Research has it that in the United States alone, there are about 26 million animals being taken to the laboratories to be used for scientific researches. These animals have been used by scientists to develop some vaccines, medicines, and to check the suitability of some substances for human and animal use, including the safety of these substances and their recommended intake in both humans and animals. Those in support of the use of animals to carry out tests have argued that it has enabled scientists to come up with results that promote the development of both animals and humans together, and that so far, we don’t have any other means of carrying out these scientific tests apart from using animals. They argue that the animals are also protected from being mistreated during the research processes with tough rules. Opponents of such research, on the other hand, have argued that research has been so cruel on these animals that cannot protect themselves from being used, and that it is inhuman to subject any living organism to these kinds of tests. They have also argued that not all results from tests done on animals would yield the same results on human beings since we are so different from animals.
The USA, for example, has witnessed public disapproval of such scientific research done using animals. These disapprovals later led to the passage of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) in 1966 before it went through various amendments up to 1985 to give more clarity on this issue.
The use of animals in scientific research is inhumane as some studies have discovered that animals that have been selected for these purposes are usually subjected to forced food intake, forced to breathe in, sometimes kept to stay without food for a long time, and exposed to some moments of pain and long periods of tiring physical activities. The animals are also killed in some instances by use of very uncouth means like breaking their neck, or even by use of harmful gases on them. Some of these experiments that are done to find out safety levels of products may kill more than a half of the animals selected for the research.
Another argument that has been fronted as a reason why animals should not be used for scientific research in today’s world, with all the modern technology, is that human beings are able to find alternatives to use in the place of animals. It has been argued that modern technology now allows tests to be done on human beings while inhibiting the unfavorable reaction of such tests on volunteers. These alternatives to animal testing are more economical as they have been found to be less expensive as compared to animal testing.
Arguments also exist that animals are so different from us; that the tests done on them cannot be relied upon to work the same way on human beings. Some researchers have raised this issue, saying that due to the huge differences between animals and human beings, such research is not useful..
Most of the medical products found safe for use by the animals have given very different reactions on humans; the fact that a product has proved safe to the animals does not guarantee that it will be safe for use by humans. Some of these drugs that had initially proved safe on animals have caused deformities and even deaths on human beings and had to be recalled back.
Some tests done on animals have caused harm to the animals or even death; a significant number have ended up being abandoned for the fear that they have the same or even worse results on human beings. This has proven not to be the case on many occasions as some drugs like Aspirin that proved lethal to animals have been successfully been used to treat humans for ages. At the same time, some products have passed the animals tests but ended up failing in human beings. An example is the case of the failure of some stroke drugs to work on human beings, and as Aysha, a neurologist explains, this happened after being successful in animals.
The fact that AWA’s description of an animal excludes about 94% animals that have been selected for research purposes means that they do not protect such animals and so it exposes these animals to a lot of bad treatments from the human beings who use them in the laboratories for tests.
Opponents have argued that animals, just like human beings, also suffer when exposed to research tests. They feel that it is very discriminating to leave humans out of such tests based on this basis and use animals which also go through the same pain that humans are protected from. The failure by AWA to shield and protect animals from the horrifying experiences in the laboratories that sometimes even make the animals to resort to self inflicted pain like cutting part of their body to try and escape the ordeals are clear signs that animals also go through suffering and should not be used in these tests.
However, all these arguments have failed to discuss sufficiently the reason why animals should not be used in scientific researches. The arguments that favor the use of animals have in most cases proved more worthy than the reasons against.
Use of animals for scientific research has, for example, led to scientists discovering treatments and also finding cures for the majority of diseases. Research by the association of biomedical research in California found out that almost all breakthroughs in the medical field have been as a result of animal testing. Another study named “RNA interference: from tools to therapies” played a major role in enabling scientists to come to develop some medicines from using RNA and DNA mapping. This was made possible through testing of animals and this discovery has continued to make major contributions in therapies to-date.
A research done on animals on the possible presence of pathogens on animals led to great steps in the biomedical health sciences since the scientists were able to realize that not all animals that show signs of pathogens had them. Some animals that did not show signs of having pathogens actually had them (Shariat and Pourahmadi, 2013).
Another research (Tanasoiu et al. 2014) that was done to find out the effect of supplementing food for the bees during winter and spring season led to the discovery that if farmers provide food supplements to the bees, the production of honey could be maintained at a high rate; the initial drop witnessed during such seasons was no longer felt. This test has led to improved productivity of honey, hence improving the agricultural sector and the economy in general.
Scientists have also, through animal testing, been able to improve animal breeds so that they are able to adapt to the environmental condition. Tapalaga and Bochis (2012) explain that testing on animals led to improved stallions which are a better breed as compared to the un-approved breed. This further proves that animal testing has brought more benefit than harm even to animals themselves. In this paper, Tapalaga and Bochis have succeeded in proving that animal testing is very important if we are to improve the qualities of our breeds.
Another research by Vicovan et al. (2011) that was done on the levels of protein on fattened lambs has helped to clarify the economic value of animal testing on animal production. Their research which led them to discover that dry fodders contain high amounts of protein have helped farmers and businesses decide on choosing the best meals for animals and this has been possible due to animal testing in the scientific research.
In his article “impact of field, fertilized with manure from big livestock companies on drainage water quality” Miseviciene (2013) has elaborated on some of the benefits of adding on the quality of water in animal yards. His realization that animal manure has an effect on water drainage has led to farmers making right decisions on their farms, all to the benefit of their farm animals.
Metallov et al. (2013) succeeded in making people to understand major aspects of fish rearing through their article “Biologically active additives in productive sturgeon diets” they expounded on fish assimilation which led to improved fish rearing and consumption. The study has helped humans to improve on nutrition, which is a very important aspect in maintaining good health for every individual.
The article by Lixandru et al. (2010) “Research regarding the accumulation in soya bean of heavy metals from anaerobic compost sewage sludge used as organic fertilizer” was able to give a detailed assessment the presence and level of heavy metals on plants and how they can affect animals. The research that was done on soya beans led to a discovery that plants that grow in anaerobic composed sludge environment had a lot of heavy metals, more than the recommended intake for animals. The research cautioned farmers on the dangers of feeding their animals with fertilized soya beans as this poses a health risk on the animals and the presence on this metals in animal means that they can reach human body if such animals are consumed .this was another one research that continue to prove that animal testing has given better results and should not be stopped.
The article “Researches concerning the situation of reproductive isolation and relatedness with immigrants of Furioso North star population from Beclean pe Somes stud farm” which was done by Lapuste et al. (2013)after investigating some of the effects of reproductive isolation and how they relate on FNS horse breed. From the study, it is evident that the knowledge that humans got about small difference among different horse breeds has played a major role in enabling scientists to come up with new breeds that can easily adapt to conditions and be tolerant to some of the diseases that were facing horses. This therefore goes further to assert that animal testing has to continue as it promotes enhancement of breeds. Only animal testing would have saved the dinosaurs if they existed in our time.
It is therefore clear that use of animals in scientific research cannot stop for any reason. We have seen how the animals themselves have benefited from these tests. It is through testing of vaccines in animals that has saved lives of millions of animals today from diseases like rabies and tetanus among others.
As for the opponents of these tests, they should be made aware that testing on animals is effectively regulated, for example, in the United States; state laws have guidelines and checks on the housing conditions of the selected animals. The laboratory is also inspected in regular basis by qualified veterinary officers to ensure that they are suitable for housing of these animals.
Every testing laboratory assigns some members of the facility to ensure that the animals there are not exposed to poor treatment from members in those facilities. These animals are normally taken care of in the best way possible as stress on them can lead to some unreliable results that this would mean poor research conclusions which are very dangerous to humans who are the intended beneficiaries of these tests.
Every qualified health scientist has heard of the world’s darkest moment known as the thalomide disaster. A sleeping pill that was presumed to be safe for human consumption caused a thousand babies to be born with deformed limbs. This continued without being discovered until the year 1962. It has been rightfully argued that if we did an animal test on this pill, probably we would not have gone through that dark period in the human history.
With the above arguments, animal testing is done mainly for the betterment of both the human beings and the animals. As a friend of mine once posed, WHO WOULD YOU RATHER DIE? THE BABY OR THE MICE?
Vicovan, A. (2011). Research regarding the influence of the structure of the ratio and of the protein level upon the weight increase and the quality of carcasses and meat at the lambs that are being fattened. Scientific Papers: Series D, Animal Science – The International Session of Scientific Communications of the Faculty of Animal Science, 5470-78.
RNA interference: From tools to therapies. (2010). Nature, 464(7292), 1225. Doi: 10.1038/4641225b
Tăpălagă, I., & Bochiş, F. (2012). Researches on the Public Mating Stallions’ Activity, in the West Part of the Country. Scientific Papers: Animal Science & Biotechnologies / Lucrari Stiintifice: Zootehnie Si Biotehnologii, 45(2), 383-385.
Tănăsoiu, I. C et al. (2014). researches concerning the effects of supplementary feeding of bees families during autumn, winter, spring. Scientific Papers: Series D, Animal Science – The International Session of Scientific Communications of the Faculty of Animal Science, 42112-114.
Shariat, S. N., & Pourahmadi, A. (2013). Investigation, isolation and identification of cutaneous mycoses in laboratory animals. Jundishapur Journal of Microbiology, 78
Metallov, G. F.et al. (2013). Biologically active additives in productive sturgeon diets. (English). Vestnik of Astrakhan State Technical University. Series: Fishing Industry, (3), 146-152
Miseviciene, S. (2013). Impact of the fields, fertilized with manure from big livestock companies on drainage water quality. Research for Rural Development – International Scientific Conference, 2161-168.
Lixandru, B et al. (2010). Research Regarding the Accumulation in Soybeans of Heavy Metals from Anaerobic Composted Sewage Sludge Used as Organic Fertilizer. Scientific Papers: Animal Science & Biotechnologies / Lucrari Stiintifice: Zootehnie Si Biotehnologii, 43(2), 93-97.