if it were an animal based test. The obvious effect of these increased costs would be that less scientific research would go on, fewer scientists would be able to ultimately gain access to adequate labs and technology, and finally as a result of this, less progression in the scientific world would go on.
The major issues and setbacks pertaining to non-animal research are currently, often too big of a risk, and because of this, animal based research should continue. Ultimately, the effects of removing animals from testing would in turn debilitate our fellow humans. With the majority of pharmaceutical drugs being tested on animals for their accuracy, and limited risk involved in obtaining the results, this would be removed if animals were no longer allowed in research facilities. Pushing drugs to a market on long, drawn out human-based research would ultimately increase the time that important medications get to market.
This is because a form of research known as micro-dosing would be used, which is essentially giving subjects extremely small doses of a drug, and monitoring their body at the molecular level to see how it is metabolized (“Alternatives: Testing Without Tordture”). This form of testing has been known to often form false-negatives and false-positives (Rani). This means that a substantial amount of subjects would need to be tested further, and much more research would need to be done succeeding these micro-dosing tests, to come to a definitive conclusion of the safety of the drug when being used at a pharmaceutical level.
In the case of the swine flu, an average of 17,750 people were dying every month between April of 2009 and August of 2010, and with the use of animal test subjects, the vaccine was able to be tested safely and efficiently so that it could be brought to the people as fast and of highest quality as possible before more died or were infected with the virus (Seltzer). If the vaccine were not to be tested on animals, the human testing process could have taken months more to develop, and ultimately could have caused tens of thousands more lives to be lost.
This of course, is an extreme example of a pandemic situation, but would be the case of a lesser degree for all pharmaceutical drugs. At the current stage that micro-dosing is at, scientists and researchers chose to use it often succeeding the use of animal testing, as the chance of false results are lesser, and the riskiness of human trials is often not needed. These forms of research are used extremely well in harmony, ensuring that the pharmaceutical drugs are brought to people in need of them as quickly and of highest quality as possible.
Using micro-dosing as a full replacement to animal testing is as of right now, not feasible, but could eventually be the case when the process is further refined and more accurate. Implementing it now would only cause more harm to humans, and as a society that values human life over all others, is simply not an option. The goal of the Animal Rights activists is obvious, to stop the abuse of animals. This goal would be fine, if it were not a goal directed at a practice in which animals are given the highest possible care that can be afforded.
Even with this, animal rights activist’s still heavily protest these practices without remorse for the negative health and financial affects on their fellow humans that it inevitably causes. With this information and point of view in mind, it is extremely important that researchers continue to oppose these restriction’s on their lab testing, and use the current methods to innovate and push the medical and scientific world forward for the benefit of the human kind. As long as these negative attributes are present in the alternative methods to animal based research, then no changes will and should be made, until they are resolved.