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The Need for Animal Experimentation

Updated on June 28, 2017

Animal experimentation is the use of animals to carry out various experiments. These experiments may be for research, medical or academic purposes. Animal experimentation for research and medical purposes is done mainly to test new procedures, drugs and equipment to see how effective they are in dealing with the intended issue as well as to take note of how new or developed chemical compounds such as medicine react to animal cells and whether the targeted result will be achieved. In academic fields, animal experimentation is mainly used so as to enhance understanding and offer firsthand practical experience while learning rather than relying entirely on theory or observation. The use of animal experimentation offers participatory observation as opposed to non-participatory observation and this serves to enhance learning. Animal experimentation is an important step in the learning process, especially for students in the medical field. “These students are fencing in one particular field for which they may need the exploration of new knowledge. For getting this new knowledge, the use of animal experimentation might be the necessity.” (Kumar et al, 2015, 390). But is animal experimentation wrong or right? Is it ethical or un-ethical? Scientists and animal activists should support animal experimentation because it leads to developments in the field of medicine and it is useful for medical students in learning medical procedure.

In its various applications, animal experimentation offers practical advantages but at the same time, it raises ethical, philosophical and logical questions as to whether it is right, whether it is the best method applicable or whether there are better options that can be explored. However, one cannot fail to notice the importance of animal experimentation as far as we human beings are concerned especially in the medical field. Further, animal experimentation has offered us the opportunity not only to develop new medicine, but also to develop new procedures, technology and equipment to ensure treatment of various ailments and conditions, as well as to keep on improving because it enhances learning.

Solomont (2005) postulates that “Animal experimentation is a necessary step when it comes to developing most new chemical compounds that are intended not only for use by human beings but also by the animals themselves” (p, 66). It would be detrimental on the life of a human being to simply issue new chemical compounds as well as treatment methods without ensuring that proper tests have been done. These tests are necessary to help scientists know whether the new drug or treatment procedure will actually help or will end up having a negative effect.

Animal experimentation is ethically correct as an alternative to human experimentation for high risk experiments. From an ethical point of view, some will argue that animal experimentation is unethical as it tends to diminish the value of the lives of animals used in such experiments. This is a view that is greatly held by animal activists who hold the view that the life of an animal is valuable and since animals too can suffer, therefore they hold the view that “It is not ethically correct to experiment on animals for the sake of human beings” (Ghazanfar, 2002, 38). On the flip side, if animals are not used for experimentation, then that would mean that experiments should be done on actual human beings. It is important to note that, there exists experiments that are done on human beings but such experiments entail procedures and substances that are relatively known to cause little or no harm to human beings. For experiments that involve the use of substances and procedure considered to be of high or unknown risk, animals are used and therefore to say that animals should not be used would imply that human beings should be exposed to experiments that would as well be fatal or severely affect the quality of life lived by those involved. It is therefore more ethical to put the life on animals at risk as compared to the life of human beings which is more valuable.

Animal experimentation is necessary in the research and development of new medical procedures, equipment and medicines. Imagine how life would be if there never was animal experimentation? Think of the many times you or one of your loved ones has fallen sick or needed a medical procedure done or maybe needed a certain equipment to either keep them alive or maintain a good quality of life. All these treatment procedures, equipment and medicine undergo tests and experimentation and most of them will apply some level of animal experimentation before being used on human beings. Without this necessary animal experimentation, you would probably lack medicine, equipment or there would be no procedure to treat various ailments and conditions that affect you or a loved one because how would they be developed without tests. What would be the life expectancy if all these were not there? Would you have to sit and watch your loved ones suffer because there is no expertise, medicine or equipment to offer them much needed relief? At the end of the day, even those who are against animal experimentation have in one way or another benefited from the various achievements that have been realized as a result of the use of animal experimentation in one way or another. Think of the various cancer research experiments done on animals, think of the numerous tests done on animals in the search of a cure for various diseases. Think of the current animal experimentation going on in the world to find a cure for HIV.

In most cases, scientists have carried out experiments on animals using various chemical compounds until they arrived at a working formula that can be used in the making of medicine. Even better is the fact that animal experimentation has not only helped in the treatment of diseases but also in the prevention of diseases through the development of vaccines. You can now keep yourself from contracting certain diseases as a result of vaccines that were developed form animal experimentation. To those who view animal experimentation as evil, then it is a necessary evil. The pros outweigh the cons.

Animal experimentation is necessary so as to come up with the best working components of various medicines and medical procedure? From a logical point of view, you cannot come up with a new way of doing things and roll out immediately but rather you test and over time if the results are satisfactory you roll out. Similarly, when faced with a disease or ailment, scientists cannot simply come up with an idea of a chemical compound, formulate it and roll it out. What if it does not achieve the desired effect? What if instead of bringing relief it causes further suffering? What if instead of relieving you of a certain ailment it actually leads to a new one? All these are questions that need to be answered before hand and it would therefore be detrimental to use human beings so as to carry out tests and experiments. Kumar et al, (2015) explain that “to get primary knowledge in a proper form, one is bound to expose and do the new in congeners who are very close to human beings.” (388). In using animal experimentation, scientists are actually using animals to save human lives. Kumar et al (2015) go on to point out that “Use of one species can be utilized for exploring the knowledge and preparing better medicines and techniques to be used in other species” (388).

Animal experimentation is important in the study of medicine and teaching various medical procedures. It is further used for academic purposes especially for students in the medical field. As much as one would learn in theory, there are situations where by for one to completely comprehend and be in a position to actually see what exactly they are learning, there is need to perform intrusive procedures on live subjects but we must appreciate the fact that such procedures cannot be carried out on human beings who are still alive. This therefore requires the use of animals so as to give one a firsthand experience. For example if one is learning a certain surgical procedure, it would not make ethical or logical sense for the student to try out the procedure on a human being who is alive and this would necessitate the use of animals. “…as in the case of cardiopulmonary bypass surgery technique countless animals experiments were done which resulted in the success of open heart surgery” (Kumar et al, 2015, 389). Clearly we cannot do without animal experimentation.

Animal experimentation can be monitored, minimized and substituted where possible but not completely done away with. Animal activists and those who oppose animal experimentation hold the view that animal experimentation should not be done either in totality or should be done on a minimal. Their opinion is highly valuable. As much as animal experimentation has its benefits, and it has led to great discoveries in the world of medicine and learning, it comes with its own limitations. If left un-monitored, it can as well lead to unnecessary experimentation that would have great impact on the lives of animals. It is important to note that animals play a very critical role in nature and they should be protected. There should be alternatives to animal experimentation such as the use of technology and where safe the experiments can be done on human beings and there has been considerable increase in the search of new alternatives to animal experimentation and also the monitoring of animal experimentation to ensure it is done ethically. “Before permitting animal experimentation, the authorities must ensure ecological and human benefit.” (Kumar et al, 2015. 390). For example in Canada investigators are required to submit their animal-use protocols to the institutional animal care committee (ACC) for review before beginning their work, according to Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Association (FELASA, 2010, 11). It is through works such as Debbie et al (2013) where we get insights that animal activists get more voice to show that animal experimentation should be done away with. Those who oppose animal experimentation hold the view that “Over time there have been various significant technological developments that make it possible for scientists to carry out investigation and experiments without necessarily involving animals” (Debbie et al, 2013, 57). Considering this line of argument, then there should be a decrease in the number of animals used in animal experimentation. According to FELASA (2010), “The three Rs that is Replacement, Reduction and Refinement-alternatives to using animals provide a set of guiding ethical principles that act to minimize the adverse impacts to animals when they are used for research” (p 11).

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