Approximately 100 million mice, rats, rabbits, Guinea pigs, cats, birds, and dogs undergo painful procedures in scientific experiments carried out in laboratories around the world. Statistics released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) revealed that about 95 percent of drugs tested on animals and verified as safe for use on humans usually fail during trials. The use of animals in experimentation and the emergence of resistance against vivisection dates back to the nineteenth century.
Vivisection refers to the process of operating on animals for purposes of scientific experimentation. Animal testing is a controversial issue that has attracted arguments for and against the practice. This paper is going to argue that animal testing in experimentation should be banned because it infringes on the rights of animals, non-animal alternatives exist, as well as the fact that it is unethical and inhumane.
Violation of Animal Welfare
The operation of animals for scientific purposes violates animal welfare. Opponents of animal testing argue that scientists infringe on animal rights by breeding them in unconducive living environments and subjecting them to procedures that cause stress and suffering (Rocklinsberg et al. 46). It is difficult to provide an environment similar to the animals’ natural habitats. Therefore, the animals are kept in conditions that alter their normal functioning with regard to the way they respond to internal and external stimuli (Rocklinsberg et al. 46).
In addition, these environments alter their normal functioning and behavior, and as a result, expose them to unnecessary stress. The majority of breeding structures are small and enclosed. This leads to overcrowding and isolation. The animals suffer apathy and boredom as they are unable to roam around and interact freely.
Unethical and Inhumane
Studies have shown that the animals used in scientific experimentation are exposed to painful procedures, which subject them to suffering and stress (Rocklinsberg et al. 49). Researchers opposed to using drugs for pain relief argue that the medications might alter the results of the experiments. Simple procedures such as the retrieval of blood from animal bodies, injection of drugs and chemicals, as well as the extraction of organs, cause a considerable amount of pain (Rocklinsberg et al. 49). In many cases, the animals are killed after the completion of tests. Moreover, animals that are not experimented on are killed.
This practice is unethical because, like humans, they have a right to life too. Researchers use procedures that cause the animals a lot of pain and suffering: injection with drugs, hole-drilling through skulls, extraction of muscle tissues and organs, seizures, crashing of the spinal cord, and the insertion of test objects into the animals throats (Rocklinsberg et al. 50). Animals cannot defend themselves against abuse in scientific investigations. Therefore, the practice should be banned in order to improve animal welfare and stop the inhumane treatment of rats, guinea pigs, birds, and rabbits in breeding centers and laboratories.
Animal testing is unreliable because the majority of diseases that infect human beings do not affect animals. Diseases such as schizophrenia, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, as well as various types of cancer and heart disease are not found in animals (Rocklinsberg et al. 65).
Researchers artificially induce them in animals as a way to mimic their presence in humans and find cures. However, this practice ignores the differences between human and animal nervous systems and the influence of genetics, psychology, and physiology in disease development. As mentioned earlier, most of the drugs tested on animals either fail to work or are dangerous for human use. Cures for HIV, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and diabetes have not yet been discovered even though animals have been used for testing in research studies involving these diseases (Rocklinsberg et al. 78).
The Existence of Alternatives
Scientists have developed alternative methods that can be used to test products and drugs, as well as replace animals as experimental objects. It is important to replace animals with more advanced test methods because animals are ineffective and expensive test subjects (Kojima et al. 64). Examples of alternatives include human cells and tissues, computer simulation programs, as well as human volunteers (Kojima et al. 64).
These methods are cost-effective and take less time to complete tests compared to animals. In addition, they are more accurate in predicting the possible reaction of the human body to various products than animals do (Kojima et al. 65). Cell-based tests and tissue models have gained popularity among scientists because they are effective alternatives to animals in testing the safety of drugs, consumer products, and chemicals.
Counterargument and Rebuttal
Proponents of animal testing argue that the practice has improved human health and well-being immensely because it has led to numerous medical breakthroughs. For instance, the discovery of antibodies, insulin, and vitamins, as well as the development of transgenic organisms was successful because of the use of animals in scientific testing (Rocklinsberg et al. 34). They further argue that the advancement of understanding in areas such as energy metabolism, memory, and brain function, as well as the development of autoimmune disease was made possible by animal testing (Rocklinsberg et al. 36).
These arguments are valid because vivisection has played a key role in medical advancement in the past few decades. However, the rate of failure of drugs that have been tested on animals is proof of the ineffectiveness of animal testing.
Therefore, researchers should halt the use of animals in scientific tests. Studies have shown that newly-developed computer models are accurate in predicting how new drugs will react with the human body (Kojima et al. 87). In addition, the models can accurately simulate human biology and disease progression through various stages. For instance, Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships (QSARs) are technological innovations that can predict whether a drug will be hazardous to the human body or not (Kojima et al. 89). Methods such as brain imaging and recording techniques can replace animals in tests involving the study of brain disorders.
The use of animal testing for experimentation purposes is a practice that has been ongoing for several decades. It has led to several medical breakthroughs despite the rising resistance from opponents of the practice who have campaigned for its abolishment. Animal testing should be abolished because it is unethical and inhumane, it violates animal welfare, as well as more accurate alternatives that could be used, have been developed.
Vivisection exposes animals to painful procedures and unconducive breeding environments that cause stress. Procedures such as injection with chemicals, blood, and organ extraction, as well as the crashing of the spinal cord subjects, test animals to immense pain. New technologies have aided in the development of advanced methods that can mimic human biology and disease development better than animals. Animal testing is expensive, unethical, and ineffective. Many drugs that are tested on animals usually fail or are dangerous for human use. Therefore, the incorporation of animal testing in experimentation should be banned.
Kojima, Hajime, et al., editors. Alternatives to Animal Testing: Proceedings of Asian Congress 2016. Springer, 2019.
Rocklinsberg, Helena, et al. Animal Ethics in Animal Research. Cambridge University Press, 2017.