Animal Experimentation Essay, Research Paper
When faced with the choice of sparing an animal’s life or saving a human being, most people would reasonably choose to save the human. But are human needs more important than non-human animals? Most people think of animals as objects whose purpose is to serve our desires and whims, whether for the taste of their flesh, or the feel of their fur and skin, or the profit that can be made from either of these activities. Perhaps we should rethink the multitude of ways we use animals for our purposes and endeavor to minimize their pain, discomfort, and wastage in performing such necessary functions as research and agriculture.
It is a common belief that all creatures are created equal. Therefore, humans do not necessarily have the right to test animals to serve our own desires and whims. We actually utilize more animals today than ever before. Not only do we eat, ride, shoot, wear, trap, hunt, and farm animals, but we experiment on millions of animals world-wide each year. “In the 2 major areas of farming and experimentation alone, approximately a hundred billion animals are killed in the world every year. Use of experimental animals in the United States is estimated to be from 70 to 120 million. World-wide, there is about 500 million experimental animals altogether.”(1)
Most of us know that what we do to animals we would never do to people. We understand that people have certain rights that keep us from being eaten, worn, or experimented on by other people. What we don’t realize, until we really examine our beliefs about animals, is that rights cannot belong exclusively to human beings. A cow who has been killed, skinned, dismembered, and ground up is “beef”, “leather”, or “hamburger”. A laboratory rat is a “research tool” or “model”. It is hard, if not impossible, to understand that, like ourselves, non-human animals are sentient, which means that they are able to experience pain and suffering, and have emotional lives.
Animals are in laboratories because people have the brains and ability to put them there. However, it is not where they belong if they are not cared for with thier welfare thought of as a high priority. Once they are restrained and caged, we can burn, irradiate, infect, electrocute, poison, and sacrifice them. The extent of experimentation is limited by imagination, not law. When in laboratories, the animals are often confined in spaces that are too small for there comfort and well-being, forcefully bred or artificially inseminated, their offspring wrenched from them prior to weaning, given hormones, over or underfed, and finally killed.
Tests on some of the cosmetics that we are wearing right now, can be very harsh to animals. Rabbits are used in tests because their eyes are especially sensitive. Also, they have no tear ducts whereas they cannot wash test materials out of their eyes. In performing this cruel and inhumane test, a rabbit’s head is placed in a stock to prevent the animal from scratching or pawing at the eye in which the substance has been placed. ” The lower lid of one eye is pulled down and away from the eye. Then the test substance, such as shampoo, mascara, and even nail polish remover, is dropped into or smeared on the eye. Testers often look for redness in the affected eye, swelling, hemorrhaging, and other signs of irritation.”(2) Depending on the materials used, the rabbits can get ulcers in their eyes, and blindness often occurs. The rabbits may be used in some other test or killed after a test. Unfortunately this test, like many other biological processes, simply cannot be examined in isolated preparations. Therefore, there are no alternatives to this test, so it will continue to be used as long as people are purchasing those kinds of products.
Another test is one that works with toxic substances. ” As many as 200 animals can be used for this test.”(3) Rats and other laboratory animals are force fed with a stomach tube. They are observed until death. Other procedures to this test is that the animals inhale the chemicals. The substances are applied to the skin or injected into the body. “Testers look for signs of poisoning, bleeding from the eyes, nose or mouth, breathing difficulties, seizures, convulsions, paralysis, and a coma.”(3) Some experiments are just totally unnecessary and irrelevant to human beings.
However, animal research is not completely immoral or without merit because many benefits can be derived from the procedures. Many cures for diseases as well as the understanding of the physiological living system can be gained. However, while animal testing may be necessary in some cases, we should be working on three major aspects as a progression in science: refinement, reduction and replacement. For example, testing should be limited to the lowest number of animals possible. All precautions should be taken to eliminate or reduce pain and discomfort in the animals. In the years to come, we should continue to develop alternatives to the use of animals in research, product testing, and education. Many have already been found. Some alternatives now use cell and tissue cultures, micro organisms and other species believed to have limited or no feeling for pain and suffering. Computer models can provide answers or guidance in research procedures or techniques; fewer animals per experiments or study; fewer techniques that cause pain and discomfort. As other alternatives they could include X rays, film strips, take apart animal and human models, video tapes, and medical problem solving kits. As previously discussed, animals may be needed in some cases, but it is unnecessary for the animal to suffer needlessly.
One way that we can influence how industry treats animals, is the way that we purchase its products. Just as the people changed the way that tuna was fished, by refusing to buy canned tuna that was not caught in a dolphin friendly manner; we can boycott products that were not made with animal welfare in mind. For example, we should only buy products that specifically indicate that they do not test on animals, because just as much as we enjoy that food, clothing, or cosmetic, an animals life was put to an end just for us. The Humane treatment of animals in all of our animal related endeavors, carefully judging which are necessary and which are not, should be our ultimate goal. After all, who else can be “humane”, except for us humans.
(1) Orlans, Barbara F. In The Name Of Science, Issues in Responsible Animal Experimentation. Oxford University Press,
New York. 1993
(2) Regan T. The Case For Animals Rights, Animal Rights. Harper & Row, New York. 1969
(3) Szymczyk, Jessica “Animals, Vegetables and Mineral” Working With Animals in Laboratories. Newsweek article, August 14, 1995