Animal Testing Essay Example
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Alternatives to Animal Testing
Animal Testing Essay: Introduction
Imagine we are living on another planet, in which there exist more sophisticated creatures than human beings. These creatures are way smarter and physically coordinated than humans, and they make use of almost all the planet’s resources. Unfortunately, human beings and these sophisticated and smart creatures have to share the same planet to survive. When these creatures become sick, they are talented enough to develop their own medicine or some preventive measures such as vaccines. The problem is, these newly found measures are to be first-tested on human beings as their planetary neighbors are more superior, intelligent, and powerful. Such an example would be a mirror of the topic. Animal testing has gained significance in the 20th century and has since been a growing issue worldwide. The process can be cruel and harms innocent animals, sometimes to the point of death. Many countries have taken the initiative to reduce animal testing. Nevertheless, there are still tests being conducted today that provide accurate and useful information. In this assignment, alternatives to animal testing are analyzed and meticulously discussed. The topic will be investigated from different angles, including but not limited to, historical information, related statistics, specific reasons, and evidence. Subsequently, a few recommendations, along with a summary of findings, are presented. After all, one can readily stress that, in today’s world, it is cruel and unethical to perform animal experiments to such a degree when there are plenty of alternative methods such as in vitro, in silico, micro-dosing, and human volunteers.
History of Animal Testing
The procedures of medical testing on animals date even back to thousands of years. Especially, Ancient Greeks are known to concentrate on medical testing on animals, even in the early days of medical history. That is, Erasistratus (304—258 BCE) is one of the first to perform experiments on animals, along with Aristotle (Franco 239). Similarly, there were experiments carried out by a Rome citizen, an Arabic physician, and a Moorish Spanish who performed experimental tests on animals. In early history, these testing processes were mainly applied by Greek physician-scientists as their life belief was based on the fact that life on earth could be easily and meticulously discovered and understood by exploration and experiments, and they “dissected animals for anatomical studies and to satisfy anatomical curiosity” (Animal Justice para. 2). Also, “dissections performed on animals are called vivisections, defined as the exploratory surgery of live animals, during which physician-scientists examine sensory nerves, motor nerves, and tendons to understand their functional differences” (Animal Justice, para. 4). Subsequently, animal testing was introduced by Ibn Zuhr, who was an Arabic scientist in the 12th century. He aimed to perform tests on animals before applying newly found measures on human beings. In other words, Zuhr expanded the scope of testing, which was merely limited to exploration by using practical methods, contrary to the exploratory Greek approach.
Nevertheless, one needs to separate his thoughts from the zeitgeist to understand the underlying reasons of that age when it comes to animal experimenting and exploration as the past beliefs are significantly different from today’s angle and approach. During that time, the religious view was that humans were superior to other creatures, and experimenting on animals did not raise any ethical or moral questions. Similarly, this religious and cultural view of that time were to be seen in many different examples in this paper.
Age of Enlightenment (17th century)
During that age, scientific progress was the main underlying reason for animal testing, and many physicians of that time did not understand the anatomy of animals clearly. For instance, Rene Descartes, a French philosopher, thought that animals did not feel pain, and he kept performing vivisection on them (Franco 239). On the other hand, many other philosophers, including Baruch Spinoza, who lived between 1632—1677, understood animals' nature in terms of anatomy and feeling of pain. However, he thought as if animals were to serve humans, and they could be used in any way suitable for us. Nevertheless, the sentience of animals was acknowledged by Immanuel Kant (1724—1804).
At this age, the central belief was that although some physicians could observe that animals felt pain, the general then notion of the animal to serve human beings outweigh the probable emergence of ethical and moral questions. In other words, “justification of their pain was a necessary evil” for the greater good of humanity and science (Animal Testing para. 11). In the 17th century, the application was mostly limited to exploratory and informative scopes. In opposition to vivisection, the suffering of animals became an issue in the century as well. However, the central belief of that time highlighted that although animals suffered a lot from experiments, their suffrage was negligible due to the greater good and for the sake of humanity, which is today’s unfamiliar approach.
18th and 19th Centuries
First moral questions about animal testing were raised at these ages. Famous philosophers and physicians such as Albrecht Von Haller (1708—1777) and Stephen Hales (1677—1761) continued their experiments and research. They expanded the common knowledge on medicine, especially in blood vessels, respiratory and cardiovascular physiology (Franco 240). Arguably, some sources indicate that both philosophers were concerned about their moral justification. However, they continued with their experiments because specific knowledge of physiology on mammals was then required. Similar to the Age of Enlightenment, the information gained after animal suffrage justified moral contradictions.
The question was still controversial during this century, and the moral was defined in a cost and benefit sense. More specifically, people were still discussing whether the information gained could justify the suffering of animals for the sake of humanity. However, during the second half of that age, as the experiments carried on in a more detailed and extreme manner, the first moral questions started to be raised, especially in England (Franco 242). On the other hand, German and French philosophers did not seem to have a problem. French physician-physiologist, François Magendie (1783—1855), is now described as the founding father of modern physiology, mostly thanks to his experiments on animals (Franco 242). His experiments opened a new page in modern medicine.
Nevertheless, he was one of the cruelest physicians in terms of animal testing and handling, to such extent that he even “dissected a dog’s facial nerves while the animal was nailed down by each paw and was left overnight for further dissection the following day” (Franco 264). Like him, his student continued to have the same approach and intrinsically claiming that humans have every right to use animals in every sense. Subsequently, mostly due to the discovery of anesthetics, animal experimenting became a routine as the guilt was shaded by such new drugs' artificial effects.
Historical Opposition to Animal Testing
Opposition and raising moral questions to animal testing is not a modern topic; as can be seen in the above information, some people tried to raise questions and stand for animals. Even in the 18th century, the opposition increased in parallel with the increasing numbers of domestic animals. Similarly, the number of experiments and the opposition were proportionally increasing, which created a significant argument: the difference between human and non-human, which still exists philosophically and ethically.
“In 1874, Queen Victoria expressed her concern over the treatment of animals, which coincided with wide-scale English public opposition in the 1870s” (Animal Testing para. 16). The chain of events eventually led to enacting an Act that provisioned the control and audit of animals' painful experiments, which was later replaced by the Animals Act 1986. A similar movement against animal testing began in the 1980s in North America. Books and other publications were then common and highlighting the cruelty and suffrage of animals.
Today, the medical industry and biomedical research worth billions of dollars, and the industry is expanded. Although specific Acts concentrated on animal testing in many countries, the philosophical and ethical questions and the controversy between the greater good and the lesser evil remain. To keep the greater good by getting rid of the lesser evil, seemingly, the most constructive approach is to develop alternatives to animal testing.
Statistics of Animal Testing
According to Statista, the U.S. used almost 20 million animals in research and testing worldwide in 2016, as shown in Fig. 1. The statistics show other most frequent countries China, European Union, Japan, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The figures shown derive from official authority reports.
Figure 1. Number of animals used in research and testing worldwide in 2016 (Statista, 2016)
Also, to be more specific, Fig. 2 shows insights into the animal species used in the U.S. in experiments and research. Accordingly, the most common species are guinea pigs, followed by rabbits, hamsters, non-human primates, dogs, pig, cats, and sheep.
Figure 2. Number of animals used in research and testing in the United States in 2018, by species
Figure 3. Do you consider medical testing on animals morally acceptable or morally wrong? (Statista, 2018).
Apart from the statistics above, certain facts have been proven by scientific methodology. For instance, 92% of the experimental drugs which are considered safe and effective in animals fail to work in human clinical trials as they are seemingly quite hazardous for any metabolism (People for the Ethical Treatment, n.p.). Also, it has been argued that almost 90% of animals tested in the U.S. are not recorded officially (Humane Society International 7). Furthermore, as the Humane Society suggests, “registration of a single pesticide requires more than 50 experiments and the use of as many as 12,000 animals” (Moxley 11).
On the other hand, statistics and research argue that alternative methods to animal testing are eventually better than traditional research methods in medicine. That is, “alternative tests achieve one or more of the 3Rs, which replaces a procedure that uses animals with a procedure that does not, reduces the number of animals used in a procedure, and refines a procedure to alleviate or minimize potential animal pain” (Ibrahim Abstract).
Alternatives to Animal Experiments and Recommendations
Undeniably, there is almost a global consensus in reducing the number of animals involved in laboratory setting environments. The reason tends to stem from the increasing global wealth through centuries and the fact that there are now many more domestic animals than it used to be in the 19th and 20th centuries. Accordingly, one can readily highlight the two most important alternatives, which are in silico computer simulation and in vitro cell culture. Nevertheless, some people argue that they are not effectively used because their data actually stem from previous animal experiments, and many research is highly based on organic cellular structures.
There are many other alternatives as well, which include humans for skin irritancy tests, and donated human blood for other areas. Also, micro-dosing is another alternative, which is the process of assessing human volunteers in terms of doses to calculate body-dose effects for certain drugs. Although many alternatives are to be developed, it was noted by the “Fund for Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments that despite the use of micro-dosing, animal studies will still be required” (FRAME n.p.).
On the other hand, fortunately, there are now ethical principles that are followed by many institutions worldwide, which are replacement, reduction, and refinement. They simply aim to decrease the number of animals over, decrease the “necessary” number of animals during an experiment and minimize the pain, distress, or suffering, respectively.
In Vitro Testing Method
There are substantial developments, such as in vitro modeling of organs and tissues. For example, Harvard’s Wyss Institute has come up with “organs-on-chips,” which include human cells that mimic human organs' function and structure (PETA para. 3). Jn this sense, one may infer that these high-end developments may replace the already existing traditional methods with animals when it comes to experimenting. They are effective in many fields, including drug testing, disease research, drug responses, human physiology, and toxicity testing. Fortunately, the chips are now produced by certain companies and ready to be shipped to research institutes if demanded.
In Silico (Computer Modeling)
In recent decades, researchers have managed to create sophisticated and meticulous computer software that can model and simulate the human body and biological progression in certain situations. In this direction, studies have shown that “these models can accurately predict how new drugs will react in the human body and replace the use of animals in exploratory research and many conventional drug tests” (PETA para. 6). Also, Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships, a.k.a. QSARs, are known to be effective computer-based systems that are concentrated on replacing animal experiments by “making sophisticated estimates of a substance’s likelihood of being hazardous” (PETA para. 9). Accordingly, governments, authorities, and many institutions have already been making use of such systems to decrease experimenting animal impacts on morality and ethical considerations.
Research with Human Volunteers
There is now a new technique and approach called micro-dosing. Micro-dosing refers that human volunteers take extreme microdoses of substances for researchers to observe and analyze their progress and response in the human body. In the long run, micro-dosing can replace animal testing, or at least decrease the numbers of animals used in laboratory settings.
Furthermore, there are cutting-edge techniques thanks to the developments in medical technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and advanced brain imaging. Accordingly, these cutting-edge techniques allow researchers to safely study the human brain to such an extent that even single molecules can be analyzed.
As seen from the research, animal testing and experimenting is a global ethical consideration. History has already shown the importance of the topic, and we are now even more associated with the animals with the increasing number of domestic animals worldwide. In this direction, I have listed a few recommendations for authorities to decrease the number of animal testing and eventually stopping it.
Authorities should fund alternative methods’ further development, such as in vitro and in silico.
Authorities should provide incentives to those individuals who become a volunteer for medical purposes.
Authorities should come up with Acts that ensure the implementation of global measures in terms of laboratory settings.
Governments should financially support cutting-edge technological medical assistance methods and research such as fMRI to develop more affordable techniques.
Animal Testing Essay: Conclusion
In this paper, alternatives to animal testing have been analyzed and meticulously discussed. Accordingly, the procedures of medical testing on animals date even back to thousands of years. Especially, Ancient Greeks are known to concentrate on medical testing on animals, even in the early days of medical history. On the other hand, although there are specific Acts concentrated on animal testing in many countries, the philosophical and ethical questions and the controversy between the greater good and the lesser evil still remains. Statistics and research also argue that alternative methods to animal testing are eventually better than traditional research methods in medicine. One can readily highlight the two most important alternatives, which are in silico computer simulation and in vitro cell culture. They are effective in many fields, including drug testing, disease research, drug responses, human physiology, and toxicity testing. In this direction, governments, authorities, and many institutions have slightly been making use of such systems to decrease experimenting animal impacts on morality and ethical considerations. However, after all, one can readily stress that it is cruel and unethical to perform animal experiments to such a degree when there are plenty of alternative methods such as in vitro, in silico, in today's world micro-dosing, and human volunteers.
Animal Justice. “Medical Testing on Animals: A Brief History.” Animal Justice, 5 Nov. 2015, animaljustice.ca/blog/medical-testing-animals-brief-history. Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.
“Animals Used in Research Experiments Worldwide 2016.” Statista
“Animals Used in Research in the U.S. 2018, by Species.” Statista, 7 Jan. 2020
Humane Society International. “About Animal Testing.” Web Accessed March 3, 2015. ↩︎
FRAME (2005). “Human microdosing reduces the number of animals required for pre-clinical pharmaceutical research”. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals. 33 (439).
Ibrahim, Darian M. “Reduce, refine, replace: The failure of the three R’s and the future of animal experimentation.” U. Chi. Legal F, 2006. Web Accessed March 20, 2015. ↩︎
Franco, Nuno. “Animal Experiments in Biomedical Research: A Historical Perspective.” Animals, vol. 3, no. 1, 2013, pp. 238-273.
Moxley, Angela. “The End of Animal Testing.” The Humane Society of the United States, 2010. Web Accessed March 3, 2015.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “Animal Testing Is Bad Science: Point/Counterpoint.” Web Accessed March 3, 2015. ↩︎
PETA. “In Vitro Methods and More Animal Testing Alternatives.” PETA.
“United States - Moral Stance Towards Animal Testing 2018 | Statista.” Statista, 31 July 2018.
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