Experiments on animals are one of the most controversial issues of modern science. Scientists are doing them for various purposes that include the basic research of functioning of organisms, development of potential methods of treatment of human diseases, as well as checking on the safety and quality of medicines, equipment, and other facilities. Supporters of animal testing point to the enormous progress in medicine, which has become possible thanks to such an activity. Opponents, on the other hand, consider the practice cruel and pointless since the results of experiments are not always applicable to humans. Moreover, currently, the dominant view is the need for progress in experimental science including the belief that animals suffering as well as the number of laboratory animals should be minimized. Thus, in today’s world, the need for such a terrible practice is gradually disappearing due to a number of facts and ethical considerations.
The Cruelty and Inefficiency of Animal Testing
The first claim that is used by the opponents of animal experimentation is that it is extremely violent and inefficient. Every year, millions of animals die suffering and experiencing terrible pain during the tests. To illustrate, in medical experiments, animals have to endure the influence of fire, poison, and hunger. Additionally, they are subjected to electrical discharges and the impact of various drugs. What is more, they are instilled in deadly and incurable diseases such as cancer, AIDS, and diabetes. Their eyes are removed surgically, bones are broken and brains are damaged.
Nevertheless, there are those who say that these are necessary measures since the experiments make it possible to decrease the deficit of adequate medical treatment as it is an indispensable part of the process necessary to bring new drugs to the pharmacy. Therefore, they believe that animal experimentation is carried out for the invention of medicine that will save thousands of lives.
However, in response to this, one should draw attention to the fact that the efficient use of other species in the study of a human is not always possible because the percentage of the same reactions in humans and animals is too small. Moreover, there are both anatomical and physiological differences between animal and human bodies. Thus, medical tests with the aim to find new ways of treatment conducted with the use of animals are inefficient and even dangerous. For example, scientific observation has proved that morphine has an opposite effect on cats and human beings, while aspirin is toxic to cats, and penicillin is highly toxic to guinea pigs (Hart & Wood, 2008). Furthermore, experiments on animals did not show the carcinogenic influence of asbestos on human, which was subsequently identified after its use on people (L. Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008).
Another point that illustrates the inefficiency of animal testing is the fact that the largest part of animal experiments that were carried out during the past century for the purpose to invent new drugs and ways of treatments occurred mostly in past fifty years (L. Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008). However, the fact is that the average life expectancy is the same, and the variety of different new types of diseases is growing rapidly. Before appearing in the pharmacy, drugs have to undergo numerous tests on animals that last for 15-20 years which means they may not be necessary anymore (L. Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008).
Modern medicine has plenty of drugs that have passed animal experimentation and proved to be dangerous to humans. For example, when one researches the use of a sedative drug thalidomide by pregnant women, they can notice that 10,000 children were born with missing limbs and malformed as a result of its intake despite the fact that it had been successfully tested on animals and showed no toxicity (Human Research Australia [HRA], 2010). In the 60s, in the UK, 3,500 asthma patients who used aerosol inhalers that had been tested on animals died (HRA, 2010).
All the mentioned facts have demonstrated that the difference between the processes in humans and animals nullifies the feasibility of testing drugs on animals. Despite being checked on animals, the result for people is not getting rid of the disease, but damage to health and life. The fact that animals and humans are quite different physiologically and biologically, and have opposing responses to various agents and drugs leads to a reasonable conclusion that the use of animals in medicine under the guise of the pious aim of life and health improvement is absolutely unjustified.
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Animal Testing in Education and Science
Humanity has entered the third millennium, and now, there is no need to make animals suffer and die for the sake of science. The entire program of practical training in physiology and anatomy can be changed, and the use of the practice under consideration in education can be completely abandoned. However, the opponents of the idea claim that all the factors that prevent the development of civilization should be eliminated meaning that people have no choice. They either have to conduct experiments on animals or stop the advancement in science.
Nevertheless, today, such an approach does not stand up to criticism at least with regard to the experimentation within education because humane learning methods do exist. For instance, such ways of testing cosmetics include several types which are genomic, experiments in test tubes, computer modeling, studies on healthy volunteers and patients (L. Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008). The researchers have also given the world all kinds of machines, models, and replicas of the human body allowing students to learn without hurting the living creatures (L. Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008). Furthermore, other alternatives to animal testing carried out in the educational process include three-dimensional models, computer programs, interactive DVDs, videos, and tissue culture cells as well as animal carcasses of those ones who died of natural causes (L. Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008). Additionally, clinical practice plays a huge role. First, students observe how experienced doctors treat sick animals, then, assist during operations and other procedures, and later, start to perform surgeries under the supervision of specialists. Therefore, instead of killing healthy animals, students help to treat those who really need it (L. Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008).
Obviously, clinical practice and operating on the bodies of animals that died of natural causes nullify the main argument of supporters of vivisection claiming that when working exclusively with the alternatives, the student does not get hands-on experience. Most modern approaches provide better knowledge than practical experience, and sometimes, even better than the vivisection. That is why, in the education of the Netherlands, Switzerland, Argentina, Slovakia, it is no longer carried out (L. Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008). Furthermore, alternative studying methods are used in most universities in Italy, Sweden, England and Germany, and the quality of education is not influenced at all (L.Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008). Besides, in Italy, the UK and Sweden, there is a law allowing students to refuse to carry out experiments on animals if it is contrary to their moral convictions (L. Hart, B. Hart, & Wood, 2008). In this case, the university is obliged to provide them with humane alternatives such as computer anatomy programs that allow learners to see the body and structure on many sides. The employment of these programs allows us to save the lives of many animals and makes it possible to successfully work with those students who, for ethical reasons, do not wish to cause pain and suffering to living creatures.
The Ethical Perspective of the Issue
From an ethical perspective, there is no single objective that justifies the torturing of animals. These relationships of people with animals are exploitative and taking into account the suffering of animals, all experiments must be regarded as immoral acts.
Supporters of the idea of anthropocentrism might argue that the man being the lord of the universe, has the unrestricted right to use animals in their own interests including biomedical research. However, they do not realize that exploiting another species as a tool to achieve their goals is an immoral act.
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As a result, in 1954, Charles Hume first proposed the so-called principle of the three Rs (Kolar, 2006). The idea of the concept lies in the suggestion to provide maximum restriction of the use of animals in experiments. The three Rs stand for three parts of the idea and mean Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement (Kolar, 2006). The first point implies the substitution of tests on animals by the ones without using them while reduction means the decrease in the number of animals in experiments (Kolar, 2006). Finally, refinement involves the significant improvement of methods used in testing so as to prevent the pain and suffering of animals (Kolar, 2006). Today, the principle of the three Rs has been adopted in most countries of the world.
In the current world, much is learned through experimentation. However, there are many cases when people have conducted researches in extraordinary ways, mocking the animals. What is more, the test has not always brought any results. The rapid development of biomedical research has led to the fact that millions of animals are used in experiments every year. In this regard, the issue of the need to limit and rationalize the tests on animals in order to reduce the harm caused by a man to the fauna world as well as the necessity for compliance with certain ethical standards and rules has risen. Furthermore, animal experimentation is not always efficient and safe for humans who consume the end product. Hopefully, the time will come when the world will look at modern animal experiments in the name of science as it looks now at burning people in the fire in the name of religion.
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